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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Baseball Game & Concert

I looked back in the blog and realized we (that's me and the frog in my pocket) forgot to post about our baseball game experience. It was on our "Summer to do" list to see a local baseball game. We earned free tickets with the library summer reading club. One morning, I went down and traded in our free tickets for reserved seats in our favorite row in the stadium.

Yes, I have a favorite row in the entire stadium so you can stop laughing now. Yes, I like it so much that I took a 40 minute round trip just to spend 3 minutes upgrading and purchasing our tickets in our favorite row. It's the last row of bottom section so if the kids stand in their seats, they don't obstruct the view of anyone behind them. You walk straight down the ramp behind our row and you are at BOTH bathrooms and a concession stand. It's just to the right of home plate so you can watch everyone run down the first base line. It's the best row ever. And I'm not hip on sharing my row with you on the blog. Ha. Find your own row.
We took my parents as a treat. Hmmm---hottest day ever, extra innings, extremely late night with fireworks and concert. Maybe it wasn't a treat to them after all. Oh well, we have photos of the whole family.
After the game (did I mention it was one of the hottest days of the year?) was a fireworks show followed by a free concert of our favorite artist, Mark Shultz. When our family attends a baseball game with fireworks, you are guaranteed extra innings. I know this and it's part of the reason I took reserved seats over general admission. We tried to get there late (I was aiming for middle of the 3rd), but as it turned out we only missed the first inning. Rats!
By the 5th inning, Rebekah was sweating buckets. Sean was trying to keep her cool by pouring water on her head. So she looks a little water-logged here.

Here's the scoreboard at the top of the 10th. We made it 11 innings before our team lost. Can you see the time on the 11th inning??
After the game we still have the fireworks (Rebekah thought they were too loud so she covered her eyes to squint out through her hands.) Daddy & I realized she was saying, "Shhhh" to the fireworks and he covered her ears.
The concert finally started around 11pm. By 11:30, the entire family was beyond done so we left. We did get up right by the stage on the side. It was just behind the big speaker stack for the outdoor concert and was a quieter place to listen.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tips on Tuesday: Grocery Smarts

I'm getting questions about how I try to save money at the grocery store. I'm going to try to put some thoughts down this week to help everyone out.

First of all, I have to admit that almost none of the things I do are original ideas. I've gleaned them from friends, family, other websites and blogs. I try to absorb when people mention deals.

The first tips I have are tips you will see everywhere you look. They seem like no-brainers, but are important to remember.

  • Never grocery shop if you are hungry. (If you realize you are hungry when you get there, I'd suggest purchasing something quickly and eating it before shopping.)
  • If you get cold easily, take a sweater/jacket with you to the store. When you are colder, you get hungrier and grocery stores count on that. They keep the store cool on purpose to keep you a little hungry. The hungrier you feel, the more food you will impulse buy.
  • Never shop without a WRITTEN list. The mental list is a bad choice as you will impulse purchase more items thinking it 'might' have been on your list.
  • Don't deviate off your list. Use a special portion of your cart as the impulse purchase area. It's suggested to use the seat of the cart but I often have a child in that seat. You can set a basket into your cart or create a spot for the items not on your list. When you see how many extra items are going into the cart, you might want to stop and assess whether you need those items or not.

Here are some things that I have discovered and try to do as well.

Price match. It takes a little extra labor in the front end, but will save you a small fortune in the end. WalMart and Fareway price match. There is a rumor going around that HyVee might---but I have not confirmed it. I go through the ads and write down the item, size, price and what store that price is found at. I also note the quantity that I intend to purchase. Then I add the other items to the end of my list that I am not price matching. As I shop, I check the price against the sale at the other store. If it is lower at Walmart, I just put it in the cart and cross it off the list. If I will need to price match, I use a special area in my cart for price matched items AND I circle that item on the list so I can find it faster at the checkout. When I check out, I load all the non-price matched items first, put another divider bar, then I place all my items to price match. By the time she scans all the full priced items, I'm unloaded and standing there with my paper to go through the prices. She will get to the bar and ask if I need a separate order. No, everything beyond that bar will be price matched. It speeds the process and makes sure I don't overpay for items.

