Saturday, April 30, 2011

Another reason I quit couponing

I just remembered another reason I quit couponing. Last week, I earned CVS extra care bucks worth $7.99. I can't find the coupon. I cut if off the receipt and set it aside. I found it laying around and realized I should do something better with it. I can't remember why but I put it on the driver's seat in my mini-van. I knew I would see it when I got in and then put it in my purse. Unfortunately, my husband took my van this morning. Now, I have no idea where the coupon is. It's possible I put it somewhere when I got my purse out of the van but I have no idea. (My husband left early and I went back to bed.)

So, I bought Blink eye drops last week because it was going to be free and now I ended up spending $7 on it (I had a $1 coupon.) I use these drops but I didn't need to get any at this time. Luckily, I still have the receipt and if I don't find my bucks I will take the drops back.

What a pain!!

Still decluttering, now onto purses

I have mentioned before, I love bags. That includes all bags. Totes, gym bags, carry ons, make-up bags (see here for my Clinique free with purchase problem), reusable bags, purses, etc. There is one purse I have always wanted (and will probably always want because it is so expensive.) That is a Louis Vuitton doctor's bag (also known as a speedy.)

I never spend a huge amount of money on a purse (the reason I don't yet have my Louis) but relative to what I spend on other things it is not an insignificant amount. I usually buy one purse a year and since I use it every single day I don't feel too bad about it.

The problem is I have a hard time getting rid of things. That includes my purses. I have had a bin of purses in my laundry/storage room that are just taking up space. I don't think I have ever gotten into that bin and used a purse once I have retired it.

In this bin are the purses that were left after my huge purging last year. That means the ones in the bin mean more to me than the ones I already got rid of. That also means they are going to be harder to part with. Knowing that ahead of time helps put me in the right frame of mind.

I hold on to my purses for the same reasons I hold on to so many things. I spent money on them. There is nothing wrong with them. There is some kind of sentimental attachment to them. I think I could sell them on Craigslist or ebay and get some money for them. (Surely someone would want them, right?)

There are a couple problems to that thinking.

First, I live in a pretty modest sized house. As my kids get older the house seems to be shrinking. We really don't have room to store things we don't need.

Second, I have a lot of things I would like to list on ebay or Craigslist and don't usually do it.

Here are the purses that were in the bin.
It doesn't look like a huge amount. I have been reading some of the projects in Org Junkie's 52 Weeks of Organization and A Bowl Full of Lemons One Project at a Time and this is nothing compared to some of the stuff I have read. For me, though, it is too much.

I decided this was it. I was doing something about them.

I began this process when Toni at A Bowl Full of Lemons held her weekly challenge about purging. I wasn't able to complete it at that time but then Jen at i heart organizing gave me more motivation with her March month of purging.

So, first I purged the ones I had no attachment to. There are three I got from my sister. She smokes and I never used any of them for that reason.

Then there was the green one.
It has some kind of stain on the bottom. It might be able to be cleaned off but I knew I wouldn't take care of it any time soon.

There was the one from Avon that looked much cuter in the catalog. (It is the black one with the buckle. I had been looking at Butler bags and this was advertised as one. Wasn't crazy about it. I was reminded why I don't usually buy purses from catalogs.)

That was five for the donation pile. Five easy decisions. Then it gets harder.

A couple years ago I was looking to get myself that Louis bag for Christmas. There was no way I could justify full price' so I checked ebay. Even used, the cost was prohibitive for me. Plus, there are a lot of things I will buy off ebay but I didn't think this kind of purse should be one of them. I couldn't be sure the purse was authentic or what kind of condition the purse was really in. If I was spending that kind of money I needed to be sure of those things.

Instead I bought myself several pink Liz Claiborne purses. I like Liz Claiborne purses and I thought I was getting great deals. I ended up spending too much money and wasn't crazy about any of them once I received them. (For the record, I am no longer buying purses from Avon or ebay.) Two of them are in the picture above.

The red purse has a little spot for a picture. I carried that purse when my daughter (my first born) was little so the picture in it is from her first year. I know that one is all about emotion and sentimentality.

I like the shape of the red, blue, brown, and yellow purses. There is nothing wrong with them. Either I just got tired of them or my needs changed. (That may be another reason I will never get my Louis, I get tired of my purse.) I want to think I will come back and use them but I probably won't, so they need to go.

I listed the ones I haven't donated on Craigslist. I thought they were very reasonably priced. I think I have $5 for the non-Liz and $10 for the Liz purses and a price break if more than one is purchases. I told myself that if they weren't gone by the end of the month I was going to donate them. That's today and I am not ready for that.

I see that I have two options. First, I can give myself until the next time I have a donation pick up. (That may not happen because of this.) Second, I can give myself until the end of the summer to list sell them on ebay. (I need until the end of the summer because I don't see myself doing it right now. I haven't listed them because I worry I won't get to the post office in a timely enough manner. Now that I write that it seems ridiculous but I have to remind myself that I do not want to go to the post office with a 10 month old, two year old, and two four year olds. School ends in a month and I won't be watching any kids this summer. I'll be much more able to head to the post office.)

That's it, I've said it and now I have to follow through. I am going to give myself until the end of the summer. If I have a donation pick up before then I will send the brown and yellow bags because I don't see those selling on ebay. The Liz Claiborne purses will be listed on ebay and if they aren't sold by the time school starts they are being donated.

I am linking up to i Heart Organizing.

Friday, April 29, 2011

I remember why I stopped couponing

This week I got my coupon binder back in order in response to A Bowl Full of Lemons weekly challenge. (See here.) In addition to the challenge I was also inspired to resume couponing again by Extreme Couponing on TLC.

I have no interest in being an extreme couponer. There is no way I could spend that kind of time. I also have no interest in having that kind of stockpile. What intrigued me was that so many of them have products like toilet paper and toothpaste that they get free or almost free. That I would like to have.

Once my coupons were in order I looked at Clippin' with Carrie to check what was available at CVS, Walgreens, and Target. I wrote my lists and gathered my coupons. I planned to head to those stores this week.

On my first trip (on Monday) I headed to CVS and Walgreens. CVS was a success. (I only wanted one item.) Walgreens, on the other hand, only had one of the five items I wanted. That is frustrating. That is one of the reasons I stopped couponing. I'd check the couponing sites and get all my stuff together and then most of the products would be sold out. (The other reason is it takes so much flippin' time.)

At Target I had better results. I saved around $14 on $100 trip. For me, that's great. It is a score like this:
(This is the toothpaste I got for $.50.)

that will keep me couponing (at least for now.)

My skin

Just when I thought my skin was looking better my daughter says, "Mommy, what does it feel like to have those dots all over your face?"

Hmm, guess I don't look as good as I thought.

If I start thinking too highly of myself leave it to my kids to put me in my place.

Like when my son says, "Mommy, you looked pretty when your hair was long and yellow."

I say, "I don't look pretty now?" (Like how I fish for compliments from a four year old?)

He says, "You look a little pretty now but you were really pretty then."

The camo pants

Not too long ago I wrote about my closet clean out. (See here.) In that I mentioned my camo pants. I knew I needed to get them out of my room quickly or they were going to make it back into my closet.

