Monday, January 31, 2011

The Joys of Motherhood

To the tune of "These Boots are Made for Walking":

These arms are made for holding,
And that's just what they'll do
And one of these days,
These arms are going to hold you
As you puke all over me too

I don't know what it is about being up all night with a sick child that reminds you of the simplest, and yet one of the most profound, truths of mothering. Your child needs you. In his or her worst moments, your child wants no one else but you. There's a comfort that a mother can bring that no one else in this world can.

With any other person, I would probably be more than a little grossed out if someone vomited all over me. I could maybe handle my husband throwing up on me. But my baby? Bring it on. In those moments, your child is completely helpless. As a mother, you feel nothing but sympathy and tremendous compassion. That's a mother's love.

Sometimes it takes a good puking-on to remind me, that despite bad days, there is a deep and everlasting bond between a mother and her child. It's hard to put into words, but it can be felt in the middle of the night as you hold and comfort a sick child. In that moment, you remember again how much you love that little one you're holding and how you would do anything for him. And even if you have to change your shirt for the fifth time in the night and wash more linens, that's a good feeling.

"As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you." (Isaiah 66:13)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Healthy $10 a Day Menus

We have one pukey little guy, so depending on how that spreads, we may be in for an interesting week. I made my menu plan before the stomach bug hit, so this may all change. Here's how it stands now.

Oatmeal, bananas, orange juice
Southwest Salad (yeah...not for the little guy)
Roast Chicken with rosemary, red potatoes, carrots and asparagus (the chicken took longer than anticipated to thaw, so it's on tonight's menu)

TuesdayCoco-Wheats with peanut butter in the bowl, milk, pears
Chicken salad sandwiches, grapes
Roasted Chicken Tacos

WednesdayScrambled eggs, toast, mandarin oranges
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, milk, apples
Tater Tot casserole, mixed vegetables, jello

Leftover casserole
Pork chops and scalloped potatoes

Cream of Wheat
Cheese quesadillas
Creamy pasta with peas

Pancakes, bacon, orange juice
Leftovers and snacks
Cheeseburgers, baked onion rings

Fried eggs, toast, oranges
Super Bowl snacks:
Chili-cheese dip
White chicken chili, tortillas

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Two-Year Old's Knowledge of Good and Evil

The other day, I took something away from my two-year old, and he said something that soundly like, "Bad mommy."
I said, "Jack, did you just say, 'bad mommy?'"
He thought quietly for a second and then responded matter-of-factly, "Nice. Nice mommy."

Although this incident was quite humorous to me because of how he back-pedaled, it illustrates how smart our kids really are--even from the youngest of ages. With my first, I cut him more slack when it came to obedience issues, since I never had a child before and rationalized that "he just didn't understand what I was asking." With my second, I cut a little less slack, because I realized he did indeed understand earlier than I estimated with my first. The third time around, I'm practically like a child development expert.

Jesting aside, parenting experience teaches us that they do get it. They understand far more than we might think, even when they can't talk yet. So the earlier we train our children to do what they're asked when they're asked, the easier it will be down the road. If a two-year old can figure out it was wrong to say "bad mommy," he understands what you're trying to get through when you teach him, train him, and discipline him.
This episode served as a little reminder to me of how much he really gets--that he knows right from wrong, even if he can't articulate it clearly.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Don't Bake When You're Overtired

Coffee Talk Thursday

Have you ever heard that being overtired is a little like being drunk? Law enforcement officials will tell you it impairs your ability to drive. In my case, it impairs my ability to bake.

Generally, I consider myself fairly proficient in the kitchen. Give me any recipe, and I'm game. But today--maybe it's the fact that I haven't slept in days--we're talking rookie, big time.  

I'm hosting a mom's play group from our church tomorrow, and I thought I'd bake a new coffee cake recipe--filled with cocoa and coffee. Sounds good, hugh? Well, it probably would have been if I would have been more alert.

Here's what went wrong:
  • It says to add 2 eggs. I added three.
  • It says to add 1 teaspoon baking soda. I added two. Double anything else (the vanilla, the butter), but never the baking soda! Realizing my mistake, I tried to scoop out one teaspoonful, but you know how quickly it mixes in with the flour. I added more flour to compensate.
  • It says to add 1 teaspoon baking powder. I thought my one-half teaspoon was my teaspoon and used it by mistake instead. Then, I wondered if I should just leave it at that, since I doubled the baking soda. I can't remember what I decided.
  • It says to add 1-1/2 tsp. salt. I think I nailed that one.
  • It says to "pour" the batter. Mine was more like a plop.
  • It says to swirl the coffee/cocoa/sugar (did I add the sugar? I think so...) six times through the batter. I missed that part and swirled it more like 60 times.
  • At least I remembered to grease and flour the bundt pan, and I am baking it at the right temperature. (There was a cookie sheet that my husband put away in the oven last night that preheated quite nicely, causing the fire alarm to go off. Too bad I didn't have any cookie batter ready to go on the hot baking sheet!)
Well, we'll see how it turns out. At least baking soda is a great natural cleaner for the teeth. So if you come to my house tomorrow, I'm watching out for you--I'll feed you sugar and make sure you have some baking soda to keep your teeth nice and pearly white. 

Now if I could just get a nap!

Since it's Coffee Talk Thursday, I'd love to hear your worst kitchen experiment ever. Did you ever start your kitchen on fire? (I did once, when I was 12ish, baking chocolate chip cookies...but we got the fire out before it spread much past the range hood and wall).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Start with a Clean Sink

"Before you start cooking, wash any dirty dishes or you'll dig the hole even deeper." --Lucinda Scala Quinn, Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys

When I was re-reading my copy of Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys, this sentence jumped out at me. I think that following the wisdom contained within would do wonders to ease my feeling of being overwhelmed at the sight of my kitchen after dinner. Pots and pans in the sink, stirring spoons and spatulas sometimes still on the stove, cutting boards on the counter...I'm usually in such a hurry to get the meal made and served, I don't clean up fully as I go along. But at least I can be sure I'm starting with a clean kitchen sink.

That way, once dinner's done, the only dishes I'll have to face will be those from that meal. Even though there may be many, there won't be as many as if lunch dishes or afternoon snack dishes added to the heap.

