Thursday, December 22, 2011

Two good days in a row?

Today we all went to Philadelphia to do all the ongoing holiday events. The boys should have been in school today, but having some family time doing something fun is more important than them watching movies in school. We took the PATCO train over, which is something Maddie loves to do. She got the front seat in the first train car. A big deal for a 4 year old.

First we went the Macy's light show, which is always good time. We like to hang out on the third floor to watch the show so we then can scoot right over to the Dickens Village. For lunch we walked over to Reading Terminal Market. I love hanging out in the market. I'm always fascinated by the extra extra large shrimp they have; I wonder who buys them at 23.99 a pound.

After lunch we walked over to LOVE park to the Christmas Village.  On the way, we took lots of pictures on the oversized game pieces, at the Municipal Services Building which features "Your Move". Finally we headed over to the Comcast building to watch the Holiday Spectacular.  Maddie was enamored with this display. The boys thought it was the best part of the day. I highly recommend seeing the show.

Of course today there were a few meltdowns, but it was a good day! Wow, two days in a row. I'm hoping for three, but I would rather have a pleasant Christmas morning than a good Friday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

One proud Mama

Today was Maddie's class Christmas play. She was super excited to get up on stage. She did GREAT! We got lots of great pictures and videos to remember this cute performance.

What a difference a year has made in her life. Last year, she suffered from some social anxiety in a large group of people. It hindered us from going confidently to playgroup functions and the mall as well. She just wanted to be surrounded by familiar people. I thank her teachers last year, for helping her break out of her shy shell. They helped her tremendously!

After her Christmas performance we went to our church. In the beginning of December, Holden, Maddie, and I went to the store and purchased toys to donate to Toys for Tots. However, Maddie wanted to personally give the toys she purchased to kids, instead of letting Holden take them to school for Toys for Tots. Finding a way to make this happen was not easy, but we found a way with the help of one of the teachers, Ms. Traci, at our church who runs the food pantry.

Ms. Traci suggested that Maddie come and help with the food pantry the week of Christmas and hand out the toys to the moms. This thrilled Maddie, who then suggested we get wrapping paper too.

Watching Maddie give the toys, wrapping paper, and help load the carts of food with Ms. Traci today filled my heart with joy. This year Maddie understands the real meaning of Christmas!

Disclaimer: Just because my daughter did this amazing thing today and I am a proud Mama, does not make us a "perfect" family... We are just a normal family. Just yesterday I was going to mail her Abu Dhabi like Garfield did to Odie a few times.. :) Today was just a really good day.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Calendar Giveaway

When I started meal planning I started simple with an ordinary wall calendar, writing down what we would eat each week. Now I use Google calendars and have our five different calendars synced to our cell phones. Granted we still occasionally have some scheduling snafus, but over all our system works. Over the years, I learned that planning for a longer period of time than a week helped me save money by shopping the sales.

I wouldn't recommend starting out big, that's to overwhelming and the likelihood you'll continue scheduling your meals ahead will end after the first week. But starting out with a simple wall calendar week by week will give you a great start to saving your mind and money.

I have 3 wall calendars that have a nice large grid to keep more than just your meal plan on the calendar that I am giving away.   There is also space to write notes, phone numbers, and lists.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Meal Plan for 12/18/11

It's going to be a crazy week here. We have tons going on and we are still dealing with sicknesses. Maddie is "hopefully" getting over this virus that has running through her system since Wednesday. Rob has a cold and I'm finally feeling better, just in time to be stressed that Christmas is a week away and there is still TONS to do.

Tomorrow is Maddie's Pollyanna party at school. Tuesday, I have my last MOPS meeting of the semester and it should be a fun one with a white elephant gift exchange. Wednesday is Maddie's school Christmas play and we are donating the toys she purchased at the beginning of the Advent to mom's at our church who are in need of gifts for their children. Thursday we are planning on heading over into Philadelphia to see the Macy's Light show, the Dickens Village, and if the weather cooperates we will head over to the Christmas Village in LOVE park.  Friday we are attending an early Christmas eve service at church. WOW it really is A LOT! Plus, Maddie and I are working on the last of crafts.

