Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Been a long time

It's been so long since I last wrote a blog post. My friends have been encouraging me to write, to share my meal plans, to start my own business and to just start sharing my knowledge again.  I've been so focused on keeping my head a float and myself busy, that blogging wasn't going to happen.

I am one of those moms whose has her hand in everything. I'm a doer. A helper. I like doing things for others. On a weekly basis, I help at a food pantry helping bag groceries for families in need, I help run a bible study, I'm apart of my church's family ministry team, I'm apart of my daughter's home and school association as the treasurer,  I help out in my daughter's classroom with writer's workshop, I run a few of the smallest committees as well for the HSA, I assist other  HSA committees, I am taking on one of largest fundraisers our school does as one of the chairs, I help with field day, the secret Santa shop, and I want to add more family nights to the calendar for the home and school. I also keep a tidy house, more because clutter and dirtiness causes my anxiety and stress levels to rise to extreme danger zones.

I really don't realize all I do. I'm most likely missing something or have forgotten something that I help with. I'm not gloating or patting myself on the back. I do all this in lieu of a paid job.  My husband calls me a philanthropist.  I give my time like some give money.

But all of this may be changing for me. We have been trying to get pregnant for the past year all while doing and completing a large home renovation. The pregnancy hasn't happened yet and we are very close to calling it quits on that chapter of our lives.

Leading me to the next step. My next step. I like all my volunteering. It feeds me, sustains me while I stay at home; however I have been thinking its time to go back to work. If I move into a paid position that will leave me with less time to help. However, what if I find my dream job that pays me to do what I love.  I do have many skills, none that I see as valuable. Which is CRAZY! I know it is. Yet, this self-doubt is heavy.

My dream job doesn't exist, yet. I would LOVE a 9-2, no weekends, no summers, and not in a school and I'm not going back to social work.

I still want to be home for Maddie and Holden. I feel awful for the kids who have to stay at school until 6pm for the after school care. I know it's necessary for those parents who work, but it makes for a very long day for kids.

Maddie comes home most days, an emotional exhausted mess. The idea of her spending more time at school so I can work, makes my heart hurt. I would be going back to work just to be going back to work, because it is what society has deemed as the next step. It would be to fund an over the top entertainment budget for us to do the stuff we want to do but it isn't in the cards with one income and for additional savings. The luxuries in life. We have luxuries. We do more than some but less than others. We are happy where we are...

 Yet, I feel ashamed when I tell people I'm still stay at home yet with no kids here.

All of my volunteering is a full time job, but in this world where staying at home seems like less of a job, makes me feel like less of a person. My mom stayed at home until...... wait she is still at home. She was home so long that going back became impossible. That scares me.

I know my volunteering can fill a resume. I can word it so it sounds like I've been running a multi-million dollar company as the CEO, but once you cut through the bull it would leave me feeling like a liar.

Decisions. Decisions.

Maybe I'll just start with blogging again

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Oh yeah, meal plan 5/20

I really have been slacking on meal plan blogging and actually doing it for my family... What is that about? I have been trying to do to much and I'm experiencing some burnout.

So today I decided to go through my pinterest board and make meals I have been wanting to try but I kept forgetting about.  Click through to my board if you would like the recipes.

Mon May 21 
soft shell crab sandwiches with a salad
Tue May 22 
Sausage, egg and asparagus pizza
Wed May 23 
Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Thu May 24 
Korean-Style Chicken or Pork Noodle Bowls
Fri May 25 
sloppy joes, broccoli
Sat May 26 
breakfast burritos with sausage
Sun May 27 
pesto pasta with chicken sausage and roasted brussels sprouts.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The final day of eating below the line

I feel like it's the the night before Christmas, knowing that today is the last day of our family is living below the line. I know it's awful to feel this way, when there are so many people who live like this everyday and have been for much longer than 5 measly days. Yet, it's how I feel. I am looking forward to drinking unlimited amounts of coffee with no hesitation,  adding an extra egg to my omelet with sausage and cheese because I can, and being able to order Chinese food for my birthday celebration because I don't want to cook.

Man, I am lucky. I've always felt lucky to have the life I have, but after these five days, I feel differently. I feel blessed. I have been able to spend the last 5 years at home with my amazingly thoughtful compassionate daughter. I have been able to make improvements to our home. I have food in my fridge and I am able to heat and cool my house.

I was ignorant before to the life 1.4 billion people are living and in reality I'm still ignorant. I have seen a glimpse of what the extreme poor experience, but I have health care, a stock pile of food in my basement, and I'm taking 2 vacations this year.