Another tidbit to ease the pain:

"Assign chores to each family member and enforce them. Assign meal cleanup to a different person every night. Or, for each meal, divide the tasks among everyone: table setting, clearing, cleaning, drying, or taking the garbage out. Depending on the age of your kids, tie important privileges to the execution of assigned tasks...Not only does spreading the meal chores divide the labor and increase your productivity, it also improves the whole mealtime experience."--Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys

So before you start dinner, be sure to take a few minutes to wash any dishes in the sink so you can start with a clean slate. As Ms. Quinn writes, "It never takes as long as you think, and it will save untold mental anguish."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Febreeze Odor Eliminator and the Moth Ball Challenge: The Winner!

Yesterday, I washed and dried two loads of the nice hand-me-down clothes stored with mothballs. One load I washed using the Febreeze Laundry Odor Eliminator and a capful of All Free and Clear liquid laundry detergent. The other load I used a capful of detergent, plus about a half-cup of baking soda and straight vinegar in the fabric dispenser cup.

I have to say, the load with the Febreeze significantly reduced the mothball scent. Some items, after coming out of the dryer, still smelled faintly of mothballs. I rewashed them in the second baking soda/vinegar load. While normally baking soda and vinegar works wonders to clean clothes naturally, it didn't really make a dent in removing the scent of mothballs. I ended up rewashing that entire load with a capful of detergent and two capfuls of the Febreeze (which the container says to use on heavy odors). That time, it still didn't help much.

I ended up folding the clothes over laundry baskets and setting both baskets of dried clothes outside in the sunshine and fresh air for the rest of the day. In the evening, they smelled significantly better--just like fresh air. But this morning, some of the smell remains on certain items.

I think the reason the scent of mothballs is so difficult to remove is because mothballs contain a compound called napthalene. The fabric of the clothing absorbs the scent and is tough to eliminate. Here is some information from the CDC website on napthalene:
"If families use naphthalene-containing moth repellants, the material should be enclosed in containers that prevent vapors from escaping. The containers should not be accessible to young children. Blankets and clothing stored with naphthalene moth repellents should be aired outdoors to remove naphthalene odors and washed before they are used."
Everything I've read suggests that airing the clothes outside for up to a week is the best way, after washing, to rid the clothes of the scent. I don't have a clothesline, but if I did, I would hang each item and air it out. In the absence of a clothesline, I am just going to fold the clothes over laundry baskets again and stick them outside for the day.

A word of caution--if the scent remains, even after these steps, I would be hesitant to dress an infant in mothball-scented clothing.
"Hospitals have reported many cases of hemolytic anemia in children, including newborns and infants, who either ate naphthalene mothballs or deodorant cakes or who were in close contact with clothing or blankets stored in naphthalene mothballs. Newborns or infants are thought to be especially susceptible to this effect on the blood, because their bodies are less able to get rid of naphthalene than adults." (Public Health Statement for Napthalene)
*The public health statement emphasizes it is the dose (how much of the product), how long one is in contact with it, and how one came in contact with it that determines potential adverse affects. Short term exposure is probably not that harmful, but I recommend you read the article and see what you think.

With this test, I am really putting the product up to a challenge. I do have to say it did help. Some pieces of clothing smell as good as new; some, the scent still remains. Febreeze Laundry Odor Eliminator advertises that it will eliminate the toughest odors from "cooking, smoke, perspiration and pets." I didn't test the product on clothes containing cooking, smoke, perspiration or pet smells. But you can!

The winner's of the Febreeze giveaway are:
Comment #3--Carleen
Comment #7--Brooke

Please email me at with your mailing address as soon as possible. The free coupons expire January 30, so they need to get in the mail no later than tomorrow.
For everyone else, if you would still like to try the product, there are $2 off coupons here. Thanks for entering!

Have you ever tried to remove the scent of mothballs? What worked best for you?

(linked to Works for Me Wednesday)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Febreeze Odor Eliminator and the Moth Ball Challenge: A Giveaway

Recently a friend gave us some really nice hand-me-downs for the younger boys. The clothes were stored with moth balls, which is a difficult smell (especially when you're in your first trimester of pregnancy) and can be hard to remove. Enter the Febreeze Laundry Odor Eliminator Smell Test Challenge!

Febreze Laundry Odor Eliminator 50.73 fl oz (1.5 l)

The company recently sent me a coupon to try their product. At the time, I didn't have any smelly laundry; plus, I'm not crazy about adding an extra additive to the laundry. Yet, when I received these clothes, I new this would be the perfect way to test out the product. Plus, Febreeze is offering coupons for a free bottle of the product to two Moms In Need of Mercy readers.

The Febreeze site says this about the product:
"Febreze Laundry Odor Eliminator is a laundry aid that works in the washer with detergents to eliminate odors such as perspiration, cooking oil, grease, motor oil, pets, garden soil and mildew from virtually any washable fabric. While detergents clean the soils Febreze Laundry Odor Eliminator cleans away odors that get trapped in fabrics."
I think this product would come in handy when washing clothes from camping (with that campfire smell trapped in), anything from the thrift store, clothes that smell like cigarrette smoke or sweat and more.

For my laundry challenge, here's what I am going to do:
  • I am going to wash one load with detergent and the Febreeze Laundry Odor Eliminator
  • I am going to wash a second load with detergent, plus a half-cup of baking soda and some full-strength vinegar in the fabric dispenser cup (this is a more natural option).
I will report back later today or tomorrow on how the Febreeze Laundry Odor Eliminator measured up!
(Here is a helpful forum with some additional hints on how to remove moth bell smells:

If you would like to enter to win a free bottle, please leave a comment with your email address on this post.
I will post the winner tomorrow morning.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Healthy $10 a Day Menus

Hope you had a nice weekend! Here's what's on the menu around here this week.