I didn't get them out quickly enough.

In order to prove to myself that it was a good idea to keep them I decided I should wear them. I put them on intending to wear them for the entire day. I hated them. They were too tight in the rear and my thighs. They are going in my to donate pile.

So, I decided to try the second pair of camo pants in my closet. Hated them, too. Donate.

Finally, there was another pair of pants the same style as my camo pants. I tried them on as well. Hated them, too. Donate.

I think I have found a way to help clean out my closet. If I am trying to decide whether or not to keep an item I am going to require myself to wear it. That way I will know if it fits and if I have anything to wear it with.

My guess is that I am going to be able to eliminate many things from my closet. Had I not tried those pants on I would have kept them even though they didn't fit well.

Kitchen declutter

This month i Heart Organizing is hosting a month of purging. I was so excited to participate because I didn't quite purge as much as I wanted during A Bowl Full of Lemons weekly challenge about purging.

As I have mentioned before I did some major purging last year. That is not to say I no longer need to purge. I feel like the purging I did last year was necessary but was also easy. We had so much junk in our house it was easy to get rid of a lot. Now though, as I purge and declutter the decisions are harder. For example, last year I got rid of several bags of clothes from my closet. That was easy. I had a lot of clothes I hadn't worn in a long time, if ever. I recently took another look at what was in there. I wasn't able to get rid of very much but I felt like the things I got rid of this time was much harder (see here.) Actually, I even put one thing back in (see here.)

One of the rooms Jen worked on was her kitchen. Just like in my closet, I had already purged lots of junk last year. I knew that there were several things that I probably should have included in that purge but I couldn't quite get myself
to let go. This time, I was much more ruthless. Here is what I removed:
These things were the first things I removed.

The tea kettle I have never used. I bought it when we got married (11 years ago) because I thought everyone needed one.

I used to use the George Foreman grill to make grilled cheese sandwiches when my daughter was little. I don't know why I started using this in the first place. I think I had some aversion to using the stove (I have written a lot about my issues in the kitchen.) It toasted the grilled cheese nicely but it smashed the sandwich, so I haven't used it in years.

The mixer thing is broken. I think I used it once many years ago and decided to try to use it again recently to make my daughter a smoothie. I took the blade thing off to clean it and couldn't figure out how to get it back on. I guess I thought if I left it in the cabinet long enough it would fix itself.

Those things were pretty easy.

This was not:
This is a salad spinner from Pampered Chef. It was not cheap but I bought it thinking I would make more salads if I had it. I didn't. Actually, I have never liked it. It's too big (takes up too much space to store.) It can't go in the dishwasher. Once I spun the lettuce the bowl was too big to use for the size salads I make. I liked the one I had prior to this. You could run the water through the spinner as you were spinning it. So, out this went.

I didn't really go through my drawers but as I was cooking one day I noticed these things:
The travel mug whose lid I can't find. (I was hoping I would come across it. My guess is that someone in my family put it away in the wrong spot.)

The sandwich sealer I got from my mom. She used to use it for my little brother and sister. I have never used it because I hate wasting all that bread.

The can tops that are supposed to keep soda from going flat (they don't.)

Several cookie cutters. (I don't think we have ever made cut out cookies here. My kids do that with our aunt. If we make cookies it is chocolate chip, my favorite. Plus, if we do make one day them we have lots, lots more.)

The mixer cup (with the white lid. That is the technical name, by the way. Mixer cup:) I think it is intended for mixing salad dressing. I have never made my own salad dressing so I tried to use it to mix formula. It does not close tightly so formula dripped out. (I've held on to this thing since our wedding--11 years--only to find out it doesn't work. That is an awesome lesson.)

Then there are these things:

These are all things I think I should get rid of but didn't. The smoothie maker takes up too much space and I recently got a smaller one that I like much better. The thing is the handle broke off so if I donate it, they will probably throw it out. I might offer it on freecycle.

There is nothing wrong with the glass bowls and the mixing bowls but I never use them. I have stainless and ceramic mixing bowls I use. I keep thinking these might be useful for some project with the kids. Plus, should you ever get rid of mixing bowls?

I've never used the bundt pan. My guess is I never will but shouldn't I have one?

We were given the pasta bowls as a wedding gift. We have never used them. I know I should let them go but can't. I keep thinking, now that I know they are there I will use them. I haven't.

My guess is all of these things will go in my next purge. Maybe I will offer them to my siblings or cousins. Maybe it would be easier if someone I know would takes them.

I didn't really clean out the pantry but found these things when I was figuring out my grocery list:

Nony at A Slob Comes Clean asks herself a question when decluttering. It is something like, "Where would I look for this item?" I would never have looked for the McDonalds croutons under the can organizer.

The other packet is for icing mix for a no bake stove my daughter has but we can no longer find a place to buy the cake mixes (thank goodness.)

The cans and jar are really embarassing.

They date back to 2006. That is the year my son was born. He is starting kindergarten this year. The artichoke hearts were really gross. There was something black & flaky coming out the bottom. Inside the hearts were dried out and black. It was actually kind of funny. The most recent of the cans was from June 2010.

Here are a couple more random things I decided to part with a few days later.
This is a cookie jar. It's cute enough but it is not something I bought. Actually, it something a friend gave me. This next part is embarrassing. She got it from her neighbors trash. Now, her neighbor was a friend of hers. But still. My friend hates to see perfectly good things in the trash. She offered it to me and I didn't have one so I took it (and cleaned it!) But I don't love it. And the ridges collect dust.

I am going to try to live by the motto, "If I don't love it, it's gone."

I don't love this, so good-bye.

This was given to me by the mother of the artist. Can you see the white dots? They aren't supposed to be there. They are flaws. Yet, I still felt like I needed to keep this and use it.

I'm done. I don't love it, it's gone.

I'm linking up to i Heart Organzing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cleaning the shower

I hate cleaning the shower. I used the hate cleaning the entire bathroom but since I started swishing and swiping it's not so bad. I actually get a sense of calm from swishing and swiping (which I do on Tuesdays & Thursdays and someone does on the weekend.) By doing a quick wipe down of the bathroom a few times a week it never gets really bad. If my bathroom is clean I feel like I am a long way towards having a clean house.

I haven't yet found a way to clean my shower like that. I know some people wipe it down each time it is used. I don't see my husband (or kids) doing that every time. It would just make me mad if I wiped the shower each time and no one else in the house did.

I think one of the reasons I hate cleaning the shower is that there is no easy way to do it. I have to actually get in the shower to clean it. Then, my feet get all wet and yucky. When I get out of the shower I have to either wipe them on the rug or a towel. If I have to let the cleaner sit for a while I have to come back and do it again.

I've tried ignoring the shower and while that works for a while it is not a solution. Instead this is what I've come up with.

I wear a pair of flip flops in the shower while I clean it. I keep this old pair in the bathroom and use them only for wearing while I clean the shower. I think I got them from the $1 spot at Target so they are horrible to wear for any period of time but work great for wearing in the shower.
If I have to get out of the shower and come back to finish I just leave them. That way none of the yuck is tracked on my floor and the shoes are waiting by the shower for me when I am able to return.