This challenge has made me more aware of the cost of things. I realized this week that spending $150.00 a week at the grocery store is RIDICULOUS! I could spend half of that and feed my family adequately and donate the rest to the food bank or give it to a friend who is struggling. I shouldn't be living my life in excess while others are barely making it. It seems selfish to me. 

According to my US census, 13.8% of the USA is living in poverty which is around 43 million people. 9.1% of New Jersey's population is living below the poverty line.  That is an astonishing 802,725 people and 500 of which live in my town.  Most individuals who are living this life are single mothers. How have I not noticed this issue? Where I have been?

What more can I do? How do I help 43 million people? Talk about an uphill battle.

Today I wasn't as hungry. I think my body has made some adjustments and is learning to live on less.  We even had a friend and her kids over for dinner and spent about $.50 per person on dinner. Her kids weren't thrilled about not being able to use the grated cheese on their sausage and rice dinner, but when I explained they could be eating macaroni and peas (they HATE peas) instead,  they bucked up and ate without complaints. Rob and I thought the sausage rice dish tasted like sausage stuffing and I think we would make it again. I used 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 clove of garlic and 2 packages of sausage that were $1.49 and 2 cups of rice. I cooked everything in the same pot like I would jambalaya. It was delicious. 

I'm glad my family participated in living below the line. We have a greater spot in our hearts for those who are living this life everyday. Maddie has been praying for everyone to have the money to have blueberries and strawberries, since she had to live without this week. Rob and I are praying we can find a way to change these grim statistics in our local community.

Day 4 (Wedneday) of eating below the line.

Today I decided to eat more oatmeal for breakfast since it sustained me longer into the day. I couldn't bring myself to be grumpy if I could simply eat something more filling to keep me going. I went to church after I dropped Maddie off at school, which helped me avoid some of the hunger pangs I experienced on Tuesday.

For lunch I ate leftovers from Monday's dinner of vegetables with couscous while Maddie had another ham and cheese sandwich with grapes. The couscous kept me full and happy until dinnertime. We also went over a friends' house so Maddie could have some playtime. This was a life-saver. During these past few days, my energy level has been almost non-existent so playtime isn't all that fun. In fact I've been falling asleep on the couch in between lunch and dinner so I don't feel hungry and because I really don't have the energy to do anything else.

Dinner was Macaroni and Peas. Normally this is NOT something I would make for us, but I was pleasantly surprised. I cut up 1 onion and grated 1 garlic clove and cooked the onion until they were soft. I then added the peas and butter. Mixed the pea mixture with the noodles and it was delicious and SUPER CHEAP. The total meal was 1.05.  That's $.34 a person!

After dinner I did some research about poverty levels, but I couldn't focus on what I was reading. So I'll look into that more tomorrow. From what I did understand, I was upset and appalled at the numbers of families who are living below the line. How are they managing? I'm having trouble on day 4, I can imagine day 378. Talking to others about this challenge, they believe your body adapts. I don't know what to believe.

Sorry there is no pictures for the 4th day of eating below the line. I forgot. To be honest I'm not clear headed at all. I feel like the talking dog Doug from the movie UP, at any moment a squirrel may walk by and I will loose my train of thought. SQUIRREL!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Day 3 of eating below the line

Yesterday started out okay, Maddie and I ate veggie omelets for breakfast around 7:30am. Sounds great right? It did taste good, it just was not enough food to keep me sated until lunch.

To make the omelets, I cut up ONE mushroom, 3 strips of frozen green peppers, and 1 sliver of onion; I sauteed them together with a pinch of salt and pepper. Total it equaled 2 tablespoons of vegetables to split between the two, two egg omelets. I also split one slice of American cheese.

I just wish there was more, more veggies maybe some tomatoes or even some spinach; hey another egg would be amazing. Again, this is something I would normally make for breakfast, just there would be more to it. I'm figuring that breakfast cost roughly $.75 total.

The time in between breakfast and lunch, Maddie and I crafted making teacher appreciation gifts and mother's day gifts. I was easily agitated during this time. Maddie wasn't "listening" enough or was I just hungry? I eventually left the table because of my frustration and cleaned the walls in the kitchen to get my mind off my hunger and my frustration at Maddie, who in reality was being an angel and was doing a great job crafting.

For lunch at noon, Maddie and I had a ham and cheese sandwich with a few grapes on the side. Rob took the leftover lentils from Sunday to work with him. I was still hungry after lunch today. I drank two glasses of water trying to make my hunger subside, but no such luck. Which made for even grumpier mom.  I was dreaming of the Cheetos in my snack cabinet or a nice side salad most of the afternoon. This also made me grumpy.

