Showing posts with label Frugality for 7. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Frugality for 7. Show all posts

Monday, September 8, 2014

Just life


















Life tends to get in the way or prevent blogging.  I don't know if sometimes I'm too busy, don't really want to talk about it or everything all together.  The last month since the kids started school have been awful.  Teenage stuff and we'll just leave it at that.

The one kid I was concerned about is doing so great in school.  Jaemin really loves it.  I hope he stays like this for a long time.  He loves everyone he meets.  He asked if he could have all of his teachers over for his birthday next week and he strives to get on purple as often as possible so he can sleep in my bed.  He such a a sweet kid. He doesn't always get on purple, but he tries.  He never goes below green, so he's doing perfect!  Every time he only gets on blue instead of purple his teacher tells me that's the highest she gave out that day.

I have been running crazy since school started on top of the unmentionables that I won't talk about with anyone.  We're getting through it as a family, so that's all that matters.  I'm trying to learn to enjoy and take it all one day at a time.  I'm being forced into it, but maybe that's good.  I've cut 7 heads of hair this week, which has taken a lot of time, but it's cool out, so now's the time.  Yes, this means I cut my own hair.  It needed whacked off and I got tons of compliments.  Kaelin, again, trimmed the bottom for me to get it even and shaved my neck.  Chase and Brian wanted it buzzed, thankfully.  Jaemin got his usual...a little longer on top and shorter on the sides and back and Cole asked for a mullet.  Ick!  But, I youtubed it and did it for him.  Turned out nice if I do say so myself and he was happy with it.  Saved a bunch of money this week.

This week is 3 footballs games, plus practices, etc.  I'm also trying to keep up on dad since he just got out of the hospital, but he'll be good.  He sounded good.  Keep up with 5 kids and all their homework, Cole registering for college and getting stuff done for that, senior pictures I need to do soon and family pictures (yes I do those myself as well) and I finally found things for Jaemin and Chelsi's birthdays next week.

I just keep remembering how fast this time has gone for Cole and how fast it will go for the others and I want to try to slow it down and enjoy a little more.  Tonight I was not the best mom, but the game was home and it was after 7 before we left, so yep, we went to McDonald's, ate, showered and went to bed.   Except for me who stayed up to finish up bills, check work emails since I'm in off-site meetings all week and edit Chase's photos so that hopefully I can take more Thursday.  Mom's taking the kids Thursday night since the game's away and then Brian and I can just enjoy it with Chase.  Hope it's as good as tonight's.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It's Only Wednesday



















and it's been a long and busy week.  Last week was different.  I think that's the best I can say.  A friend lied to me through email and lied to Brian's face, they said to save feelings, but it really made things so much worse. Just not sure if or when I can forgive. It was the least likely person of anyone we really knew and so hard to accept the lie and it wasn't for a good reason at all.  Too much to go into.  Just know that I made some decisions for my life and some people and on the fence about others.

This week has been go, go, go.  Haven't had time to hardly complete anything.  And now all this rain is driving the ants in.  Thank goodness they seem to be the Terro loving kind right now, so we'll see if I need to pay someone or not.  Last night was good though.  I spent the whole evening with a friend who was home from Florida.  It never takes us long to open up and catch up and that's how friends are supposed to feel and be.  Too bad she's so far away otherwise.  I've spent my time working on laptops.  We have 3 broken laptops in the house.  One is 8 years old (plus) and they've been pretty hard on it the last year.  They can keep using it for games as long as they want.  It keeps them tethered to the wall since the battery is dead and I'm not spending the money on a new one for an old piece of junk.  Cole's Make a Wish laptop died in April.  It had had issues the whole time and Toshiba doesn't just lack in customer service they have zero.  I had told them there were incident reports on it and because it was restorable each time they just allowed it to be bandaided together this whole time so that when it was out of warranty by a week it would crash and they would lose responsibility.  When I googled the "no bootable device" it was giving me it seems the C855 models did this a lot.  Really smart.  They just put a crappy hard drive in (no it's not restorable, I tried) that crashes and loses everything then Toshiba can charge you $39.95 for a USB.  Note that the software is free since you purchases on your laptop in the first place, but they the shipping and handling is $39.95.  What a RACKET Toshiba has going by not backing up their product and putting bad devices out there on purpose.

Make a Wish was AWESOME!  I contacted them hoping they had purchased it with a credit card that had warranty extensions.  I don't know if they did or not.  They just asked for the specs Cole wanted on a laptop and ordered a new one.  He's back up and running and it's NOT a Toshiba. I will never get one again.  I hate waste.  Anyone who knows me knows I hate waste.  So, I ordered a new hard drive and the media restore USB for about $80 total.  The kids could always use a decent laptop and a different, better brand hard drive should do the trick.  I'm going to attempt putting it in myself.  I took the back off and found it, so not really too worried.  In two weeks, they should have a good laptop that will only be used for homework.  Then, Brian informed me last night that Chase had dropped my 3 year old laptop and broke the lcd screen.  I mean killed it!  Great!  I had a spill and drop warranty on it that expired last summer.  I googled replacing the lcd and it's $200 at best.  $300 if I pay someone else.  I only paid $400 for my laptop.  Not happening!  I still had my old Dell monitor in the closet for photography.  I ordered a $6 usb keyboard and a $16 cooling stand for the laptop, found out how to set it to close the lid and stay on.  The laptop will now serve as a processor only and be totally usable.  Fixed it for $22!  In the end, I got 2 laptops fixed and working again for $102.

But, now I am exhausted.  All the reading I've done and learning how to do all this stuff, making sure I have all my ducks in a row.  I'm tired and I just wanted to spend some time with Jaemin because tomorrow's his  first day of summer school and I'm nervous.  I told him I'll walk him in and be home when he gets off the bus.  I know he's pretty excited, but I just want my baby to have a great day!  Tomorrow night my friend is stopping back by one last time before she goes home and then I will have breathing time Friday.