  • Coco-Wheats (kids' favorite, with a teaspoon of peanut butter mixed in their bowls), orange juice
  • Carrot Soup - a delicate French soup that is pureed and creamy, with bread and butter (I buy a big bag of carrots from Sam's Club for $1.48. This is a great recipe to use them up. I meant to make this a few weeks ago, but it didn't happen.)
  • Zesty Sausage Pasta (didn't make it this weekend), salad, Italian bread
  • Scrambled eggs, toast, mandarin oranges
  • Pasta leftovers
  • Rosemary roasted chicken, red potatoes, asparagus
  • English muffins, strawberry banana smoothies
  • Chicken salad sandwiches (from leftover roast chicken), grapes
  • Beans con Carne (like taco meat) in the crockpot over lettuce with sour cream, cheese, avocado
  • Oatmeal, orange juice, bananas
  • Turn leftover beans con carne into chili, cornbread
  • Chicken and noodles, mixed vegetables, busy day chocolate cake
  • Whole-wheat pancakes
  • Cowboy casserole
  • Parmesan-crusted tilapia
  • Broccoli, brown rice
Back-up if leftovers don't last:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Emergency Funds and Financial Peace

In his books, on his radio program, and in his Financial Peace workshops, Dave Ramsey counsels individuals and families to build an emergency fund. First, work to build a basic fund with $1,000; then, a fund containing three to six months of living expenses. These accounts would preferably be a high-interest (around 6-12%) money-market account, which you can write checks from with no withdrawal fees. You would only withdraw money in a true emergency (not because you've saved up a nice wad of cash and want to take a vacation). I haven't found an account that pays that great of interest yet, but that's hardly the hardest part of the emergency fund.

For us, although there have been times when we've had some money in savings, when you're raising small children--and multiple small children--there's always something that cleans out the account. Since we have a high amount of medical expenses with my husband's back injury that are not covered by insurance, it is tremendously difficult to save money each month. Plus, in a month where perhaps we could save, if one of the kids comes down with a nasty bug and needs a doctor's visit, that's $70-$80 out of pocket, plus any needed prescriptions. A trip for the boys to the dentist every six months is around $300 (we don't have dental insurance).

Suffice it to say, I'm more accustomed to saving for particular items than just to save for savings' sake. But let's say I am saving for no particular reason except to save. In the middle of the process, maybe the brakes need to be replaced on the van, or my husband needs an eye exam and new glasses, or the roof starts leaking and needs to be redone. It seems like there's always something that keeps us from meeting our saving goals.
While I don't have any magical answers on how to create a fully-funded emergency fund, what I can offer you is some practical ways to save.
  1. For us, I'm working to trim expenses in other areas to free up some extra money that can be saved. Even if it has to be used for something along the way, at least there's something in the account.
  2. Second, even if it's just twenty dollars, when you deposit your husband's check (or your own), split some money to savings right on the deposit slip. (If you don't know how to do this, a teller can show you.)
  3. Are there any ways you (or your husband) can increase your family's income? Can you take some clothes to the consignment store or sell them on ebay? Can you or your husband find a way to earn some extra money from home?
  4. Eat out less, or not at all, and save what you would have spent.
  5. Making breakfasts from scratch (not buying cereal, bagels, etc.) saves quite a bit. Think oatmeal, eggs (fried, scrambled, hard-boiled), pancakes, waffles, crepes, muffins, etc. Think of creative ways to save on lunches and dinners too (I'll keep sharing what I learn in the Healthy $10 a Day Menus).
  6. Browse thrift-stores if you haven't already. You can find great clothing and housewares for pennies. Of course, not all thrift stores are created equal. Here is a post I wrote with some thrift-store shopping tips:
  7. Buy plastic wrap and spices in bulk (like from Sams or Costco)
  8. Browse through the "Saving Money" category on the sidebar of my blog for more ideas.
I'd love to hear how you successfully save money. What are some of your biggest challenges to saving?

(linked to Works for Me Wednesday)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cash Envelopes and Financial Peace

Our church is starting Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. While we don't have any debt other than our mortgage right now (although I am sure we will accumulate some medical debt with the baby), I think it will be good to go through it and get more saving and investment ideas.  Have you ever taken the classes?

You probably know that a big part of Dave's system is using cash envelopes. I definitely like the idea behind cash envelopes--giving every category a budgeted amount and staying within that amount. But for us, the problem we've ran into in the past is it's not always practical.

For example, let's say you're at the grocery store (a big one like Walmart--wink), and you happen to pass by a really great kids' clothes' clearance: a dollar for shirts and a few dollars for pants. This is a great deal, and you can stock up on sizes the kids will need for next fall, but you only have your grocery envelope with you, because you didn't know you would need to take your clothing envelope with you. So do you use the grocery money for the clothes and put clothing money in the grocery envelope when you get home?

Or let's say you go to the park with a friend. Afterwards, she suggests taking the kids out to lunch at somewhere like the Pizza Hut lunch buffet. But you didn't anticipate this, so you don't have your recreation envelope with you. Do you just go ahead and use your debit card and try to line everything up later?

It's situations like these that caused my husband and I to decide that, for us, it was just easier and more practical to use one big cash envelope for everything. No more accounting headaches or unpredictable situations where you don't have the right envelope. There's just one envelope with grocery money plus gas money and spending money inside.

As we go through the classes, we may go back to the old cash envelope system, just to give it another try. Plus, I think the envelope system included in the Financial Peace kit is more like a wallet, with all the categories included inside. That would definitely make it easier to stay on track.

I'd love to talk about emergency funds, too, but let's save that for another time!

So this Coffee Talk Thursday, let's talk about it! Do you use a cash envelope system? Do you love it or also find it can be problematic? How do you make it work for you?

(linked to Works for Me Wednesday)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Oh, The Places You Won't Go

So I have my own version of Dr. Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Oh, the places you won't go,
The things you won't see
When gas prices climb higher than three

It's time to stay home,
Find new things to do,
Projects and games and outside walks too.

What can you sort?
What can you do?
What can you read to thing one and thing two (and three and four and more)?

You'll find if you stretch how long you can go
Whizzing out and about
Why, wouldn't you know?
You'll save money and gas,
and even better than that...

You'll be content to be home,
You'll learn to like it like that

Many adventures await,
Many dollars are saved
When you say no to load up and go.

On a practical note, I fill up our minivan every two weeks when my husband gets paid. Gas prices where we live are just under $3 a gallon right now. It costs about $50 to fill up. This fill-up must last us until the next pay-day.

We really don't go many places during a week, and I honestly prefer it that way. Too many errands and appointments on the calendar for too many days in a row just stress me out. We have church on Wednesday night for AWANA, Sunday morning and Sunday night (Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University is starting up). I take my boys to a homeschool art class on Wednesday afternoons, but it's only a half-mile from our house. There is a homeschool phys ed class on Tuesday's and Thursday's, which we attended once a week in the fall, but I'm not sure we'll continue this semester. (Besides, the boys get plenty of physical activity during the day anyway!).

