Monday, November 28, 2016

Shopping In The AM

We went shopping again. I had to go to the post office to drop off one of my eBay packages, then to CVS to get my photos, milk, juice and diapers. Then to the bank, and finally, to the thrift store. The kids are troopers, and they are good kids.
First at the post office. I had packaged my product in a used First Priority USPS bubble envelope. So I had to ship it using Priority shipping. Note to self. The item was headed to Addison, IL, and I thought about driving down there to just drop the package off. But I'm not sure how eBay feels about that, and its a 42 minute trip with no traffic or mishaps. So, I opted to pay and ship. Maybe next time I won't.
Then we headed over to CVS, not the one by the house, but to the one that I accidently sent my photo order to. While we were choosing juice, The Boy pulls out a bottle of Starbucks Frappuccino and drops it. It shatters all over the floor, and it took me a moment to reign myself in. I put him in the cart and said it was ok, that I was just surprised. I know that it was accident. My diaper choice was because of the rebates I could get on Checkout 51, as well an in-store coupon. The cashier rudely throws my $20 back on the counter and asks for another one. I say,
"Uh no. Why? What's wrong with this one?"
and she says, like its' totally obvious,
"I can feel the difference. This one is not real."
I told her to call the manager, because I know that it is real. And it was. I was expecting an apology, but I didn't get one. I did fill out my online survey and noted what had happened. On the upside, we saved 43%.
We went to the bank next, and as soon as we pull into the drive-thru, The Boy asks for a lollipop. I dutifully asked the teller for two and we got four. Right on. Unfourtuantly, my transaction was unable to be completed because my husband's name is also on the check and he needs to be present. Dang.
At the thrift store, Savers, we received 30% off from the cashier. I think she might have mishandled our transaction, but I wasn't complaining. I also think that I waited on her when I worked at Walgreens. It was a successful trip. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016


I have finally started using Cartwheel, the coupon app for Target. And it was easier than I thought. During my transaction today, I was able to save about $2. Not great, but not bad either.
We went in there because I had gotten a mailer coupon for $5 off $10 or more of household essentials or grocery items. Apparently, hand soap is not a household essential. I decided not to fuss about the coupon because I needed the items anyway (for a gift) and I was buying them on sale.
In the newspaper yesterday, I got a $10-off-$50 coupon for groceries from Target, and I cobbled together a list from their promotional mailer. I was unable to locate two items from my list, so I got a few items in their place after doing some math. I had clipped a few Cartwheel coupons and was picking up a few items for the 'Mitten Tree' at church and was feeling pretty good. However, I noticed that Target grocery prices are actually pretty high. A few of them items I got were a good deal, but mostly the prices were at the top of my range. The only way to work around that is to be vigilant about sticking with my list/price point, clipping my paper coupons, and working with my money-saving apps, such as ibotta, checkout 51, and Cartwheel. Luckily, I am very good about being vigilant with all those things.

Monday, November 14, 2016


The Boy is growing fast! Many of his clothes are just a touch too small, so today we went shopping. We headed off to Unique Thrift Store in the strip mall at Howard and Western, in Chicago. On Mondays, everything is 50% off! (Besides the Red Tag new items). With the kids, I have to do grab-and-go shopping, so I grabbed seven pairs of pants, and five sweatshirts, and a coat. Some of the sweatshirts are zip-ups, one is a regular pullover, and a few are hoodies. I got him a few warm (with the fleece layer inside) khakis and two jeans, and one camo. I even scored a waterproof coat that might be warm enough for winter, for $2.50. I spent $31.01. Normally I have some buyer's remorse, but not this time. We got a great deal, and he'll wear all those clothes. And then his brother will.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Doctor's Appointments

Both The Boy and I need to go into the city for our appointments. The mileage is not the problem, it is the amount of time it takes to get from our house to the office. We have to travel through Chicago, which takes about an hour. I think it's worth it for him, because he is my son and he deserves every advantage I can give him. But is my appointment worth it? Maybe. Right now it seems ok, but let me ask The Hubs and my babysitter and see what they think.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

I Love The Way We Agree

At my church service today, the minister suggested we reply to people with different political/social views in the following way:
"I cannot possibly agree with you on that point, but I love the way we both agree on..."
'loving our families?'
'support watering our lawn?'
'utilizing a budget for household needs?'
'love coupons?'
The point is to know that it is unlikely to change someone's political and/or social viewpoint with a single argument or conversation. Our viewpoints are based on a lifetime of experiences, and how we perceive the world. Letting someone know you disagree with them, without resorting to mind-changing tactics, defensive drama, and harsh words is not 'allowing' them to continue in bigotry or liberal brainwashing (depending on what side of the political spectrum you're in). It is 'allowing' them, and you, to recognize similarities, humanism, and a chance for connection. Responding with the recommended response is a way to remind ourselves that despite all this us vs. them mindset, we all want to be heard and we all want connection.
I plan on using this tactic when visiting my in-laws later this week.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Unseasonably Warm With A Cold Front

It is unseasonably warm, but not record-breaking, outside today. Sunny and beautiful and I want the kids to play outside. But they are sick! And I just don't know if they need that kind of non-relaxing activity.
I had a few plans today, including voting early, going to Target with a mailer coupon for Halloween clearance (among other things), and going to the library to get the books I requested. The only thing we did was get the books because if you don't pick them up within three days, they reshelf them. And I requested a 'cozy mystery' from another library. (Who knew that was even a genre?) We went in, my kid was coughing, there was a minor meltdown because I told The Boy that there was a dinosaur book for him but it was actually a bug book. And we returned a few items, and checked out our reserved items and got the heck out of there.
When we got home, we watched Scooby Doo, ate some popcorn and a few kid-friendly cough drops, and went to bed.
Luckily, I plan my schedule far enough ahead so that pushing my voting and shopping trip back shouldn't be a huge problem. If the kids get better quick.
Tomorrow they are scheduled to get their flu shots, which obviously won't happen if they are still sick. Perhaps the doctor will see them? I hope it is nothing serious.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Tea Treatments

During my kid's rest/naptime, I try to get some stuff done for me. I attempt to sell things on eBay, I work on this blog, I workout, and I do a beauty treatment. Oftentimes, one or many of these do not get done, but today I was able to do a tea treatment.
First, I washed my hair in cool water. Yes, it was my kid's bathwater from yesterday. A little gross, but it saves water.
Then, I sprayed my hair with old suntea I put in a salon spray bottle. I've heard this treatment works best with black tea, but I used Tension Tamer.
I wrapped my hair up in a plastic bag, and will leave it in for a half hour.
After the tea does it's hopeful magic, I will condition my hair.
The Hubs thinks these at-home beauty treatments are crazy and yucky, but I always feel better after doing them.
The tea is supposed to stop breakage and hair loss, and make my hair shiny and smooth. It is a lot to hope for, but I've read a few other blogs whose authors swear by this treatment.
Try it and let me know.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Headaches and The Library

I'm laying in bed with a tension headache that has creeped up from in-between my shoulder blades, to the top of my shoulders and into my neck and at the base of my skull. I already took two Excedrin this morning, and I don't really want anymore.

My headache might be caused by tension but also by the weather, which is proper stay-at-home fall weather. It is low 40's and raining. Real rain, not drizzle. And cloudy, of course. Where is my hot tea?

We went to the 'train library' also known as the Morton Grove Library, which has a train table and a dollhouse. The boys love it there, so we played for just under an hour. The kids got a bunch of Halloween books and I picked up a Halloween craft book for them. We'll finally be carving our pumpkins this afternoon, but other crafts later.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


I recently read an article by Heidi Stevens about keeping the basic traditions alive but not going overboard and forcing people into activities. Specifically, she was talking about not driving 50 miles outside the city to the most picturesque Pumpkin Patch, but rather, being ok with and even liking the 'patch' at the corner of a busy intersection in Chicago. Her kids didn't want to spend all day in a patch, and they didn't.
I grew up with both types of traditions. We had a house in south Evanston, which is technically a suburb of Chicago, but feels more urban than most suburbs. Both my parents worked, and it was hard to find a time and even a reason to travel all the way out to farmland for apples, pumpkins, Christmas Trees and whatever other holiday items people need. We bought our Christmas Tree from the usually-empty lot about five blocks from our house. Our pumpkins were bought from another usually-empty lot about five blocks north of our church. Our apples, however, were picked at a special orchard an hour and a half (in good traffic) drive north of our home. Once a year we made the trek, for fresh apples and donuts. I'm keeping the tradition alive by bringing my sister and kids out, and meeting up with my dad. We love it.
So after church today, the kids and I met up with my mom at Windy City Pumpkins, on Greenbay. It didn't take long to choose pumpkins; there were no corn mazes or fields and we were packing up the car in about twenty minutes. We didn't get corn or Mums or haybales or any extras. And we had a great time. It was nice to be part of a holiday errand that didn't require weeks of planning and a car-load of supplies.
 Sometimes I wish we had elaborate traditions and recipes and dances and stories from The Old Countries (Ireland and Estonia and Norway and probably England). As a child and young adult I craved something more than 'just'...
 Recently (the last eight years or so) I realized the traditions we have are 'real', lovely, and activities I will carry on with my children. Our American ways are our ways, (and many of them are derived from the traditions in The Old Country) and they are beautiful and traditional and meant to be done year after year. We will be carving our two pumpkins as a family of four sometime this week. When are you carving your pumpkins?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

House Paint

The Hubs has decided its a good a time as any to paint the middle floor of the house. He and a coworker moved most of the furniture to the garage, and I had to bag up all the loose stuff we had on various surfaces. Even though its not a renovation, it feels like one, and I am hugely stressed out by the displacement of items and the disarray of our home. Also, The Hubs has stated clearly that he wants to take this opportunity to get rid of stuff. And that in and of itself is a cause of stress for me.
The Boy is very excited about the work going on, and this morning he followed his father around with a dry roller. The kids got into a scuffle about the equipment and The Hubs had to make sure they had the same stuff.
The last time we did any home improvement, the kids were way to small to do any work. In fact, The Boy had burned himself on a work-lamp while I was at work. He was a baby in a walker and I wasn't pregnant with The Baby yet. Only a few years ago, but it is literally a lifetime ago. Incredible, for me, to think about.
Anyway, the kids can sort of help now, and they are very interested in doing what their dada is doing. And lucky for all of us, The Hubs is pretty willing to have them 'help'. It is truly a learning experience.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


I read in The Happiness Project about taking the time to deal with photos. Putting them in frames and albums, uploading and printing and sharing them, and making scrapbooks. The author (Gretchen somebody...) stated that it was part of her duty to do these things as an archivist and historian and record-keeper of the family. I feel the same way. I feel that it is up to me to take, print, share, upload, album, scrapbook, and memorialize all our photos. So, that is what I have been doing.
Right now I am working on printing all the photos (after editing, of course) that I took during a family reunion in July. Which means the photos taken after that have not been printed. The task is orderly and daunting.