Cole's working 40 hours this week in 2 jobs.  They seem to like him in the one he started last week quite a bit.  They've all told us how hard of a worker he is and he'll probably get a raise.  The other job has just been orientation so far, so I don't think he quite knows what to think.  One is just a summer job.  The other could last into the school year, which will be great!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Making Arrangements















We've always been very fortunate to have really good insurance.  But, my government employer, like all other employers, have sent benefits by the wayside.  My insurance being one of them.  Several years ago that benefit began to decline and  the only real alternative for a family this large where they charge by the child was to go into a high deductible plan.  It's better than no insurance.  When the day came and they offered this new plan while it still means quite a bit more out of my paycheck monthly, it also meant if we didn't go to the doctor and max things out (which does happen sometimes).  Most years just hitting your high deductible and saving the max in the HSA is enough to have money left in your HSA for dental, etc. since we have no dental or vision insurance.  However, maxing it out is a big difference.  Years ago it just wasn't like this.  Even Brian's accident didn't cost this much.  He spent 1 1/2 weeks inpatient and then another few weeks inpatient rehab.  We came nowhere near what this surgery cost for Cole.  I miss the days of $600, maybe $1500 for the year.  We expect at least $2000 every year in medical expenses.  An EKG and echo along with the cost of the cardiologist are approximately $1500/year just for Cole if he doesn't have a stress test and MRI.  We did ask if we could come back in October this year since we're maxed out and won't be responsible for more.  One more heart check before he goes back to full-on wrestling would make me feel so much better.

We've been getting all of the bills in more and more and I've been having to go through, match them up by EOB and pay them.  At least 2-3 times for this surgery alone the bills have been incorrect and I've had to call and remind them they cannot bill for certain things and turn around and wait for a revised bill.  Always wait for the correct bill.  They cannot bill for things the insurance says are outside the agreement, but if they get the accounts mixed up they can do it easily, but it is wrong.  I got one bill today that was revised down to $73 from almost $300 after explaining their mix-up.  Then, since it was the facility again I asked for the 15% pay upfront discount.  So I ended up paying $62.  The other bill I got was almost $400 for a couple of the doctors while he was in the hospital.  Apparently, the physicians do not offer a pay upfront discount, so I told them, for the first time in my lucky life, to set up a payment plan.  They agreed to $50/month so I would have enough to pay what I have to as the year rolls on and more bills come in.  I figured this way we could possibly go to the dentist later this year and when my HSA hopefully catches up to all of this I can pay the physicians off at the end of the year.  There are plenty more physicians bills coming in.  Those were just the smaller ones. It feels weird to have medical payments since we never have, but thankfully, I pull so much out of my paycheck that we should be able to pay them off at the end of the year.

There's always worse and prayerfully, this is the last year of maxing out for awhile!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013
















The kids didn't get anything extravagant, but they got pretty much everything on their lists and I think they enjoyed it.  We decided to not rush Christmas this year by trying to run too many places and stayed home on Christmas Eve.  We went to mass, which lasted 1 hour and 20 minutes.  I think it almost killed Jaemin.  He was really struggling to control himself for so long.  He just kept asking how many songs were left, but they sang everything at this church, so he counted everything.

We came home and made their favorite snack food Christmas.  We had smokies, shrimp, wings, donuts, cinnamon rolls and whatever else.  Each one got to pick a food for us to buy.  Then we watched Elf for a bit.  They opened all their presents and just played the rest of the night.  Jaemin was pretty excited Santa would bring him a Pororo table from Korea.  And he really liked the Monster Truck Great Grandma W got him.  Cole was pretty practical this year and got lots of things for hunting, his car, etc.  Chase has a drawer full of hoodies now, so he should be in good shape.  Kaelin is full up on clothes and accessories.  Chelsi got tons of shoes and finally got a boy doll for her Barbies.  She now has Rapunzel and Flynn Rider.  I actually got a present this year.  Brian saw my mirror that had broken a few years ago and got me a brand new mirror.  Just a simple little hand mirror, but I finally got a new one.  All in all I averaged out to my budget of $100 per kid.  I tried to work as many ebates, Kohls cash or whatever reward I could find into everything.  So after Christmas, I should have a decent little check coming.

I think they're all worn out now....just fairly quietly playing Wii.  We did do what a coworker told me to try.  We put no labels on the gifts from mom and dad and they each just opened a gift and had to decide who's gift it really went to.  Fairly easy until we got to hair accessories.  We got it though.  You can tell from some of their faces, these were not their gifts.  :)


Here are their own gifts.




And each other's gifts.





Then they played.

We got to go to both of their grandma's houses on Christmas Day and cousin E and uncle B came in from NY.






The pictures of E and grandma kissing cracked me up.  He started out smiling in the one and then looked at her out of the corner of his eyes.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Another one of those spurts where















it's so busy I can't just take one single second to blog.  It was one of those weeks (maybe it's been 2 since I last blogged?) where I was doing good to get to and from work, home and get everything done at home that needed to be done.  It was probably mostly because hubby had to work 2 hours away 3 of the 5 days.  I was off Monday for Veteran's Day and got some advanced meals made and the kids in for their flu shots.  At least everyone but Cole.  He had wrestling, so he'll have to figure out a time to do it.  I was even a good girl and got a flu shot and pneumococcal.   The doctor said I can't keep getting pneumonia every year, so I'm trying it.

