Archive for the ‘Everyday Life’ Category

What I Spent This Week (2018.10.19)

October 20th, 2018

Before I married Daniel, I barely drank coffee. I barely liked coffee.

And then he started serving me coffee from Wichita’s Spice Merchant. It was wonderful. I took it with sugar and sipped it all day long at work – until I realized the hypocrisy of telling parents to avoid letting their child walk around with (even just a splash of) juice in their sippy cup. I asked Daniel to wean me off the sugar and he did, putting less and less in my morning coffee over the course of a week or so.

I don’t miss the sugar one bit – unless I start drinking something other than Spice Merchant coffee. Then I need all the additives.

So really, the huge amount of money we spend at the Spice Merchant each month is for my health, right?

Saturday, October 13

We always go to the Spice Merchant on the second Saturday of the month, where our “Second Saturday” bag gets us an extra 15% off our purchase. We got our normal coffee – and then I went a little crazy with the teas. And they had red curry paste, which they’ve been out of for what seems like forever, so I had to get a couple of jars (’cause when you want a red curry, no other curry will do!)

Spice Merchant 2018/10/13

It’s a good thing I went under as much as I did last week. I have $199.85 to work with this week – or at least, I did, until I spent all of $93.08 at the Spice Merchant!

Sunday, October 14

I made an expensive mistake. I forgot to pack Tirzah Mae and Louis a snack for church. And since the snack is about the only thing that keeps them from talking the whole service long… I had Daniel run to a nearby grocery store to get some snack mix while I was setting up my Sunday School classroom.

$11.59 for snack mix and dried cranberries. The kids ate almost half. (My homemade mostly Cheerios snack mix is tons less expensive!)

Tuesday, October 16

Walmart 2018/10/16

I still have lots in the freezer for this menu cycle, so my grocery pickup (once I subtract the training pants and the vitamin D for the kids) is a very
reasonable $22.38.

More Walmart 2018/10/16

I’ve still got $72.80 left for ALDI on Thursday. (Hooray for eating out of the freezer!)

Thursday, October 18


ALDI 2018/10/18

Folks, This feels nice.

What I Spent This Week (2018.10.12)

October 12th, 2018

Last week, Cathy asked if I “shop the ads”.

The short answer is no, not really. Apart from keeping a price book, I keep my grocery-list making process pretty lean. I do look through Sam’s Club’s “Instant Savings” booklet when it arrives in the mail and make plans to purchase bulk of any of the items we regularly purchase at Sam’s while they’re on sale. I also occasionally check ALDI’s sale flyer when I’m making my list for Thursday – but I’m just as likely to skip it. I do typically take a peek at ALDI’s meat selections when I’m in store and buy for the freezer when they’ve got cheap meat. Depending on how much I’ve got in the freezer already, I’ll buy a ham or a pork roast anytime they’re available for less than $1.50 per pound. Likewise, if there’s a good deal on the family pack of chicken breasts, I’ll buy a pack or two, cook them in my crockpot on low and then shred them and divy them into containers for the freezer to use later for anything that calls for chicken.

But I don’t routinely look through the ads and base my lists off of them.

Tuesday, October 9

Some weeks it seems it takes me nothing at all to exceed the $30 minimum for grocery pickup. Other weeks, I’m racking my brain to come up with more for my order. That’s the way it was this week, until I remembered that I need some more canning jar lids for the next time I get the yen to can.

Walmart 2018/10/9

Those come out of my “household – consumables” budget, so my $37.02 order only contains $26.36 in groceries.

Our Sam’s Club order was almost entirely household consumables. Daniel buys the cutlery for his work group’s “snack days” and they need more forks and spoons. And we’ve decided that we’re going to use paper plates and/or bowls for Friday dinners at home so that Daniel and I don’t have to do dishes (or, as many dishes) before our Friday night “reconnecting” time.

Sam's Club 2018/10/9

The only grocery item is our cheese, $6.43 for a 2 lb block.

So we’re at $32.79 so far – $103.11 left for the rest of the week.

