Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our Summer Routine

Summers are our busiest time of year right now (I am sure that will change once we get deep into homeschooling). We love going to the pool which a huge production (bathing suits, towels, sunscreen application, toys, snacks, coolers, showers) – you know the deal. We love doing the $1.00 movies. We love to hit the park when it is cool. We love cookouts. We love going to the beach as much as possible (lots of packing and unpacking). It's all fun, but it can also be exhausting not to mention get us all off of our schedule, so I like to try really hard to have a consistent routine as much as possible. I've been working hard to come up with a routine for the summer. This summer is different because we are homeschooling through the summer because we had a ton of setbacks this year. I am going to aim to do school 4 days a week and have a completely free day, but I definitely have to do school at least 2 days. I am also planning to read the Bible in 90 days so that will take an hour a day.

Here's our routine:

7:00am – I wake up and do my morning things before the kids wake up (get dressed, brush teeth, and straighten up a bit)
7:30am – Luke wakes up and we eat breakfast together
8:00am – Nathan wakes up and eats breakfast
8:30am – Free play (cartoons, boys play) and I straighten up the 1st floor
9:30am – Give Nathan a bath and get him ready for the day (Luke gets ready for the day and does his morning chores)
10:00am – Nathan goes down for a morning nap
10:00am – Morning snack and Luke and I do school
11:00am – I finish up my chores for the day
12:00pm – Nathan wakes up and we all eat lunch
12:30pm – Open for whatever (pool, playdate, etc)
2:00pm – Naptime for the boys (I do Bible study, read, relax)
4:00pm – Boys wake up; Snack for Luke; Dinner for Nathan
4:30pm – Open for whatever (pool, errands, just play, etc)
5:30pm – Cook dinner (unless something is in the crockpot – my hope for the summer is to cook that way as much as possible)
6:00pm – Dinner
6:30pm – Family play time
7:00pm – Get boys ready for bed (http://organizedhomemaking.blogspot.com/2011/05/bedtime-routines-for-kids.html)
8:00pm – Boys' bedtime
8:00pm – Workout and shower
9:00pm – Read the Bible
10:00pm – Relax with Lee until bed

With Nathan taking morning naps, I probably won't deviate from his schedule too often, but we will probably try to do a pool playdate or a $1.00 movie once a week or something so we have more time and he will hopefully take a longer nap in the afternoon. We will see how it goes.

I love seeing people's routines. Please share yours if you feel so led. J

Perfect Instant Oatmeal

I love oatmeal but only when it is cooked well and still creamy. After following the various instructions on oatmeal packages, I came up with my own method of doing it. Here's what I do:

I heat the water to boiling (a trick I have found is to put pretty hot water in the measuring cup so you only have to put it in the microwave for about a minute).
I put ½ cup and a tad extra in the bowl with the oatmeal.
Then I cook in the microwave an extra 30 seconds.

It makes the best instant oatmeal in my opinion.

Any other great methods on cooking instant oatmeal you guys have found?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Saving Money on Formula

I love coupons and deals, but sometimes there are not always great deals on formula. When I can get a name brand (ie Similac) on sale plus coupons and check vouchers, I love it, but that isn't the case all the time. So, I have started using generic (ie Walmart brand) formula. It's a great deal. I get a canister that makes 267oz (roughly a week's worth) for $17.00. By comparison, a Similac that makes 180oz is $24.00. That's half the price without the "hassle" of using coupons or looking for sales. Lately my life has been very chaotic with having a newborn and my medical issues (which are thankfully getting resolved). I am looking forward to getting 100% back into couponing, but until then, I am pretty much shopping at Walmart and buying as smart as possible while sticking to our grocery budget. The main thing to me is sticking to that monthly budget.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Update and Post

I am so sorry that I have been gone so long. I had my surgery on May 11th. Everything went wonderfully. They surgeon removed the mass, ½ of my pancreas, and my spleen. I came out of surgery well which is always one of my biggest concerns. I actually didn't remember anything. I woke up the next day able to eat ice chips and a clear liquid diet. I left the hospital on May 13th. My mother-in-law kept the kids through the weekend and my husband took care of them until Wednesday and they are currently at my mom's house. They come home tomorrow. I have had a rough go of it – lots of nausea, vomiting, unable to eat, and pain. Luckily my husband has taken great care of me. Today is actually the first good day that I have had. We will see how it goes. I am not able to eat much and the doctor said I probably won't be for about a month. I guess that's helping my weight loss. LOL! I appreciate your continued prayers for a great recovery.

