Friday, August 31, 2012

On Saving a Little Money...

After reevaluating our budget and making plans to drastically pay down or pay off some things in the next year to two years, we realized we needed to make some major cost saving changes.  I have been pinning some things lately that I was ready to start implementing and thought I would share them.

First, I decided to make some homemade mixes.  I found some basic ones that I wanted to start with, including a Bisquick mix, brownie mix, white cake mix, pancake mix, tortilla mix, and cornbread mix.  I printed out the recipe for the mix and the directions for making whatever it is.

My plan is to get some clear containers for all the mixes and put the directions on the front and the recipe for the mix on the back and cover them in contact paper so they don't get messed up.  I'm on the lookout for some good containers that don't cost a fortune, since spending $50 on containers for the mixes kind of negates the purpose of making the mixes to save money!  So far, I've only made the Bisquick, brownie, and white cake mixes.  I will be making the others in the next couple of days.

I don't spend a ton of money on store bought breads and doughs, but I would say I spend at least $25 a month on things like that.  Considering that is $300 a year, I decided that I would be better about making things at home.  I have a bread maker that I use, but since that can take as little as 45 minutes and as much as 4 hours to make something, I wanted to have something that was quicker on hand all the time.  I will mainly use the Bisquick mix for pizza crusts, biscuits, and general breads for meals.  I doubled this recipe and am expecting it to last us at least 3 months.  I had everything except the nonfat dry milk on hand to make the mix, so it really didn't cost much to make it. And in the future, when I need to make more, I'll have everything already so it won't cost anything to make it. I made the pizza crust last night and it was really good!  I'll had some herbs to it next time to give it a little something more.  Tim and I noticed that it was more filling than my previous store bought dough or bread maker dough.  That's a good thing since we will probably end up eating less.  I, of course, had to make the brownie mix last night, too, in order to see if it was any good!  :-)  The brownies got Tim's seal of approval!  Our favorite way to eat brownies is in muffin form.  We both like the edges of the brownies, so when I make them as a muffin, we usually only have about one bite that doesn't include an edge.  I haven't tried the cake mix yet, but I don't really make all that many cakes.  I am looking forward to using this to make quick cobblers and I have a big cookie recipe that uses a cake mix.  It will just be good to have it on hand.  And the cost to make that entire container of cake mix was less than buying two boxes of cake mixes.  Also, I made some cookie mixes to have on hand.  I make pretty much only make homemade cookies but sometimes I want them and don't want to go to all the trouble of getting everything out and making them.  This way, all I have to do is add a few ingredients and bake them!  I had all the items needed to make two of each of these mixes (except for the gingerbread since I'm not really a fan!).

Second, I am back to making my own pizza and pasta sauces.  I used to do this all the time, but had gotten out of the habit of it.  I have a super easy pizza sauce recipe and it cost a little over $2 to make 5 pizzas worth of sauce.  (BTW, my sauce recipe is just a 29 oz can of tomato sauce, a 15oz can of tomato paste, 2 Tbsp dried oregano, 1 Tbsp minced garlic, and 1 tsp basil.)  I put one cup of sauce in each bag and put them in the freezer to have ready to go for pizza night, which is about once a week!