Thursday, October 11

ALDI had apples back at $1.49 for a 3 lb bag – which means we bought more apples to make applesauce with. Thirty-three pounds, to be precise.

ALDI 2018/10/11

Beyond that, there wasn’t a terrible lot we needed since a lot of this next week’s meals are already in the freezer.

$39.16 for apples plus miscellany.

So we’re ending the week $63.95 ahead, which is wonderful since we spend a LOT of money on coffee on the second Saturday of each month – and that’s tomorrow!

What I Spent This Week (2018.10.05)

October 6th, 2018

I’ve officially decided what to do about our foster care stipend. I’m going to take whatever portion I allocated to groceries the previous month and divide it between the weeks of the current month. So, last month, I allocated $83.60 of the foster care stipend to groceries – which means I get an extra $20.90 per week to spend this month. So October’s grocery budget is $135.90 per week.

Saturday, September 29

ALDI had this-season Gala apples for $1.49 for a 3 lb bag – and I’ve been pretty bored with store-bought applesauce – so we made a special trip to buy 30 lbs for applesauce. My plan is to can one pressure-canner load (7 quarts) at a time as long as there are cheap-ish apples available. That way I don’t have to do any marathon canning sessions (while the house falls to pieces) – but I should be able to still get some sauce that has actual flavor.

Apples, apples, apples

Total cost of apples plus a quart of half and half: $18.03

Tuesday, October 2

Walmart Grocery Pickup was $58.91

Walmart 2018/10/02

Do you ever see anything name brand in my grocery pictures? There are three potential reasons:

  • There is no generic option (Cinnamon Life, now that Walmart stopped making a generic)
  • Daniel asks me, pretty please, to buy the name brand (Honey Nut Cheerios)
  • Walmart made a substitution (the Dole Pineapple in this picture)

If Walmart doesn’t have a particular item in stock for grocery pickup, they’ll sub in an alternate at no extra cost to you (they’ll also check with you car-side to make sure their alternate is acceptable to you). Generally, the alternate ends up being the name brand version instead of the cheaper generic I always buy.

Thursday, October 4

Sam’s Club didn’t have an open slot on Tuesday (first time I’ve ever not gotten my preferred slot!) so I scheduled pickup for Thursday.

Sam's Club 2018/10/04


That left me $20.91 for ALDI – which just wasn’t enough. I spent $26.72

ALDI 2018/10/04

So not a bad week, but not a great one either.

Scratching a Nine-Month Itch

October 3rd, 2018

Beth-Ellen is nine months old now.

She’s increasingly independent, crawling and pulling up and standing by herself. She’s able to go longer between feedings, able to eat table food instead of just breastmilk. At the same time, she’s in the midst of separation anxiety, all too eager for her mama to stay near by.

I am nine months postpartum now.

Which means I am starting to realize that I’m something more than a mother of a little baby. I am ready again to be a woman, not simply a mother.

I look in the mirror and I care again that my face is blotchy with the acne that never left me after pubescence. I start to long for clothes that fit and flatter, not just ones that are accessible for the tasks of motherhood.

I realize that I’ve felt this way every time I’ve neared the nine-month mark.

With Tirzah Mae, I think I bought new bras. Having some that fit did wonders for my self-image.

With Louis, I went through my wardrobe and tailored outfits to my current size.

With both of them, I got pregnant not long after.

Because that’s the other way nine months makes me feel.

Like I’m starting to get the hang of this many kids. Like it’s time to add another member to the family.

I’m doing something about one of those feelings this time.

I’ve learned my lesson that clothing sizes are still in flux in this season of life – I’m not doing anything extravagant with clothes unless it can easily adapt to the ups and downs of pregnancy and postpartum.

But makeup.

I can do makeup.

So I rub on a little foundation in the morning. I color in my lips.

I think whether I have a scarf or something I can add to my “uniform” of skirt and t-shirt.

Three minutes worth of work each morning and I’m feeling like a someone again, not merely a substrate for milk.