So in light of the crazy week here is our meal plan. I'm keeping it simple so I don't lose my mind.

Monday- leftovers for Maddie and I since Rob will be out at an event.
Tuesday- Pad Thai
Wednesday- Meatball sandwiches and Caesar salad
Thursday- Grilled Cheese and tomato soup
Friday- Lasagna
Saturday-We are eating out with Rob's parents
Sunday- Homemade Belgian waffles with sausage gravy for breakfast; dinner is Seafood Bisque, Rib Roast, mashed potatoes, and asparagus, for dessert I'm thinking a blueberry apple crisp

crafting the holiday away

Here in our house we are crafters. We love ourselves some embossing powder, chenille stems, glue, pompoms, googly eyes, construction paper, and of course up-cycling the OJ container into a beautiful fairy house.

On Friday night, while Maddie was sleeping, Rob, the boys and I baked cookies and "tried" to make faux stained glass ornament with alcohol ink. I saw an example on pinterest and I thought that looks great and the directions seemed simple. Not so much. The boys were frustrated that the "quick" drying ink wasn't drying or in spots like the example. Oh well we had fun trying and the cookies taste great.

Then on Saturday we made some polar bear angels out of model magic with 8 of Maddie's closest friends. The kids had a great time making their own ornaments. They turned out really cute. Don't you think?

In years past, we as a family, usually make salt dough ornaments. Last we included some (read 3) of Maddie's friends with the amount of kids coming this year I didn't feel confident that I had the time to cook, paint, and glitterize 9 ornaments before Christmas without feeling guilty that I didn't do some other craft or activity with family in the same amount of time. Ahhh, the mom guilt.

With  6 more days until Christmas, Maddie and I have some amazing crafts planned to give as gifts to our loved ones. Thanks goodness to pinterest for all the amazing ideas that I keep finding... 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

so much to remember

With all the self-imposed festive family activities, I am having trouble keeping up with real life. There so many different deadlines. Pollyanna due, school tuition due, poster for class play decorated and due, half days, and not mention getting the last minute Christmas gifts. The list could go on and on.

Today I forgot to take Maddie's decorated poster for her play to school. I remembered everything else, but I still feel bad. At Maddie's school she has homework every night and little projects for them to do, like decorating a poster for the class play or a poster for the kids to show their classmates all about themselves. Around the holidays getting her homework done along with the other daily tasks gets to be slightly aggravating, not that it takes that long to complete; but she is 4!!!

I love that she has homework and that she LOVES to do it, but all around the holidays I feel that it's really not important for a FOUR year to have homework every night. THERE I SAID IT! So she has her first late assignment, not that it's really all that important. I just hope they didn't practice the school play with their posters and she was the only one not to have hers'.

Oh well, I am not winning any awards for mothering today.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

dreading the week ahead..

Okay dread is a strong word.

However, there is a lot on the to do list/calendar to complete and Christmas is TWO weeks away and I am fighting a cold! I have a few more gifts to pick up and I'm done, but I'm usually completely done by now. I'm grateful I have everything I've purchased already wrapped, but I'm not looking forward to heading out for the last few gifts this week. 

Tomorrow is my normal shopping day, but after writing my list I'm scared of my spending total for the week. There is nothing on sale that I need and hardly any coupons, we are planning on baking our holiday cookies on Friday, and we are out of some essentials like paper towels.UGH!