Third, I had no idea how much cheaper it was to shred my own cheese instead of buying the bags already shredded.  I purchased cheddar and monterey jack cheeses at Costco for less than $5 for 2 pounds of each.  That makes almost 10 cups of shredded cheese.  That much cheese already shredded is about $10.  We go through a TON of cheese around here.  I would usually buy 4 or 5 bags of shredded cheese every two weeks.  This is going to be a great way for us to save.  I was excited to get to use my food processor as a cheese grater!  When I shredded the mozzarella cheese, it clumped pretty badly.  After doing some quick research, I discovered that it's best to freeze the cheese before you shred it so it won't clump as much.  I packaged them in bags with 2 cups of shredded cheese and wrote the date I shredded it on the bags.
Fourth, is meal planning for the entire month.  I've talked on here before about meal planning.  I didn't keep up with it very well, but now I am doing better.  The way I have done it for the month is having a specific type of meal on each day.  So on Sundays I will make a big meat meal and some sides.  So this month we are having ham one Sunday, then a turkey breast, a roasted whole chicken, a roast, and a pork tenderloin.  The reason I decided to make that type of meal on Sunday is I can plan to use the leftovers in other dishes throughout the week.  Mondays are pizza nights because Mondays are usually pretty rough for me and that is a quick meal that I can make.  Tim informed me that we could have pizza three times a week and he would be fine, but I don't think I could handle that.  We're not in college anymore!  Tuesdays are Italian.  The great thing about this is I can make all the Italian dishes for the month in one day and freeze them if I wanted.  So all I have to do is pop them in the oven and we're good to go.  Or if I know I'm going to have plenty of time that evening, I can just make it that day.  I like the option of having the meals already in the freezer whenever I can!  This month, our Italian meals are lasagna, baked spaghetti, fettucini bake, and manicotti.  Wednesdays are breakfast for dinner nights!  One of my friends told me that she does this with her family and I LOVE it!  We all love breakfast foods and it's nice to be able to sit and enjoy it together since that's not possible for us to do in the mornings since Tim leaves so early.  This month we are having fried eggs and waffles, breakfast tacos with bacon, breakfast casserole, and ham, eggs, and country potatoes.  The fun thing about this is we can make it as simple or as complex as we want, but it's still just yummy breakfast food.  Usually these are really quick meals, which is something I love, as well!  Thursdays will be leftover days.  Fridays are Mexican!  We both LOVE Mexican food and it has, without really being planned this way, always been our Friday night thing.  Before kids, we would usually go out every Friday night to our favorite Mexican restaurant.  This month, we are having taco bake (minus the gross cheese sauce!), black bean and chicken bake, chicken tacos, and enchiladas.  And I'm pretty sure we will have cheese dip with every one of those!  :-)  Saturdays will be another night for leftovers.  I wish I could be more creative with my recipes and try a lot of new ones.  These are all things I've made a ton, but it's getting to the point that I'm good if I can even get dinner made while taking care of the boys.  I'm hoping in a few months I can start branching out and doing more interesting meals!  I'm thinking that with having a set plan for every meal, I will know how better to shop and know that I have everything on hand for all the meals, HOPEFULLY leading to us not eating out.

Fifth, I'm going to make our own laundry detergent.  I haven't done this yet because we have enough for a little while longer.  But I'm really excited about this.  I've heard from people who have made this recipe that it costs $11 for supplies and it lasts anywhere between 6 months to an entire year.  Can you imagine only spending $11 on detergent for a whole year??  Along with that, I found a cheap way to refill my foaming soap pumps!  I read that I could use about an inch of baby bath wash in the soap container then fill the rest with water and mix it up.  I tried that but the bath wash didn't completely mix up and I didn't get as much foam as I wanted.  I have several of these big containers of clear Palmolive that I picked up for $1 each a little while back.  I used that instead and it mixed completely and makes a great foam!  I'm excited to know that I can refill my soap containers probably 20 times from one of these big bottles that cost me $1 instead of using the refill soap you have to buy for $5 and only refills it 4 or 5 times.

I hope I didn't bore you too much with this.  I hope someone might find some little tips they can use to save a little.  I would really love to hear about any ways you pinch pennies and save money!  I need as many ideas as possible!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Happenings of My Little Man

Robby has been doing so many new things lately.  I really want to be able to remember all the cute things he says and does.  Here are several of the cute things he does.

-He loves saying "Two".  When I count, gets really excited and yells out "TWO" after I say "one".  Whenever I hand him something, he always wants one for his other hand as well, so he'll ask "two?".  He also holds up the appropriate fingers for 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.  It's cute to see him struggle to get it just right then get excited when he gets it!

-He loves his little brother.  When I go into the boys' room in the morning and get him out of his crib, he immediately asks for "Charlie".  And after church, they usually bring Robby out of the nursery to us first.  When they round the corner with Charlie, Robby starts saying his name over and over.  I love hearing him say it.

-He enjoys helping me unload the dishwasher and he will say what it is that he's getting out: "'poon, fork, bowl, cup, bottle".  After we are done, he carries the utensil basket around with him and puts things in all the compartments of it.

-He carries anything with a strap or handle on the crook of his elbow.  It cracks me up because it is like he's carrying around a purse.  There is a particular pink bin that has a handle on it that he carries like this and puts his cup, keys, and wallet in it.