  • Use coupons! I've learned that coupons are usually for the most expensive brands and we have heard repeatedly to not use them because you'll pay more. Watch the ads. If that brand is on sale, check what the final cost will be after the coupon is applied. You'd be surprised how much you can save.
  • Buy loss-leaders. There are items every week sold at the grocery store's cost or below their cost. They try to draw you in with a few really inexpensive things to gain your impulse purchases at full price. Take advantage of these savings.
  • Remember that items typically go on sale once every quarter (10-12 weeks). If you see a great deal on chicken and you have enough for a few weeks, stock up anyway. Chances are it will be another 3 months before you get that good of a price. Stock up in 2-3 month increments.
  • Meat: remember that grilling meats are less expensive in the winter (when you can't grill) and stew meats and casserole meats are less expensive during grill season. Stock up when it's the wrong season to cut the costs later.
  • Shop top and bottom shelf--not middle shelves. The most expensive brands are in the middle because they pay grocery stores to be at eye-level. Since they pay for premium space on a shelf, you pay for it in the prices. Bulk sizes are usually lower and generics of the same item are usually higher. I use a lot of generic items if the name brand isn't on sale or doesn't have a coupon.
  • Buy bulk then separate at home.
  • FYI--everything but sour cream (in my experience) can be frozen. Chips and breads have to be used a little faster when thawed, but they are fine. I buy and freeze many things.
I hope that helps. If you have tips I forgot, add them in the comments or email me and I'll do a follow up down the road.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Flashlight Hoax

My dad found and sent me this video.We were SOOOO excited that at the end of our standard Sunday lunch (Taco Bell), we filled one of our cups with Mountain Dew to try it.

Guess I should have gone to first. It's a hoax.

Waaaahhhhh!!! We were thrilled to give it a whirl. So fair warning, if you get this video sent to you, it's a hoax.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rebekah's 2 Year Photos

Thought you'd like to see a few of the photos we had taken of Rebekah. Here's our 2 year old princess.

Where's Rebekah??
Peek a boo!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First Day of School 2008

It's back to school time again. With Andrew off to Middle School, we have two start times over an hour apart. To get back to school pics, we had to take each boy separately. Nathan was still asleep when Andrew went to school.

Here is Andrew off to his first day of Middle School---

It was sad to mom that I couldn't follow him into the building. Well...I COULD have followed him into the building, but we agreed that would embarrass him. I did see a mom dogging her child's every step with a camera and motioning to dad to catch up. Why was this poor boy's father lagging behind?? He had the VIDEO CAMERA to record the poor child's every step.

I was the 'good mom' who dropped him off in the drive through lane, said I love you before the van door opened and said "Have a great day" as he got out.

Here is Nathan off to his first day in First Grade---

Rebekah might have felt a little left out in this photo taking big deal day. She insisted on bringing her purse. It's almost as big as her and inside was a pink poodle, a happy meal toy, and another purse!

Since Nathan is still in Elementary School, I felt no remorse in parking the car and taking him into the building. I was standing in the breakfast line with him when he told me, "Mom, I'm in first grade now. I know how to get my own breakfast. You need to go sit down." Hmmm--o-kay. I went and sat. We got these pictures of the family and Nathan saying, "Yummy glazed twist!"

Here is Nathan opening his locker. He's so big now, no more cubbies. Thankfully, the school is still small enough that he doesn't have a locker partner. I'm sure that will happen down the road, but it's nice for now.

Once school started, Dad went into work (really late) and I took off for shopping with my mom. My dad walked Rebekah around the store for a while. Then they left and went to the park to play. She played for over two hours. She just refused to leave the park. She loves the swings and the WHEE (aka: slide). When they came to meet us for lunch at DQ, she fell asleep on the way. She slept on the bench for an hour, then woke up and was still groggy. I put her in my van, gave her the binky and she conked out again on the way home.

