Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cheap and Easy meals

Several of my friends have commented in the last week about how I am able to make cheap and easy meals. One couldn't believe how little we spend at the grocery store while another wanted to know how I am able to make quick meals around babies schedules and soccer practice. Since there has been so much talk about this subject in my life this week I thought I would share some of my menu plan for this week.

Day 1: Spaghetti with Meat sauce and Garlic bread.

  • Ground Turkey: $2.75
  • Spaghetti Sauce: $1.49
  • Garlic Bread: $2.30

Total: $6.54

Day 2: BBQ Brisket with Veggies

  • Brisket: $9.30
  • BBQ Sauce: $0.89
  • Veggies: Free (WIC)

Total: $10.19

Day 3: Fajitas with Salsa Rice

  • Tortillas: $3.80
  • Chicken: $3.76
  • Bell Peppers: $1.44
  • Onions: Pantry
  • Fajita Seasoning: Pantry
  • Rice: Pantry
  • Salsa: Pantry

Total: $9.00

Day 4: Meatball Sammys

  • Sub Sandwich bread: $3.29
  • Meatballs:$2.29
  • Mozzarella Cheese: Free (WIC)

Total: $5.58

Day 5: Pizza with Salad

  • Pizza: $3.25
  • Salad: $2.00

Total: $5.25

Day 6: Meatloaf with Mixed Veggies and Potatoes

  • Ground turkey: $2.75
  • Meatloaf Seasoning: $0.50
  • Mixed Veggies: Free (WIC)
  • Potatoes: $0.96

Total: $4.21

Day 7: Taco Soup

  • Ground turkey: $2.75
  • Beans: Free (WIC)
  • Frozen Corn: Free (WIC)
  • Tomatoes with Green Chilies: Pantry
  • Taco seasoning: $0.50
  • Ranch Dressing Mix: $1.11

Total: $4.36

So there you go this weeks dinners cost $45.13 which for the most part is pretty average for us for a week. Add into that our lunch costs for bread ($2.43 x 3 loafs =$7.29) and lunch meat/peanut butter ($5.98) plus random fruit ($8.43). Plus the kids waffles for breakfast ($1.75 x 5 boxes= $8.75). Adding all the numbers up and you get a weekly grocery total of $75.58

Now this is $75.58 for the essential groceries, my hubby does like to add in some chips, sodas, and other random junk food as well :) This gives us a total of about $85 a week.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

2 Week Grocery Challenge

We did it! We made it two whole weeks with out grocery shopping :)

We still had 1 loaf of bread, 2 gallons of milk, and 1 jar of peanut butter left over from our bulk shopping trip two weeks ago. Since we are going to be having company sometime in the next few days I went ahead and did the grocery shopping for the next two weeks today. Two hundred dollars later and we are all stocked up for two more weeks. We spent a little more this time around since we needed to stock-up on meat as well.

Can we stick to this shopping challenge for this two week period while having guests?? We shall see :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Twice a month shopping Update

So I promised to keep you all updated on how our twice a month shopping project was going. I know you have been sitting on the edge of your seats patiently waiting so here you go!

So far so good. I have only ran out of 1 thing so far and that was the tortillas needed to make Mexican lasagna. I know it is possible to make homemade tortillas and so that is on my list for this weeks projects. Just need to find a good whole wheat recipe.....

There has been one downside to only shopping once every two weeks....I thought I had been robbed! lol! Ok maybe not THAT dramatic but I did start to call my bank and report fraud on my bank account before I realized what was going on. See I had to go shopping last night for the rest of Hailey's school supplies as well as a birthday gift for a little girl my kids are friends with. When I got home I looked at my bank balance online to just double check the numbers. That is when I saw that the last charge on my card had been for $175 That got my attention pretty fast. Who has been using my card!! Then I looked at the date and it was from LAST week when I did the grocery shopping! I hadn't used the card in 7 days and that is VERY unusual over here. I have to say I am pretty happy about not using the card in 7 days I am just going to have to start looking at the dates on the statements instead of just assuming they have been within the last day or so like I have done in the past.

As for the grocery situation we are doing fine. Still plenty of everything and I wasn't greeted with the normal Saturday morning chant of "there is nothing in this house to eat"...I must say it was really nice to wake up to well fed people who didn't have any complaints ;) Now this coming Saturday might be another situation entirely, I think I got enough to last through to Sunday but we shall see. If not at least I will know what to change for the next trip.