It just seems there's been so much to do.  Football's over and Cole can take himself to and from wrestling, but it just hasn't let us with homework etc.  I still find myself trying to teach Chase algebra from time-to-time.  He just doesn't get what his teacher says or at least not the way she says it.  I've been trying to shop for a laptop too.  The desktop hit it's last leg, but what do you expect at about 7 or 8 years old.  I was tired of trying to put more parts into it.  I'm donating what parts work to my mother-in-law's daycare.  They don't care if the internet doesn't work so great anymore, they just want to play games.  But, laptop shopping is so daunting and horribly painful.  We still have my old 7 year old laptop.  It works okay.  Better than the desktop, so it's our new desktop even if we have to duct tape the plug into the laptop so it doesn't lose power.  Battery's been dead for a long time you know.  My 2 year laptop just got a new battery.  Can't say enough for Anker's $35 batteries on Amazon.  The kids will be getting that one for home work use.  They really need something dependable at their ages.  With 1 in high school (and 1 to be) and 2 in middle school and 1 in a gift class there are nights when all computers are in use.  With this many kids you do have to have multiple.  Cole has his from Make-a-Wish thankfully, but after only 6 months the Toshiba decided to crash.  I restored it and we'll see how it holds up.  Thankfully, I'm pretty techy and can fix some things.  I finally found a little HP at Staples for $499.  I hate to spend a few hundred dollars, but the kids needed my laptop to work on and I need mine and sometimes even they borrow mine.

Then, I, unhappily, found out that Windows 8 doesn't take my Microsoft Office 2000 that we've been living on.  It's just SO expensive to buy a newer version.  Especially enough for all of our household users.  I talked to the guy at Staples and he said since I'm a government employee I should check if there are discounts and sure enough.  I got it for $23.  I live by my budgetary spreadsheets for our household.  I can't go without Excel. It's the only way this family survives. 

I am VERY happy with my HP so far.  I first ordered an Asus because they're supposed to be really good, but when Walmart got it I hooked it up and the spacebar didn't work right.  I couldn't deal with it and got this one for about $80 less!!  Huge money in this house.

Chase has been a very unhappy boy. The iPod he got for Christmas last year stopped holding a charge very well.  I called Apple and it was in warranty for 10 more days, so it's been replaced and should be redelivered tomorrow.  He's not happy that he was to reload everything, but what's your choice?  An iPod that doesn't work well or fix this one.  Uhhhhh?

This week Cole only has to work 2 days so he'll be home more....which is good and bad.  We had a great (our annual date) dinner with our co-November anniversary friends Friday which was great as usual.  This week Cole has his last orthodontic appointment and I have my physical.  Yuck.  I have to fast.  A little worried about my glucose test, but need to know.

I've started Christmas shopping!  Deep breath.  It's so stressful sometimes.  I gets lists from the 5 kids and divvy them out to their Godparents, grandparents or anyone who wants something.  I know about what most of their budgets are and this helps to make sure the kids get pretty much everything on their lists.  They're so lucky to have so many people that care about them and love them.  Of course, it helps that kids are so down to Earth.  Their lists are so great.  So many kids ask for these pie in the sky kind of gifts.  Mine ask for normal, everyday, things.  Chelsi is still slightly pie in the sky at 8 with her Barbie Dream House gift (not going to happen, it's WAY over budget).  But the other kids are almost hard to even get a list from.

Here are examples of the kind of lists I get:
Cole - speakers for his iPod, bore sight, charger cord, tshirt and Bass Pro gift cards
Chase - slingshot, replacement bands, dremel tool (for his carvings), woodburner (for his lure carvings), balsa wood, charger cord
Kaelin - bike, snow boots, charger, shoes, headbands, Mario Cart for Wii
Chelsi - dream house, webkinz, sled, headphones, flutterby fairy, stompeez
Jaemin - scooter

Jaemin's been difficult to convey the idea of a list.  He doesn't quite understand he can talk about things he wants.....he's kinda simple too. Scooter finally came out, so I will definitely find a way to get him a preschool scooter.  I made his additional list of legos and Monsters University DVD.  He loves Pororo, so I found a little Pororo table with a drawer that he can use to color in the living room.  He'll really like it.

The kids can make me so mad at them sometimes, but they're common, everyday kids that don't expect anything to be just given to them.  They're not entitlement kids that feel their entitled to anything except what they work for.  I love how tight Chase and Kaelin are with their money.  How careful they make every decision.  I see Cole getting to be more careful, but he's not quite so much.  I love that when I get something in my monthly shopping as simple as new socks they are thankful.  They know that every $10 can throw us off our budget some months.  They know we struggle to get something in savings and that that's why we're tight with our money.  We don't want to just spend it because it's there.  You never know when you'll need it.  They know were' saving all of our health savings money (I have it maxed out) to pay for Cole's $6,000 surgery.  I don't want that stress hanging over my head as I sit with him in the hospital.  I want to know we'll be able to pay for it without stressing.  Medical has become such a topic in this house with orthotics for Chase, prosthetics for Brian, Cole's annual cardiology, paying dental and vision totally out of pocket, let alone that looming surgery for Cole. Thankfully, we have insurance.  His surgery allowance alone will be $80,000 plus then we have to meet our $6,000 out of pocket max.  That's life.  It could be worse!  I just try to carefully set up appointments and get orthotics when deductibles are met so that maybe if by some stroke of luck we ever don't meet our deductible (doubtful) we will only have to pay $90 versus $500 for the prosthetics or orthotics.  Or keep Cole's cardiology fluxing between December and January so that if we meet our deductible with unexpected emergencies like we did this year I can move it to December so I only have to pay 20% instead of $1500.  It's a lot of careful scrutiny to decide how to work it so you can eventually save something.  I'm no where close right now.  We've emptied out my maxed out HSA every year since we've started.  I hope to pay ourselves back for Cole's braces early next year then I can focus on saving for his heart surgery.  That will cost a whole lot more than his braces did though, so I don't know how we'll pull that off.  We'll need a year or two of not meeting the deductible in order to do that.