I like for my posts to be related to what is going on in my life so this post is about letting go. I am sure none of you have noticed my tendency to be controlling Type-A. I will admit that I am. I love order, organization, and I really love to do a lot of things myself. I have a hard time letting other people do things for me. God has really taught me a lot in the past 12-15 months about letting others help me. With the pregnancy, C-section, and loss of Alexis, I had to hand off a lot of things from housekeeping to meals to my children. It was really hard. Well with this surgery, I have had to do it again. I am happy to say that I have done really well letting go (besides missing my kids like crazy). Lee has had to handle the kids, the housework, and take care of me. Our moms have taken the kids for a few days and I haven't really given any thought to it (again besides missing them a ton). Lee even had to pack for the kids to go to my mom's house. He had never done that before. He did a great job.

My point in saying all of that is to say, if you are like me, Type-A, learn to delegate sometimes or you might have to someday. J

Monday, May 9, 2011

Steak Marinade

I LOVE STEAKS! Steak is probably one of my favorite foods. I thoroughly enjoy going to The Angus Barn, Outback, and Longhorn Steakhouse. I also love to get steak at Japanese or fondue places. I know most women love fish and/or chicken, but steak is my favorite meat. Since it is pretty expensive to go out to eat for, I really enjoy grilling our own. It's great because we go pick out the steaks we are in the mood for (AKA whatever is on sale LOL). I tend to lean toward sirloins although I like ribeyes. Ribeyes have more fat so make sure you get more meat. I thought I would share my favorite marinade. If you are in a hurry and don't want a marinade, sprinkle on some salt, pepper, meat tenderizer, and garlic powder.

Steak Marinade
¼ cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Garlic powder
Montreal Steak seasoning

I like to rub the steaks down with salt, pepper, and meat tenderizer and then put the marinade on. I usually let the steaks sit about 30 minutes.

I like my steaks medium to medium-well so I cook them about 4-5 minutes on each side on a hot grill.

YUM!

How do you do your steaks?

Bedtime Routines for Kids

Everyone knows that I am a stickler for routines and schedules. When Luke was a newborn I put him on a schedule and pretty much since we've tried really hard to keep a routine. I think it helps kids knowing what to expect throughout the day. I figured I would share my bedtime routines for my kids.

Nathan
Around roughly 7:00pm, we feed him approximately an 8oz bottle.
We let him hang out/play until he looks tired (usually around 7:30 or 7:45pm).
We take him upstairs, change his diaper and put him in a onesie and a sleep sack.
We read him a Bible story or two from his Bible* (Read with Me Bible he got at his baby dedication). http://www.mardel.com/store/item.aspx?ItemId=349722
We sing some songs (always Jesus Loves Me, sometimes Jesus Loves the Little Children, The B-I-B-L-E, and/or This Little Light of Mine).
We pray.
We kiss and hug.
We put him down in his crib and turn on his glow worm and put it beside him (it plays soft music and it's tummy lights up).
We aim to have him in bed no later than 8:00pm.

Luke
Around roughly 7:00pm, he cleans up toys.
We take him upstairs and he showers.
He brushes his teeth.
He puts on his jammies (and puts dirty clothes in the hamper).
He snuggles up in bed.
We read a book and a Bible story.
We pray.
We kiss and hug.
We aim to have him in bed no later than 8:00pm.