I think I am hooked on this only shopping twice a month is very relaxing :)

Insulin Resistance Sucks

I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) after having Sara Beth and then having trouble conceiving again. Once I lost some weight though I was able to get my hormone levels under control and was able to conceive the twins. While pregnant with the twins I developed Insulin Resistance thanks to the PCOS. I had to go on a special diet and was no longer able to eat sugar, refined carbs (white bread, white pasta, etc), as well as having to eat protein anytime I wanted to eat a complex carb. The hope was that after the twins were born my body would start to recognize the insulin again and everything would go back to normal. Yeah, didn't happen.

I have spent the last 6 mths eating as a *normal* person would. At first it was simply a matter of survival, I ate what didn't eat me first just to stay alive in those long first weeks. Then it became habit, after all I felt fine and I no longer had little people inside of me counting on me to maintain my blood sugar levels.

During the last week though I have started to feel *off* again. It is hard to describe to someone who hasn't felt it. It is like drinking a half a bottle of wine in 5min. Your head starts to swim, you get uncoordinated, and it is like you are trying to think through a fog. I knew something was wrong but I was in denial. Yesterday though I had to admit something was really off and tested my blood sugar....yeah I was through the roof.

I made a decision right then that I have to get this under control for ME not because I have little people inside me counting on me. The risks of allowing this to continue are huge. I could develop full blown diabetes, heart problems, etc.

So here we are on day 1 of returning to a low GI diet....I don't want to especially since we have a birthday party to go to in a few hours and I would LOVE to have some cake! On a good note though this should help me feel SO much better as well as lose some of this baby weight that has been refusing to budge.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Twice a month grocery shopping.

I have blogged before about trying twice a week shopping, but was always hindered by the lack of freezer space. Now that I have my new chest freezer I am giving it a try again! I went to the store on Saturday and *think* I got everything we need for two weeks. My shopping cart was literally overflowing and I looked like a crazy lady trying to maneuver it through the store. Half the time I just gave up and left it parked at the end of aisles while I ran down to get something, it was just to much trouble to push! I don't know if I will ever be able to do once a month shopping just because I won't be able to get two overflowing shopping carts through the store! :)

So here is my partial grocery list for these coming two weeks....
6 Boxes of strudels for Hubby
10 Boxes of waffles for the kiddlets
6 Boxes of cereal
4 cases of Sprites
6 loafs of bread
3 Jars of Peanut butter
2 Packs of Toilet Paper
5 gallons of milk
4 Bags of chips
Plus all the odds and ends needed for dinners

Grand total came to $180.

I normally spend $120-150 per week on groceries so this is a MAJOR improvement. I was walking down the aisle with my little calculator adding everything up as I went to make sure I didn't go over $300, looks like I didn't need to worry ;)

I told my hubby when I had him add his wants to the grocery list that I refused to go back to the store for two weeks and to make sure he got the amounts he felt he needed. So now to stick to my word and not go back.

I will let you all know how it goes as the weeks progress :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Raising a child with PDD-NOS

I have blogged before about my special needs daughter. She has had a rough road over her short life at age 3 she was classified as *severely delayed* in ALL the categories of development. After many years of therapy and anxiety she is now classified as *high functioning*. I have been reading a book about raising children with high functioning autism and it has really made me think about the way my daughter sees the world. I think to get a real view of what her life now is like you have to take a step back to the beginning.....

Hailey was born in May of 2004, she was our honeymoon souvenir and although she came into our new marriage fairly quickly she was very much wanted and planned for. While we wanted her desperately my pregnancy with her was horrible. I was extremely sick, to the point of not being able to work, drive, or even sit up straight without being sick. After 8 mths of morning sickness I finally started to feel better, only to deliver her two weeks later at 38 weeks. After a quick and easy labor and delivery there she was, a screaming healthy little girl. But wait I am told she isn't the right color and I am not going to be allowed to hold her, she has to go right to the nursery for observation. I did finally get to hold her for literally a minute before she was whisked away. I did not see my child again for 12 hours. They tell me she didn't suffer any damage from being the "wrong color" but I have my doubts knowing what I know now.