I can hope.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Unplanned purchase

Totally planned to replace my van when Kaelin was driving so I could downgrade to a car for better MPG.  However, with the issues I've had with my van since it was brand new 3 1/2 years ago, we decided to go look around today.  We planned enough by at least checking numbers (invoice, MSRP, etc.) so we'd be educated, but didn't bring anything for our van, including the title.  We really just wanted to get an idea of if there was a deal out there, what kind of numbers they'd be.  We had plans to talk to the Toyota dealership Monday to see what kind of deals they had by comparing to what Honda would offer for my Toyota.  You see, for the 2nd day in a row (3rd time in less than a year) I got stuck in my car.  The panel on the driver's door keeps slipping and getting stuck so I can only open in about 1/4 of an inch and have to crawl out the sides or climb to the back to crawl out.  Either way, it's not a pretty sight especially on days I happened to wear skirts when it occurs.  And yes, I get laughed at at work crawling out the passenger side, but what am I to do until they come out to fix it.  Today made the 20th time it had been back to the dealership for about 4-5 different issues (none motor) in the past 3 1/2 years.  I only had 43,000 miles on it.  It had been not such a great morning anyways and you can imagine my feelings when I needed to get out of the house, so I pull into Walmart's parking lot to grocery shop and find I can't get out of my vehicle AGAIN.  I couldn't stop the tears.  I was crying and I was shaking and then I was sick to my stomach.  The service manager, who is wonderful, came out to look at it immediately and then he filled up my gas so I could get back to the dealership.  He literally had to screw the panel to the metal portion of the door so it wouldn't slip until he got a new panel in next week.  He had already installed new clips 2 other times and both times they failed.  He's hoping it's a defect with the panel, but no guarantees.  I just couldn't deal with that anymore.  It's not safe.  I end up having a mini panicky feeling each time on initial trying to get the door open.  Even Brian finally said it was enough this time.  We went to Honda to get numbers to compare.  They came back with a number that was pretty absurd.  Especially, since we were sort of trading down.  I didn't want the DVD this time, so we seemed to have lost that, roof racks and one 120V plug.  All not biggies especially when that DVD player tore the heck out of DVDs rendering most of them unplayable or skipping all the time.

I brought Jaemin with us especially so we'd have an excuse to leave.  Oh darn, the baby's upset, time to go.  But the manager asked me what I needed to get to.  I told him since it was a knock down of what I had (must have sunroof and leather), I wanted it for $5,000 less than he told me he could do.  I told him it wasn't a big deal though, he could think about it and we just really wanted to go.  He was really adamant he could call Honda and get closer.  Next thing I know he comes over and says if I do it for XXX you have to take the loan for .9, you can pay it off at first payment, but they'll lower the price if we did that.  I did NOT know what to say.  I thought what I gave him was a little absurd seeing as my van is 3 1/2 years old with 43,000 miles.  He said we had to pick a color in stock to do it.  I told him they had to have what I would want first, then I would agree.  That was hard.  Now I was under the gun to make a decision I hadn't planned to make. It was a really good deal, so it actually made more sense to replace it now rather than later because in a few more years the Sienna depreciates even harder.

In the end, I got the Odyssey for MSRP and traded mine for $1,000 less than what I paid for it 3 years ago....if you look at it the other way (because you can switch those numbers however you like to get to the difference), I paid invoice for the new van and traded mine for $3,000 loss of what I paid 3 1/2 years ago.  Really good deal in the world of vehicles.  Luckily, I had gotten a great deal on the Sienna in the first place, but after the trouble I had with all of the little things, so stressful.  We went for the 5 year warranty and we have no maintenance on it for 5 years either.  We did the loan because we had to, but we have the option to pay it off whenever we like.  Not sure if we will since we're not losing any money on it, but we always have the option if we get tired of our $150 payment.

Not quite in my budget plans (or was in the line for a few years from now), but you have to take the better deal even if timing is a little off.  Hopefully and I really, really hope this one has a better track record.  My old Honda was great, so I'm hoping this one's as good.  And it has an 8th see.  I'm liking that again.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Almost there





















I'm almost completely done Christmas shopping.  I only have a stocking stuffer left, but that's not much to look for.  Those are small gifts.

Sitting here on the couch, since Chelsi has influenza, and thinking we did really well getting within our $100/kid budget.  I pretty much always stay in it.  I think a couple of years ago I went about $20 over on the big kids.  That's a rare occasion.  I save all year for Christmas, so it's important to stay within our budget to keep me in our monthly budget.

We got the big boys $250 iPods for $180.  But, since the girls wanted their 3G 8gb iPods for Christmas, that keeps me in budget on all 4 kids.  I know some people don't think it's right giving kids used gifts, BUT I don't necessarily agree with buying 7 and 10 year olds brand new iPods, so we're even.  I have the boys' new iPods all synced up and ready to go.  They are to turn over their iPods and Otterboxes a couple of days before Christmas so I can sync up the girls' iPods the way they would like them (their kinda music and apps).  Jaemin's big gift is an awesome PowerWheels Jeep Rubicon.  It's normally about $250, but got it the two-seater for $179.  I had to take back last years piece of junk, off-brand, four wheeler and since I got back over $100 for that, I put it towards this years' gift for him.