OK, so it doesn't actually help me to clean the shower. It does make it more likely that I will do it since I don't hate it quite so much.

I am linking up to We are THAT family for Works for Me Wednesday.

Tires for the van aka I hate Toyota or Toyota sucks

I took the van to the dealer for service on Friday. It was time for an oil change and the struts needed to be replaced. When I made the appointment I had the service advisor check our history because I thought the technician had also mentioned replacing the tires in the past. She said there was a note about the tires and it wasn't quite time then but they will check the tread. She also offered me a free rental car because of the amount of time needed for the service.

At this dealership (is that the right word) you are assigned a service advisor and they sit you down and figure out what you need then take you into the waiting room. They are also the ones who come to you when there is something to discuss about your vehicle (like additional work) or when you are finished they take you to the register to check out. When we were in the office I asked the advisor about the Tires for Life program that we were told about when we bought the van. (We bought our van new in June of 06.) She said that program was eliminated in early 08. (March? April? May? I can't remember what she said.) I asked if people were really upset about that. She said some but the service manager works with someone individually who has an issue. Little did I know that I would soon be one of those people.

I got my rental and headed home. Later that afternoon I got a call and my advisor said the tires needed to be replaced. I asked about the Tires for Life program. I said that we went to only that dealer for our service because of that program and we have never gotten a free tire. In the history she showed we replaced two tires in the fall of 08. (I knew at that time the tire was damaged so that didn't qualify for the free tires because it had to be because of wear) and we replaced two more in 09. I'm not sure why I didn't ask about it in 09 (my guess is that I took the van in for something else and at that time they said I needed tires so it wasn't something I planned on.) Regardless, no one ever mentioned free tires to me and I believe they should have. My advisor said she would have the manager call me.

The manager called me back and explained that after the program was eliminated they were allowing people one more set of tires. (Of course) I didn't qualify for that one more free set because the tires that were on my van were not the ones that were registered with the program. I explained that I always replaced the tires with the ones recommended by Toyota. He said well, the numbers didn't match up so there was nothing he could do about that but he would give me a good deal on tires. He'd sell them to me at cost and he would take care of me. He had the advisor call me back with the prices.

Stupidly, I had them go ahead and replace the tires. I wish I hadn't but what was I going to do? I scheduled the service for that day because I was only going to have one extra kid. My son didn't have preschool so I didn't have to be home early for him (when I called to make the appointment I didn't know they were going to give me a rental.) It was going to be a huge hassle for me to find another place and time to have my tires replaced. I still wish I would have done that and not had the dealer do it. I feel like there was no consequence for their bad behavior.

The next day (Saturday) I returned the rental and picked up the van. After I checked out I noticed there was a sample of a survey stapled to my receipt with all the answers "excellent." At the bottom it said, "If for any reason you can't fill out the survey like this one, please call me immediately" and it was signed by my service advisor. I saw her on the way out so I knocked on her door. I told her I would not be filling my survey out like that and that I was very upset. I felt like I did everything I was supposed to do and I got no benefit from the program. I didn't get one free tire even though I had all of my service done there. I said I believed that's why they eliminated the program. People were doing what they thought they were supposed to do and still being denied tires. It was causing bad feelings and that wasn't the original purpose of the program. I told her I planned on writing the owner and Toyota. I said this is something that would keep us from coming back to that dealership. I said we would like to get a hybrid as our next vehicle but we would definitely look at non-Toyota hybrids first and if we still decided on a Toyota we would not be coming to this dealer.

I am really mad. This is the reason car dealers have reputations for being shady and untrustworthy. What they did was shady. They sold us a vehicle and told us we could have free tires for life and then ended the program. That's not tires for life. Plus, I'm pretty sure we never got any notification about the program ending. In addition to contacting Toyota I also plan on contacting the Better Business Bureau and my state's attorney general. I'm also annoyed because all this is going to take a lot of time. Time I would rather spend doing something else. Time I need to spend doing something else.

I'll let you know what happens.

Friday, April 22, 2011

My coupon binder

The challenge this week at A Bowl Full of Lemons is to create a coupon binder. I'm going to share what I created.

I've used coupons for a long time. I just can't stand to think I paid more for something than I had to. I think I am pretty smart about how I use coupons. I only use coupons for things I would otherwise buy or for something that I want to try. (If you use a coupon for something you wouldn't buy without the coupon it's not really saving money.) Over the years there have been times I used a lot of coupons and times when I didn't use them at all.

For most of that time I used one of those coupon organizers that looks like a big envelope with several sections. That was not an effective way to use coupons. It was always frustrating. If I wanted to use a coupon I would have to dig through the entire section to find the one I wanted. Often I would find expired coupons because I forgot they were in there. To combat that, before I went shopping I would look through the entire organizer to find coupons that were about to expire. So, each week I would have to take out all the coupons and look through each one.

Last year I heard about a blog called Clippin' with Carrie. Carrie matches up coupons with the current ads. (I know there are lots of other blogs that do the same thing.) At around the same time I saw many examples of coupon binders. I knew I needed to change the way I organized my coupons. I created my binder based on the ones I saw at that time.

In my binder I use:

baseball card protectors that have nine sections (I found them at Wal-mart.) Most coupons fit nicely into them. (It's hard to see in this picture but they are on the right, behind the divider. I couldn't get a good picture without a lot of reflection.) For coupons that are just a little too big I got sheets with four 4x6 sections (I got them at Office Depot.)

For coupons that are way to big to fit in either of those I use 81/2x11 page protectors.

Here is my binder:

As always, more practical than pretty.
Inside I have a couple pencil pouches but up to now they really haven't been necessary. I have a Target reusable bag but usually if I remember to take the binder I remember to take in my reusable bags.

While my binder is NOT cute, it has a feature I don't think I would trade to get a cute binder.

It zips. I like that feature because it keeps everything contained. If I drop my binder, nothing falls out of it. I can't imagine being in the store, dropping my binder and having coupons fly all over the place. Lucky for me, I already had this binder. I got it many years ago on clearance. (That was one time buying something on clearance that I didn't need worked out for me.)

When I go to the store I carry the coupons I am going to use and my list on this clipboard:
It's just the right size.

I carry the clipboard and binder in this:
It's a bag I got from Thirty-one that just didn't work for what I originally wanted it for. The binder fits perfectly in it and I don't feel like a big dork carrying my binder into the store.

Although I quit getting the local paper, my mom saves her coupons for me. I have not figured out a way to work coupon clipping into my routine. That means it could be weeks (or months) before I clip the coupons. This time, this is what I have:

Yikes. They date back to January. (Did you know the inserts have the date printed on the edge? Knowing that will make it much easier to organize this mess.)

I was about to just chuck them into the recycle bin, inspired by one of my favorite bloggers (Nony at A Slob Comes Clean) who threw away 21 pounds of coupons (see her post here.) She blogged about how she just didn't have time for that right now. I felt the same way. Obviously, if it was important to me I would work it into my schedule. On the other hand, if I didn't care I would have already gotten rid of them. So, when I saw the current challenge at A Bowl Full of Lemons I thought I would give it one more try.