Fast forward a few weeks and we come to find out that the bouncing baby girl that I have brought home from the hospital has colic, no wait make that a allergy to her formula. Once we found out that we were literally poisoning our child with a formula she was allergic to and switched her to a hypo-allergenic one things got mildly better. She stopped screaming non-stop for hours, stopped projectile vomiting every where, and she could poop like a normal child for the first time. But it didn't solve everything she still didn't sleep, she still hated to be touched, and forget about making eye contact and "talking" to us. She wasn't what society sees as a "normal" child. As a first time mother though I didn't see these things as being warning signs, after all I had never done this before I didn't know what a "normal" child was supposed to be doing.

At 18 mths I started to notice that something wasn't right. The few words she had developed were gone, she didn't make eye contact, and she never responded when spoken to not even when we said her name. Following many sleepless nights where I wrestled with my ego I finally called for a appointment to get her evaluated for a delay. They tested her and everything came back at the low end of normal. We were given the option of starting therapy if we wanted but it wasn't necessary after all she was still young and all children develop at different rates. I left that appointment feeling like a over reactive mother.

At 2 1/2 years old I knew in my gut that something was terribly wrong. She still had no functional words, she still didn't know her own name, and the world would disintegrate if we changed her routine even by a small amount. She was extremely anxious in public and couldn't stand to be touched by anyone, even me. The major warning sign to me was that while she couldn't ask for a glass of milk she could repeat line by line a whole cartoon. This phenomenon is called echolalia, where children can repeat everything they hear but can not use the words functionally, and is very common in children with autism. I made the call again and this time the evaluators came to my house and worked with Hailey. I could tell by the looks on their faces that there was something really wrong with my child. When I received the report I understood, my daughter was determined to be severely delayed in every category of development. Talk about a soul wrenching report to read. As a first time parent I am sure you can understand how I felt. I just knew that I had in some way *broken* my child. The evaluator later told me that her case was so serious that he didn't know how the first evaluator missed it. Great thanks for that!

Hailey started undergoing in home therapy the very next week and continued to do so every week until she turned 3 years old. At this point she was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental delay - Not otherwise Specified). At that point she had to start attending a special needs preschool 3 times a week and then a main stream preschool the rest of the week so that she could learn from her "normal" peers. She has been in therapy for over a year with no improvement when one day on the way home from her special needs preschool she said quite clearly "Mama I can't reach". Let me tell you I almost wreaked the car! She had finally spoken functional speech! It was not all downhill from there but it was the first hurtle.

After many many more therapy sessions we received wonderful news our child no longer qualified for special needs sessions anymore. While this was a wonderful evaluation and what we had been working towards for years it was also very scary for me as a parent. While in a special needs situation my child was normal, and actually most of the time my child was above normal because she was high functioning. But in a mainstream classroom she was going to be anything but normal. Things that other children take for granted can cause my child to have soul shattering anxiety. Who would cater to her anxiety and help her through situations that caused her to panic? Who would go over and over and over the specific directions so that she would understand? The list goes on and child may not need a special needs class anymore but she wasn't ready for a mainstream one either. She was caught somewhere in the middle and I knew she was either going to suffer a extreme setback or she was going to grow in a way that could only happen my forcing her to learn more coping mechanisms. What was I to do? Send her to kindergarten of course, what else could I do?

When dealing with a child with PDD-NOS there are certain coping mechanisms that you as a parent learn. One that I learned really quickly was that if we were going to change her routine we had to tell her about it WELL in advance. For weeks we talked about going to kindergarten, right down to the smallest detail. Then we did several dry runs where she got to experience the school without ever leaving my side. Finally it came time for her first day. I walked through the whole morning routine with her and settled her at her desk. I told her I loved her and walked away. This wasn't her first time away from me and in a classroom, but this was her first time in a new classroom and that is always a situation that can cause a extreme melt down. I am told that those first few weeks she was in her shell, she didn't speak to anyone, didn't play with the other children, didn't make eye contact, and wouldn't answer any questions. Eventually she started get used to her new routine and began to interact with the teacher and the other children. One thing though continued to haunt her for months. The toilet at the school was outside the classroom and was extremely loud. Seriously it made ME flinch and I didn't have sensory issues to deal with. Hailey would sob at night not to make her got back to school the next day because of that toilet. Eventually after going through dry run after dry run the teacher and I finally got her to the point of being able to use the bathroom without sobbing and having nightmares at night. While she was able to function in the mainstream kindergarten many of her issues are still there. She still can not stand to be touched (she has actually never hugged me in her entire life), loud noises and crowded situations cause her to panic, new situations have to be explained to her in detail, she still has major textural issues when eating, and directions have to be extremely specific.