I printed my most recent batch at Walgreens, using an online coupon making the prints 12 cents each, with the purchase of 50 or more. And I got extra points on my Walgreens card with an in-ad coupon.

Now I have to label and album those prints. Some will be given away. I truly hope I can carry on with this project.

How do you deal with (or don't deal with) your photos?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Salvation Army

As far as I know, the Salvation Army supports causes and viewpoints that I do not. Despite that, I did find myself shopping there because it is close to the house. I know, I know.
I got so overwhelmed and excited while I was shopping! I really had to remind myself to stick to my list. And I had to pull my list out repeatedly.
 I was surprised that I couldn't find any ice cube trays. I want them to make homemade popsicles (with Saran wrap and toothpicks, like we used to do when we were kids). And to freeze herbs/butter or herbs/oil.
We were able to find a cute pair of blue, Velcro sneakers for The Boy. And I got them at 25% off because they had a tan tag. I also bought him an adult-sized pair of cozy Halloween socks (25% off) and a pair of new white socks that look too big but probably aren't. Also 25% off. I spent $6.54.
Despite the fact that thrifting is always cheaper than retail, I always make sure to stick with the sales.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sick Day Part 3

We all woke up late; too late to get to church on time. I had a fair amount of guilt about this. We don't do church during the week (although I do pray everyday), so it seems like if we miss one or two days in a month, that is actually a lot. It is probably good that we didn't go; the kids and I all have coughs. As I think I've mentioned, I'm pretty sure I'm the only SAHM at my church, and I would hate to bring an illness to the kids and moms who have to go to school/daycare/work. Perhaps this justification is a way to ease my guilt about waking up later than I intended. I think it's working.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Still Sick

I am so blessed. Yes, I am sick, but it helps me remember why choices made in my previous lifestyle were not good ones. And this sickness reminds me why I can't and won't go back to those days.
Also, my wonderful Hubs allowed to me to rest in bed since he got home last night. I was able to go upstairs and watch TV and read. I took a Nyquil around 9 and was out for the whole night. I woke up to my alarm and kid at about six. But The Hubs told me to go back to sleep. Which I did. Until about nine. Which is incredible. When I woke up, I felt much better. Not totally cured, but much better. The Hubs then took the kids to park I played at when I was a kid, Mount Trashmore, and brought them home in time for nap and snack. I put the kids to bed for their nap, and went back to bed. I am dressed, for some reason, but my hair and make-up are not done.

To boost my immunity, I am drinking my mint black tea suntea. I put the jug out on the windowsill because although it was sunny, there was no direct sunlight in my yard. On the windowsill it stayed in the sunlight for probably under an hour. Evidently, the suntea season is ending, and I refuse to acknowledge it. I left the tea out on the windowsill all night. I hope I don't get a weird tea-related disease.

Friday, October 14, 2016

I'm Sick!

I'm sick! And I always feel sorry for myself when I'm sick. The only time I don't feel totally awful is when I'm in the shower, reading a good book, or watching t.v.
I have decided that because I'm under the weather and I'm not feeling well, I will try to get my stuff done, but I will not beat myself up if I don't.
When I'm sick I tend to rely more on the home remedies. And I believe in taking the day off. We dropped off books at the library, and went grocery shopping, but now we are home for the day.
Drinking a lot of fluids is essential to getting over a cold faster. Water, obviously, but also tea with honey, hot water with honey and lemon, apple cider vinegar with water, and juice are all good options. Go easy on the sugar, so it's a good idea to dilute your juice with water.
I plan on resting, if possible, with the kids. Perhaps we can watch one of the Halloween DVDs we got from the library.
For my sake, and the sake of others, I hope I feel better soon.
What are some of your home remedies?

Thursday, October 13, 2016


One of my rules for living a thrifty lifestyle is to see if I can get stuff used before I might have to buy it new. So we headed out to Savers, a thrift superstore. The one I went to is located in Glenview, but it is well worth the drive.
Everything there is so well organized! The sections are easily identifiable, and they sell smaller items in groups. Last time we went there, I was looking for silverware, and all my options were grouped into well-organized bags lined up along a peg board. This time, I almost got distracted by the peg board in the kid's department. There were sets of flash cards, coloring books and crayons, and all manner of learning tools, art supplies, and games. I remembered that we have many items like them at home, and was able to steer the kids away from the area.
The Boy loves 'spooky stuff', Halloween, thrift stores, and decorations. So he really kept busy looking at the new and used Halloween items. He has a great eye for interesting and quality items.
We found a pair of sneakers in the next size up, because it seems that his shoes now are getting too small. I just noticed he has matching blisters on the tops of his toes, so I'm feeling bad about my mothering right about now. I bought him a pair of size 10 (!) lime green and blue sneakers. For $5.99.
The Hubs needs work sweatshirts, and I found a pullover hoodie for $3.99.
I got The Baby and myself new sunglasses for $1.99 each, although I think the cashier didn't ring up one of them.
We got a sad-looking 99 cent Styrofoam tombstone for our afternoon project/Halloween décor. We'll be painting over it and putting it up in the yard.
For Halloween, The Boy wants to be Spiderman again, which is awesome because his costume is still a little big. (I bought it at a church rummage sale for $2). I was able to get him a new mesh/polyester mask for $5.99 today.
We also got a vintage-looking wooden wall hanging that says "Trick or Treat" with a big kinda scary-looking bat. For 99 cents.
And I took pictures of the couch they had, and sent them to The Hubs. Ever since we realized the dog has been sleeping on our couch while we are out, The Hubs has been looking for a new couch. I forgot to check the price, so I called them up and the friendly 'associates' (that's what I was when I worked retail) gave me a price check. $29.95. For a couch!
I have their store-card, which so far hasn't gotten me any discounts, but the wonderful cashier scanned it for me anyway.
This place is great! Their prices are higher than yard sales, and some other thrift stores, but their organizational skills saves a lot of time. I will be happy to schedule a time to shop here again.
Happy thrifting!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


I'm feeling a little discouraged. Possibly even a little stupid and disorganized.
Harsh words, but it seems that I am harder on myself than I would be on anyone else.

I have recently started selling on eBay. It is not garage sale season (here in the Midwest, garage sale season is short-lived, sadly), and I thought selling online would be a good way to make a little money and get rid of items as I clean out my house. While listing on eBay has proved easier than I thought, it turns out calculating the shipping cost is not. It has taken me several items to realize I need to look at the estimated shipping cost eBay provides on it's listing page, and add that amount to the recommended price. Why not charge shipping to my buyers? I'm not sure how they would pay me for a known unknown. And when I shop online (very rare) I love me some free shipping. So in an effort to hook buyers and actually sell my stuff, I decided to always offer free shipping. Turns out, this decision has cost me. Literally. I have paid more for shipping than I have gotten paid for my items. I'm running a dang charity over here.
It is very discouraging but I'm going to try to learn from my mistakes and keep on keeping on.
Additionally, I have gotten creative with my shipping receptacles. Today I shipped a puffy vest in an orange bag, inside a Food4Less paper bag. I, of course, have been on the lookout for boxes in the alley and I have decided that I would prefer to ship my items in once-used receptacles. It allows me to get creative with the recycling. Because of this creativity, I always write
"This is your eBay purchase"
on whatever I am shipping. God forbid someone thinks its a mail bomb.
Lastly, because I don't have a printer, I choose to handwrite my shipping labels, which does not allow me to get the eBay shipping discount.
Maybe I'm too much of a dinosaur to be taking on this 'momtrepreneur' endeavor.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Apple Bake

I love old recipes, old ('vintage') recipe books, and the feelings that go along with them. For Christmas one year, I asked my grandmother for her old recipes/recipe books. And she gave me a lovely recipe 'library' where-in the cook can insert her own recipes. On a notecard, of course.
I found a recipe using apples, which I needed. But the recipe is unclear. I called my grandmother for clarification. But she could offer none. After I made the dish, I recognized it from my childhood.