There is one thing I do that I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere. It's this:

After I clip my coupons I keep the inserts. I put them in a hanging file folder and use mini-Post its to label the date on them. When I look at Clippin' with Carrie (and sites similar to hers) they often match up coupons that are in older inserts. By keeping my inserts organized in this way, I can refer back to those inserts easily if there is a coupon I need later. This has been so good for me keeping my sanity. If I hear about a great deal on something that I use but I no longer have the coupon for, it drives me crazy. I would rather not have heard about the deal. Plus, I would almost rather not do coupons than have something like that happen over and over.

Hopefully, I will be able to keep up with all of this--this time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Where is my stuff?

This morning I left several bags of my purges in front of my garage door and Vietnam Vets of America was going to pick it up. When I got back from dropping off at preschool & running errands, the bags were gone. When I got inside there was a message from VVA saying their driver was there and couldn't locate my donations. The same thing happened the last time I left donations for VVA. I dropped off at preschool and when I got back my stuff was gone. That time, though, I was home when VVA came and they knocked on the door. I explained I left it out and it was gone when I got back. He said that there is a group that drives around in the area where VVA is planning pick ups and snags the donations first. He told me the group and I can't remember which one it is. It was one that I recognized, though (maybe American Kidney Society?) That is just wrong. One charitable organization stealing from another charitible organization. That does not make me happy. In the end, I don't care who gets my stuff. I just don't want to give it to a group that is shady.

Remembering to take medication.

Recently I had some crazy infection on my thumb. I have no idea how I got it, nor did the doctor have a guess. I haven't cut my cuticles in years. (It's not that I wouldn't, I just haven't painted my fingernails in a long, long time.) There was no cut that could have gotten infected. He prescribed antibiotics and that did the trick but taking the medication wasn't as easy as it should've been.

I have a problem with taking medication. I forget if I have taken it that day or not. I was supposed to take the antibiotics three times a day. I was never sure when the last time I took it was. I knew I should take one around breakfast, one around lunch, and one before bed. Even doing it that way I was never sure if I took it around breakfast today or was that yesterday? I don't know if it is that I am home all day or if it is just the kind of person I am but my days run together. Especially when I am talking about activities that I do every day. Sometimes I can't distinguished between this morning's breakfast and yesterday's breakfast. I know I probably had Honey Bunches of Oats with almonds and a glass of juice. My son had Life and my daughter had a smoothie. That happens just about every day, though. So, to help me know when I last took my medication here is what I came up with.

(Sorry for the blurry picture. I tried several times and this was as good as it got.)

I keep meds that need to be taken every day in a cabinet in my kitchen. It is the cabinet we keep the bowls in so I will see it when I make my cereal. It happens to be the one above all my pens and Sharpies. On the prescription bottle I would write the date every time I took my medication. That way I knew how many times I took it each day. I tried to write the numbers in three distinct columns so I could tell what time of day I took it. The column on the far left was am, middle was lunchtime, right was pm. Next time I think I might make more distinct columns.

I am linking up to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT family.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sometimes parenting is just plain disgusting.

I am giving you fair warning that this is disgusting. I am only even writing about it at all because it is so typical of being a parent. Haven't we all had baby spit up on our shoulder? Or even worse, after you change a dirty diaper you realize some of the contents are on your hand. Now that I look back at last night, I think it is funny. Disgusting, but funny.

Last night the kids and I were in my bathroom getting them ready for bed. My daughter was brushing her teeth, my son was doing his "bedtime potty." Usually the "bedtime potty" is a quick job, just making sure he is emptied out. I noticed he was sitting. We all know what it means when a little boy sits down to go potty. I knew it wasn't going to be as quick as I thought. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw he was standing. That's a problem because I still like to check his bottom after he wipes himself. When I looked over I realized he was facing the toilet and he had the toilet brush in his hand. I immediately say, "What are you doing!? Why are you doing that?!" as I am making my way over to him. He starts crying because he thinks I yelled at him and he is in trouble (yes I raised my voice but I hardly yelled, he's a little sensitive.) Then, I looked in the potty.

I was hoping that he had only peed. He hadn't. So, my toilet brush had bits of the business he left in the toilet.

Gross. Disgusting. Yuck.

I wanted to just throw the whole thing in the trash, I'm just too cheap. I thought I'll try to clean it up. If it cleans up easily, I'll keep it. If it is still gross, it's trash. I must've seen him right after he began to "clean" the toilet because it came clean with a few swishes in a just flushed toilet of fresh water.

As gross as it was and as annoyed as I was (who wouldn't be annoyed with having to clean poop out of their toilet brush, right? I hope it is not just me.) I had to act like it was no big deal because my son was already upset that I raised my voice. There are plenty of times I am actually mad about something he did. This wasn't one of them.

As I think about it, I might be the only person that this has ever happend to. I know we have all had those disgusting moments. But this might be unique to my family. Super. What a great thing to set us apart from all other families.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Menu Plan Monday 4/18

We had such a busy weekend I didn't get a chance to menu plan yesterday. I thought I was going to have to wing it and figure out each day what we were going to have for dinner (like I did last week and that does not go well for us). Luckily, I finished lots of stuff around here and everyone is napping well so I had a little time to plan.

I got lots of good ideas when I was doing the Menu Planning Challenge at A Bowl Full of Lemons. One that I used today was to plan for more than one week at a time. Today I used my 7-Day Menu Planner for Dummies book and planned two weeks worth of meals. I recorded them on the Monthy Menu Planner I printed off here from 5 dollar dinners. I think next month I might try to plan for the entire month.

This week:
Sunday- Burgers, fries, salad, grapes
Monday- Sandwiches (I couldn't get to the grocery store after I made my plan so I had to go with what I have here. Plus, my daughter has softball practice tonight.)
Wednesday- Mamas Amazing Ziti (Meal Makeover Moms)
Thursday- Tater Tot Casserole
Friday- Pizza
Saturday- Leftovers

Next week:
Sunday- Chicken Pot Pie
Monday- Leftovers or sandwich (softball practice)
Tuesday- Tuna Noodle Casserole (7-Day Menu Planner for Dummies)
Wednesday- Meatball Mac & Cheese, green beans (7-Day Menu Planner for Dummies)
Thursday- Leftovers
Friday- Pizza
Saturday- Orange-Thyme Salmon, green beans, jasmine rice, salad, crusty bread (7-Day Menu Planner for Dummies)

I've got to get to the grocery store tonight or tomorrow for the next couple of days to work.

I'm linking up to Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Purging clothes

Recently A Bowl Full of Lemons began a new weekly challenge. In that first challenge Toni talked about purging. I linked up my posts on my electronics recycling and my magazine purge. I was hoping to do more purging but didn't have time. Lucky for me, I heart organizing is sponsoring a month of purging challenge. Yae!! That's going to be my incentive to keep going. Next up, clothes.

Last year, I did a big closet clear out. I donated several trash bags of clothes. I'm not talking the white tall kitchen bags. I'm talking about the big, black trash bags we keep in the garage. I was really proud of myself. As you can probably guess, I haven't missed one thing that was in those bags.

When I look in my closet now, there are still many, many pieces that I don't love, that don't fit well, that I haven't worn in a year (probably years). You know, all those questions you are supposed to ask yourself when trying to clear out your closet. So, why not just get them out of my closet and be done with them? There is a big reason I feel like I can't get rid of more.