When it came time for the end of the year review I waited on pins and needles. What would the teacher say? Was she ready for first grade? Had she improved enough academically to progress? Was it possible for her to actually thrive in a mainstream classroom? When the day came I was not surprised that the teacher recommended holding her back based on the fact that she was not able to read all 20 of the sight words. After talking with other parents who home schooled their children I came to the conclusion that reading and sight words is more developmentally appropriate for a 6 yr old. So after much discussion we decided to push her through to first grade this fall. Can she do it? Can she keep up in first grade? I honestly don't know, but then I didn't know if she could handle kindergarten and she did it with flying colors.

My child will always be different, she will always be quirky and special, but she will also always be my child and I wouldn't trade a moment of our past. Yes it was hard and yes it was painful but it was our history and it has made us both the people we are today. Many of our family members have expressed surprise that we chose to have more children after seeing her issues, after all she was not a easy child. I say how can you look at that sweet face and not want more children just like her?

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Husband Doesn't Get Me.

Seriously he doesn't get me at all! Not that I can say I blame him I don't really understand his hobbies either. You know that old saying "opposites attract" well we prove that true. Tonight I am playing with my new toy, a pressure canner, and my husband thinks I have lost my mind. Seems that since I am canning beans he thinks I have gone off the deep end ;) I on the other hand am feeling very self sufficient and productive. Once I was sure I wasn't going to blow myself up it became quite fun! So here is my new toy in action :)
I decided to start with kidney beans since I had a ton of them from WIC and I am so not a fan of remembering to soak and cook beans before use. I have not tried them yet but if they turn out like they should I will be ecstatic :)
And here is the poor guy...doesn't he just look tortured? :)

Cloth Diaper Maintenance

Cloth diapers are a very economical choice for many people, especially for those with multiple children in diapers at one time. While cloth diapers are over all pretty much exactly the same to use as disposable diapers there are some things that are different. One thing that is very different is the usage of diaper rash creams. There are very few that are safe for use with cloth diapers this is not usually a issue, you find a cream that works well and you stick with it for the length of time your child is in diapers. There are however times when you must use a different cream, one that is not safe for use with cloth. What to do then?

My youngest two children developed a pretty bad case of diarrhea a few weeks ago which resulted in a bacterial and yeast infection on their little butts. After several different Dr appointments and even more prescription creams they are finally doing better and almost healed. The problem is that even with a disposable diaper liner there was still some contamination on the diapers resulting in non-absorbent diapers. Now while cloth diapers are economical to use, they become some what less economical when you have to replace your entire stash. Stripping the diapers on the other hand is a great way to make your diapers like new for very little money and some elbow grease.

The first step in the process is to get some REALLY hot water in the kitchen sink. My water heater was not able to get the water as hot as I needed thanks to solar power so I boiled some water and added to the sink with a few Tablespoons of dish soap. Add the diapers to the mix and let soak till the water cools enough for you to be able to put your hands in the water.
Once the water is cool enough for you to put your hands in you will notice the water has turned cloudy. That is all the *stuff* that was accumulated in the fabric. In my case diaper rash creams...
Once you can handle the diapers you take a nail brush and more dish washing liquid and scrub, scrub, scrub. Once all the diapers are done toss them into the washing machine on hot with 1 more Tablespoon of dish washing liquid. Send the diapers through as normal being sure to check during the rinse cycle for bubbles if you see bubbles like in the picture below you need to keep up the rinses. It took me 4 rinse cycles to get clear water.

And there you go you now have stripped diapers :) I am very happy to say that my diapers are now as absorbent as the day I bought them....the Velcro on the other hand....well that is another post ;)

One Mama's Journey Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved Baby Blog Designed by Ipiet | All Image Presented by Tadpole's Notez