Simmer apples (I used five smallish ones) 1/3 cup butter
put into pan (I sautéed the apples with butter, and mixed the other stuff in the casserole dish)
1/2 c. milk  1/2 c. flour  1 tsp sugar
3 eggs
500 5 min (I made mine in 450 degrees, for ten minutes)
Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon for 5 min (I used brown sugar. And forgot to put it back in the oven)

Hope yours turns out as good as mine did!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Kidney Infection

Last night at about 2:30 am, I was awoken with an intense pain in my right flank, around my kidney area. I did some internet diagnosis, which of course proved unhelpful. I thought about going to the nearest ER, but I know that my insurance isn't accepted there. There is the possibility that this will be considered a 'true' emergency, in which case I won't be charged as much. So with the staggering cost of healthcare in my mind, I decided to call the nurse hotline listed on the Blue Cross Blue Shield website.
The nurse asked a few questions, and she seemed knowledgeable and helpful and recommended I get help within three hours. I thought I could go to an Urgent Care Clinic, but they didn't open until Monday. I discussed the issue of cost and quality of care with the nurse, and at that point, the pain was intense. I decided to head to the ER. I woke my husband up to tell him I was going, and I asked him to drive me. He said no, which in retrospect was the right thing to say.
At the ER, the pain was bad enough to make me wince, and I had trouble keeping my tears from flowing. And I had trouble sitting down. Luckily, there was a short wait, and I was seen quickly. After updating my information with registration, I watched a few clips on CNN about Trump's antics. When the parents of the soldier he insulted gave their speech at DNC, I started to cry. The hate and terror Trump brings is alarming. And, of course, emotions are different at 3am then they are at 3pm.
After being admitted, I was asked to give a urine sample, and I answered all the questions about the incidents leading up to my being there. I had a UTI, which I self-diagnosed and treated with cranberry juice. I had pain in my flank earlier than I realized, and the pain was intense at about 8pm. I thought I was about to be on my period, but there was no blood. I thought I had to poop, but I didn't seem to have to.
The nurse recognized that I must have had intense pain for several hours, which I supposed was true. She says I was lucky to get in on time. That nurse was a lovely woman! We joked around, I told her about myself, she told me about herself, and she was able to acknowledge the seriousness of my condition without alarming me or allowing me to think the worst was going to happen.
Of course, the ER is filled with waiting, but things progressed quickly enough until about 7am. There were some life and death traumas being brought in, so I wasn't tended to as quickly as I would have liked. In order to move my discharge along, I stood at the nurse's station in my gown with my IV stand until someone came to help. I remained grateful that my health problems seemed solved, and that the personal were nice, but busy.
On my way out, I told one of the staff members that a person's ER outfit choice at 3am is much different than it would be at 10am (it was close to 10 by the time I was discharged). And looking how I looked when I was discharged meant that I was going to have to rush out of there and rush to my car and rush home. Luckily, he thought that was as funny as I meant it to be. Except I had to drop my script for antibiotics off at Walgreens.
When I got home, The Hubs was loading the kids in the car. I wanted so badly to be with them, because I was so scared while I was at the ER. I wanted to be normal, and hang out with everybody. But I was exhausted, had a headache, and was really hungry. The Hubs took the kids, and I made food, called my mom, and took a nap.
Things looked better when I woke up. But my flank still hurts a little.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Library

I read an article, forget where of course, about finding your 'mom tribe'. I would say with certainty that I don't have one. I have a few moms my age, with similar life experience and backgrounds, with kids around my kids' ages. We hang out sometimes, and text, and call each other. But pretty infrequently. Anyone else have a mom tribe?

We went to a neighboring library, where we maxed out on the number of materials we could get. I chatted with the librarian about all kinds of mom stuff and she found books relevant to my kids. But I'm pretty sure I overshared. And another mom and I talked and she was really nice and we laughed about mom stuff, but I'm pretty sure I overshared with her too. I wish I could have interactions without being so over-analytical afterwards.
On the upside, this library has great resources. And for some reason, during this trip, the librarians were particularly helpful and friendly. I got a calendar so we can plan out our next events. Yea!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Decluttering and Photos

The Hubs is freaking out about the amount of stuff I may or may not have. I'm pretty sure we need almost all of it.
I cleaned out a drawer today, and found an envelope of photos. I spent some of the afternoon putting photos in my scrapbook and some in my photo album. They happen to be photos from The Hub's childhood, and from a visit with family in 2010, 2012, and 2013. It was nice to look at them again. Part of my job in this family includes being the memory-maker and memory-preserver. Yes, I know, memory is so subjective, so fluid, so questionable (in some cases). But I am the one who albums photos, who creates the scrapbooks and who takes photos of many experiences. My hope is that one day, we can all gather around the albums and reminisce.


I decided to make a container out of used coffee bags. I used a big one for the bottom, and four more around the sides. I used clear packing tape to hold it altogether. The corners are rounded.
This is my first time making an item like this, and I liked the way the materials construct together.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


I put my make-up on in front of my boys, almost every single day. Today I was applying it while sitting on the couch. The Baby came up and put his finger in my liquid foundation, and I think he tasted it. Then he watched me, and he put his finger back in the bottle, and applied some to his chin. The Boy came up and did the same. My BIL was appalled. He told them point-blank-period that
"Only girls wear make-up. Stop that! Boys don't wear make-up!"
And to me he said,
"You got them doing ballet and everything else, and now they're wearing make-up!"
Ok, cowboy. Slow the hell down. My kids are not taking ballet, and I hadn't even considered signing them up. And secondly, some boys do wear make-up. And although I personally think its a little weird, its not a problem.
BIL said that if the kids are 16, and they 'come at him' all 'cross-dressing and what-not' they will get an uppercut.
I told him that if he ever uppercuts my kids, he better hope I can't get to him.
I want my boys to know that whatever they do, whoever they are, whatever they wear, I will always love them. I want them to know that they can make bad fashion choices, they can love who they want, and they have whatever profession they decide...and they will always be my kids and I will always love them. I want to give them the opportunity to recognize and name their feelings. I want The Boy to know that it is ok to think Mama's necklaces are pretty. And I want them to know that rigid gender roles hurt everyone.
I just want them to know that Mom is in their corner.

Monday, September 5, 2016

New TV

The Hubs bought a new TV, which I do not approve of. We live in a tri-plex (is that what its' called? We have three levels, but none of them are full floors.) and we have a TV on each floor. As a person who grew up in a house without cable, with a 32-inch TV, and strict viewing rules, this is alarming to me.
The kids like their 'shows', and sometimes I like them watching their shows. But there is a lot of weird stuff on TV, and although I don't have them watch commercials, and I watch the shows with them, I get unnerved sometimes. I know The Boy is at the 'magical thinking' stage, and I'm sure TV watching doesn't help that. I want my kids to know that TV isn't real. (I have to remind myself of that after I watch my 'reality' shows!) I want them to be able to shut it off and go outside or go read a book.
As their parent, I know that it is up to me to monitor their TV intake, to talk about the shows, and to remind them to do other activities.
When we do watch TV, I sit with them, and we cuddle and we talk. I do not use the TV as a babysitter. Perhaps as a mother's helper.
I'm still pretty conflicted about this. But in my house growing up, we were taught that TV is bad, and thus it was forbidden fruit. I remember sneaking into the living room late at night to watch my 'shows', and it was my go-to activity if I wasn't feeling well.
New technology and the speed and ease with which these devices have entered our lives makes me question what the new reality will be. It is very likely I will not be able to keep up with my kids, and that scares me. But I am a self-proclaimed Luddite, a term I find endearing.
What are your viewing habits? Do you let the kids in your life watch TV?

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Baker's One Bowl Brownies

Another recipe from a package:
Baker's One Bowl Brownies
prep time: 15 min.    total time: 50 min        makes: 24 servings

what you need:
  • 1 pkg. (4 oz) Baker's Unsweetened Chocolate (any brand will do, I'm sure)
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped Planters pecans (I used Jewel brand mixed nuts-turns out peanuts are a little weird in brownies)
Make it:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Line 13x9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over the sides. (I used a few sheets.) Spray foil with cooking oil. (I used a dash of sunflower oil.)
Microwave chocolate and butter in large (regular size is fine) microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and pecans; mix well. Pour into prepared plan.
Bake 30-35 minutes (mine took the full 35) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. Do not overbake. Cool completely. Use foil handles to lift brownies from pan before cutting to serve.

My BIL says these brownies were rich and delicious. I agree! Hope you do too.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sing Praises

Hey all! I know, its been forever since I posted something. It is hard to knock stuff off my to-do list!

We did manage (although later than I wanted) to get out of the house and into the library. It was really crowded, because one of the events had been moved to the regular play area. But the kids seemed to have fun. On the way to look for an adult book, I saw one of my library friends. We chatted for a second, then we rushed off to find a book for me. I literally judge books by their covers because the kids don't give me a chance to choose carefully.
After taking The Boy to the bathroom, I found a few parenting books for me, and he found a dinosaur book. The Baby got a cat book.
I used to limit the items I checked out, but I realized there is no need to do that. I get so excited about all the stuff the library has to offer, and so do the kids.
While the kids were checking our stuff out, my librarian friend and I chatted. When we got back to the car, I realized I had only talked about me and my kids, and I didn't ask her any questions. Next time.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Yard Sale Year Two

Yes, this is my second consecutive yard sale, and my second in this house. First, the bad news: there is massive construction on my street, so I was relegated to the garage. Also, this woman and her two kids and dog kept shopping after giving me the money, and I woefully miscalculated. So she got two t-shirts for free, basically. On the upside, she did know who Flogging Molly is, so I know the shirt went to a good home. I am trying not to let it bother me, but it makes me sad that I am so bad at math...I just get so nervous, especially when there is an audience.
The good news: most of the stuff I got for free, so I make a profit on almost everything. And most things are a $1, so people are willing to pay. And I made double my goal, (which was really low, but reachable).
Just want to give a shout out to my wonderful Hubs and BIL who put up about 10 signs today. I think they really helped with the flow of traffic. I also posted on and because I subscribe to those sites and the posting was free.
I'm looking forward to selling tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Overwhelmed and Understaffed

I have so many things to do, and most of what I have to do is on my list. But that does not seem to allieviate my concerns.
I have a yard sale this weekend, and I haven't priced anything. Both kids have different doctor's appointments on Thursday. There are thousands of photos that need labeling, and about that many that need to be put in an album or scrapbook. I have a few fix-it projects that need tending to, and my t-shirt quilt has not seen work in a while.
My priorties are all confused; not to say that I don't know what is important, but that I believe all my work is important. With a mindset like that, it is hard to get work done.
My concern is that I am forgetting something; I am afraid I am not using my time wisely, and I am afraid that my to-do list is insurmountable. I want to finish my projects, clip all my coupons, and file all my paperwork, but I suspect that is too much to ask.