And it feels good.

What I Spent This Week (2018.09.28)

September 28th, 2018

I went way over budget ($61.02) the second week of September and have been working to get myself out of that hole. I had to keep my groceries to just $77.71 for this week to come out of September on top.

Monday, September 24

I had an eye appointment right across the street from an ALDI and we needed butter desperately (I made tomato soup using oil and mac and cheese using schmaltz – that’s how desperately!), so I did my ALDI shopping for the week early.

ALDI purchases 9/24/2018

$28.71 leaves me and even $49 for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, September 25

Walmart Grocery pickup was $56.36 – but $4.17 of that was laundry soap and $9.33 was Vitamin D for the little ones, which means $42.86 for groceries.

Walmart Grocery pickup 9/25/2018


I stayed under budget, even with buying formula!

Thursday, September 27

And then we had a doctor’s appointment and all of us got our flu shots – and the little ones were screaming and I had left bottle nipples at home so I couldn’t feed the littlest one her formula except by cup (which she was NOT happy about). So I promised the kids donuts when we went to Walmart to get some bottle nipples.

They desperately wanted to break the budget, suggesting that I purchase all sorts of expensive treats. (I’m not going to lie, I saw a rotisserie chicken that sounded SO much better than the cold beef salad sandwiches I’d packed for lunch). But I stuck to my guns, bought a $2 box of donut holes ($2.15 once taxes were done), and we’re ending September in the black.

Living by the list

September 26th, 2018

We were already running late and several of the kids were resisting hurrying, so I picked them up and carted them off to their car seats. One young person was missing shoes, but I knew the shoes would probably come off in the car anyway and I didn’t have time to put them on twice. I’d grab them and put them on when we reached our destination.

But when we arrived and I unbuckled the shoeless child, I realized I’d left the shoes at home.

There was nothing to do but to soldier on, carrying the shoeless child when necessary, apologizing profusely to all those whose rules we were breaking by being shoeless.

I swore it wouldn’t happen again – and when I got home, I made a checklist.

The checklist

Every time we leave the house, I check the laminated list that lives on the console of my car.

Almost every week, we stop in the driveway to get that one last item, to complete that one last task.

We didn’t get medicine this morning before we left the house. I forgot the TULA at home. Our packed lunch is still in the fridge.

The list doesn’t keep me from forgetting things – but it helps me catch them before it’s too late.

And so far, we’ve not had any repeats of our shoeless errand day.

What I Spent This Week (2018.09.21)

September 20th, 2018

Results are in, and…

I am officially great at predicting when I’m going to majorly blow my budget.

Also, I am officially terrible at giving weekly updates.


Tuesday, September 11

I spent $96.09 on my Walmart grocery pickup!

Walmart pickup 9/11/2018

Thankfully, $25.07 of it was on diapers. Which means I only have to claim $71.02 for grocery. Still.

I needed more pinto beans, and Sam’s Club has the cheapest around – assuming you’re buying 50 lbs. Which, of course I am! I also got individually packed Ruffles (because it’s ultimately better for me to know that there are potato chips at home that I can indulge in occasionally and in moderation when needed than for me to be picking up entire family-size bags every other week at the grocery store and inhaling them on the drive home. Just sayin’)

Sam's Club Pickup 9/11/2018

After I subtracted my oxygen bleach, it was $62.27

So… with a budget of $115 per week – I spent $133.29 on Tuesday alone. But I didn’t buy any fresh produce, so I still needed to do my ALDI shopping on Thursday.

Thursday, September 13

I spent $42.73 at ALDI – all of it on groceries.

ALDI 9/13 - Sometimes you just don't have time to arrange things

And sometimes I just don’t have time to arrange the groceries to look pretty once I get home :-)

So I ended the week $61.02 in the hole.

Monday, September 17

I sent Daniel to Walmart to pick up prescriptions for the kids and I – and to get us some ice cream. Sometimes I just feel the need. $4.30 for two containers.