Maybe you prefer your family to be involved in many activities and don't mind paying for the gas it takes to drive everyone everywhere they need to be during the week. It's a personal decision, as your budget allows. I am lucky to live in the center of town, where everything I need is quite close. But if it wasn't, and if I wanted to save money (and gas is a biggie), I would take a hard look at where we're going and if those trips are really necessary.

On a tangent, since I used to work in the media, I find it so interesting how the media is choosing not to cover the rise in gas prices. The media claims to be neutral and unbiased, but that's so not true. Their bias comes through in so many ways: in the stories they choose to cover (and not to cover), and the ways in which they cover them. During the Bush presidency, for example, the media constantly reported on how high gas prices were going and what the president was, or was not, doing to address the issue. That same media coverage seems to be absent from the Obama presidency. Sometimes I wonder if the rise in gas prices, and the apparent lack of doing anything about it, is an intentional decision by the administration to drive us all toward solar-powered vehicles.

Regardless of what the government does, or doesn't do, to affect the price of gas, I can affect how much we pay for it simply by limiting the places we go.

How are you dealing with the increase in gas prices?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Healthy $10 a Day Menus

 A little later than usual, the menu plan is ready! I am trying, as much as possible, to work around what we already have in the house, adding only a few things to my grocery list. Here is what we will be eating this week.

Oatmeal, bananas, orange juice
Goulash (leftover from Sunday night), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, milk
Spicy Rice, Bean and Cheese casserole, mangoes:

.50 cents for rice
.50 cents for beans (cook half a bag of black beans)
.50 cents for one can diced tomatoes
$1.25 for cheese
approximately.25 cents for onion and garlic
sour cream, lettuce minimal

Overnight Yeast waffles (these have been on the menu in weeks past but have always gotten booted for something else!)
Burritos with leftover beans and rice
Linguini a la Anne (with ham), Caesar Salad

Fried Eggs, toast, oranges
Vegetable beef soup (using leftover goulash; add beef broth and mixed vegetables), biscuits
Roast Chicken, baked yams, Normandy blend vegetables (a big frozen bag from Sam's with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, yellow squash)

Peanut butter baked oatmeal
Chicken salad sandwiches (out of leftover chicken), grapes
Chicken and noodles in the crockpot, peas

Homemade Cream of Wheat
Carrot soup, rolls
Pizza, salad

Leftovers for lunch and snacks
Zesty sausage and pepper pasta (Use pork sausage instead of ground beef, brown, add half a green pepper and half a red pepper, saute lightly, add a jar of your favorite pasta sauce and half a 8-oz. brick of cream cheese; stir to combine and serve over penne pasta, or any pasta), salad

Visit for more menu-planning ideas!


We had a busy weekend, and I didn't have the time to plan for the week ahead like I normally do. Not an extensive, what-I'm-doing-every-15-minutes-type-of-plan, but more a general guide for our meals, homeschooling, and housework. Without that plan, I feel like I'm free-falling from a sky-diving plane. The plan, though, is my parachute.

Just as a sky-diver needs a parachute to land safely, I need a plan to have a productive day and week. So I need to carve out some time this morning (as soon as possible) to do the planning that didn't get done this weekend. I'll share my menu-plan when I get it finished. 

If you would like some help creating a routine that works for your family, you may find this post--Implement a Routine--helpful.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Frugal Tip: Rarely Serve Whole Foods

Photo by rexipe

If you, like me, are trying to save money on groceries, this tip will surely help:

Rarely serve whole foods.

Now, I'm not talking about whole as in unprocessed. We should be sure to have plenty of whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in our diet. What I'm talking about is a whole meat serving per person.
For example, serving chicken breasts one night, pork chops the next, salmon fillets midweek, hamburgers the day after that, and a steak dinner on Friday will be quite expensive.

A monk, as paraphrased in Miserly Moms, once said that to economize resources, try not to eat a whole serving of any one thing. Stretch your food dollars by combining small amounts of each ingredient to make a meal. While this may not always be practical, I think there is wisdom (and plenty of savings) to be found in this approach.

To clarify further, instead of making a hamburger for each member of your family, which can easily use a pound of ground beef or more, brown that pound, and use half in spaghetti and the other half in perhaps a vegetable-beef soup. Instead of serving a whole chicken breast per person (fine on occasion, of course, or if you want to serve it that way), use half the amount of chicken and make white chicken chili, a casserole, a stir-fry, fajitas, or any number of other recipes where you combine several other ingredients with the chicken to stretch the meat as far as it will possibly go. Another meat-stretching option is a pot roast. It can easily provide three meals (roast, stew, Shepherd's Pie, burritos, etc.)
Since I have been shopping and cooking this way, I find the meat I buy stretches for quite awhile. This saves our family a lot of money, since meat is one of the most expensive purchases on one's grocery list. I encourage you to get creative and find ways to reduce meat servings at any given meal.

Do you have any combo recipes you love? I'd love to hear about them. They may give us all new ideas!

Visit Frugal Friday for more money-saving tips!

Twenty Relationships Under One Roof

Coffee Talk Thursday

As moms, we are not only home managers, we are interpersonal communication experts and counselors. If doctorate degrees could be earned by experience, we'd all have one!

When you consider the number of people living under one roof in your home, and the total number of relationships therein, this counseling and communications job is no small feat. Within my immediate family of five, for instance, there are actually 20 relationships. Whew! Each sibling has a relationship with two brothers, plus two parents. (I am counting the relationship between son X and son Y as two relationships, not one, since there is the relationship from X's perspective and from Y's.) So three boys times four possible family relationships equals twelve; Mom has a relationship with four other people and so does Dad--therefore, twenty under one roof.

With that many interpersonal relationships, it's no wonder things go haywire at times. There are moments during the day, perhaps several times a day, when any number of those relationships are displaying the results of the fall--sin--instead of epitomizing the picture of heaven at home. This can make us sad...and grouchy.

As moms, we want everyone to get along. We want our homes to be characterized by the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  When we're seeing anger, irritability, taunting, meanness, impatience, harshness and aggression instead, it can make us lose our self-control. I know that when my boys are fighting with each other, or one's making another one cry because he's teasing or being mean, that's when I'm most likely to come unglued.