With all this worry and anxiety, I took the opportunity to walk the kids and I over to Walgreens. We saved 47%! I bought:
3 8-packs of Wexford dry-erase markers, $1.50 each with the ad-paper coupon
1 12-pack of Nice! toilet paper, $2.99 after a $1-off in-store coupon (and I had a mailer coupon for 500 points)
1 tube of Colgate toothpaste, 'free' after mnf coupon and Register Rewards
I got a coupon for my next purchase, and I hope to purchase some photos.
So I can add them to my to-do list.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Blueberry Sewing

Whenever I stay up this late, I think about all the stuff that I didn't do. But I really try to remember what I did do: I did yoga, which felt great. And I did a hair treatment. And I took care of the kids. We played outside, and we did a new project!
While I fixed the Red Dog (who got a rip up his back), I set the kids up with their own 'sewing project'. I gave them each an empty blueberry container, and cut a line of yarn. I put a piece of the tape on the end of the yarn. And the kids wove/sewed with the tape. They loved it! It was a new and interesting project for them, and allowed me to do my repairs in relative peace.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Long Time No See

A girl I went to elementary school with, and am now Facebook friends with, asked me for couponing tips. I hope I can help, and do justice to the wonderful world of couponing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Stay Calm

I'm feeling really good about my mothering abilities today. I stayed calm during three meltdowns staged by The Boy. I made sure that he knew that I still loved him, I still cared about him, and I knew that he was having a hard time. But I also stated that I could not give him what I wanted because of the logistics of the situation, and because I wasn't going to give in to his demands. (I explained all this to him in a more child-friendly way.)

We had a long drive today, to pick up my father-in-law, and I brought snacks, drinks, and books. When we took my father-in-law to his appointment, I brought the same stuff. I notice that the more prepared I am for whatever they may need, the better our day goes.

Remember Lamb Chop? I got a book from the library written by Sherri Lewis. Its' a book of games for children, and we tried one. (We only played for a few minutes.) In an empty egg carton, I wrote numbers, 1-12, in each section. Then we tossed quarters at, and sometimes in, the carton. And I had The Boy tell me what number the quarters landed in. Not the most successful projects of ours, but I'm glad we did it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Sound of Gravel

I just finished reading The Sound of Gravel-a memoir by Ruth Wariner. It was powerful and heartbreakingly written. It is a story of bad parenting, dangerous child-predators, and misguided/misused religious dogma. As Ms. Wariner chronicles her life, I cannot help but notice the utter failings of her mother. Written from a child's perspective, it is not always clear how the adults in the situations could have acted or reacted differently, but I desperately wished they did. Ms. Wariner is the fourth child of the second wife of a polygamist. Things are not going well financially, emotionally, academically, or developmentally for this family.
The show on TLC, Sister Wives, is possibly one of the only positive 'reports' I have ever seen on polygamy as part of the Mormon belief system. I remember watching news footage of the unholy goings-on at the Fundamentalist camp in Utah; the colony with the abuse, coercion, child-brides, and lack of education. This book is more like the latter reports.
The step-father of Ruthie is a child-predator, one who loves the idea of plural marriage because of the sex, who keeps his family around with threats, coercion, and a willingness to dispel blame to anyone but himself. He molests little Ruthie, and the church finds out, and the punishment does not at all fit the crime.
Little Ruthie's mom is willing to throw away her kid's education every time they must move; and they move to get welfare checks, because her husband told them to, and because bad things seem to keep haunting them.
As a mother myself, I cannot imagine the stress Ruthie's mom went through. That woman was bound by misogynistic and archaic church doctrine, she was bound by her lack of self-worth. She had ten babies, and many of them suffered great injustices. She was married in the eyes of the church but not by law, her husband couldn't care for any of them properly. She had to deal with her husband's lack of communication and a lack of real schedule that would allow him to see his wives equally. She must have known she wasn't being a great mom, and she tried to use her religious beliefs to support her failings. Her children were suffering and all she could do was almost nothing. But I'm sure she loved them...she just didn't have the resources and support she needed.
A well-written and heartbreaking story. I recommend it, but only if you can handle reading about family dysfunction.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sleepy Hollow

The Boy likes scary stuff. He talks about monsters, blood, bad guys, ghosts, spooky guys, raccoons, bats, witches, and any other ghoulish things he can think of. I try to talk of these things in an age-appropriate ways; I don't want to ignore his questions. However, I fear that I may be telling him things that are not helpful to his well-being. I want to tell him that evil is everywhere, that the world can be a dangerous place. I want to tell him that bad things can happen to good people. I want to tell him about being backed into a corner and doing things that go against decency and morality. I want to tell him that addiction makes the afflicted do awful things. But I know that isn't right. I know that what he needs to hear is that his parents, who love him very much, will (try to) protect him against the evils of the world. And I do tell him that. But when he asks questions about monsters I think of murderers and rapists. When he asks about bad guys, I think of robbers. My real conundrum is to discern how much scary stuff to tell him. How do I know what is appropriate? How can I tell him about the evils of the world without scaring the bee-jezus out of him? Case by case, I suppose. I know my son, and I know that if I scare him too much, I'll have to comfort him. Not a bad place to be, really.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Solstice

We celebrated the Summer Solstice in the backyard, with a bonfire and the kiddie pool. I gave thanks for what is, and did some prayer. I tried to explain to the boys what Summer Solstice is, and why it is important to acknowledge. I'm not sure it sunk in, but they did like the s'mores.

One of my coupons at CVS didn't go through, but I got another worker to give me the dollar back in cash. He was super-nice! I had to show him my email conformation to get my free 8x10, and I told him the date on the coupon that didn't scan, but I was really pleased to see that he started off our transaction by giving me the benefit of the doubt. I wasn't lying, obviously, and I gave him my proof, but it was nice to not have to deal with folks who think I might be hustling. I went by myself because my mom had dropped by with some food, and she offered to stay while I ran out. Thanks, Mom!
I got 3 boxes of Kleenex for free; they were 3/$3 and I had an instant coupon (from the coupon machine in the front) and I had a $2 Extra Buck coupon. And I got some Folgers coffee for $5.99 before tax. So I paid $6.33 for 30oz of coffee, an 8x10, and three boxes of tissue. Pretty good!

The Baby and I went to the library for their Coloring Party, which was lovely. We colored some print-outs and he was really into it. I was pretty into my own coloring. We left after about 15 minutes, because The Baby started putting the markers in his nose. After coloring I went to get a murder mystery and romance novel. I have other, more scholarly books that I should be reading. But I'm grown and read what I want.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Father's Day Tortillas

We went to Salvation Army today, because its' the closet thrift store to us. And they have sales. We were on the look-out for sippy cups, Father's Day Gifts, and one other item. All we found were the Father's Day gifts. Both The Boy and I were obviously excited about being there; he kept saying what cool stuff there was. I admit I did get that shopper's high and I thought of all the cool projects I could do with all the cool stuff, but I resisted my impulse shopping. My list really helped! Before we got to the store I stated a few times that we would not be getting any toys. I read my list to the kids, and said that I wanted to stick to it. And there was no whining, begging, tantrum-ing, or other unsavory behavior. I was really proud of them. They did stop in the doorway to look at a bug (or a piece of dirt) and held up the two women behind us.

As usual, I'm trying to come up with a way to get everything done. And, as usual, I'm having a hard time. It seems like all I was able to do was putter around the house and clean up the messes we made. On the upside, I was able to make my own tortillas today!

Monday, June 13, 2016

More Orange

I feel so overwhelmed! There is always so much to do, and I can't figure out what to do first, or what is more important. And I'm always trying to balance my to-do list with the activities of the kids.

We went to CVS today, and I saved 49%! We walked there, and we found some books in the ally. We are on point with our scavenging.

I made a lot of orange-peel candy, and they feel more soggy than my other batches. I stopped measuring the water, sugar, and time. So that might have something to do with it.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Doctor Water

This morning I went to a doctors' appointment ten minutes early and waited for 47 minutes. Because they took walk-ins. Yes, I fussed. And yes I was pissed. And I told the receptionist and the doctor the wait was alarming and unbelievable. I was very upset, and let folks know. In a relatively calm way. In case you are wondering who wronged me, it was Dr. Dima Hana. She has a family practice at 8301 Skokie Blvd. The lobby was very beautiful, though.

This afternoon we drove all the way out to Villa Park/Lombard to see my father, eat pizza, and hang out at a water fountain park. The area was concrete, fenced in, with a few water structures and spouts coming up from the ground. Because it was 90 degrees today, the kids had a blast! I'm really glad we went, even though its tough to pack up and make that drive.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

We have renegade mint growing in our front yard, amid the thistles and geraniums. Only a few stalks, and I grabbed a few leaves to make mint-ginger tea. Pretty good. Also, I think I might use the mint as a substitute for essential oils in a face scrub I'll be making.

I'm pretty sure that me reading all these homemaking, homesteading, recipe, DIY, whatever books give me inspiration to create more. I'm more sure of myself in the kitchen (so my subsitutes are less weird!), I'm able to repurpose easier, and after reading about a project I can usually create that piece without following the instructions verbatim. I would like to get to a point where I don't need to look up stuff online so frequently and I can just trust my gut, or have a project in mind already, or consult one of my recipe/sewing books from the '70's.

Speaking of not looking stuff up online:
I made Sophie's Zucchini Bread, found on that website.

Dang it!