*"Why do you read the Bible to a 7 month old?" you might be wondering. We truly believe the verse, Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. I don't think anyone is too young for the word of God to pierce their heart. It's a great "habit" to start at a young age. Kids won't be able to remember a time they didn't read the Bible daily. Plus, as parents we can learn so much from reading a children's Bible. Lee and I have both learned things we didn't know from reading the Bible to our kids. Also, if you are looking for a great Bible to do with maybe 4 years old and up, The One-Year Children's Bible is fantastic. You read a pretty good, deep part of Scripture but the kids can keep up with it. It's awesome. We did it last year with Luke. http://www.christianbook.com/the-one-year-childrens-bible/rhona-davies/9781414314990/pd/314990?kw=314990&en=froogle&p=1013824&cm_mmc=CBDfeeds-_-froogle-_-books-_-314990

What are your kids' bedtime routines?

Preparing for Surgery

As some of my readers know, I am having surgery on Wednesday at 2:30pm. I am having a distal pancreatectomy and splenectomy. Basically I am having part of my pancreas (tail and part of body) and spleen removed as well as a mass on my pancreas. It's a pretty big surgery requiring a 5 hour surgery window, a 2-5 day stay in the hospital, and a 2-4 week recovery.

So with all of that being said, I am going to need to do a lot of prep and need a lot of help. So far, Lee is taking off from Wednesday through Wednesday to take care of me. His mom is taking the kids from Wednesday to Sunday. Then my mom is taking them the next Wednesday through Saturday. So I had a lot of stuff to do.

First and foremost was getting all of the laundry caught up. I need to be able to pack for the boys, Lee, and myself for roughly 5 days.

Secondly, I made a list of everything the kids would need at my mother-in-law's house. The term "everything but the kitchen sink" was coined for me. LOL!

Thirdly, I went to the store to get tons of baby food (not going to mess with homemade during my surgery and recovery) and formula as well as a bunch of snacks for Lee to take to the hospital (don't want him spending a ton of money on vending machines).

Then, I got the house cleaned. I hate to come home to a dirty house or have Lee have to do a bunch of stuff when he is taking care of me and the kids. Hopefully we will be able to go without a deep cleaning for a couple of weeks.

Lastly, is getting everything packed and ready to go.

Thankfully friends are bringing meals so I didn't have to go to the trouble of freezer cooking. What a blessing! I won't be able to eat for a while, but I am happy to know my boys will be taken care of.

If you think of it, please pray for me. I am definitely not looking forward to the surgery and recovery, but I am thankful that they did find the mass before something worse happened.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Homemade Freezer Pancakes

I love making homemade pancakes for my family. There is something so great about getting out mixing bowls, whisks, a hot griddle, and a slew of ingredients, and making up a batch of yummy pancakes. Well, who is the world has time to do it on a regular basis? That's where making them and freezing them comes in handy. You make up a batch of pancakes and flash freeze (put the pancakes on a baking sheet in the freezer and freeze partially). Then you put them in a freezer bag. You make them the right size to fit in the toaster (I use ¼ measuring cup to evenly make my pancakes – that size fits in my toaster). You toast 1-2 times in the toaster and Voila! Yummy, homemade pancakes.

http://organizedhomemaking.blogspot.com/2011/01/pancakes-and-waffles.html - My favorite tried-and-true pancake recipe.

Grocery Budget

Before I became an organized homemaker, I never had any sort of grocery budget. We ate out a lot and when I did cook it was pretty much, go to the store and buy what we needed for a meal and spend whatever. There was no planning to it. Once Lee and I sat down and created a real family budget (roughly the time we were moving into our new home), we came up with a goal for each month for various categories. One of our biggest ones was groceries. We came up with $450 a month. Since Nathan has been born, we have had to buy formula and baby food (well once he wasn't nursing and started on solids) so that has increased our budget (thankfully we got a ton of diapers and wipes from our baby showers). I am crunching the numbers to figure out what our new grocery budget should be until he goes off of formula. I am thinking of trying to keep it at $500.

I am wondering,

1) Do you have a grocery budget for your family?

2) What is it (if you are willing to share)?

3) What does that cover (ie how many family members, ages, specifics – like do you do lots of fresh stuff and/or organic or do you buy baby supplies)?

Thanks!