Yet, if we think of ourselves as the "interpersonal communication expert" and the licensed counselor, perhaps it will be easier to maintain our control and rule over the situation, directing it to a peaceful outcome. A counselor wouldn't freak out in a couple's counseling session. The counselor is a trained professional who reacts to statements and behaviors calmly, neutrally. Maybe if we can separate ourselves from the conflict a bit, we would do better in dealing with it.

I think it's also important to continue to guide, train, and instruct--over and over again, as necessary. Some practical ways to bring that about:
  • Find Scriptures that teach the character qualities you want to see improvement on in your kids' lives, and read them to them. "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12).
  • Don't underestimate the power in praying about the problems. Pray about specific relationship problems you're seeing among your family members and ask God to work in the person's heart and relationship. I am seeing answers to prayer in this regard, which is a huge praise!
  • Study effective communication strategies, if you haven't already, and teach them to your children. This will help not only with their sibling relationships, but for the rest of their lives (with future coworkers, spouses, etc).
  • Realize there is nothing wrong with your family or your home. We all deal with it. And with that many relationships, it's no wonder we have a lot to deal with sometimes!
"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The OBGYN Visit (Complete with Kids)

(this is not me) :)
Generally, I don't mind not having a cell phone. Yet, the other day, I found myself desperately wishing I could make just one S.O.S call.

Two days ago, I had my first OB visit for this pregnancy. I thought we were going to hear the baby's heartbeat, and a few weeks ago, I remember talking to my husband about this and letting him know it would be nice if he could join us for this visit. In classic his-her miscommunication, I--from then on--assumed he was coming with me to the appointment.

The morning of the appointment, I reminded him of the time and asked him if he wanted me to call him beforehand (so he wouldn't forget). He said, "No, that's ok. Hey, Are you taking the kids with you?" I thought that was strange, since of course, he was coming with us, too, and therefore, what else would I do with the kids?  Suffice it to say, I was sure he was coming. He knew he wasn't.

At the doctor's office, after the initial weigh-in, blood pressure check, and visit with the doctor in her office (while two of my boys were crawling on the floor like Army soldiers in a dug-out and then looking curiously at the knick-knacks on her shelf), she informed me that today they would be doing the annual Pap and breast exam. This is when I wanted to make the desperate SOS call to my husband. What would I do with the boys?

Fortunately, the exam room has a small bench in the corner with a curtain one can pull, which drapes from the ceiling to the floor. I told the boys they were going to get to play a really fun hiding game in a secret cave, and that they had to stay in there. This was definitely a mom's in need of mercy situation, and thankfully, for the most part, they did stay behind the curtain.


At one point, the boys removed the water bottle in my purse to take a drink. It was holding a full quart of water. I say "was," because as soon as they were done drinking, the bottle--uncapped--spilled all over the floor. I didn't notice until the doctor came in, because I was sitting on the exam table, wearing the wonderful gown with a sheet wrapped around my waist, thinking over and over again, "Please hurry, please hurry, please hurry."  (Those waits can take forever, which is never a good thing when three little boys are in the room, trying to stay excited about hiding behind the curtain. What if they got bored right at the time of the Pap?). 

So the doctor finally came in and said, "Oh, there's a lot of water on the floor." She proceeded to get surgical cloths to wipe it up, since she said they hold a lot of water. I did what I could to hand paper towels to the boys under the curtain. I told her we'd be sure to get the rest before we left. She smiled and said, "I bet Daddy's going to be in trouble later."  

Also on the bench is a little basket containing feminine products. I'm not sure why boys--little boys--are so fascinated with tampons. I think they think it's like a rocket: push the applicator and out it launches. So my youngest was ejecting tampons for take-off. But again, there wasn't much I could do except tell my other boys to please stop him from doing that.

Well, we survived. I got dressed. One boy happened to peek out of the curtain right as I was getting dressed. I tried to do a quick turn and cover and told him to stay behind the curtain. Luckily, he did as he was told.

At home, I asked my husband why he forgot about the appointment. He cleared up the miscommunication by saying, "I knew you had it. I just didn't know you wanted me to be there." I said, "Well, I only had to have a Pap smear and a breast exam...with the boys in the room."

He brought me cookies as a peace offering.

Next time, we'll hear the baby's heart beat, and I'll be sure my husband comes with us.

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, I guess.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pregnancy Insomnia

The hardest issue I've dealt with during my pregnancies has not been heartburn, nor a growing waistline, nor strikes of extreme hunger pains at times, although each of those has been unpleasant.  Before the stork brings the baby, as the saying goes, it brings me many sleepless nights. There's really nothing on my mind keeping me awake, I just can't sleep.

During my first pregnancy, I was anchoring and producing the morning news for our local NBC station. I had to be up at 2AM to be in at 3AM. I just chalked the inability to sleep up to a crazy schedule. Fortunately, I often napped in the afternoon (but I didn't have any kids then either).

With pregnancy number two, the problem returned. This time, I knew it was a real problem, since I was now on a regular sleep schedule. Same thing with pregnancy number three, and now with pregnancy number four.

My body is sleepy; it just forgot how to actually fall asleep.

My doctor explained to me that my insomnia results from the way my body is reacting to all the hormones. Some nights, no matter how tired I truly am, I feel like I am on an adrenaline high, or like I drank three shots of espresso. I lay down and rest, but most nights, I don't sleep. On about night three or night four of no sleep, I may try to take a Unisom (although I generally try to avoid it). Unfortunately, it doesn't help.

Although my day is pretty active anyway, I've experimented with seeing if extra exercise during the day helps me sleep at night. It doesn't. I've tried the hot-bath or shower-before-bed idea. Nope. A glass of warm milk or peppermint tea makes me drowsy; but the drowsy feeling doesn't translate into inducing my body into sleep. So I don't really know.

When your body forgets how to sleep, it can make you anxious.
The good news, though, is--whatever hormones are keeping me up at night are also carrying me through the day. I think it's God's mercy.

Eventually, my body will adjust, and I'll sleep again. Until then, I'm curious:

Have you ever dealt with pregnancy insomnia, and what did you do about it?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Messy Monday: Organizing Coupons

Since we've been getting the Sunday paper on a special for $10 for 10 weeks, I've collected quite a few more coupons than usual. (Normally, without the paper, I just check what's on before heading to the store). I browse through them when they first come so that I can get a general idea of what's in each insert, save the whole insert without clipping coupons from it, and tuck them in my purse when I go to the store, along with any printouts from online coupon sources.