Kaelin asked if she could have a new Webkin since hers died a couple of years ago.  So, I thought it would be cool for her and Chelsi to each get a kitten Webkin and then we can load the app on their iPod after Christmas and they can tend to them on their iPods.  Great for the Korea trip.  They were only $8/each.  I had bought the boys some camo shirts for stocking stuffers on clearance earlier in the year; maybe $3 or $4 each.  Cole is getting an extra KU shirt since I found one his size on clearance for $2 and he outgrew his old one.  They do have to get a Santa gift, so even though I went over on each, I stayed within overall.  I found a watch for Chase for $18 when it was normally $35 for a Timex sports watch.  Cole's getting a gun cleaning kit I found for $9.  I found the cutest little bracelet at Kohls for Kaelin's stocking stuffer and she picked out a watch on clearance at Penneys on Black Friday that was in her school colors.  I'm just under $500 after the $100 back from last year's gift for Jaemin.  Exactly where I wanted to be.

Since I also shop for grandma's, if they ask, I found good deals for them too.  Found a Thomas the Train Trouble game and a cool color changer car and launcher for great grandma to give Jaemin.  Got 2 Barbies and Barbie clothes for Chelsi from great grandma.  Snagged a Just Dance 2 Wii game (found one in like-new condition from Amazon) for Kaelin from great grandma.  Great grandma's also getting Cole the rattling horns on his list (when Bass Pro finally went free shipping for the first time I've ever seen with no limit) and Chase is getting the outdoorsman book he wanted and treble hooks.  Great grandma's going to be awesome in ours house because all of these items were tops on theirs lists.   I even found the big boys the western boots and hunting boots they'd wanted and waited long enough for REALLY great sales to stay in their grandma's budget.

Lastly, I got some super cute little girls jeans and a ballerina Barbie for the little girl in our adopt-a-family at work.

I think overall a LOT of the kids' list items will be under a tree somewhere by the time, us, Santa, grandparents, etc. get the gifts for them.  Cole's the only one that's a little harder since he has so many more expensive hunting items.  We can really only afford one per year and since he's getting the iPod, it's just not possible.  He'll have to save the list for next year and see if he still wants the items.  I don't think he'll be disappointed though.  We may not spend near as much as other families, but their still fairly spoiled....in my mind and totally content, so that's all that matters.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Controlling the budget

We butchered a 1/2 a cow last Spring.  Sadly we are already out of all of the ground beef and down to some steaks and roasts.  I'm not a big steak eater, so I usually use them by slicing them into Korean or Chinese dishes, etc.  Sometimes Brian will make me something else while he and the boys (and sometimes the girls) eat steaks.  Well, my budget doesn't say beef yet.  It says that we must wait until next Spring or it costs entirely too much for the year. 

First I gave Brian an sermon about us not needing two pounds of beef for every meal.  We can cut back on our meat intake and substitute.  So, I've been pretty much in charge of the menu most weeks.  This is where Brian struggled anyways.  He made the same old, same old every week because of lack of planning and time.  I don't complain because he cooks.  However, money is my department.  I had him go to Aldi and get a bunch of cheap chicken breasts, a friend gave us several more pounds of ground beef as payment for some help at the farm and now we have a deer in the freezer along with some ground turkey I also had Brian pick up at Aldi.  It's only around $1/lb, so it goes further financially and the deer is SUPER cheap. 

Brian now has to abide by my rules of no more than 1 lb of meat per dinner.  That means approximately 3 chicken breasts or 1 lb of ground meat per meal.  He can always fry up a 1 lb of turkey or deer and mix with a pound of beef and it's enough for two meals.  I go through a recipe binder I keep.  I take a cheapy binder, put in sheet protectors and any time I see a recipe I like online or in a magazine I put them in there.  Super easy and now we have our favorite recipes readily available.  I make a menu before I grocery shop.  Sometimes it's based on sale items, sometimes it's just what I feel like making (depending on how much we have going on that week) or just feel like stretching out to something different.  I usually pick up about 5 or 6 items; some quick and easy, some a little more time consuming.  I take the weirder ones (Brian likes very basic recipes).  Brian doesn't like to adlib on recipes and I do.  I will make mine on the weekends or my days off and he takes the other nights.  Sometimes, if I really have time I'll cook up some of the extra dishes on the weekend so Brian only has to finish them. 

It's amazing how much stress this relieves for us.  Brian no longer calls me at work because he doesn't know what to make and he knows when he walks in the door what's for supper.  We can have meat thawed and ready to go.  We never were much for eating out, but this makes you not want to because you're not having the same, boring, meal week after week.  And my favorite part is when I get to cook I throw in a lot of fresh veggies and the kids never ever notice.  They eat veggies fine anyways, but I get a lot more in there to take the place of the missing meat they were use to.  We eat pretty darn healthy with these meal plans too.

This is one of our little tips of getting by, a little less stressed, when parents of 5 work fulltime.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

You could literally hear it


















going out of our account, I swear.  :)

We sold our old truck Monday, bought our new truck (older) Tuesday.  By Wednesday we had it in for new tires, which it badly needed as the others were bald and unbalanced, and an inspection.  That's when we got the news.  It needed ball joints, idler arm, lugnuts, replaced side mirror glass and an alignment.  We kinda figured by the condition of the current tires it would need an alignment, but all of this was to the tune of $1300.  Didn't make the buying price seem quite as good.  But, what can you do?  Just deal with it.  By Thursday I drove Cole's car into work so he could have practice driving it to school.  It lost power on my way to work and I could barely make it up the hill.  Time for a new catalytic converter.  $200  Brian says his truck's rotors need turned, but since we don't drive it much we'll wait for now.  I'm worn out on car repairs.  We are very thankful that's all it was for Cole's car after Brian's truck repairs...yikes!

I did get really good news though.  The oddest thing I think I've ever heard of as far as specials and discounts go, but I called the hospital to pay for Cole's last cardiology bill, which is normally around $1,000, but this one didn't have an MRI or stress test on it, and they told me as soon as I called that if I paid it off that day they would knock 50% off for a special they were having for the month of May.  Holy cow!  Of course I paid it off, I was going to anyways, but now it's that much more I can keep in my HSA to put towards Cole's braces or his cardiology in December which will come to about $300 for my 20% out-of-pocket, now that I've met my high deductible.