Just wrote a pretty good post and then realized I wrote it under my other blog. Dang it! Its' living as a draft know because I don't want to delete it.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Family Fun Fest

We were out for about an hour and a half at something called Family Fun Fest. We made our donation and got our passports, and we to a few local businesses and played some carnival type games and got a few prizes. It was really fun to be doing something like that with the boys; for activities like that I usually want The Hubs there. Most of the trip was spent walking; The Baby wanted to drag my umbrella down the street and flipped out when I tried to use it. But we got candy and pencils and a sticker, and we were pretty pleased with ourselves.
Ok, I'm not gonna lie, it was kind of lame. And somehow it did seem a little sad...but I'm still glad we went. The kids had fun. Even if I think the event is blah, I hope I will always make sure to keep that from my kids. I remember overhearing two parents talking about how lame Halloween and trick-or-treating is, and how they hoped it would be over soon. Meanwhile, their kids are listening and making their costumes and looking really upset.
I'm looking forward to the next event.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Lay's Potato Chips

Being a self-proclaimed couponer, I am somewhat embarrassed to admit this: I had a freebie coupon for a smaller size, and I bought the bigger size. The coupon didn't take off the full price. And I didn't realize it until a few hours later. CVS has a sale for B1G1 Lay's Chips, the family size. I got a freebie coupon in the mail, and used it on my 'buy one' bag. So I got two family size bags of chips for $3, which is great, but not awesome.
I doubled other coupons there, though. And all together, I saved 54%.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Library Visit

We went to the library, running later than I wanted, as usual, and we signed up for the Summer Reading Program. The theme is "camp", and they offer incentives (t-shirts and stickers and coupons). A person doesn't just have to read books either, a person can listen to audiobooks, go to library events, or use a book-match option. Which is different than the program they had last year.
There are 'camp' decorations and new toys (such as the Mess Hall, complete with breakfast, lunch and dinner pretend food).
I'm pretty excited to get us started! I know that sounds super-nerdy, but all three of us like to read. And we all know I like incentives!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

I had forgotten, as I do every year, that being outside is wonderful and exhausting and a must. We went outside before dinner and tinkered around in the yard, blowing bubbles and planting dogwood. After dinner we went out with The Hubs, back to the yard and we painted birdhouses. And ran around like lunatics. And I got the laundry off the line and The Baby peed in the yard. Because he was running around with his diaper off.

We did awesome at our yard-sailing this morning! I haggled at the first one, full price at the second, and bought nothing at the third. We had a great time! I'm raising my kids to buy used, scavenge and re-use.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


I bought a rubber mold from a yard sale. For 25 cents. The mold has leaf shapes. The previous owner said she used it for ice cubes. I bought it thinking about candy molds and oven baking. But then I thought of this one time my sister and I left our crayons on the back dash of our Geo Prism and I realized I could make crayon molds with all the crayons my boys break. So now there are crayon pieces in my rubber mold on the dash of the mini-van. Yes, the mini-van.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Outside Oranges

My new strategy for life is for us to be busy, out and about, for half the day. For the other half of the day, we will be doing chores and 'school' and other household things. This worked really well today. I woke up early-ish (6:30) and we were out of the house by nine. We managed to go to the dry cleaners, the gas station, the library, and the grocery store. I was so impressed with us!
When the kids woke up from nap we had a snack, then we went outside. We did a ball toss, we played with the kiddie pool, and we spent a full hour outside. The Boy put his clothes away, put the dishes away, and put his toys away. It was lovely.

I reused my sugar/orange simple syrup to make a new batch of orange peel candies. It seemed to solidify, sort of. But they turned out ok; they were really sweet.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Two Things

Aside from taking the kids to the park (for an hour!) and preparing three delicious meals, I also cleaned, decluttered, and played with the kids. The Boy did a project, and both of them played with the blocks nicely and quietly for a long time. They even had a bath. Miracle of miracles.

I also made some homemade pasta. I got the recipe from Made from Scratch. You need:
3 large eggs
3 cups of flour
Beat the eggs lightly and add the flour in a 1/2 cup at a time. When it gets to be a nice dough ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for an hour.
After the hour, roll it out as flat as possible, but make sure it stays one piece. Then roll it into a tube, and cut off the pasta pieces from there. Put the pasta strands (or clumps, if you are rockin' it like I was today) in a pot of boiling water. Boil for 3-5-8 minutes.
My pasta looked terrible but it tasted great. I had more clumps and chunks than strands, and when I put it in the pot, there was a lot of leftover flour that didn't make it into the dough. I'm not sure why my dough seemed dry. I did add a little water, but I was afraid more would make it too sticky. But it felt good to not feed my family ferrous sulfate for dinner.

My kids go through toothbrushes like they are goin' out of style. So I used two regular plastic ones, one red and one white, to make a bracelet out of. First I yanked out all the bristles with pliers. Then I boiled the toothbrushes until the plastic became pliable. Then I basically folded it so the two ends were almost touching. To solidify the brush, I put it in ice water.  I had trouble with this project too! For some reason, possibly because there was a thick part of plastic, I couldn't get my toothbrushes to fold like I wanted them to. Presently, they are more square than anything. I might try again tomorrow (I can always heat them again to reshape), but they might have to be hip to be square. (Does that make sense?)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Chuckie Cheese

Several months ago, The Hubs and The Boy went to Chuckie Cheese's and came back with a little cup of tokens. Finally, we made it back tonight. Man, was it crazy! First, we got our hands scanned with some kind of light. When we left, the guy made sure all our lights matched so there wasn't any kid-snatching. Whoa!
We got in there, and it was more crowded than I expected for a Tuesday. The Hubs went to order food and tokens. Yes, I had a coupon. And the kids were a little hesistant about getting started. The Boy seemed to remember a few things from last time. The Baby loved the little rides! He was excited about trying to put the tokens in by himself.
When we finally got the food, the kids were wound up! The Boy had figured out some of the games, and he remembered to grab his tickets, and he was stoked to be there. The Baby was getting fussy and a little tired and couldn't play the games. But he was happy to try to climb up the slide.
I thought maybe that with both me and The Hubs there, one of us would get to rest or relax or something. Why I would think that is beyond me. a
When we left, there was a minor meltdown in the car because I told the kids that we had to go to bed when we got home.
 I didn't realize that one night of eating fast food and drinking a bunch of pop would make me feel so blah. I must be cooking more clean than I thought I was. We very rarely go out to eat and we very rarely get take-out. I have a pop maybe every few weeks. So I'm feeling a little guilty about giving my kids all that 'juice' and pizza. But they didn't inhale it like I thought they would.
Oh, and I saw a girl I knew in high school; we literally ran into each other. She probably doesn't remember me because I wasn't as cool as she was. I didn't say anything to her.
All in all, we had a pretty good time. I like to do stuff like that because I wasn't really allowed to when I was a kid. The Hubs likes activities like that. The novelty of it hasn't worn off. And I got to use a coupon!

Sunday, May 15, 2016


After dinner, although it was still sunny out, we went out and used our bonfire bucket. Its a dish, elevated, with a gate around it, and a lid. I asked The Hubs if I could burn some paper, and stupidly, I chose the glossy ad papers. Which produced a lot of smoke and made me think our fun was soon to end. I recycled the rest of my stack, and The Hubs brought out the marshmallows, grahmn crackers, and milk chocolate bar. (Brand name, just sayin'.) The kids were nuts! They were running around and pushing each other off the slide. I was worried about fire safety. But no need! We had a great time, and even the dog got a little bite of marshmallow.
I'm hoping to do this a lot more this summer. And I want to have an evening of open-fire cooking. Just so we know how to do it.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Church Potuck

I just spent a long time going through the minutia of the church potluck we went to tonight. Then the post accidently got deleated. Perhaps I overshared on that post, but I'm still very annoyed. We had a great time at the potluck. People liked my cookies.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Soup Babies

Just wasted a bunch of time online looking at the average size of American families, and posts about women who want more kids, but their husbands do not. I do like the idea of having three kids, but I am also thrilled with my family as it is now. As of now, the boys each have their own room. And both me and my husband grew up with one sibling. My husband is not at all interested in having another child. I mention the idea occasionally, and it is always met with hostility! Two is a great number; two parents, two hands, and its' easier to divide things in half rather than thirds...right now we are doing just fine. Also, my second pregnancy was harder on my body than my first. But the birth was easier. I love my babies, but birth and newborns are hard! So I guess since I could go either way (keep the head count at two or three), it would make the best sense for my marriage to not have another child. Alright, decision made. I guess.

I made soup the other day. Stock from 'veggie nubs', meaning I save the skins and such from veggies to boil to make my stock. I froze a portion of it (a few jars worth) and I put the rest in the fridge. My sister gave me a pie crust mix, which I used today. While the kids were napping, I made the crust. And when we got home (later than I meant to) I put the crust in my new pie tins and threw a handful of flour in, along with my Tupperware of soup. I let it bake at 405 degrees Fahrenheit, for probably about a half hour. I checked on it periodically. I thought it was delicious, as did The Hubs. The Boy was persuaded to eat it, and The Baby tasted it. Perhaps they will like it better for lunch.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Banana-Chip Bars

I had no idea how much I talked to/yelled at people until I lost my voice. Not completely, of course. Its just kind of squack-ish, hoarse, and whispery.