-When we were watching the olympics several weeks ago, I would cheer on the swimmers and runnings by saying "Go, go, go!"  Robby started saying it with me, too.  Now, whenever I want him to hurry, I'll just say "Go, go, go!" and he will start running.  When the boys were bathing the other night, he said, "go, go, go!" and started moving his legs under the water like he was running.  It cracked me up because he kept doing it.

-He likes to name the people in the pictures on his wall.  Every time I put him on the changing table, he lists "mama, daddy, baby".

-At least 10 times a day, Robby will come up to me and just say "mama mama mama mama mama mama mama..." for no reason except that he wants to be near me and have me look at him.  Sometimes I get a tad annoyed because I'm trying to get something done and can't concentrate, but then I hear how cute it is and just have to laugh!

-I've mentioned before how much he LOVES shoes.  He always asks for his "shooooooes".  Some mornings, that's what he asks for first thing.  Any time Tim's or my shoes are laying around, he gets them and brings them to us and makes us put them on our feet.  The other day, he brought my wedges to me while I was cooking dinner and made me put them on.  So there I was, in my workout shorts, tank top, and silver wedges!  Quite the sight!

-He picks up on things that I don't even realize we do or say.  Whenever I huff, he will huff.  If I say, "Oh my gosh!", he yells "Goooooosh".  Apparently, I've said "Weeeeeeee" at some point when we were doing something.  Now, whenever he runs, slides, climbs on top of something, jumps, whatever, he says, VERY loudly, "WEEEEEEEEEEE!"

-He has started clasping his hands together and bowing his head when we pray.  When we are done, he says "'Men!"  I almost cry every time!

-When he knows we are about to leave the house, he starts saying "Go" and "Bye" until we get to the door.  Also, he always has to take something with him when we leave the house.  Some days it's just Kaikai, but other days it's several little things.  The other day, he tried to take the bumbo seat and another day he tried to take a big shoe box.

-He watches a few episodes of "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" in the mornings and a few in the evening (during that horrible hour before Tim gets home).  Whenever he wants to watch one, he tells me "Toodles!"  I find it funny that that is the character he says and not any of the others!  I think it's because they will call for Toodles and he likes to do call for him, too.

-We like to FaceTime with my mom in the afternoons and sometimes in the evenings when I'm trying to get dinner done.  He will carry the phone around and jabber to her and show her different things.  He has watched me use the phone to show her Charlie so he will turn it around to show him to her, too.  However, this has led him to ask for "LaLa" every time I pick up my phone.  There have been a few times that we've FaceTimed with her and my dad was home, also, so he was able to talk to "Pa".  Now, if I tell him he can't talk to LaLa, he will ask for "Ba".

-He can't say "Grandma" or "Grandpa", so I've been working with him to say "Gloria" and "Bill" instead.  They come out "Grory" and "Bow"!

-He has started telling me "nigh nigh" whenever Charlie or Annie are asleep or whenever we put his pajamas on at night.  Pretty much every word he says, he says it twice now.

-He is finally calling a dog "daw" when he hears or sees one instead of calling them all "Mannie".  When we go for our walks, we pass by a certain yard with a dog and it can hear us on the other side so it starts barking.  Robby gets really excited and says "Daw, daw, daw!"

-He makes a craft in Sunday School every Sunday.  I adore each one and love to see how his little hands are getting more and more coordinated to be able to put stickers on things and use stamps and colors.  I'm beginning to see why there are so many pins on Pinterest about how to archive your child's artwork and projects.  I want to put each on on the fridge but there just isn't enough room!

I am so thankful to see Robby grow and change.  He is starting to lose some of the baby-ness in his face and is looking more like a boy.  It kills me sometimes when I look at him and see a boy instead of my little baby.  He is going to start going to Mother's Day Out next week.  I hope I can handle it!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Sleeping Beauties

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Fun, Family Day!

Tim took off yesterday so we decided we would go to the children's museum.  The boys and I have been a few times and Robby loves it!  Tim was a little jealous that he hadn't been able to experience it yet, so he was excited to go.  :-)

We started out with a time of admiring the cuteness of Charlie
This was our little guy's first time in this stroller sitting up.  We almost always take the double stroller or I had been putting him in his carrier in this stroller.  He loved it!  And I was reminded of the simplicity of a single stroller!  :-)

Robby and daddy enjoyed building a house.