I'm looking for a teaching job for this fall. For the last seven years I have been home with my kids, watching other kids. At home, I dress very casually. Jeans and a sweater feel like I've dressed up. Before I took my leave, I was a PE teacher. If I go back to teaching PE, I will be able to get rid of more things. What if I have to go back into a classroom? I don't have that many clothes I could wear in that situation. If I get rid of lots of stuff, I really won't have anything to wear. I could go out and shop if I get that kind of job but we don't have the money now for me to go out and buy a bunch of clothes. On the other hand, there are lots of t-shirts and track pants that I could get rid of. But, what if I get a job teaching PE? It would be nice to have plenty of those kinds of clothes, too.

As I was going through this process I realized that when I purged last year the decisions I made were easy. I had too many clothes so I was able to part with a lot. This time, the decisions were harder. I had already cleared out the stuff that I really didn't like. Now, I had to make more difficult decisions.

So, this is what I was able to part with.

It doesn't look like much but I have to remind myself that only a few months ago I did a huge purge. Plus, some of these were really hard to get rid of. For me, that's more important than the number of items.

The shoes were easy. I haven't worn any of them in a long time. I don't think I wore the bottom pair more than twice. (I got them on clearance somewhere. That rarely works out for me.) Some of the middle pile was a little more difficult. There are two sweaters. There is nothing wrong with them, I just didn't wear them. Same with the striped shirt. I still like the green sweater and the striped shirt and really debated keeping them. (I better get them out of the house before they make it back into my closet.) The camo pants I will probably never wear again, my brothers made fun of me enough to last quite a while. There is another pair in my closet anyway. I took them out twice and put them back. One thing I thought was, "What if we go paintballing?" I have never been paintballing (though it has always sounded like fun.)

The pile on the right was difficult but for different reasons. All of those are things my husband bought for me. He has expensive taste. The two sweaters on top are from Abercrombie. The other two pieces were from Banana Republic. (None of the stuff in my piles was from Abercrombie or Banana Republic.) They were hard to part with because my husband got them for me AND they were expensive. Having said that, the black sweater was itchy and the brown turtleneck shrunk. The sweaters are a different story. I've had them both for several years and have hardly worn either of them, though they are in good shape. (I only wore them ever so I wouldn't hurt my husbands feelings.) Abercrombie clothes are not made for me. They are too short and too tight. Especially after I had kids. They are definitely not made for someone who has had two c-sections. (I've told my husband that if the people working in the store don't look like me, that's a good indication you shouldn't be buying my clothes there. If everyone is a teenager the clothes were not made for me.)

Maybe when I know what my job situation will be I can get rid of more.

I'm linking up to A Bowl Full of Lemons One Project At A Time Challenge and i Heart Organizing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Big kid bike tip

I have the best tip for helping kids learn to ride two wheel bikes. It has two parts.

Keep a little bike with training wheels on it after your child has outgrown it.

Get a balance buddy.

Here's how I know it works.

My son will turn five next month and he has been riding a two wheel bike since the beginning of school. At the time he was four years and three months old. (I add the months because he was just over four instead of closer to five.)

On the first day of school my son and I were getting ready to walk to the bus stop to get my daughter. He said he wanted to ride the two wheel bike. (I had already taken the training wheels off the little bike at the beginning of the summer, thinking my daughter was ready. She crashed once and was not willing to crash again, so she refused to ride without training wheels.) I found this nifty piece of equipment to help in two wheel training.

It's called the balance buddy. It is so helpful because you don't have to bend over and hold the seat and handle bars of the bike. Instead you can stand tall and still help your child stay balanced. I was able to run upright alongside my little biker instead of awkwardly bending over.

In addition to the balance buddy, my kids started riding a two wheel bike on the small princess bike my daughter got when she was three. They completely outgrew it but when it was time to ride without training wheels I had them use this bike.

It was easier for them to start the bike rolling if they were able to have both feet on the ground. Also, they could easily put their feet down when they started losing balance. It worked great.

By the time my daughter got off the bus, he was able to ride as long as I could help him get started (again, the balance buddy was super useful.) It didn't take long for him to figure out how to start on his own.

Not to be outdone by her younger brother, my daughter wanted to try. She too was able to ride the two wheel bike without much assistance that first day.

I do think part of it was that they were ready. A big part, though, was having the right equipment. A little bike and the balance buddy.

I'm liking up to Works for Me Wednesday and The Diaper Diaries for Things I Love Thursday.


Last night's discussion

It didn't happen.

After we get the kids put to bed, I just don't feel like starting an argument. That's what happens. We don't have discussions. If I bring something up to my husband we either get into an argument because he gets defensive or he says nothing. I just didn't have the energy last night.

Then, while we were in bed, I asked if he started the dishwasher (I knew it was close to full before the dinner dishes.) No, was he supposed to? I thought, yea, when it's full, run it. So, I got out of bed to start the dishwasher so I could empty it in the morning. I saw that the dirty dishes were still in the sink, rinsed but not loaded into the dishwasher. Are you kidding me? Come on. The deal is if one of us makes dinner, the other does the dishes. (After dinner I took my daughter to softball practice. When we got back my husband was outside shooting hoops with our son. Before I walked in the house he said the mess wasn't completely cleaned up but he would finish it.)

When I got back in bed (after loading and starting the dishwasher) I asked if there was some reason he didn't load the dishwasher. He said he didn't know if the dishes were clean or dirty. Again, come on. It's time he learned how to tell if the dishes are clean or dirty (he has actually emptied the dishwasher of dirty dishes as well as run the dishwasher when the dishes were clean.) If there is water collected in the glasses, they are clean. I asked why he didn't ask me. Because I was at practice with my daughter. Funny, he doesn't have a problem calling me if he wants me to pick up something when I am out but to ask if the dishwasher is clean is unthinkable.

I'm so tired of having the same conversations over and over. We've talked before about him calling me if there is a question about whether the dishes are clean or dirty. We've talked before about the fact that if he doesn't finish the job, I have to. Whether that is his intention (I truly don't think it is) or not, that is the result. We've talked about the division of work around here over and over. So, I guess we will be having the discussion again soon. That should be fun. (And productive. I'm sure things will completely change.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

My husband, the house, and this weekend

When I chose Mondays to write about marriage, I didn't realize how good the timing would be. After being home together all weekend there will probably be many Mondays I have plenty to write about. Today, for instance.

Last weekend, for the first time in several weekends, my husband was going to be home all weekend. That was good, because it was going to be a busy weekend. We were going to have my daughter's softball practice (it was actually a practice game) and game, a birthday party for both kids, Girl Scouts' April Showers bag drop off, a test for me, a daisies meeting, my half marathon, and my son's preschool's fund raiser. Luckily, none of it overlapped so we were going to be able to do it all.