This recipe is from my grandmother's book. (Mine now, she gave it to me for Christmas.) Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Cookies Cook Book:
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar 
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ripe medium bananas, mashed (1 cup)Stir
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 6oz package semisweet chocolate pieces (1 cup) ( I got mine on clearance from Jewel)

Cream butter and sugars, till fluffy. Add egg, and vanilla; beat well. Stir in banana. Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to creamed mixture, beat well. Stir in chocolate pieces. Spread in greased and floured 15 1/2x10 1/2x1 inch baking pan. (I forgot to grease and flour my pan, and the expected happened. Although not as bad as I thought.) (And I used my glass 13x9 pan.)
My husband says these are one of the best things I have ever made. But he was really hungry. Still, delicious. You're welcome!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Motherhood

Before going to the library, I put a book on hold. It was another book on housekeeping and decluttering. I'll let you know if I let it change my life. But we also reached another milestone in The Boy's life of literacy! I asked him if he wanted me to put a book on hold for him, and he said that he wanted a book on monsters. So I scrolled through the list of disturbing adult monster books, and found a LEGOLAND book on monsters. Which he chose. His first ever book on hold! I, being the true nerd I am, was very pleased.
My husband recently read a statistic, from who-knows-where, which stated that 2/3 of low-income households do not have children's books in their home. For the sake of the children, I hope this is not the case. And I hope that those families have library books in their house, or at least make trips to the library.
At our library, The Baby found a plastic bin of green, purple, brown and gray Styrofoam pieces, with little dino skeletons, and two plastic shovels. It was an archeological dig kit! How adorbs. In all our time there, I had never noticed it before.
As always, we had a great time at our library.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mango Cookies Part 2

I made my mango cookies again, because I recently bought a 20 pound bag of flour and two cases of mangos. Goodness. Anyway, we made the cookies again, the boys helped, and I think they are more delicious this batch than last. This time I added a little more mango, almost a cup. I softened the butter, and I packed the brown sugar. The brown sugar ended up being about 2/3 cup. Delicious! I maxed out on four big cups.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Mrs. Dunwoody

I got a book from the library, called Mrs. Dunwoody's Excellent Instructions for Homekeeping - Timeless Wisdom and Practical Advice by Miriam Lukken. It was copyrighted in 2003, but the content is much older, around the late 1800's. It reiterates the need for a housekeeping schedule, for a personal schedule, and for the comfort of home. I particularly like the way it elevates the homemaker status, really emphasizing the importance of homemakers, the act of housekeeping, and the artistry this all entails.
I do feel that when one's home is well-kept, when one is ready for the next event/activity in a timely manner, when one is aware of the importance of having a home that brings comfort, then that person is able to go forward in life in a way that makes that person feels good. Perfection is not the goal, but neither is merely surviving.
I would like my home to be a launch pad for it's residents, to be a source of comfort, of joy; a place of memories and memory-making. I would like my home to be organized enough so that I do not have to struggle to complete tasks (I'm doing ok on this front, much better than I used to).
Homemaking and homesteading are on the rise, I feel, in part due to a need to get back to 'our roots', or 'how things used to be'. Which is, of course, romanticizing the past in a way that I'm not sure is helpful. But I do relish the idea that homemakers and homesteaders will once again be a valued part of society, and that people will find that these careers fulfilling. I do.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Stay Home

For the past few days, we've been on a go-go-go schedule. I've been trying to get the best deals, sign up for the best classes, and organize the greatest field trips. And my house is suffering. And I've been slacking on the projects we like from the preschool book we got from the library. What's a mom to do?
I'm thinking that we need to focus more on the home and hearth. I want to go back to scheduling one trip out of the house a day (not counting walks or outside yard time). This strategy will save my sanity, allow me to focus on the house, and cut down on personal pollution and gas usage, and it will streamline my out-of-the-house planning. One trip out a day will mean I need to get my errands/activities done in one trip, and it mean I will lose out on some deals. Which is fine.
I'm going to try my one-trip schedule again, and we'll see how it goes. I'll let you know.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Mango Cookies

The kids and I were on point today. I thoroughly explained to them what was going to happen next, followed through, and had a great time.

The Boy went to his last YWCA swimming class today, and he did really well. I'm so proud of him! And I totally recommend YWCA.

I thought that we would be able to get our free cone for Free Cone Day at Carvel Ice Cream Shoppe, but we could not. Bummer. On the upside, we got to play at a nearby playground. The Boy, unprovoked, pushed another kid, who burst into tears. Luckily, the kid's grandma was not upset.
The Hubs got home later than expected, so me and the kids ate without him. We had sautéed kale and white rice. The Boy liked it. The Baby only liked the rice.

The Boy and I made cookies, and I realized that I was a little hard on him about making the cookies 'right'. I don't like him getting his hands in everything, but that is just the kind of guy he is. We made mango cookies (I bought a case the other day). Recipe is here:
I did not pack my brown sugar, and I think me and The Boy mixed our dough a little too much (he likes the handheld mixer). The cookies were a little dense. And they are not as sweet as I thought they would be. But I like 'em!

The Hubs came home, and we all played outside in the yard. It was so nice to be at home.

Good day, all around.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


At Jewel today I saved 92%. I had a $15 Catalina coupon from a previous purchase, two Monopoly card coupons, and I shopped the dollar sale... buy 10 for $10, get the 11th free. My kids both got a free cookie, and a free piece of fruit (limited to a Red Delicious apple or a non-organic banana, but I'm not complaining). For $1.78 I  got:
2 packages of Hillshire deli meats
3 packages of store-brand toilet paper
2 loaves of bread
6 jars of store-brand pasta sauce
1 bottle of store-brand soy sauce
I say I did pretty good.
Too bad I can't brag about the state of the house.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


I seemed to have inherited my father's style of cooking, which can also be described as 'jailhouse cooking'. We like to use the ingredients on hand, following the recipes rather loosely. I feel like I am getting better at knowing what certain ingredients will do when combined with others. That being said, I found a recipe from Nestle for chocolate chip cookies. Instead of the chocolate chips I used a few yogurt chips, two mini 3 Musketeers bars, and a lot of Nutella. According to my husband, they are delicious. I haven't had any because I totally over-ate today. Which is a discussion for another time.

Friday, April 15, 2016


The boys and I went to a yard sale this morning. I had a list of things we 'needed', and The Boy asked someone who was working there if they had bouncy balls. The dog ate his yesterday, so he wants a replacement. Anyway, I shopped fast, my kids listened well, I got stuff that was on my list, and we got a great deal. I asked if the guy would take $7, but he was already giving me the broom for free. Stuff was marked, so I knew he was adding correctly. He took $8, and I got a free broom.

After the yard sale, I drove down the street and saw a good-looking park. We still had 45 minutes before naptime, so I parked and let them play. It was great! I think they got some energy out, it was a nice surprise, we had fun, and it was a beautiful day. Yes!

We finally had a playdate with a much-missed friend I haven't seen in a while. We tore up her house, cleaned it up, played outside with balls and bubbles. She and I talked about mothering, and it was nice to see that we are pretty much on the same page. I'm so glad we made time for each other.

We're looking forward to another great day tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Screening

I took The Boy to a preschool screening, to get checked for cognitive, social/emotional, hearing and vision, and speech. I parked in the wrong parking lot and me and The Boy had to walk a few blocks. He wanted to play on the school playground and came up with lots of different ways of asking. Sadly, I had to say no because on the way to our appointment we were running late and on the way back we had to hustle because I had my stepdad watching The Baby.
If The Boy does need speech work, there are so many different ways he can get help. I didn't realize it, but he could go to group classes, individual sessions, and I can work with him at home. If he doesn't need early intervention (what a different meaning that word has now) then we'll just wait for him to outgrow his verbal pausing.
My mom told me about the preschool screening; I had no idea it was even a thing. My tax dollars at work! I'm so grateful it exists, and that my mom wants to help, and that everyone at the facility was lovely and non-judgmental (or they hid it well). They were not alarmed about my thoughts on doing homeschool preschool. I'm looking forward to getting the results.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Smith Research

I was away from my babies for five hours today! I went downtown for a focus group, and its about an hour commute. And the group was 2 1/2 hours long. It was an interesting group and topic; and I am pleased to note I wasn't particulary nervous or stressed. Got myself a free Diet Mountain Dew, three Girl Scout cookies, two cups of coffee, and half a Jimmy John's veggie sandwich. I was also paid $150. $5 went into each kid's piggy bank. Can we still deposit our piggy bank insides at the bank?

Sunday, April 10, 2016


The Boy and I signed up for a yoga session at the Morton Grove Public Library. I waited until we were almost late to wake him up from his nap, so he was crying and didn't want to go and missed lunch. The Hubs said that I was bogus for doing that. And we got mad at each other, for a misunderstanding, I think.
In the car, The Boy was back to his usual, cheerful self. We got there late, set up, and I realized we were the only one who brought her own mat. And I was the only adult doing the moves. And The Boy was the only kid who wasn't. So it goes. We had a great time. Afterwards he played nicely with a bunch of other kids.
I helped him find some monster books and I found a preschool activity book and a mommy novel for myself. I'm really excited about the preschool activities. I hope I remember how to search for a book by myself, with the call numbers. Haven't done that in a while.
I also hope The Boy can get down with some yoga soon.

Saturday, April 9, 2016


I had my stepbrother and his wife and their 9 month old over for a playdate. Mostly I chatted with my stepbro and his wife. I am now feeling guilty over my lack of attention to the children. I don't think I actually neglected them, it just feels like it because I wasn't focused totally on them. We gossiped, and talked about kids, and our kids played and it was really fun. Next time we'll go over there. But not stay as long.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Sometimes other adults address only my children and I am unsure how to proceed. Since obviously the adult was making nicities to my kids, I make sure my children respond. When someone is speaking to them, I want my kids to be able to look at them and answer clearly. (I still have problems doing that, but I know its the right thing to do!) When an adult asks a question that is obviously meant for me, but directed at my child, I get even more awkward. Partly because that is a dumb thing to do, on their part. So I usually answer, but as my child. I say,
"Can you say, '...'"

We are blessed enough to have access to an indoor swimming pool, for free, at my grandmother's residence. I try to go there about once a week, but scheduling can be difficult. Today while we there, The Boy demonstrated what he learned in swimming lessons, and his approach around water and the pool area is markedly different. I am so proud! Anyway, a resident was coming out of the pool and we were getting out of her way, and she asks The Boy how old he was. He held up three fingers and yelled the number. Then she asked his name, which he provided, although not that clearly. My grandmother moved in a told her how we spell the boy's names, which is a little unusual and she remarked,
"Oh, so you'll be spelling your name to everyone you meet in life."
which I thought was an odd and irritating thing to say. So many names are spelled in several ways, I'm not sure what the problem is. I always tell people how to spell my name, it relieves the possibility of bizarre mix-ups.  After she had moved on to The Baby, The Boy volunteered his last name, and my husbands name, and my name, which is 'Mama'. I was thinking about the implications of his sharing personal information with people, when she asked if he was going to school. Dang it! Then she assumed that he would be going to school next year. I didn't comment, because it really isn't her business. For the record, I want to do homeschool preschool, with their first formal schooling experience to be kindergarten. My husband is sort of on board with idea, but I feel very strongly about it. Anyway, I was a little offended and annoyed that this woman would assume to know what my boys are doing with their lives. But perhaps I need to let it go. Done.    