Robby taught daddy a little something about coloring.

They went camping for a bit.

Robby made quite the meal for himself!

Mommy and Charlie just chilled in a chair that was a tad too small for mommy's behind...

The big boys went on a space adventure.

I am sad that I didn't get pictures of the grocery store, train table, newspaper office, and the water table. We had a blast and ended our morning with CFA!

Charlie is anxiously awaiting the day he will be able to eat some scrumptious chicken!  He was really wanting some yesterday!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pooping: The true story of Robby and Charlie

C: Hey, Robby, I'm kind of feeling like I need to poop.
R: Ya, you know, I am too!
C: Ooo, I have an idea. You go under the dining room table and do your poop.  I'll roll over here and do my poop.  Then we will both hit mommy at the same time all poopy!
R: Yes!  And we will start fussing at the same time like we really don't like it.  She will LOVE this!  I don't think she had anything to do today, so this will make her feel really special to have double the poop to handle!
C: Perfect!  1...2...3...Poop!

I'm convinced this is how it happens, y'all!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mama just needed a little break!

This past Saturday, I had a bit of a breakdown.  I was exhausted and truly just tired of being needed.  I needed a little bit of time just to myself.  I was at the point that just a leisurely trip to the grocery store by myself wasn't going to cut it.  I needed silence and sleep.

So Sunday after church, Tim checked me in to a hotel about 45 minutes away from home and I got to have a 24 hour getaway by myself!  I went to my room and was greeted with this in the bathroom:

I changed in to my swimsuit and headed down to the pool.  I laid out for about 2 hours.  During that time, I fell asleep at least twice!  It was amazing!

After that, I showered, did a face mask, plucked my eyebrows, and tried new hairstyles I had seen on Pinterest.  I ate sushi for dinner and went to bed at 7:30!  

I woke up about 9 the next morning, ate breakfast, got ready then began heading back home.  It was wonderful to get several more hours of sleep, spend a little extra time getting ready, and do everything at a leisurely pace without anyone tugging on me!  

Tim said he could tell a difference as soon as I walked in the door.  I could definitely tell that i was refreshed and could handle the things that normally stressed me out with a little more grace and patience!  

I told him that I might need to do something like that every 6 weeks or so.  After all, for the price of an "Oh, I just need a few things" trip to Target, I got an experience that is allowing me to be a better, more attentive mom and wife!  I definitely recommend a night away for all of you tired, frustrated mommies!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Oh, the difference a year makes!

One year ago, at about this exact time, I took a pregnancy test, completely expecting it to come up negative.  I couldn't be pregnant.  I had a 7 month old.  No one gets pregnant that quickly after having a baby.  I remember exactly what I said as I watched the positive line show up almost immediately.  "Tim Weigle, get in here!"  He met me at the bathroom door, holding Robby, with a complete look of shock on his face.  He knew.  I didn't even have to say the words or show him the test.  He knew.  I sat down and cried.  As ashamed as I am to say it, I was so disappointed.  I wanted to focus on just Robby.  I was looking forward to the fun toddler years with him.  I imagined myself having to focus on a baby and him being in the corner playing by himself.  It made me sad to think of that.  Honestly, it took me several days to get over the initial shock and to start getting excited about the idea of another baby.  

We had absolutely no idea how far along I was.  The soonest appointment that I could get was two weeks away and we had so many questions.  I had been taking birth control, lots of Motrin for severe headaches, and even took a couple of sleeping pills.  I was concerned about the health of this baby.  We counted back and guessed that I was about 8 weeks maybe.  But even thinking that, I just knew we would go to the doctor and I would barely be 4 or 5 weeks along.  By the time the appointment came along, I was beginning to get over the feeling of being in a dream that this was really going on, but then that crazy feeling of shock came back when the doctor told us we were 14 weeks along!  My head started spinning.  I started counting backwards.  We got pregnant before Robby was even 4 months old.  Then I started counting forward.  They would be 13 months apart.  How would we do this?