I'll take any break we get!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My pretty project....so happy.

Saw this on some blogs and Pinterest and HAD to do it.  We had some scrap lumber that was already stained this, non-matching, color.  I got a paint pen and ruler and went to town following the instructions online. Then, we made it fit for our house.  I got out the old baby books for all of the kids and wrote down all of their past measurements.  I will surely take more care to measure them all on their birthdays now that I have somewhere to put them.  It was sort of fun seeing such close or far away measurements on some of the kids.  And it's never put away.  It's always out for all to see as a household decoration....even better!  What did it cost me?  Well, a bottle of black paint around the edges (I had it, but maybe $2) and a paint pen that cost $2.  Woohoo!  I love it!  Something similarish at Pottery Barn for $59. 



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hello 2012
















Welcome.  I have great plans for you.  I have plans for me to be a better, more patient mother.  I have plans to get a little more exercise and am hopefully on my way to being more natural with my allergies.  I'm excited for a new start and am thinking there are good things in store for us.

We did a little New Years Eve, but it wasn't totally intentional, just circumstantial.  'Cole, Tommy, Alex and Will came over to give Chelsi her Christmas presents.  They weren't doing anything, so Nicole suggested a taco bar for dinner.  So we invited Jay, Shannon and Sawyer, but only Jay and Sawyer could come.  Of course, all were in bed before midnight, but we still had a nice time to catch up and it was so nice to see Jaemin and Sawyer playing with tattling or fighting.  Apparently, Sawyer just told her dad that Jaemin is her best friend.  Where do 3 year olds get this stuff?

Jaemin shared his Thomas with Sawyer.

Today, Chase started off the year with his braces.  He only got 4 of his top brackets on and, of course, chose green and grey for his school colors.  He will get the bottom 4 next week and then 4 more on top after a couple more permanent teeth come in.  Very luckily, he lost a tooth on New Year's Eve and it turned out to be the one all of the orthodontists we saw and our dentist thought was fused to his jaw bone.  So, that was one less tooth to pull later and best of all I could quit worrying about how much it was going to hurt Chase getting pulled!  3 more baby teeth need to come out, but he said they might come out in the next couple of months so we're giving them time.  He also got spacers put in and bumps.  Next week he'll get the rings put on his back teeth to hold them back.  Chase said this afternoon he can already feel the pull on the one tooth on top that has crossed his bottom teeth.  The bumps are put on his back teeth so that he cannot close his mouth all the way.  That way when his cross-bite begins to fix they will clear each other as one goes back and the other one gets pulled forward.  He said he's pretty sure this will completely fix him with no future treatment needed and in about 12 months.  He will definitely be out of braces by 8th grade.  I'm so glad we held off long enough to get in with this new guy.  He found a different plan of treatment for us that was about 1/3 the cost of the original guy I went to (there have been 4!).  He's fresh out of school and graduated pretty high in his class and Chase feels really comfortable with him.

Here's one of my baby boys in his green and grey!

And, knock on wood, using local bee honey has been really helping me.  I'm off all allergy meds including my nose spray.  It was the last I was willing to give up, but needed to try.  1 week of honey and cinnamon and I haven't had an asthma attack since I started.  I don't know how or why, but I had actually been having them more frequently after getting off Advair (after it caused pneumonia and dysphonia) and I've been doing really well.  Now the place that sells the honey is leaving me some beeswax to try.  She said the pollen's more potent in it, so I'm going to take it easy at first because I get itchy after eating the honey, like all over my body.  But it goes away and I'm hoping to build up immunity to it all and hopefully by the time the season really sets in I'll be ready to go and drug free!  YAY!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I'm a coupon clipper

I admit it.  But I suppose today it's the 'in' thing to do, right?  I got better about it while I was working part time. I mean I had time during naps to try to clip some.  I could save $20-50 month.  That's all I managed.  Today I watched my first episode of Extreme Couponing out of curiosity.  After I saw these women buying hundreds of items I couldn't help but wonder who they got hundreds of coupons to make those items free.  I mean I've rarely found any coupons making things free in the past year, even at sale price with a rare double allowed.  So I remembered my friend Google.  I found this article on it and I have to say it made me feel a ton better.  Basically, it's pretty much a facade so television can get it's ratings.  I've never seen coupons for the stuff on my grocery list anyways; red beans, black beans, frozen veggies, fresh fruit, etc.  It's a good read.  Check it out.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

cell phones and your kids


















My oldest is 14 1/2.  Somehow I've gotten off real easy with cell phones.  He has only asked 2 or 3 times over the years about when, but never a fight, argument, rude remark.  We decided that he turned 15 he should have a Tracfone so he could get used to the responsibility of having a cell and the usage on it.  But, he threw us and decided he wants to Wrestle (if his cardiologist lets him).  Practice starts this week, so we decided to get me something else and start him with mine now.  Cole got his birthday present over 5 months early along with a lecture of how the rules work.  He was all smiles.  I mean it's crazy, but there are 1st graders at school with phones.  NUTS!

The 11 year old came down while we were discussing and asked what it was about.  I then said "I suppose you want too now".  He looked at me like I was crazy and scoffed.  He said "I don't want a phone."  I said can you wait 'til you're a freshman too?  And thankfully he said he could.

The deal is he uses this phone until he turns 16 and it goes to our pantry every night to charge where I can get to it and I can check calls and texting.  Then, he can decide what to do after he turns 16 and gets a job.  I told him either I could continue to pay for his Tracfone, in full, and he could learn to budget 1100 minutes a year or he could get a Go Phone or some other plan and I'll pay for a portion of it.  This will give him a lot of time to think about it and start budgeting his money or ideas of money he may have.