Tuesday, September 18

Another ginormous Walmart order – $75.24

Walmart grocery pickup 9/18

But, just like last week, I get to subtract diapers (as well as some storage bags and plastic wrap.) After I take out those, I’m at a more respectable $41.68 for groceries. – and that 25 lb bag of all-purpose flour should last me at least a month :-)

I didn’t do Sam’s Club this week – the block of cheese from last week is still unopened in the fridge and Daniel’s Sun Chips to keep at work will wait until we’ve got more to order from Sam’s.

Thursday, September 20

Knowing that my budget was in the red, I intended to shop strictly by my list at ALDI this week.

And I almost did.

ALDI haul 9/20

But there were hams for $1.19 per pound and I don’t have any ham in my freezer right now (a rare event, let me tell you!)

And I had some extras I needed for lunch (I’d packed lunchmeat and mustard since we didn’t have any bread or easy-to-eat-while-out fruit or veggies in the house.)

Purchased to be eaten quickly... ALDI 9/20

So I also bought some bread and sliced cheese for our sandwiches, some mandarin oranges to go along with them, and some trail mix for a pre-storytime snack. (Also pictured? The bread for pizza bread Thursday evening – I’d forgotten to include it in the previous picture!)

That was $68.06 minus $4.29 for the scrub brushes I’d bought for kids’ activities. So $63.77

Okay, time for some quick math (see kids, math does come in handy in your future life!)

*Under breath* 63.77 plus 41.68 plus 4.30 Wait – am I actually going to do this in my head? I suppose, now that I’ve got the numbers down on screen it’s easy enough. Five, carry one. Seven, carry one. Nine. Ten.


Folks, this would be lovely if I weren’t in the hole already.

To review…
Week 1: $18.48 below budget
Week 2: $61.02 above budget
Week 3: $5.25 below budget

I’m still $37.29 in the hole for the month.

I’ve got one more full week in the month and I need to keep my purchases down to $77.71

Can I do it?

The good news is that I’m working my way through the first cycle of my new fall menu and putting a half dozen or so entrees in the freezer each week – which means the second time through the cycle should be a) less work and b) less expensive. Also, now that I’ve bought beans and flour and chips and ramen (another “because mama needs something on hand just in case she wants to sulk in a corner with hot food”), I’m not going to need those again for quite a while.

The bad news is that we’ve still got one more week in that first four-week cycle – which means I’m still trying to double up (and don’t really want to make too many substitutions).

Even so, I think I’m up for this challenge. Bring it on!

First Day of Prairie Elms Preschool 2018-2019

September 12th, 2018

Since there’s no time like the present, Prairie Elms preschool reconvened for the 2018-2019 school year on Monday.

Our preschool class 2018-2019

I planned for two students, expecting that we’d do preschool while the little girls were napping –

The rest of our preschool class 2018-2019

but, so far, neither girl has cooperated with anything more than cursory morning naps – so four students it is!

Tirzah Mae first day of school 2018-2019

We do action songs and fingerplays and rhythm sticks and singing lessons. We check the weather and sing the days of the week. We sing the alphabet song and count a little. We read and read and read some more. We do ice cream cone math. And when we’re all done with “school”, we scrub potatoes (sensory win!) and fold laundry (life skills and fine motor). We decorate papa’s birthday cake (Happy birthday, Beloved!) We watch the garden spider on our door. We explore the leaf mould in the herb garden. We harvest basil and dry it. We watch caterpillars and birds and rolly pollies and all sorts of things mama later discovers are pests that she should have killed :-P

Louis first day of school 2018-2019

And when the day is done, we snuggle on the couch with papa and do our family worship.

It’s not much different than regular life, really.

But whatever it is, we’ve declared the preschool year to have commenced!

What I Spent This Week (2018.09.07)

September 9th, 2018

Online budget accountability is great… until you meet a stressor that is likely to be both hard on the budget and hard on blogging.

Like, for instance, getting a new foster child and then immediately getting a stomach bug. And then traveling to pick up a newly butchered beef.