Well, we've done it for a year and I truly, honestly, cross-my-heartedly cannot imagine it any other way.  While it's a bit tiring at times to be going through the same stages we feel we just got done going through, we feel extremely blessed to be given the opportunity to get to do this all over again.  There are definitely days when I feel that if I have to change another poopy diaper I'm going to scream.  Or if I get cereal sneezed on me again, I'm going to lock myself in the bathroom and cry.  Or if I hear another whine or cry from someone, I'm going to run away.  But at the end of every single one of those days, I sit back and I think about the day and I remember the sweet, precious times.  Like when I was cleaning the kitchen and looked up to see Robby stop what he was doing and run across the room to kiss Charlie on the head.  Or when I turned around in the car to see catch Robby holding Charlie's hand as we were driving along.  Or when Robby insisted on taking the spoon from me and feed Charlie.  Both of them light up when they see each other.  Robby already loves to share his toys with Charlie and looks for him as soon as he wakes up in the morning or from his nap.  Charlie giggles and waves his arms when Robby comes over to him.  

While our life is not what I pictured and it has not gone as I had planned, it's the most wonderful life and it's better than anything I could have imagined.  Thankfully, God knew what He was doing when He wrote our life story and He didn't listen to my grand ideas for us.  When I think of all the happiness we would have missed out on if things had gone as I "wanted", my breath is kind of taken away.  Charlie brings us so much joy and brings out aspects of Robby that we would never have seen!  

It's extremely hard to think that this picture was taken almost a year ago:
Their first sibling picture together!
 Last night at bathtime
This afternoon while feeding Charlie his cereal!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: A Cart Full of Boys

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Five months!

Well, my sweet doodle bug, you are five months old!  I really can't believe it.  The time is flying by and you are doing so much already!

This past month you took two big trips.  One was to Muleshoe to visit the Hawvers.  The other was to Arkansas to meet some of your extended family.  You did pretty well on the 12-13 hour road trips, but after about 9 hours you didn't want to be in the car anymore and let us know that!  Everyone loved getting to see you, especially your LaLa and Pa!  You even got to meet some of the people I went to high school with!  And you loved your time with Uncle Ryan, Aunt Natalie, and Graham!

You've been rolling for a couple of months already, but now you are rolling to get to things.  You roll to get to any toys, pacis or stuffed animals that are on your blanket or in your crib.  You can grab things really well.  When you were in Aunt Natalie's lap a week or so ago, you were looking at her finger then grabbed it and stuck it in your mouth so fast!  When you set your eyes on something, your goal is to get a hold of it and get it in your mouth!  At times, you are able to balance for a few seconds to sit on your own but you still have a little work to do before you will be sitting without any help.  Everyone is always impressed by your leg and core strength though.  The exersaucer and johnny-jump-up are your favorite things right now.  You hang out in those all the time!

You have the best laugh and your sweet smile is incredible!  You wake me up in the mornings with coos and jabbers over the the monitor.  Your sweet personality and generally happy demeanor make you a pretty easy baby.

You are beginning to get a little fat in your face and your legs...finally!  You are taking a 6oz bottle every 3-4 hours during the day and you go from 7-7 at night without eating.  A big thing you are doing right now is holding your own bottle.  Some of them are a little too heavy for you to support all by yourself but others you can handle very well.  Rice cereal was introduced to you a couple of weeks ago.  I was amazed at how well your tongue control was.  Now, you've had bananas as well.  Usually, you have food twice a day, after your morning bottle and before your bedtime bottle.  I had planned to wait until you were 5 or 6 months to give you any food but you were making it clear that you were hungry and ready to go ahead and start.

When you aren't in cloth diapers, you are in size 2 disposable diapers and you are in 0-3 month and 3-6 month clothes, just depending on what it is.  Shorts are 0-3 month but anything one piece is 3-6 (and some 6-9).  Shirts are generally 3-6 month.  You are skinny and long so it makes clothes a little difficult to fit on you.

Robby still absolutely adores you!  When y'all are in the car, you both giggle and squeal at each other.  He loves to help feed you and put on your shoes.  It melts my heart to see the smiles on each of your faces as you are playing together.  You two have quite the fun life together ahead of you!  I can't wait to see your friendship grow as you get older!

I love you so very much and am so thankful to be your mommy!  You are an incredible baby boy!