This week's shopping list:
Romaine Lettuce
4 Roma tomatoes
Green onions
Red pepper
Green pepper
2 heads of broccoli
Gala apples
Napa cabbage
Jarlsberg Cheese
Sabra Hummus
½ pound Glen Rock Ham
½ pound Black Bear Turkey
Thin sliced pork
Pot roast
2 packs of hot dogs
3 dozen eggs
Egg nog
½ and ½
1 pint heavy cream
Colonna bread crumbs
1 large ShopRite vanilla yogurt
2 cream cheese
Shoprite shredded cheese (mozzarella and Mexican)
Ice cream
Paper Towels
Toilet bowl cleaner
Beans (black and Kidney)
Mueller pasta
Beef stock
Garlic Powder
Brown sugar
Confectioners’ sugar
Baking soda
Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Butterscotch chips
Apple butter
Scooby snacks fruit snacks
Candy canes
2 can sweetened condensed milk
Cinnamon graham sticks

Our weekly calendar is BLUE is our menu and PURPLE is our advent activities

Mon Dec 12
Chicken Milanese with salad
Christmas craft with friends
Tue Dec 13
Go out to dinner
Wed Dec 14
Pork and mushroom moo shu
Pick food out of basement to donate
Thu Dec 15
Black Bean and Chorizo Chili
Do something nice for neighbor
Fri Dec 16
pot roast, mashed potatoes, and peas
Bake cookies
Sat Dec 17
eggs and bacon
Make Christmas ornaments with Maddie's friends
Sun Dec 18
Make truffles for teachers
Cajun Chicken Pasta
Go out for ice cream

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Meal Plan for 12/4/11

Tomorrow is food shopping day. This chore is slightly more enjoyable for me now that it is just me, I do miss taking my little helper. It only takes me about 45 minutes to get in and out. I write my list in order of my store and try to have my coupons in the same order.  I’m not an “extreme” couponer nor do I take all my coupons with me. I know there are deals I am missing out on. However, how I look at it if I didn’t write it on my list then I didn’t need it.

This week’s shopping list
            (*= ON SALE, there also may be a coupon)

Romaine lettuce
Asparagus *
Cuties Clementine’s 5 lb. box *
Sweet potatoes
ShopRite American cheese
Black bear ham
1 small filet of salmon (I have 2 in my freezer)
Schick Xtreme 3 Disposable Razors *
Schick Hydro 5 Razor *
St. Joseph's Aspirin *
Chicken thighs and chicken legs
Hatfield Ham Steak *
Egg whites
3 dozen eggs
Egglands Best Large Eggs *
½ & ½
Bailey's Coffee Creamer*
3 loaves of ShopRite white bread
Wheat bread
1 large container of ShopRite vanilla yogurt
Hotel Bar, Breakstone or Keller's Butter, 1 lb. *
Ice cream
Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil *
Hellmann's Mayonnaise *
Blue Diamond Almonds (must buy 2) *
Bigelow Black Tea (must buy 2)*
Chock Full O' Nuts Grounds Coffee*

MEAL PLAN 12/4/11-12/11/11

Sun Dec 4, 2011                   
Meatless chili with cornbread muffins
Mon Dec 5, 2011                  
Salmon, rice, and asparagus
Tue Dec 6, 2011                     
Easy Bistro Chicken
            I am making extra to take to a friend in need
Wed Dec 7, 2011                  
Peirogies and kielbasa and broccoli
Thu Dec 8, 2011                   
Pasta e fagoli
            I am making extra to take to a friend in need
Fri Dec 9, 2011                                  
Pork with sweet potatoes and broccoli
Sat Dec 10, 2011                              
Scrapple and eggs
 Sun Dec 11, 2011                            
Pasta with vodka blush sauce with chicken

Thursday, December 1, 2011

24 more days until Christmas

Last week, Holden and I planned our family Advent calendar. It was slightly difficult to figure out what day we should do what activity given our schedule. I'm not really a fan of the candy advent calendars, although candy is sometimes nice. We have a hanging snowman that goes on the door that we put our activities all nicely folded into the pockets.