Monday, April 4, 2016

Soup and Kisses

This morning I had no plans, so I just puttered around trying to get stuff done. The kids asked for projects, so we did a few. During the time that I was puttering (and getting stuff done) I noticed that my kids tear into things like none other. I'm not even sure how it happens, but it seems my house is always a wreck. I have decided that unless the stuff will be ruined (like my paperwork and jewelery) I do not care. It is what it is.

It took us 45 minutes to walk the two blocks to the mailbox, and back. We started our trip with the dog, but I had to put her back in the house because it was to hard. I felt bad for the dog, who looked real sad. We walked through the alley because that is where the best stuff is found. The Boy loves to point out all the great things he finds,
"Look at this, guys! Wow!"
It is usually a piece of trash, but we found an Easter egg and a marble and a candle. Score!
I got so mad at them, for moving to slow, for not listening when I said not to go in other people's yards, for not putting the chicken bone down...and it made me feel sick inside. What is the big deal if they get dirty or this errand takes a long time? We have an in-house washing machine and no where else to go. By the end of the walk, I was feeling much more relaxed. In the future, I really want to be relaxed at the beginning of the field trip. I hate that I get a tone with them.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Pledge Drive

Hey guys! Long time no write! I've been working on a new way of getting stuff done. I suspect it is just as efficient as the old ways, which is to say, not very. But it makes me feel pretty good, so I'll keep doing it.

My kids and I go to a Unitarian Universalist church, and I want so badly for them to have a similar experience to mine. I loved my youth group, and the trip to Boston, and all the projects and bonding and learning we all did together. Even when learning wasn't cool and church on Sunday seemed atrociously early. These days I love the services, and find myself tearing up in the back row. I'm so pleased I finally joined a church group; we meet on Thursday nights. My religion feels so much more holy to me now, and I have a reverence for things I didn't before. Yes, this story is going somewhere...despite my love for my church, and despite believing that some charity is a good idea, I find our pledge drive and the church's insistence on receiving funds leaves me feeling guilty, annoyed, resentful, and irritated. But also willing to help. That being said, I know that it is part of our duty as members to help support the congregation. But I'm not sure how rock-solid the budget is. I come to thought as a frugal, sometimes cheap, coupon-clipping mama. I made my pledge, and without asking anyone if I could, I decided to payment-plan my funds. Every month, the plate will get my pledge in the appropriate envelope. I can only assume the finance committee will be able to handle it.
Also, our religion (and us, of course) believe that social action is part of our responsibility as people. We strive to eradicate injustices and to give back to the community as well as ourselves. We believe that everyone is part of a inter-connected web of life.
As of now, although I am still a mite resentful of our pledge drive, I realize that in order to get from the church, I must give. I have eased it into my budget and will adjust accordingly.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Screening Bleach

I have a spray bottle (an old Shout bottle, reused) that I filled with half bleach and half water. I used that to wipe down my floors. When I was done I realized I got a splash of bleach on my black blouse-tee, and a few drops on my DKNY pants. Dang it!

The Boy and The Baby emptied out their entire tote of toys in the living room. We all helped clean up, and I tried to get The Boy started early. He adimently refused. I told him that if he didn't help, or work hard, he was going to miss his shows (tv time). And he did! He refused to clean, and he sat there, crying (I have him a few hugs) and fussing, and not cleaning. So he went to bed a little early, with no shows. I was pretty proud of myself for hanging in there with my threats and punishments. Poor little guy!

I voted! And now I have a lot of anxiety about whether or not I voted 'correctly', as in, for the candidate representing the party I usually go for. I can't remember names.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Build and Grow

The kids and Hubs and I went to Lowe's for the Build and Grow workshop. I saw the sign-up on a freebie website ( We meandered our way to the lumber department, and stood in line. A pretty short line, luckily, and I got a waiver form. Signed and addressed, I got back in line, got two aprons, two monster truck kits, and two little hammers. The Boy and Hubs started building theirs and The Baby and I built ours. Turns out the nails were different lengths, and were to be used for different pieces. I did not know that, and spent some time pulling out one of the short nails because the top of the truck wasn't adhered to the bottom. The Baby and I also took a walk/break into the lighting section. When we got back to the workshop (which really was more of a supervised gathering), The Baby was ready to put the nails in and do some hammering. I felt a swell of pride when I saw his face puckered in concentration and his little fingers manipulating the nail into the pre-made nail-hole. He got it in! I let him hold the hammer while I was holding it, so we hammered together. He briefly got to hammer on his own, but quickly tired of focusing just on the nail (moving on to the table and trying to go for various other areas), so I took the hammer from him. He worked well for another few minutes, then wanted to wander, so The Hubs took him for a walk and I finished up his car. With The Boy's help. 
The Boy spotted a lost nail between the boards of our make-shift table (which was a pallet made of several loose boards from the lumber department, tied together). He's got eagle eyes, that one. Anyway, he was able to help me pound the nails in, although when I was holding the nail and he was hammering, my confidence in The Boy waivered. On account of the fact that he was looking around and not at the nail while hammering. I tried to correct his behavior, by way of explanation, but he just looked at me with his big green eyes. I let it go. He put the stickers on, all 'wrong' but he seemed proud of himself, so I didn't mind or correct. Besides, my skills needed work too; I put the sticker on crooked and needed to undo my nailing because I used the wrong size.  
Another mom and I were joking around after she asked no one in particular if they were building the car correctly. I told her about the nail-length issue, and then said that I heard her talk about being able to follow the directions better this week. I made a few jokes about our kid's happiness being on the line, and about how I thought I was good at stuff like this, but it appears not. She laughed a lot, luckily.
There was another mom and son, but she was doing the whole project! Every time he picked up the truck, she snatched it back from him. He was restless and bored, because she was doing his work. I couldn't help but wonder what else she did for him. And if she does everything, how will he know what to do when she isn't there? I felt she was robbing him of a chance to feel proud of himself for accomplishing something. Me, judge? Never.
Our kids seemed pretty proud of themselves after building those cars, and I was pretty proud of us too.
The Hubs says Home Depot has a similar activity, so I might sign us up for one of those.
Happy building!


Wednesday, March 9, 2016


I was able to bike to my meeting tonight! 2.5 miles there, 2.5 miles back; I was so proud of myself! Biking saves money, is good for my health, and I got there pretty fast. I think I'll try that again. But I'll make sure my pop is secure so it doesn't fall out and get run over again.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Swim Lessons

Today was the first day of The Boy's swim lessons! It was actually a make-up class because he was sick on his actual first day. It was so much easier than I anticipated. And I think he really enjoyed it! I saw him from the 'observation deck'; the teacher was pulling him around and he looked really intent and serious. I hope he actually enjoyed it; we have about seven more sessions left.
I went to the Y as a child, and I am happy to say that it looks different. I also feel the weight of what they are doing in that space. There is a woman's center, for classes and advocacy and immediate assistance. There is playground out back for the kids. And there are places for clothes donation and a book exchange.
The Baby really wanted to get in the water too.
I'm really looking forward to Thursday swimming! And I'm looking forward to scheduling a swim trip at my grandmother's.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Coupon Mishap

The Baby and I saved 90% on Valentine's Day stuff at CVS. I forgot to hand the cashier my stack of coupons during my first transaction! I was so surprised and alarmed at this idiotic move. But I maintained my cool and didn't get difficult. And the cashier was pretty chill (sort of) and gave me cash for my coupons. The first transaction we saved 50%, and that was before the coupons. When I told The Hubs he said,
"That's what I'm talkin' about."
I'm gathering shoes, canned goods, and rummage sale stuff for my church. I'm a little overwhelmed. And I am trying not to buy new things, I am trying to repurpose my old stuff. This mindset means a lot of impulse control and craft projects. I hope I'm up to the challenge!

The Cough

The Boy has been coughing something terrible recently. The last three nights he coughed hard enough to wake himself and start crying. He doesn't drink warm tea, sometimes he won't take medicine, and at night he has a really hard time being reasonable (don't we all). But these past couple of nights have really freaked me out, because he is half-awake, he is unresponsive to my questions. It makes me feel that it isn't really him, that he is in some sort of fit or dream and he has one foot in one reality and another foot in this one. But of course, at the doctor's office today at 3 pm, he seemed pretty well. And luckily the doctor has a son about the same age, so she understands the difference of symptoms and experience of a 1 am bedroom visit to a 3 pm doctor's office visit. The Boy did not showcase his talking capabilities or his direction-following skills with this doctor, enough so that she had to ask if he talks and understands. My goodness, if she only knew how much and at what depth we talk about

Monday, February 29, 2016

Red Robin

I signed up for the Red Robin's loyalty card on a date night, and for my birthday they sent me a coupon for a free burger! I took The Baby out for a mom/son playdate, and we shared the burger. I thought I was getting us a bottomless lemonade but I was not. So sad! And very alarming that a non-bottomless/non-alcoholic beverage would be $4.49. My goodness! So I felt pretty stupid about that; I always need to double-check my deals or make sure they are refundable! Also, when dining out with a coupon, make sure to tip off the amount you would pay without the coupon. We might be frugal and cheap, but we are not dicks.
The Baby had a great time! He got a balloon and some crayons and he pointed and smiled at people. And I think he only had fries for dinner. I really enjoyed being out with just him. And I think he had a good time too.

Shutterfly had a deal for four free magnets. I ordered two, and realized I was paying separate shipping and handling. Dang it!