So, my daughter's practice game was Friday night. My husband, son, and I all watched the game while my daughter played. After the game we needed to drop of the April Showers bags. (Those are the green bags you may have seen attached to your door requesting personal care items.) Our troop needed lots of help because our daughters are only in first grade and we had a lot of houses. Normally, I wouldn't have my husband come. Why? I don't know. I usually try to make things easy on him. It's really silly but it's what my mom used to do and is my first inclination. In the past, I would probably have sent hime home with my son. Really, though, there was no reason they couldn't come and help. There were going to be other dads and siblings helping. He was very quiet while we were doing it. After we put the kids to bed, I asked if I was reading him wrong because he didn't seem happy to be there with us. He said it wasn't that, he didn't feel well. (Yea, right.) I left it at that.

The next morning (Saturday) I had to take a test (it was to get an additional teaching certification.) The test was at 8. That meant my husband was going to have to get the kids ready and to my daughter's game by 9:30. I was excited about this because it was going to be one of the only times (ever) my husband was going to have to get the kids ready and out of the house by himself. It rained a lot, so the game was cancelled. I got home around 10:30. The kids were fed and the three of them were either watching tv or playing a game on the iPad. The breakfast dishes might have been cleaned up but they were still in the sink because the dishwasher was full of clean dishes.

OK, had I been home I would have done much much more by 10:30. I tried not to get too annoyed because my husband is not me and he is a little slower on Saturday mornings than I am. The problem is that he did almost nothing for the rest of the day. After I got home, I am putting things away, getting things ready for the daisy meeting that afternoon, getting the kids packed to go to my parents' house (because we had to get up so early for the race), making lunch, etc. I asked him if he was going to get the basement vacuumed and dusted this weekend (which is supposed to be his job every weekend, but I can on my two hands the number of times he's vacuumed in the last year and on one hand--maybe one finger---how many times he's dusted.) He either laid on the bed and watched tv or played a game on the iPad. I was very, very annoyed. It would be so nice to feel like there was so little to be done that I could lay on the bed and watch tv all day. Or, that there was someone else who was going to be sure everything got done so I didn't need to worry about it. I asked him to empty the dishwasher while we were at the daisy meeting, which he did and he loaded the dishwasher back up. That was it, the entire day home that was it. My daughter and I went to the daisy meeting and I'm pretty sure my son watched tv the entire time. I was so mad. I didn't say anything then because we were going to a dinner and movie together. Plus, I went to take the kids to a birthday party (which ended up being cancelled) and then out to my parents and still he did nothing else.

The next morning he says, "I'll get the basement done but I won't be much more useful." because he was so tired. He has been having problems sleeping lately, but I doubt he was more tired than I was after I ran a half marathon. He went to church while I was finishing my race and I had my mom bring the kids to me. After I showered, I took them outside to enjoy the weather. When my husband got home (he brought us lunch--because I asked him to) he sat inside watching tv while the kids and I were outside. Again, must be nice to not feel like you have to be the one to make sure the kids don't sit inside all day. We all went to the fundraiser together. My guess is, if I had offered for him not to go, he wouldn't have. I'm not doing that anymore. It's like the birthday party the day before. I didn't ask him to come, so he didn't offer. Why? Certainly not because he was doing stuff around the house.

We got home a little after 4 and he went into the bedroom and (guess what?) watched tv. The house was a wreck. There was crap everywhere. So, I went to work putting things away. I finished up the dishes. I picked up the basement. I didn't want to do any of those things but I had kids coming to my house early the next morning. I didn't have the luxury of doing nothing. I didn't want to clean, either. I was tired, very tired. And mad. I was really mad. He actually laid on the bed when I came into the bedroom to vacuum. Finally at about 5:30 he went downstairs and vacuumed. I decided I was not cooking. It was a yoyo (you're on your own) dinner. (Actually, I did the kids and mine.) He got himself something to eat and joined us. We cleared the table (I think he did the dishes) and I started showers. As I'm drying my daughter's hair, he came in and asked where we keep the dusting stuff. Yes, he dusts so little he doesn't even know what we dust with. I told him to get a microfiber cloth and get it wet. He left and came back and asked where they were.

So, he got his stuff done, but barely. I don't think what we want to teach the kids is, lay around all weekend and barely get your stuff done before bed on Sunday night. Plus, I feel like the vacuuming and dusting is the minimum. If the house is a wreck you don't get to only do that. He gets to dust and vacuum a very, very small part of the house and I am responsible for everything else? That hardly seems fair. I don't ask him to do anything on the weekends he is gone or super busy. I feel like the least he can do is help when he is here. I feel like he thinks because he "called it" on Sunday morning that he wasn't going to be able help much, that makes it ok. Once again, I don't have that luxury. Unless you are sick, you help. Especially if you haven't been here. He doesn't like when I tell him what to do, but he just showed he doesn't offer on his own, either.

I didn't say anything last night because it would have just turned into a fight. I'm not letting it go, though. It's not fair and it has to change. I'm going to bring it up tonight. I'm going to try to not be so nasty about it but he will still get annoyed. Instead of apologizing and admitting he was wrong, he'll get defensive. That's fine, as long as things change.

I did it.

I ran my half-marathon yesterday morning. I wanted to write a post about it yesterday but I was just too tired.

I ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours 35 minutes. It was my third half and sometimes I can't believe I run for over 2 hours. Without stopping. A couple years ago, I would never have believed that possible.

The temperature was in the 80s by the time I finished. I heard add 20 to the current temperature and that's more what it feels like when you are running. That sounds about right. It was hot.

My running partner wants me to run a marathon in the fall. I don't know about that. Before my race yesterday I thought, "I think I could do that." I would only do it once, just to say I did it. I'm not getting any younger so if I am ever going to do it, the time is now. Plus, I am a former PE teaacher, hoping to go back to teaching before too terribly long. How awesome would that be for my students to have a PE teacher that ran a marathon? During the run yesterday I was thinking, no way. How could I possibly? We would be training in the summer. Where I live, in the summer the low will be higher than the high yesterday. That means we would be running longer when it was hotter. I don't see how we will be able to do it. I know we will be more acclimated to the heat, but still.

I saw someone holding a sign yesterday that said, "If it were easy, everyone would do it."

Enough said.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Menu Planning

The challenge this week at A Bowl Full of Lemons is menu planning. Perfect timing. I had just picked up the book I requested from the library, 7 Day Menu Planning for Dummies.

I have been struggling with what to cook for a long time. I readily admit, I'm not good at it. I don't know why. My mom's a good cook, my cousins are good cooks, my sister is a good cook. I'm not. I don't enjoy it, it's difficult for me and I'm not good at it.

Before we had children, my husband and I rarely ate a sit down meal together. I'm really not sure what I ate. A lot of cereal, probably. When my daughter started eating table food, I knew I was going to need to cook. Sit down, family meals are something I thought was important and if I didn't provide them, they weren't going to happen.

When I heard about menu planning I knew that is what I needed. I could not open the fridge, see what was there and put together a meal. If I didn't have something planned, it was going to be cereal, sandwiches, breakfast food, or nuggets. (Sometimes it still is.) I've been menu planning for a few years now. It's a struggle for me every week. (see here) I was so excited to see this challenge because I was hoping to get lots of ideas, and I have. I looked through all the entries, the post, and the book. (I had also already done lots of internet research on menu planning.) Here's what I've come up with.