Over the next month, we will have more family centered activities than most months, but that to me is the real reason for the season, building more family memories. Granted some of these planned events will go down in flames, there will be teenage moodiness to contend with, temper tantrums from both young and old, but maybe if we are lucky we will have a few joyous occasions that we will remember fondly next year.

Slowing down to enjoy my family with movie nights, crafts, and good deeds is the real reason of the season for me.

If you like to make your own advent with activites family fun has a few great options to try.

* according to my friend the calendar never posted...

Thursday, December 1
Draw a Christmas picture
Friday, December 2
Buy toys to donate
Saturday, December 3
Go to the tree lighting
Sunday, December 4
Movie night
Monday, December 5
Christmas craft with friends
Tuesday, December 6
Christmas stocking craft
Wednesday, December 7
Family game night
Thursday, December 8
Holiday light show at shady brook farms
Friday, December 9
Have a living room camp out
Saturday, December 10
Go out for donuts
Sunday, December 11
Make Christmas cards for friends
Monday, December 12
Movie night
Tuesday, December 13
Go out to dinner
Wednesday, December 14
Pick food out of basement to donate
Thursday, December 15
Do something nice for neighbor
Friday, December 16
Bake cookies
Saturday, December 17
Make Christmas ornaments
Sunday, December 18
Go out for ice cream
Monday, December 19
Make fudge
Tuesday, December 20
Movie night
Wednesday, December 21
Eat dinner backwqrds
Thursday, December 22
Macy's light show
Friday, December 23
Make reindeer food
Saturday, December 24
Open presents

Here is our calendar of events

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Planning causing you a headache!

The season of rushing to get everything done QUICKLY is here and I'm starting to feel overwhelmed. I have gifts to buy or finish making, food to make, cards to send, gifts to wrap, not to mention my normal to do list. In addition I have an ankle injury which is slowing me down and making me grumpy.

I'm trying to look on the optimistic side of things. This injury is MAKING me slow down. I have been on the run, not really sitting down to take time for myself (besides Zumba) in months. Now that I can't get my groove on in exercise class I'm feeling overwhelmed by the stressors of my life. I have been trying to find other things to help me relax and replenish my soul. However, sitting still is getting to me. I was really enjoying dance my frustrations away to music I normally don't listen too.

What do you do to relax??? I need some ideas! 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

'Tis the season

Our AWESOME kids!
It seems right after Thanksgiving, our family is ready to start spreading the Christmas cheer. The Friday after thanksgiving it is one of our family’s’ traditions to decorate our Christmas tree, listen to Christmas music, and try to enjoy each other’s company.  So on Friday we decorated our tree, it was wonderful. We all managed to get along, which is difficult with two teenagers and preschooler in the house, and our tree is spectacular.  

Our beautiful tree!

Then Saturday and Sunday, we have been blessed with the opportunity to celebrate some Christmas cheer with two of our church communities.


Maddie and I decorating her Gingerbread House

Saturday night at HOPE United Methodist, we went and decorated gingerbread houses, listened to carolers, and watched them light the tree. It was an amazing night, spent with friends.

Crafting at Haddonfield UMC

Sunday night, We hung up some Christmas lights before heading over to Haddonfield United Methodist Church to their Advent workshop. It was a wonderful night, with some friends. There was so many crafts for the kids to do. Maddie had so much fun running around with her friend trying to complete all the crafts.

It may not be December yet, but I am ready to celebrate this Christmas season making wonderful memories with our family.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday night is alright, for planning!

A typical Saturday night in my house has changed over the years. We no longer go out with our friends to a bar or the movies; we don’t even have people over to hang out past 8pm. Ahh, the joys of having young children. I now sit on the couch and figure out what I need from shop rite that is on sale as well as what I need for my meal plan.  Cindy at the site Living Rich with Coupons  posts her ShopRite match-ups on Saturday evenings and I flock to her site to do my Saturday night ritual.  I love having my shopping list complete on Saturday so on Sunday, I can clip, print, or find my coupons.