The problem with this is that the more you get, the messier it gets. Plus, I waste time at the store shuffling through the inserts, trying to find that one coupon I just know I have and want to use (or I forget about specific coupons altogether). Then at home, if the boys go digging through my purse in search of gum, there are coupon inserts everywhere, with the inevitable question from my husband, "Can we just throw these away?" (To which I answer, "Just put them back in my purse, please, honey.")

In an effort to get my coupons more organized, I bought a 5x7 plastic index card/recipe box at the Dollar Tree a bit ago. Unfortunately, the store only sold alphabetized tabs for the 3x5 boxes, so I have to figure out a categorizing system of my own. I'm thinking of just using large index cards, which I'll label by category.

Which brings me to today's question:

If you coupon, how do you organize your coupons?

Healthy $10 a Day Menus

This week, in the interest of saving time, I am not going to do the cost breakdown of each meal (it is a lengthy process), so you will just have to take my word for it that these menus cost less than $10 a day. Trust me? Ok, here we go!

Scrambled eggs, homemade wheat toast, juice
French dip sandwiches on french rolls (from last week's roast), salad, peaches
Baked spaghetti (from Sunday night's spaghetti leftovers), Normandy blend vegetables, bread, milk

Oatmeal, bananas, juice
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ants on a log, milk
White Chicken Chili, tortilla chips, spinach salad

Overnight Yeast waffles, orange juice
Crustless spinach quiche, toast, oranges
Crockpot Chicken over rice, broccoli, milk
(take one can cream of mushroom soup, one soup can full of milk, and one packet of onion soup mix and pour over the amount of chicken breasts you need, which are in the crockpot. I usually use a few extra, and make a chicken pot pie with the leftover chicken the next day).

Blueberry muffins, clementines, yogurt
Tuna sandwiches, carrot and celery sticks
Chicken pot pie (using leftover crockpot chicken as a base), fruit cocktail

Friday (My Birthday!)
Triple berry blintzes
Out to dinner? (Back-up: Roast Chicken, baked yams, salad)

Pancakes, eggs, juice
Vegetable beef soup, bread
Burgers, oven fries

SundayOven pancake
Parmesan-crusted tilapia, baked potatoes, Normany vegetables

Visit Menu Plan Monday for more menu ideas!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Now's the Time for Winter Clearance

One of my friends posted on Facebook that The Children's Place is having a great clearance sale right now, and it gets even better when you use the coupon code RETAILMENOT1C for an extra 15% off. Many items are $5 or less. If you need some items for next fall/winter, it's worth checking out.

Yesterday we ran to Target to pick up a few things, and they had a lot of things on clearance too--especially toys leftover from Christmas for 50% off. Winter boots hit clearance, but I stopped by a little too late and missed out on the selection (only a few sizes were left). The clearance racks were packed with kids' clothes.

I've blogged before about Sears' KidVantage program (where they will replace clothing and shoes that gets holes or tears in it while the child is still in that size). If you have time, it may be worth checking what's on clearance at Sears (prices may continue to get lower up until March). If you can get a brand-new shirt for $2.50 (or less), and you know if anything happens to it, the store will replace it with something similar, that beats thrift store prices.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Coffee Talk Thursday: Stand By Your Vows

As the daughter of divorced parents, and the daughter-in-law of divorced and remarried parents, my husband and I continue to experience, first-hand, the devastating effects divorce has upon families for generations. It divides and fractures relationships, not just at the immediate time of the divorce but for years to come. 

When we stand upon the altar, we commit before God and man to take our spouse, to "have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part" (See more traditional vows here)

Yet somehow, somewhere down the road, many forget that the vow is to hold--for better, for worse. In the English language, "hold" is the modifying verb. Hold for richer, hold for poorer, hold in sickness, hold in health. Where many couples fall apart is that instead of holding each other during the hard times, as they've vowed, they pull away and become distant. They fail to hold, and the union falls apart.
I think many people assume they are supposed to hold each other when something external happens to their relationship. Their union is still strong, and they're standing together through a house fire, or something like that. But I think what the "for worse" really means is when you're not getting along. When you're divided because you're having money issues or family squabbles, or trouble seeing eye-to-eye on child-rearing, housekeeping, whatever. Those times are all part of the "for worse" you vowed to hold each other through 'til death do you part. Somehow many couples are letting the "for worse" do them part.

Research shows if couples just stick it out, through the "for worse," many times they are amazed at the turn-around in their relationship with the passage of time. In fact, in a recent Focus on the Family article, couples who rated their marriages a "one" on the happiness scale (meaning the most unhappy) rated their marriage a "seven" after five years. "Was there, the article asks, "some breakthrough therapy involved?" No. In fact, many did relatively little – they just 'stuck it out' and things got better."

The article states, "To have good marriages, we need to ride out the 'lows' and learn from those times so that the relationship can be strengthened. If your relationship is at a low point and you wonder what happened to the spark, there is good news. It's not too late to revitalize your relationship."

Seeing marriages fall apart breaks my heart. I wish I could save every single one, but obviously I can't. What I can do, though, is share my experience in hopes that it changes one person's mind and saves even just one marriage.

When I was in second grade, my parents filed for a divorce. It wasn't finalized until I was in fifth grade. My previously stay-at-home mother now had to go back to school and find a job to support my sisters and I. She did her best, but our finances were tight to say the least, and many nights, I went to sleep worrying that we may end up living in a cardboard box (kids don't really know about social services to help prevent that; they just know their mother is worried about feeding them and making ends meet).   My adolescent and teen years were difficult, mainly because of all the ramifications my parents' divorce caused.

My husband's parents stuck it out until he turned 18, but delaying divorce doesn't make it better. Now that we have children, relationships with grandparents on all sides suffer as a result of divorce. My dad commits to flying out to see us quite regularly, my mom--without the financial support of my dad--cannot afford to visit but once a year (or every two years). When we visit them, we have to split the time, and feelings get hurt. On my husband's side, my father-in-law lives several states away with his wife. My mother-in-law lives several hours away with her husband on his family's ranch. While our boys' step-grandparents like--and even love--them, they are not their biological grandparents and do not feel the same pull to them that biological grandparents may. Consequently, it's not as simple as, "Honey, let's go see the grandkids next weekend." Whose grandchildren do they visit? His or hers? The grandchildren (and the grandparents) miss out, and my husband and I are both saddened that our kids are lacking close grandparent relationships.