For dinner I made split pea soup. I used a ham bone in the freezer from my free Easter ham. I'm not sure if this is cheating. We figure it was a free ham from ShopRite, so it shouldn't count. I cooked the soup for two hours and removed the ham bone, which Maddie and I gnawed on like two ravenous beasts. It is amazing how hunger can diminish manners. 

The soup was AMAZING and I don't even like split pea soup! That should tell you something about my level of hunger. I ate two bowls in under 5 minutes. It was the best meal I ever have eaten. I can't wait to have some for lunch today.

Along with my mood, my mental capabilities also lowered throughout the day, having a conversation was difficult, enjoying crafting with my angel was next to impossible,and  reading a book was out of the question; all I could think about was food and keeping Maddie filled with enough food to keep her going and happy. In fact, I attempted to write this post last night and to be honest it made no sense. I was missing words, I couldn't spell simple words, and overall it was illegible.

I don't know how families in extreme poverty do this. Three days in and I'm a hot mess. I don't have the energy to much of anything. Let alone work, gather food or water, or deal with extreme heat or cold that some families around the world have to deal with along with hunger. This challenge is helping me be more grateful and appreciative of the life I do have.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Eating below the line day 2

Yesterday was day 2 of me feeding my family below the line. There were no parties or eating at a friends' house. We were strictly eating what I purchased for the challenge.

On that note, I really hate using the word challenge. Granted it is a challenge for my family, but this is a way of life for 1.4 million people. I feel the word challenge is demeaning. I just wish there was a word that describes these 5 days more accurately without seeming like it's achievable. Challenges are something that requires more effort to achieve. This is a way of life that is beyond difficult. It must take a toll on your body, mind and soul. It did on mine while I was food shopping.

For breakfast, we ate oatmeal cooked in water with a tablespoon of sugar and raisins then added some milk afterwards. It was good and filling.  This is a breakfast not to far from something I would make usually.

Maddie did ask for more oatmeal, but that would have blown the budget.

For snack at school, Maddie took some grapes and a water bottle. I wish I was able to have a snack, but nope I have to ration the fruit I have in the house to last until Thursday. It's more important for Maddie and Holden to have access to the fruits.

Lunch was a ham and cheese sandwich with grapes. I was hungry at 11am, but I waited to eat with Maddie.

By dinnertime, I was very hungry.  Dinner was also something I would typically make, Vegetables with couscous. The box of couscous cost $.99 cents and fed the three of us with leftovers. The vegetables I used were 1 zucchini, 1 onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 hand full of frozen green beans, and 10 strips of frozen peppers.

This meal was delicious. Rob had commented that living below the line has tasted okay, he just wished I could have factored pretzels and more meat into our meals. I am thankful I can cook. I think if I was inexperienced, our meals would be bland and mushy.

I do feel healthier. I think it has more to do with the lack of fats and meat in our meals, but I am looking forward to being able to eating a chicken breast.

Food Shopping below the line

Yesterday was day 2 for us of living below the line. I also went food shopping for the ingredients that were not in my house. I was able to spend less than I expected by 2 dollars. My total spending has been 30.22. Here is what I was able to pick up at the grocery store for $15.51. 


As I was the walking the aisles of the grocery store I became upset at the cost of items. I do pay attention to cost normally, however when you are living on $1.50 a day and a bag of french fries costs 3.99 it's seems like an insurmountable task to feed a family on $30.00 dollars.   That bag of fries would be a whole meal for the 3 of us for 2 days!!! Imagine rationing a bag of fries amongst your family. In my family a bag of fries typically would last two meals, but that's with us having a protein and veggie on our plate as well, not just fries. That bag of fries would have to be 6 meals! Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Almost unimaginable for me.

I left the store depressed and upset for the families who are living below the line in a way I didn't grasp before heading out food shopping. My cart barely had anything in it and I was done my shopping in 20 minutes.  I didn't have any cleaning products or hygiene items. People living below the line have to make their $1.50 stretch even further to include those items. Walking the aisles made me feel defeated.

After  I went food shopping I headed to CVS for Mother's Day cards and birthdays cards for my family. As I was standing in line to purchase my cards I noticed that 1 Snickers candy bar costs 1.70 and a small container of M&M minis cost 1.60. REALLY?!?!? That is what I'm living on for the day! I never thought a candy bar could make me feel bad about myself.

After this challenge is over. I think my family is going to be doing more for families living in extreme poverty. Donating more food to the food pantry, giving grocery store gift cards away, and for me having more empathy for those struggling. I thought I understood, but really I was just ignorant to how little I really understood.