This week for dinner we are having:

Monday-Chicken Piccata with orzo
Tuesday-Fish Tacos, Mexican corn salad and black beans
Wednesday- Chick Fil a (It’s their 35th anniversary and a local Chick Fil a is having sandwiches for 1.10)
Thursday-Savannah Style Crab soup
Friday- Chicken Parm Burgers with broccoli
Sunday-meatless 3 bean chili with cornbread muffins

My entire shopping list for this week including the few things on sale that I would like to get is:
*bulleted items are on sale
*        Golden Ripe Bananas - $0.49 (this is a GREAT price)
*        Broccoli Crowns - $0.99  
Black bear Virginia ham
Sliced mozzarella cheese
Halibut or haddock
*        Osteo Bi-Flex - $7.99 as low as $1.99 each after coupon
$6/1 Osteo Bi-Flex Caplet, Soft gel or Powder, exp. 12/20/11 (RP 11/06/11)
$5/1 Osteo Bi-Flex Caplets, Soft gels or Powder, exp. 12/20/11 (RP 10/09/11)
$3/1 Osteo Bi-Flex Soft gels, Caplets, or Powders, exp. 11/25/11 (ALL YOU Nov '11)
$2/1 Osteo Bi-Flex Supplement or Powder printable
Ground chicken
½ & ½
*        International Delight Creamers - $1.99 with coupons the price will be .99
Large ShopRite vanilla yogurt
Wheat bread
Sour cream
Slider rolls
Frozen vanilla yogurt
Frozen broccoli and spinach
*        Hungry Jack Pancake Mix - $1.99 as low as $1.49 each after coupon
$1/2 Hungry Jack Pancake Mix or Syrup, exp. 12/31/11 (RP 11/06/11 R)

*        Marcal Small Steps Napkins - $1.34 as low as $0.34 each after coupon
*        Hefty One Zip Bags - $1.34 as low as $0.59 each after coupon
$1/2 Hefty One Zip Bags, exp. 11/30/11 (RP 08/14/11)
$1/2 Hefty One Zip Bags, exp. 2/29/12 (RP 11/13/11)
$0.75/2 Hefty One Zip Bags, exp. 2/29/12 (RP 11/13/11 R)

*        Martinson Ground Coffee - $2.99 as low as $1.99 each after coupon 
$1/1 Martinson Coffee (2 small cans or 1 large can) exp 1/10/12 (7/10/11 SS)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What do you want for Christmas?

With Black Friday in two days, I’ve been working on my shopping list for what I should get for the kids, my parents, and in laws. This task seems daunting every year, because I stress about finding the “perfect” gift at the best price for the people I care about. I am personally at a stage in my life where objects aren’t really what I want. Of course I would appreciate some new clothes and I do have my eye on a cute pair of toms, but really I would like to have more adventures.

A little over a month ago, my husband and I went zip cording for my 30th birthday to conquer my fear of heights. It was great and completely out of character for me. Over the past year, I’ve been working on myself; trying to change who I am, overcome the things and fears see as my negative qualities, become more involved in church, try to forgive people who have offended or hurt me, let new people in, and step out the box I’ve created for myself.

I don’t really know what I want to experience next, a group of my friends have discussed skydiving. Let’s see if that really happens, but after riding down the 280 foot-long zipcord flying past trees going 45MPH, I think it’s possible for me to consider or maybe rolling away in a Zorb.

I like that I feel anything is possible. That I’m not just a mom, step-mom, and wife; but that I can be an adventure seeker, someone who wants to do fun things with my husband and friends; something we used to do before we had our daughter. We used to go ocean kayaking, swimming with turtles, and canoeing; seems like a life time ago, but I am ready to show Maddie that Mom can do really awesome stuff, that most moms don’t do. All while being the best mom I can be to her.

I want Maddie to grab life by the horns and tackle all the challenges that life can throw her and have fun doing it. Life should be fun not a series of lists and plans, but experiences to look back on.