First, I start with a blank week chart. I have one I got from somewhere, but I like this one from 5 dollar dinners. I will probably create my own that is a hybrid of the two. (I don't need a section for breakfast everyday, it's usually cereal or a smoothie.)

Next, I pull out my menu plan plan. What that is is a list of the types of meals I'll make each week. That was one of the biggest helps to me. Before I came up with that I would sit and my mind would literally be blank. Nothing would pop into my head. I could think of nothing to make. So, I would either make the same things over and over or would look through tons of recipes. It gives me a place to start. Here is the one I currently have but I don't love it so I will have to change it up.

Sunday-I cook (this is left over from I hoped my husband would be able to cook more, that didn't work--maybe this summer)
Monday-soup or sandwich
Wednesday-left-overs or breakfast
Saturday-international (really only mexican or italian)
(See here for more info. The menu plan plan is towards the bottom.)

Rarely do I stick to that exactly. As I said, it gives me a place to start. Although I might not have soup on Monday, I will probably have it sometime that week.

Next, I look at the calendar. On my planning sheet, I write down what we have going on that might mess with dinner. It could be regular events, like sports practices, or something that will only happen that week, like a meeting for my husband or myself. I need to pay more attention to this. Up to this point the only difference that would make in my planning was that if my husband wasn't going to be home, I wouldn't plan a very big meal because my kids are pretty picky. I need to pay more attention to prep and clean-up times as well. If my husband has to be somewhere at 6:30 chances are good he won't be able to help much with clean-up. If it's a bath night and I'm on my own that means I'll be doing dishes after the kids go to bed and I hate that.

Next, I go to my recipe binder. This has also been hugely helpful. Otherwise, I would forget about some of my favorite meals or would have to go through my cookbooks each week. I put every recipe we like in this binder. If I got the recipe out of a cookbook, I copy the page and put it in the binder. That probably seems unnecessary to some but for me it is super useful. That way I have all my recipes in one spot.

That is what I have done so far. This week I have gotten a few tips that I want to incorporate into my planning.

I am going to...

make a list of the recipes in my binder. I will probably do a list for each section. That way, I won't have to flip through each page to find a recipe I want to use that week.

update my list of family favorites. I did this once, a long time ago.

type up a master grocery list based on the aisles & departments at the two grocery stores I shop at.

plan for more than one week at a time. Some people plan for two weeks, others a month, one even suggested a 10 week rotation. I'm thinking I might try two weeks or a month at a time. Hopefully, that will make the whole process easier on me. Sometimes it is a real hassle to do it every Sunday. Since I will already have all my binders and books out it should take a lot less time to just write down one more week's worth of recipes than if I had to do the whole process again the next Sunday. I used to pretend I was going to use the weekly ads and plan my meals according to the specials. Never did, so that is no longer a reason to plan a week at a time.

try some of the menus in the book 7 Day Menu Planning for Dummies. I liked the book so much I used my Borders 33% off coupon and bought it today. I have thought about using a menu planning service so I thought I might try this instead. The author has a years worth of menus planned. Even though I have a ton of recipes, I feel like I am limited by my tastes and experiences. I think having this many menus will help me find recipes that I might not otherwise have even thought of. Plus, in her plans she includes sides and desserts. Sides is a place I always struggle with. I can find recipes for entrees and then am like, "What do I serve with it?"

I want to...

go through my cookbooks and make a list of recipes to try. (I love to cross things off lists.) I have gone through and put Post-it flags on recipes I want to try. I'm hoping by making the list it will be quicker to find a recipe to match what I am looking for (like a soup recipe, or a chicken recipe.) (I say want to instead of am going to on this one because it just is not a priority right now, but is something I would eventually like to do.)

That's it. I'm excited. I think the multi-week planning will be so helpful. Plus, the menus in the book will help ease my stress over the whole process.

I'm liking up to A Bowl Full of Lemons weekly challenge.


Can someone explain to me how little boys (and not so little) can get pee to land only in the spot where the bolts are that attach the toilet to the ground? It's like the scene in JFK where Kevin Costner (I think it was him) explains how if there was only one bullet it would have had to turn in the air. There is no sign of pee anywhere else. Not on the shower curtain, or tub, or floor (sometimes it is there.) Somehow though, it ends up in that spot. The stream must bend in the air to get to just that spot. Surely there is a name for this phenomenon.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I'm a sucker--me and Clinique

I am a sucker for free with purchase incentives.

Actually, I used to be a sucker for almost anything free. I used to marvel at the people who could use coupons so well that they would end up with bunch of free stuff. For a while I was following a blog that would tell you how to use your coupons to get things for free or almost free. Then I realized, a bunch of free crap that I don't need is a bunch of crap that I don't need. I also used to take big items people were giving away, like furniture and toys. I figured, if I didn't need them, I'd give them to someone else. Those are some of the reasons my modest sized home got over-crowded with junk. I've been trying to declutter and purge all kinds of unnecessary things from my home. I've been working on trying to not bring unnecessary things into my house. So, I've been much better about not taking something just because it is free. Except...

Bags. I've mentioned before, I love bags. That pretty much includes all bags. I've taken purses from my sister (she smokes so I never use them because they stink.) I've signed up for a higher level zoo membership so I can get the free bag. (Yes, I realize the increased cost of the membership is more than what buying the bag would be.)

And now, it's Clinique bonus time. In case you don't know what that means, when you spend a certain amount of money, around $35, you get a free gift. The gift is a make-up bag filled with sample sizes of new or popular products.

I use a few Clinique products (I love Take the Day Off make-up remover) so I can always justify going. (If I'm going to buy a product anyway, I might as well get a free gift with the purchase.) The problem is this:

I have these under my bathroom sink. There are actually two more I found after I took the picture (one is clear and taller than these and the other is purple and plastic). I always think, "I'll use them to store something." You know what I use them to store? Each other. That's not totally accurate. I use the little yellow one to hold some of my nail polish and the purple one holds my make-up. In addition to these, I have bigger ones I use when I travel and I am considering getting one of the really big ones from Lands End (or L. L. Bean?) with my Discover points.

The bags have gotten cuter over the years and occasionally there are samples of products I wanted to try (like the eye cream) but do I really need all these bags? No. Plus, often there are products I don't want or need. So, they sit in my drawer cluttering things up, not getting used.

I know accepting that I have a problem is a step in overcoming it. Unfortunately, I don't see myself reisisting the call from the Clinique any time soon. As a matter of fact, Macy's is preordering right now for their bonus time and I am planning on going there Friday.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Menu Plan Monday 4/4

My half-marathon is Sunday so this week I am going to be loading up on carbs, especially at the end of the week.

Last week I tried a couple new recipes and I wanted to share my experience with them. I decided every Monday I would give an update on how my meals went the previous week. It will serve as a review of new recipes but also as a way to show what my meals ended up really being. More often than not, my plan isn't followed exactly.