Furthermore, research suggests that children whose parents are not married may be:

  • less likely to have academic success and attend college
  • less emotionally and physically healthy 
  • more likely to attempt or commit suicide
  • more likely to be a victim of physical or sexual abuse
  • more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol
  • more likely to have delinquent or behavioral problems
  • more likely to divorce when they get married
  • more likely to be a teen parent
  • more likely to be sexually active or contract an STD
  • more likely to live in poverty

 Certainly, there are conditions when divorce is permissible--when your life or the lives of your children are in danger, or in the case of adultery. But even if there was an affair, perhaps for the sake of the children, you could keep your family in tact. I would be willing to bet that, through the passage of time, trust will be rebuilt and love will grow again. Dr. Laura once said on her radio show that water and sunlight can bring a dead-looking plant back to life. Nurture and love.  As Jesus Himself taught, divorce is not God's design. His plan was that man and woman would leave their families and be joined together. "Haven’t you read,” he [said], “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6).

So if you're at a low point, what makes marriages get better?
Going back to the Focus on the Family article:
"Researchers followed up on those couples who rated their marriages as unhappy at first and happy five years later. Here's what the couples told them were the reasons for the dramatic turnaround:

Waiting. Since many couples have unhappy marriages due to outside pressures (like a job loss or the demands of young children), the passage of time changed those circumstances. Things just naturally got better again.

Working at it. Many of the problems in marriage are a result of poor communication. Some couples told the researchers they simply learned to take small steps – like listening to each other – which resulted in happier marriages. For example, husbands learned to compliment wives, and wives learned to encourage husbands.

Personal happiness/perspective change in one spouse. Sometimes, one spouse simply decided not to base all of his or her happiness on the mood of the other spouse. Instead, one spouse took up a hobby or simply made an attitude adjustment that allowed him or her to be more patient and accepting of the other.
Credible threat of consequences for bad behavior. Some of the marriages were initially very unhappy because the husbands were engaged in "bad behaviors" – out late drinking with the boys, infidelity or even occasional abuse.4 Just as Dr. James Dobson advises in his book Love Must Be Tough, these wives took firm action and let their husbands know they would not tolerate such behavior. The husbands changed.

So wherever your at today, for your sake, your children's sakes, and the sake of your future grandchildren, work at making your marriage work. Stand by your vows. Remember, the vow is to hold....'til death do us part. Have you held your spouse lately? If you're feeling there's an iceberg between you, holding him may just melt it.

(If you're already divorced, please know this article is not a condemnation against you. Again, as the child of divorced parents, I know how difficult it is. This post is meant to encourage couples who are still married to fight for their marriage to prevent the devastation of divorce).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Saving Money by Staying out of Walmart

I know some people have personal problems with shopping at the major chain store, Walmart. I personally do not have any problem with shopping there, but right now, for this season, I'm finding I do better financially if I stay out of the store. Since I'm intentionally working to save money by trimming grocery costs, this is a big revelation for me.

It all started a few weeks ago when I read an enlightening coupon column in the Sunday paper. The coupon expert said that most shoppers will do better shopping the sales at their local grocery store than shopping at the major chain store. The reason is because the everyday low price at a store like Walmart will be lower than 50% of items at the grocery store but higher on other items that are on sale at smaller stores. While Walmart will price match a competitor's ad, many of the sales one finds in the grocery stores are in-store specials and not advertised in the weekly flyer. 

Plus, while it may be purely psychological, when I'm going through the grocery store, I proceed with caution. I feel like the prices on some items may be higher than what I could find at say, Walmart, so I do not buy them. When I'm at Walmart, on the other hand, the selection is huge (if the products are on the shelf!), and I feel a green light to grab items I avoid at the store, simply because the price is lower. Yet, in the end, I spend more, because I'm buying more. Sure, it's a self-discipline issue, but if I know this about myself, and am trying to save money, I need to avoid temptation.  

Lately, I have been saving money by shopping at our small, local Safeway. It was built in the 1920's and hasn't changed much since. I love the fact that there's usually few people in the store at any one time (making it easier with my boys), the other shoppers are usually in their 80's (which is kind of neat, and most of them enjoy seeing young boys), and I know the cashiers--and they know me. 

Generally, I think Safeway's non-sale prices are quite high (I think Kroger has the lowest everyday prices), but recently the store has advertised some really good sales; pairing the sales with coupons (which they double to $1.00) makes for some really great deals (like .79 for a box of Cheerios). I've saved the most money, though, on dairy products. At our store, dairy is marked down 50% off five days before the expiration date. That means I've snagged gallons of milked for $1.25, yogurt for about a dollar (Yoplait 4-packs, Dannon 8-packs,  Lucerne 6 packs of 6-ounce yogurts for a mere $1.10). I've also found sour cream, cottage cheese, and blocks of cheese half-price. (I've never found dairy close to the expiration date marked down at Walmart).

I may venture into Walmart when I need laundry detergent (unless I make my own), cleaning supplies, and diapers. I may check for produce deals and grab a few items while I'm there (like dried beans), but other than that, for right now, I'll keep more money in my purse if I just say no.

What about you? Do you love to shop at Walmart, or do you find you do better with your budget if you stay out and shop your local grocery store?

Monday, January 3, 2011

An Intentional Year

Very rarely do things just happen.  Actions are always a result of specific decisions. Even choosing not to act is, in itself, a decision. In thinking about the year ahead, whether or not one wants to call them "resolutions," it's helpful to envision what we hope to accomplish intentionally in 2011.

We can make intentional choices to better many aspects of our lives, including:
  • our spiritual lives
  • relationships
  • finances
  • health
  • home-management/efficiency
  • educational growth (subjects we wish to study, whether through classes or books)
  • learning new skills
To accomplish growth in our desired areas, we must devise an intentional plan. Hoping to do something, and seeing if it just happens to come to pass, will not bring it to fruition. Let's identify specific things we can do each day to bring about the growth we desire.  