She was still sleeping when it was time to go get Andrew so I called Daddy to the rescue. He got the carpool kids and brought them home. Good thing--she ended up sleeping until after 4 pm! Just about a four hour nap! I guess two hours of swings and slides (Whee) really wear a girl out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tips on Tuesday: Homemade Laundry Detergent Revisited

I'm back to revisit the homemade laundry detergent. I'm getting so many questions that I thought we should touch base again.
To catch up those of you who don't know, I started making my own laundry detergent. See This Post for photos of what I did and my reasoning.
I'm getting questions about the Tablespoons. Many of you wonder how I get enough Tablespoons to leave one in laundry detergent, one for my baking soda shampoo and one for my Apple Cider Vinegar conditioning rinse. Simple--baby formula scoops are approximately One Tablespoon. Since none of what I'm using them for is rocket science, I just got a friend to save a few extra scoops for me.
Don't have babies at your house anymore?? Ask around at your church nursery or a local daycare. Most people toss the scoops, so why not recycle them by reusing them for all these other things?
I know I posted the recipe before, but still get many a question. I'm going to repost it here.
Laundry Detergent Recipe:
2 Cups shredded Fels Naptha Bar Soap (or Ivory Bar Soap)
1 Cup Washing Soda (not baking soda!!!)
1 Cup Borax
Mix together and use 1 Tbsp (or formula scoop) per load.
This mixture does not suds so is safe for an HE machine.
Fabric Softener Recipe:
I use a Downy ball and fill with White Vinegar.
I can't tell you how happy I am with the vinegar fabric softener!!! I left a load in the washing machine by mistake. When I discovered the clothes, they were starting to have that lovely "I've been left in the washing machine too long" smell. I did a quick rinse cycle with vinegar and it took the odor out.
The other big test was when the boys went fishing and played in the scummy lake water. (Trust me, it's gross with scum floating on the top of the lake.) Their swim suits smelled horrible and I knew that if I was using commercial products, I'd have to wash the swim suits separately from the other laundry. I tested the theory by putting them in with a regular load of wash, washing with my homemade detergent and using vinegar for the softener. The entire load came out with NO odor. Hooray!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Nathan's 6 Year Photos

Nathan at 2 months

Nathan, age 4

OK--it's only 6 months late, but I managed to finally get Nathan in for his 6 year photos. I'm trying to put some of the best ones here. A couple are 'enhanced' by the studio to try to get you to spend more, but I settled for the plain Jane photos.

Nathan still gives me cuddles. He's my snuggle-bunny to this day. The hip hop pictures were all his own idea. He even came up with the shot tossing and catching the scarves. Check out that smile--he did a great job of setting up his own shot!

PJ Day Part 2

Don't know why my family blogged that there would be a Part 2--guess that means I have to give my side of the story.

Come home from my MOPS Steering Retreat to find all three kids still in their PJ's. Nobody wanted to get dressed while I was gone and Dad can be a real pushover sometimes. He gave in and allowed it to continue. Tried to get them dressed to go to dinner and maybe a special surprise, but they weren't interested.

They did have to get clothes on this morning in order to attend church. Mom is not so easily swayed.

Be on the lookout tomorrow for new photos. It's back to school day so I know I'll be snapping a few...or a few hundred (tee hee).

Saturday, August 16, 2008

PJ Day Part 1

In celebration of the last weekend of summer, Andrew, Nathan and Rebekah conned Daddy out of one last jammie day. Mom was out at a meeting all day, and came home to find her kids still in their PJs. Nathan wanted to blog for her as part of her surprise. The boys are looking forward to starting school on Monday, but they are also not sure if they'd rather just have more summer.

Nathan says "Part two will be coming up" Have a great day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Painting Update

Well, it's a week later and we are 'almost' finished with repainting the two bathrooms. I've put some before and where we're at photos of both.

The master bath is one shade lighter than the purple on the walls in the bedroom. Yes, Sean allowed this to happen--in fact, he suggested it. He's secure in his masculinity and has read the article about feminine bedrooms. You know the one--allowing your wife to have a feminine bedroom increases her desire to spend time in the bedroom and to spend it with her husband. (Enough said, I run a PG blog.)

Sorry the color is so hard to see. My battery is dying so I'm having to charge it again.

Here's a picture of the bedroom to show the awesome faux painting Sean did on one wall.

The powder bath is chocolate brown on the bottom and has chocolate brown and tan stripes from a chair rail height up. I REALLY wanted some gold flecks in the chocolate brown on the bottom, but that may not be able to be done. Sigh. However, Sean and the laser level did a fantastic job of making totally straight lines. He even touched every line up to make sure there were no squiggles in the lines. I'll post more pictures of it tomorrow when the new towel bar and tissue holder are up.

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