Good life lesson for him and one thankful mom that I don't have kids that have to have it and have it NOW!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

GAK

Gak making.  We saw a show where a family made some and I thought that might be fun for the kids.  Turns out it's extremely cheap.  $.80 worth of glue, some drops of food coloring and a little Borax.  The kids had a really great time making it and playing with it in their hands.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stinky situations

















I'm so done with opinion after opinion after opinion.  I'm all talked out!  There's teeth and sewer...doesn't that sound yummy?

We were sent to an orthodontist when Chase was 7 because of a cross bite.  So, off and on for 4 years now, we've been getting opinions.  The first guy wanted us to pay $7,000 and start on an expander and brace phases immediately.  He told me by the time he was 11 his palate couldn't be expanded and would have to be broken.  When we couldn't afford to do that I felt like a terrible mother.  So, eventually, I went to get a 2nd opinion from the only other ortho in town.  This was two years ago and he told me $5500 for expander and braces.  Still couldn't afford it, so we held off.  This year we ventured to a city an hour away because there's more competition there, so it's less expensive.  This guy said no expander, but braces at $4900 with discount of paying off.  Okay, that was closer because he said I was in no rush as his crossed teeth were not hitting yet, but would hit in the next few years.  Right now it's his 3 ectopic permanent teeth that are a bit of an issue due to no room on top.

Me being the bargain shopper I am I called opinion #2 back since it had been 2 years and asked that he look at him again; before I commit to an hour away ortho.  He said he'd grown dramatically in 2 years and while something still needs done due to his cross bite and ectopic teeth he was going to try to be creative with our budget.  He said wisdom teeth can make all the difference.  So, after finding out that our backwoods dentist would only charge me $54 for a panoramic xray (because we pay out of pocket with no insurance) he said he would match it so that he could make a decision that day.  Turns out he does not yet have his wisdom teeth and since mine have still not come in on top he felt comfortable not using an expander, but rather pulling a couple of babies that are almost ready to fall out (free of charge) and then next year pulling a couple bottom baby teeth (under anesthesia due to the roots) and putting a few brackets on top and bottom to hold them in place and prohibit them from moving forward.  This will allow all of his ectopic teeth to move down into their places and shove his two front teeth together.  He said it won't be perfect, but he said it will look nice and be medically stable.  This for about $3500-4000.  Not that I want to spend the money, but it's pretty necessary and we'll take it.  So, at this point, it looks like next year we'll be putting one in braces.

We almost had 2 in braces.  I had to take Cole in for the consult too because our dentist was concerned about the crowdedness of his bottoms.  I told the ortho that we were very limited in funds due to septic problems.  He works with the menonite community, so he understood.  He said Cole's uppers were perfect and while his bottom doesn't look great he says it won't change and won't cause issues.  So he can due it at any time into adulthood.  With three kids younger, we decided it's better to treat the worst case right now, not knowing how the younger ones will be.  One win there!

We've been researching septic solutions for awhile now.  A couple of years ago when we added on our pantry and garage it changed the direction of rain drainage and we think is what contributed to our problem.  We planted a willow in the wet spot and hoped it would help soak up the moisture.  Three years later it's getting wetter.  It's not standing water, but when you can't mow even 6 days after a heavy rain, you have issues.  We had someone come in and redirect it to the woods as a temporary fix, but have been looking into our option ever since.  We don't, by law, have to fix it unless we sell, but I don't like the risk of the bugs and the wetness and the kids falling down, etc.  I've talked on the phone to several that are licensed with our county to do the proper work and some have even come out to look at it.  I've had every opinion you can imagine.  One said replace the whole system with an engineered system at $15,000-30,000.  One said they wanted to put in a $2,500 aerator.  One said we could do a lagoon, but that's illegal due to our restrictions in the neighborhood.  We have city sewer coming in 18 months.....IF we annex into the city.  So, I am trying to get the neighbors to discuss our options.  If they want to annex, now would be cheaper.  If we're forced to annex down the line it will cost more.  But, it's not a guarantee we will be annexed.  So, we're finally going to discuss as a neighborhood next month.  I know we cannot afford this new system.  There's no doubt.  I will NOT spend eight years of saving for Korea on poo!  We had yet one more guy come out last night and he thinks we have a crushed pipe at the end and it may just need an inexpensive repair and extended drain field due to the size of our family.  Luckily when we built our builder put in a bigger tank, so it's fine for our size.  He's going to get drawings from when we built so he can better figure out our options and give us a good estimate.  He said it won't be bad.  Finally, I feel like I have some hope on this one.  I've been so stressed about poop.  Isn't that awful!

I'll update on the poop situation after August 10th when we have our bid and our meeting.  The teeth will have to wait until they make their determination in November, 5 months after he gets some babies pulled out.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I love birthday month













Obviously as a mom to 5, I'm lucky I get a birthday, so there is no week long or month long celebration.  However, the coupon people LOVE my birthday.  So, I show them some love by SPENDING them!  I got $10 off Kohls, so Cole got a new pair of shoes for school for $20 after my 20% discount and coupon.  I got $10 off Penneys, so Kaelin got a pair of capris and a shirt and Chelsi got a shirt for $13 total.  I even got a free meal off Lee's Chicken, so I had to use my $20 Groupon to Old Navy and had my yummy dinner for free!

Came home and Brian tells me I got my birthday coupons in the mail today too.  Our city allows vendors to submit coupons and then on your birthday you get a whole pack.  I got my favorite.....I'm hoping someone's going to take me for Chinese so I can use it.  Hint hint.  After all, I've gone to this restaurant most of my birthdays for most of my life.  Why stop now.  It's the only time I get to have it.