I’m speaking purely in hypotheticals, of course. :-)

So the rest of August was…

August 11 – Gas Station (snacks while traveling) $6.79
August 14 – Walmart Grocery Pickup $35.49
August 14 – Sam’s Club Pickup $21.50
August 15 – Walmart for Formula $27.89
August 16 – ALDI $59.94
August 21 – Walmart Grocery Pickup $21.79
August 23 – ALDI $39.01
August 26 – Sam’s Club Pickup $21.78
August 28 – Walmart $28.48
August 31 – Walmart $37.14
Total $299.81

My budget of $123 per week times 3 weeks means I had $369 to spend – so I came out ahead by $69.19 for those three weeks and $186.36 for the month.


Lest I get too confident…

I started off September by spending $500 to buy a quarter of beef (197 lbs) from my uncle.

Since I’ll be eating that all year long, I’m going to do a bit of alchemy to spread the load and reset my weekly budget a little lower at $115/week.

Wanna see my work?
$500 minus $186.36 for August = $313.64
$313.64 divided by 43 weeks from September 2018 to June 2019 = $7.29/week
$123 minus $7.29 = $115 (always round to allow yourself the most wiggle room – in this case, down)

And now onto this week…

Wednesday September 6
Shopping was weird this week because we traveled up to Lincoln on Sunday to get our beef and came back down to Wichita on Labor Day – which meant I was in no state to do a grocery pickup order for Tuesday morning. So Wednesday it was.

I spend $34.13 for grocery pickup at Walmart on Wednesday afternoon. All of it was groceries.

Walmart pickup 9/5/2018

Thursday September 7

Then it was right out to ALDI the next morning for more groceries – $62.39 worth.

ALDI 9/6/2018

I didn’t add things up and just happened to end up $18.48 below my budget – but it’s not going to last because I have a GINORMOUS Sam’s Club order coming up next week.

Complicating matters, we do receive a stipend to reimburse expenses for fostering – and some portion of that will be added to my grocery budget to cover the expense of formula. I expect to look over our foster care related expenses and determine how we allocate that stipend at the end of each month – and I won’t necessarily include that in my expense reports. So things might look wonky here and there :-)

Sick days pre- and post- kids

August 20th, 2018

Pre-kid sick day

Snuggle up in bed with a book. Sip and nibble whatever you can keep down. Sleep whenever you feel tired. Take the occasional trip to the bathroom to vomit.

Post-kid sick day

Vomit into toilet. Wash hands thoroughly. Pick up baby who wants to breastfeed.

Baby vomits all over your front.

Hold baby at arms length so she’s not steeping in her own vomit while trying to remove her clothes and yours so you can shower.

Shower baby and hand her off to husband. Rinse yourself the rest of the way off and dress.

Grab baby back because, of course, she still wants to breastfeed.

Baby vomits on you again.

When it’s clear that the entire family is down for the count and you’ve already cleaned vomit off the floor in three rooms of the house, sweep everything out of the living room and roll up the rug.

Lay down vinyl covered toddler matresses and settle in to sleep between two preschoolers.

Wake up to one or the other child whimpering. Hold them in your lap while holding a bucket under their mouth to catch vomit.

Clean it all up, rearrange the children in the bed so you can attempt to lie between them, drop off to sleep.

Half an hour later, awaken to … a child whimpering for mama, a baby crying to breastfeed, or a baby crying for a bottle.

Once the family has been vomit-free for 12 hours, get out the bleach and bleach every surface in the house, including the twenty dozen toys that were on the floor when the vomit started to fly.

Spend next several days changing children’s clothes when their diarrhea diapers blow out, worrying that you should be bleaching everything again, and thanking God that your diarrhea phase is miraculously not urgent.

Get sleep in half-hour segments for next several nights, as the seven-month-olds are switching off waking you up and the foster baby is NOT happy with Daniel giving her a bottle.

Your husband goes back to work Monday morning.

You turn on worship music , decide that laughing is better than crying, and write a blog post.

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