The Power of One Thing: How to Intentionally Change Your LifeIf I'm in the kitchen in the afternoon, I enjoy listening to Intentional Living with Dr. Randy Carlson on my kitchen radio. His theme is "the power of one thing"--asking ourselves, "What is the one thing we can do today to yield a difference in our lives?" Each day, our "one thing" may be different, but there is always at least one thing we can do intentionally in at least one of the areas I mentioned above (spiritual life, relationships, finances, etc.).

So here are a few of my intentional goals for the year ahead:
  • Get dressed upon rising (harder to hit chaos first-thing)
  • Blog in the morning (or evening) and then turn off the computer for the rest of the day (allowing myself a quick computer check when 2/3 boys are napping)
  • Seriously save for my medical costs and the baby's
  • Print off some of the massive amounts of pictures stored on our computers and work on my boys' scrapbooks
  • Exercise, beyond normal active life with three little boys:), at least three days a week during my pregnancy
  • Continue to find ways to trim our grocery expenses while still eating nutritiously (or more nutritiously!)
What about you? What are some of your intentional goals/resolutions for the year ahead?

(linked to Frugal Friday at

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Healthy $10 a Day Menus

As I mentioned, we always have more leftovers than I anticipate, or I think of something new to do with the leftovers, so we end up with meals planned but not made.
Here's what carries over to this week from not making it last week:
Black Bean, Rice and Cheese Casserole
White Chicken Chili
Tuna Oriental

With that, here is our healthy, financially-feasible menu for the week:

Oven pancake
(3 eggs=.50 cents, 1 c. milk=.15 cents, 1 c. flour=.05 cents, sugar, salt=minimal)
Meal=less than $1
Roast (on sale for $1.99/lb, approximately 3 pounds=$6)
Potatoes .25 cents or less
Carrots=.25 cents
Applesauce=.50 cents
Milk=.50 cents
Meal=$7, but roast will yield at least one to two more meals

Breakfast Casserole
homemade hashbrowns: 1 lb. potatoes=.25 cents
6 eggs=$1
6 oz. cottage cheese (24 oz.on sale for $2.25, 6 oz=.56 cents)
1 c. shredded swiss cheese=1.99 (I may only use half this amount)
ham, leftover=$1
Meal=$4.80 (or less depending on amount of cheese used)
Tuna salad sandwiches on homemade wheat bread
Tuna=.44 cents/can on sale
1 Tbsp. mayo= $2.99 jar, 72 1 T. servings=.04 cents/tablespoon
teaspoon pickle relish=minimal
stalk celery=minimal
oranges (.49 cents/pound),
milk (2.49/gallon, 16c/gallon=.15 cents/cup, kids drink 1/2 c., adults drink 2c. =.50 cents)
Homemade bread=.12 loaf, half loaf=.06 cents
Shepherd's Pie (using leftover roast--cost factored in on Sunday, mashed potatoes .25 cents, broth from cooking the roast=free, green beans=.50 cents)
.75 cents
Milk=.50 cents

Granola and berries=around $1 (makes a large batch)
Leftover shepherd's pie=$0
Ham and beans, cornbread, milk
Ham hock=$2,
1/2 bag of beans=.90 cents,
onion and seasonings=.50 cents
Homemade cornbread=Cornbread from freshly ground popcorn kernels ($1.48 bag @ Walmart--need only 1c.=.75 cents or less), butter, milk, sugar, one egg=approximately $1.25
Milk=.50 cents

Overnight Yeast Waffles, milk
1-3/4 c. milk=.30 cents
stick butter=.75 cents
2 c. flour=.10 cents
2 eggs=.50 cents
1T. sugar, 1-1/2 tsp. instant yeast, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. vanilla=minimal
milk to drink=.50 cents
Leftover ham and bean soup, cornbread=$0
Spicy Rice, Bean and Cheese casserole:
.50 cents for rice
.50 cents for beans (cook half a bag of black beans)
.50 cents for one can diced tomatoes
$1.25 for cheese
approximately.25 cents for onion and garlic
.77 cents for one avocado on sale

Meal= $3.77

Oatmeal $6.60 bulk bag @ Sams=100 1-cup servings=.06 cents/serving
5 servings=.30 cents
Bananas on sale for .39 cents per pound
Milk=.50 cents

Leftover bean, rice and cheese casserole on homemade wheat tortillas=.12 cents
$1.25 Mango
The splurge meal!: Roast Beef with peppers, onions and potatoes
Roast on sale for $3.49/pound=$8.73, but will be used for at least two meals, so $4.37 for this meal
2 Peppers @$1.79 each=3.58
New Potatoes=$1.49 for one pound

Veggie scramble, toast
6 eggs=$1
splash of milk and salt=minimal
using leftover red and yellow peppers from dinner=0, cost factored in yesterday
toast using homemade bread=.06 cents
Meal=a little over $1
Spinach, beef and mango wraps
Beef=$2.17 (or less, depending on amount used)
2 limes=.50 cents
Package of whole wheat tortillas=$2.89

Pancakes, juice
less than $1
Meal=less than $2
Use extra beef, add cheese and veggies to make a roll-up for lunch=$0 (costs previously factored in)
apples=.80 cents/pound

White chicken chili, tortillas or tortilla chips

1 pound chicken=$1.49
2 cans Great Northern Beans=$1.60 (cheaper to cook your own)
Homemade broth=free
Onion and garlic=.50 cents
Tortilla chips=$2, tortillas minimal
Peanut butter baked oatmeal
Meal=less than $1
Hamburgers $1.99/lb.
Oven fries=potatoes .25 cents for one pound (10# bag=2.50) plus oil and seasonings, minimal cost;
salad=$1, homemade dressing=.50 cents
Tuna Oriental, rice, milk

Tuna=.44 cents/can
Rice=.50 cents
Cream of mushroom soup=.60 sale
Celery, onion=.25 cents
Milk=.50 cents
As far as snacks are concerned, we usually eat apple slices, cheese cubes, walnuts, pistachios, yogurt, etc.  I plan to make Cranberry-Apricot Granola bars, apricot-oatmeal cookies, and perhaps some muffins too.  In my first trimester with a growing baby, I find myself getting famished by about 4pm, so I either have to think of a substantial snack then, or just eat dinner earlier! How do you deal with the ravenous pregnancy appetite that can hit at times?

Visit for more menu planning ideas!