Always a reason to celebrate when you get coupons to help you out!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Long day of shopping with great rewards
















I 'made' the big boys go with me shopping today.  Unfortunately, I had to do my monthly shopping and weekly groceries at once...which meant a massive list!  I was also planning on returning stuff to Kohls and checking the price on diapers at Target since I'd be out that way...oh and stop by the $1 store.  The first parts were all a bust!  I forgot my Kohls return, so the boys got out of that.  The diapers that were on sale at Target weren't as good a deal as they seemed online, but the Target brand WAS cheaper than Walmart's brand, so I got them.  I found a couple of things for little man to get from the Easter Bunny and then he can bring them on vacation with us.  All good there.

Then we were off to Walgreens to get some dental floss...real cheap.  Yep, I walked out of there with just the dental floss.  After that it was some items at Kroger, but only what was on the list from the ad.  Only if super cheap.  But, we stocked up on some cheap chips for the trip.  Last stop was Walmart.  That was a large bill, but for a month of toiletries, etc and 1 week of food it was good.

I actually came in real great on my budget today.  Surprised me with how over full the cart was.  I could barely push it after we put 20 lbs of dog food on the bottom too.  I made my lists at home and then searched for all the coupons I didn't already have.  Of course, I always print extra if I think there's a chance I might use it down the road.  Saved me $16 on everything I was buying anyways.  See we don't live in an 'extreme coupon' area where you get double dolllar coupons, triple any coupons, etc.  So, you have to be happy with this.  Plus when you're buying fresh fruits and veggies and NO processed foods it's a little harder...but I don't care.

My best deal was $3 off a Toy Story Operation game that was on clearance for $5.  Do I need it?  No, but I cut the coupon thinking it would be a great Christmas or birthday present for one of the younger ones.  So, yep, I got it for $2.  Cole used comp ads to get the donuts he wanted to buy himself for $1.09 each.  I told him I'd never seen them that cheap and he buys his own junk food, so he used my ad.  He also used a coupon I found for B1G1 Axe shower gel.  He got two for $3.  He was pretty happy with his deals, so this was a GREAT teaching opportunity.

After I got home and put all the stuff away little man woke up from his nap.  He was SO happy to see me and gave me a big 'hi mommy'.  Then, I sat down on the couch and he monkey hugged me (this is what I call it when he wraps hi arms around my neck and legs around my waist) and kept rubbing and squeezing his hands on my.  I asked him what he was doing and he kind of gave me the duh answer of 'I hugging you'.  I've never heard that from him and it was so sweet.  As in 'I love you' sweet.  Man that boy makes a tired mom feel good!  Love you Jaemin!

Monday, March 21, 2011

TV Choices

I want to get rid of satellite so BAD!  There are no good options.  We don't get anything (no locals) without it.  There's no for sure that we could without a very large and high antenna because of the hole we sit in.  I know that in a lot of areas $110 for tv, internet and phone isn't bad, but sometimes it just seems so wasteful.  A part of me wonders if we didn't have many choices in tv, if the kids would study even more, etc.?  Can't help but think that.  But, at the same time, I think Brian works so hard and deserves his ESPN.  The only thing he really asks for. 

I signed up for a month of free Netflix to check it out.  Since Grandma gave us a Wii for Christmas we can finally try this out.  The kids REALLY like it.  So, last night I ordered 2 Rokus to go in the other rooms.  There are other things you can watch through the Rokus too and no price.  I'll find out after we get them.  I wanted to speed up our internet so Netflix wouldn't have to constantly retrieve, but I'm not positive the $10/month more it would cost me would fix the issue.  The phone company says yes, but not willing to guarantee it and allow me to go back to my 768 speed at my grandfathered in price.  We're only paying $53/month for satellite, which is pretty cheap....just still seems frivolous.  Of course, $53 includes a $10/month discount I talked them into until December of this year.  ESPN360 maybe offering something in the future through Roku or internet.  At that point, we'll probably dump satellite totally.  I can live with Netflix and the other avenues we'd have at at least a $20/month cost savings.  Netflix will be $10/month to keep, so not terrible.  I can downgrade our satellite one more notch and that will cover it.

What I'd REALLY like to do is get rid of satellite totally, but I really need to get our locals first.  You can't watch the local news live and I do think it's important to do that.  I think we're going to be stuck with satellite for awhile. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Allergy to apples? Try pearsauce.

When Jaemin was diagnosed as being allergic to apples, I was shocked.  I'd never heard of that one.  They told me that it was actually very common.  He breaks out in hives from apples or any sort of juice if they put apples in it.  So, I have to carefully read anything he picks up if we go to a party with other kids, etc.

My mother in law actually started smashing pears for him because he was such a huge applesauce fan and he wasn't very happy if the other kids got applesauce and he didn't.  He accepted the pear smashings, though.  So, I've started making pearsauce at home for him.  All you do is put about 5 cans of pears (in pear juice), 1 small can of pineapple and about 1/8 cup of grape juice (100%) in a blender.  Blend it up and it's ready to go.  I've done it with and without the juice and he loves it either way, but I got rave reviews when I made it with the juice.  He kept telling me "yum, yum, dis good".  That's great when he does that on his own. It must have been awesome.

Snow Ice Cream

Since we got about 8-9 inches of snow yesterday and people kept writing about snow ice cream on facebook, I thought I'd give it a try.  I'd never heard of it until facebook.  We happened to get a recipe in our conservation magazine too.  So with some milk, sugar, vanilla, chocolate syrup and fresh snow we made snow ice cream for 5 kids.  Brian liked it so much he went back out and made more to keep in the freezer.  It was actually kind of fun and very CHEAP.  I like that.

Lisa