Here's this weeks menu:
Sunday-@ aunts house
Monday-Pizza Pie
Tuesday-Meatball Tortillini Soup
Wednesday-Mama's Amazing Ziti (Meal Makeover Moms) with steamed broccoli
Friday-Pizza (for family) baked potato for me
Saturday-left overs (one of the pastas for me)

Here is how last week went:
Monday-Tortilla Soup (A Slob Comes Clean) with cornbread This was way too spicy for me. I almost didn't use the chili powder at all, next time I won't, but I didn't think a sprinkle would make it so hot. Also, I thought it would be healthier to use Bob's cornbread mix compared to Jiffy. It was not good. Next time, Jiffy it is.
Tuesday-Spinach Artichoke Casserole (Stolen Moments) This was also too spicy. I guess it was the cayenne pepper. I thought about not using that but I'm always afraid to change recipes because I really don't know how ingredients interact with each other. If I try it again, I will definitely leave it out.
Wednesday-Leftovers We didn't have any leftovers because we threw out all of the leftover food from Monday and Tuesday. (I hated doing that but we just weren't going to eat it.)
Thursday-Fish (not sure what kind yet) & Cheesy Spinach Bake (Meal Makeover Moms) I chose Simply Superb Salmon, which is a recipe from Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen cooking blog. It was yummy, yummy, yummy. So was the Cheesy Spinach bake. Finally, a success.
Saturday-Meat Loaf My husband was out of town so the kids and I went to my mom and dad's for dinner. We had steak, fried corn, and fried potatoes. (Super healthy.)

I'm linking up to Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Weekend update/Monthly update (March)

Since I haven't done a weekend update in several weeks, I'm thinking maybe weekly is a little ambitious. I'm going to try a monthly update instead. I'm still working on my PIPs but am happy with my progress on many of them. Here is how I did last month.

Cleaning & Organizing
Last week was spring break for my husband and kids. Why is it that I think I will get more done on a week like that? I wanted to finish regrouting the hall bathroom floor (I didn't even finish scraping out the old grout) and do a lot of cleaning & organizing. Over the weekend, the kids and I didn't have anywhere to be and got several things done. Plus, I got rid of hundreds of magazine pages (see here.) Maybe one day I will learn that having everyone home isn't likely to give me time to do extra stuff.

I'm really happy with how I have been doing on time. All I need to do is figure out where I need to be when and work backward. We haven't been late once to my daughter's softball practice and are usually one of the first families there. That is so unlike me and I like it. I need to do a little work on getting the kids moving without my constant help and I would like them to be a little speedier (especially my daughter.) Lately I have had time to stay on them and keep them moving but it won't always be that way.

Since last week was spring break we did a lot together as a family. My husband has been gone quite a bit lately so, I have been solo with the kids. When that happens, I get really worn down and by the end of the day my patience is about gone. I recognize it after both kids are in bed. That is something I'm going to work on, taking a breath and not letting little things get to me.

I'm still not doing great here. I'm trying, but if everything doesn't go as planned, meals are one of the first things to go. I have requested a book on meal planning from the library. I'm hoping that will help. I'm thinking it won't have any new information (because I have researched this quite a bit already) but I'm hoping it will. What I think I need to do is just dedicate more time to it.

I've been a litte frustrated lately because I have tried a couple new recipes that have just not worked out. They were so bad I didn't save the left-overs. Luckily, my husband isn't a very picky eater and is a good sport. He always happily eats what I make and has never said a negative word about any of it. I can be honest about it though, and they just were not good.

Being Green
I recycled several electronics (see here) at Best Buy. I also made a couple trips to Whole Foods for chicken and ground beef. Those trips to Whole Food were not cheap. After learning about how chicken and cattle are farmed, I am committed to buying from places that put an emphasis on the treatment of the animals.

I'm concerned about all kinds of chemicals that my children are exposed to and lately that includes toothpaste. (I avoid artificial colors in my children's food but then have them use toothpaste that is bright blue and pink, how does that make sense?) So, I bought Tom's peppermint, that tasted fine, but was expensive. I also bought this fennel toothpaste from Trader Joe. Yuck, gross, disgusting. As much as I hate to waste, I was about to chuck it in the trash. My husband ran out of his toothpaste and I decided to try it on him. Luckily, he doesn't notice things like that and he's been using it.

A couple weeks ago I participated in A Bowl Full of Lemons Organize Your Finances Challenge. You can see those posts here, here, here, here, and here.
Before that challenge I thought I had a handle on our finances. All that work really opened my eyes even more.

I have been really conscious of how I spend money. For example, I went to The Container Store to check on a couple products. I saw something I really wanted (here it is) but I needed to use my weekly allowance to pay off something else I previously purchased. I think I will eventually get it (or something similar) but I didn't buy it on impulse. That's huge for me.

My me project has two parts. Run more. Eat better.

I haven't run as much as I'd like but with my half-marathon being a week from Sunday, I feel ok about it. I won't be fast, but I will be able to finish. As the weather gets warmer, I think I'll get back into the swing.

I have been off and on with my "eat better" attempts.

I quit the sweet tea. I didn't have a glass for two days. Then, I was really tired one day and needed my caffeine. My resolve must've been super weak because I bought some at the grocery store. I know I need more sleep. I think if I get that, I won't need caffeine and will be able to stay off the sweet tea.

I had salad a couple days for lunch. I am hoping to make that a habit and have salad for lunch several days a week. I know it's something I need to make a habit then I will be more likely to stick with it.

The processed food is harder to eliminate. I'm not sure what to give the kids for snack if I can't open a box. That is going to take a lot of work. I'm not giving up, I just realize it is going to take a lot of change.

I realized that some of my projects contradict others. When I buy organic (like meat from Whole Foods) it contradicts being frugal. I guess I just have to find the balance.

Whew, that was a long post. If you made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read it all.

March decluttering

One of my favorite bloggers, Nony at A Slob Comes Clean has begun hosting a monthly decluttering link party. Perfect for someone like me. I know I need to get rid of stuff, lots of stuff. I don't know if it's because I'm a procrastinator (which I am) or because I am worn out (which I also am) but sometimes I need an incentive to get my butt in gear. I need someone (or thing) to be accountable to. That's why this is perfect for me. I know I am going to blog about it and link to the party so I am going to do as much as I can. Here is what I decluttered this month:
baby swing
bouncy seat
baby gym
(All three I acquired last fall because I began watching a baby. It is really hard to bring baby gear back into the house after I purged us of ours because we were are done having babies.)
100+ Girl Scout cookie boxes
From my electronic recycling (see here):
2 DVD players
1 portable DVD player
5 cell phone batteries
1 cell phone
1 computer power cord
1 scanner
(Thank you Best Buy for taking all of that.)
I cancelled the newspaper (I consider that pre-clutter decluttering)
Did not renew many, many magazines (again, pre-clutter decluttering)
(see here to read more about my pre-clutter decluttering)
Hundreds of magazine pages (see here)
My "to file" file (see here)

All of that decluttering in addition to my March jobs:
ceiling fans
master bedroom (check)
office (check)
family room (check)
kitchen (check)
dining area (check)

hall bath
door (check)
baseboard (check)
light (check)

master bath
door (check)
baseboard (check)
lights (check)
vanity (sort of, this is where lots of magazines were)

lower bath
light (check)
picture (check)
mirror (check)

kids' rooms
window and sills (check)

I considered hurrying up and cleaning the headboards, footboards, and my vanity before I posted this. They would technically have been completed but I chose not to because they weren't completed in March. (That whole being honest in the blog thing again.)