The Boy has a horrible cough. I'm giving him two days and close monitoring before I make an appointment for him. I hope he's better by Thursday; we have swimming lessons!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Two Ladies Estate Sale

We went to our first-of-the-year estate sale today! And although I love the voyeuristic element to shopping in someone's home, I noticed that my haggling and price awareness needs A LOT of work. I am a really nice haggler. I admire the quality of the items, then only go down a fraction of the listed price. Sellers usually go with my plan because of the two adorable kids I have in tow. But today, one of the Two Ladies, told me that the puzzles (the old-school wood kind, with wonderful artistic images) were $1 each, even though they were marked at $2. So when she writing up the receipt, I should have said something...but I didn't. And I didn't haggle at all! I don't know what I was thinking. I really need to get on the ball with that stuff. I don't feel cheated, because the prices were on the items, and The Boy got a 'free' ball. And although I didn't get the price even lower, I know that I paid far below retail. And they said my kids my adorable and very well-behaved. True!

With that purchase, I got a little worried about income and selling my stuff. So I decided to try to sell a few books. I sold to Half Price Books one time, and they gave me a coupon and a $1 for a whole bag of books. I guess I should have been insulted, but I took it. I just get so worried about selling off my mother kept a lot of my children's books, and now my kids read them. That melts my heart. And I recently found a box of books that showed me how I became me. Looking at what I read, and knowing my thoughts surrounding the  literature I was able to draw a lit line from then to now. Anyway, I don't like to get rid of my stuff. I'm afraid I'll need it, I like it for the memories, and I want stuff for my kids. My thoughts only make sense for a few items.

I am looking forward to my skills showing through at the estate sale I have scheduled for next week.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Sickness

The Baby is sick. He has a cough, his breathing is wheezy, and he sneezes periodically. I think he has a fever, but I don't know for sure because both our thermometers need batteries. I would give him a fever reducer dose (Pedia Care, or whatever), but he doesn't take medication very well.
 Earlier this evening, I tried to give him the homeopathic medication straight up and he spit it out and gagged and choked up bile. Oops! Yes, he got lots of cuddles after that. And I bleached the floor. For the first few doses yesterday, I was able to mix a dose with his juice, but by his bedtime milk bottle he figured it out and wouldn't drink it.
When I am out of kid-safe cough syrup, I give the kids a spoonful of honey. (Both my kids are over the age of one, so no one is getting botchalism.) He wouldn't even take that, he was too suspicious.
Nap for The Baby lasted two hours, and I think he would have slept longer but the phone rang. He was tired and worn out for most of the afternoon. The only good thing about that, is the cuddles he needs from me. We watched way too much TV, but while we were all on my/The Hub's bed, The Baby snuggled in close. Despite him sneezing and coughing in my face, I still love hanging out with him. I hope he's feeling better tomorrow.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

All Kinds Of Stuff

I am astounded by The Baby's ability to communicate with me. I'm astounded by how much I think he knows about the world. And the way he likes to cuddle, be near me, and hang out, warms my heart. He is truly a miracle and I will forever be grateful for him.

Shutterfly often offers freebie prints and photo gifts via email coupons. Currently I am trying to upload my photos for 101 free prints (must pay shipping) and so far it isn't working. Very frustrating.

The Boy and I went to Jewel after church to get our freebie apple, energy drink, and really expensive string cheese. I saved 36% when I got a free apple using a store coupon for a free apple or banana to kids 12 and under. My energy drink was free from the MyMixx card. I downloaded the coupon a few days ago. And we bought string cheese, at $4.49 for a 12 pack. Which is a lot, but there were sweepstakes codes on both packages, I had a manufacturer coupon as well as a store coupon. And the kids eat a lot of cheese.

From the Morton Grove Library, I picked up a new Stephen King book (can't believe he is still churning out such wonderfully haunting tales). Its called The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. Goodness.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Free Movies

One of the things that worry me about my future, is that I am not terribly self-motivated. I tend to do things 'as the spirit moves'. I falter in knowing what I should do next, relying on my bizarre and varied to-do list. I know that I need to 'work hard' at raising my children, keeping my marriage alive and thriving, and creating my home into the cozy retreat I want it to be. I need to work hard at the red tape of our society (insurance issues, doctor's appointments, school stuff, social security issues, employment...the list goes on). I also like to work on crafts, coupons, and photo projects. The point is, there is a lot of stuff I want to do. And stuff I need to do. But I'm concerned I take too long to get stuff done, and I take too many breaks, and I seem to lack the ability to keep going about my business. I wonder if I can just will myself to be different.

A few weeks ago, in the Jewel-Osco ad paper, I made my shopping list based on my coupons and on-sale items. If I purchased $30 worth of P&G items, I would get a Catalina coupon for a free movie ticket. I knew from previous purchases like this, I would not receive an actual ticket, I would receive a code to enter. Which I did. There was a far-away expiration date (in my experience, it is always wise to use as soon as possible), a website and a code. I had to register with my email address and name, then I got an email with the ticket that I needed to print out. My grandmother's computer did not allow me to access that website, so I printed it at my mom's house. So this morning we hung out with my step-father and the dogs and all the great toys they have over there. And I got a free movie ticket! For less than a $30 purchase on items I use.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


I sign myself (and sometimes my immediate family members) up for Birthday coupons. This evening The Boy and I went to Superdog to use my free sandwich and free large pop coupon. We also ordered a malt and some fried veggies. Superdog is a drive-up restaurant, with car hop service. I was unsure if I tip, so I left a dollar on the tray. Probably not a good move, in hindsight.
When we got there, The Boy wanted to know if we were going in, so I unbuckled him and told him he could sit in the way back (yes, we have a minivan) and then in the front seat when the food came. We talked about SkippyJon Jones, monsters, ketchup, and other important pieces of my three-year-old's life. I turned off the car, we got cold, and I turned it on with the heat blasting so The Boy could warm up his hands.
When I was buckling him back in, he hugged me and said,
"I love you, Mama!"
Tonight was awesome and lovely. I'm so glad I'm taking the time to go out with each kid and my husband separately.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Adler Planetarium

Yes, we took advantage of the free day at Adler Planetarium! My mom came with us, and paid the exoburant parking fees. We thought it would be easier and faster to drive. I found out about the free days from the Oaklee newsletter. When we got there, we wanted to find the play area for the kids, but we unable to locate it until almost the end of the trip. We wandered around, and the kids had a blast in a darkened hallway with moving star constellations. I recognized some people I used to ring up at Walgreens, which was terrible because I dislike them. But luckily they didn't recognize me.
The Adler obviously has a lot of interesting exhibitions and they are mostly known for their movie-theater-like shows about stars and the universe. We really didn't get to read through any of the exhibitions, because the kids don't stand still enough for that.
I think the trip was a success because no went missing, no one had a breakdown, we didn't get too hungry, we saw some cool stuff, and there was fun had by all. On the way there and home, we all got a chance to chat.  I was very pleased with the outing.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Valli Produce

After my church group, I was able to rush over to Valli Produce to get some pretty good deals. A pint of blueberries for $1.98, 16oz pasta packages for 68 cents, 28 oz cans of tomatoes, and dates for $3.98. I took advantage of my late-night shopping, and got a package of veggie sushi for 1/2 off ($3). My receipt shows a lot of friendly savings.

We went to a craft playdate at my friend's house, and The Boy wasn't that into the craft. He was more into the play kitchen. Before we left we did some clean up.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Driving to Doctor Appointments

This morning I picked up my father-in-law from his house in Chicago. Its about a half hour drive, so me and the kids spent about an hour (maybe more) in the car this morning. Driving with my father-in-law causes a lot of tension because our conversation is strained.

During the kid's nap I finished my napkin. I have been hand-sewing napkins from an old, ripped pillowcase. My second one is much better. Now I'm on my third. I really like the idea of turning something old and used into something new and useful.

It turns out my FIL needs a lot of care. He needs contrasting plates, and tape on the toilet, and extra handrails and 24 hour care. I didn't realize he was so sick, and I didn't realize he needs so much care. I feel pretty awful about leaving him to his own devices, and not being more helpful.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Happy Birthday!

Today is my Birthday!! I'm still excited about it, despite the fact that I am supposedly too old. I am from the school of thought that birthdays are special, they are something to be celebrated, and they should always have an element of excitement, surprise, and sweetness. No matter how old we get. And there was a time in my life when I wasn't sure I would get to this age.

We went out for dinner to Blaze Pizza. I had a coupon for a free pizza! And my uncle-in-law let us swipe his card, which was a great birthday gift. The kids had a pretty good time, minus the head whack at the end. But they behaved themselves. And The Hubs and I had a chance to sit for a moment.

I made myself my birthday cake, using a recipe from a book titled Birthday Parties for Children-How To Give Them, How To Survive Them. Copyright 1983, and I bought it for 50 cents from a library book sale. I made a spice cake with butter frosting.
Spice Cake
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening (I used butter, but my cake was dry. So I think I needed maybe a cup)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon milk (what an annoying amount, and an odd placement on the list. I used almond milk again)
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon (I didn't measure-just shook the canister over my pan, because I realized I forgot to stir them in.)
1/2 teaspoon cloves (I used another heavy shake of ginger)

1. Beat the sugar and shortening until they are well mixed.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients. Beat for 2-3 minutes.
3. Bake in a greased 9x13 inch pan (that's what I used), or in two greased 8-inch layer pans at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or in paper baking cups (filled about 1/2 full) set in muffin pans at 350 degrees, or until done.
4. Cook and ice with the frosting of your choice.

Butter Frosting
Blend until creamy 3 tablespoons soft butter or margarine, 2 cups confectioners' sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and a dash of salt. If too thin, add more sugar. If too thick, add water or milk by the dropful. (I used more than a dropful of almond milk).

Happy Birthday and happy baking!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


I'm taking a break from sewing a napkin out of pillowcase. I envisioned this project going much more quickly than it is. I got the idea from 1,2,3 Sew which is a craft book I got from the library. And when I looked the project up online, I found some folding techniques I hadn't considered. The problem here, mostly, is that I am hand-sewing, and I'm not using pins to keep my lines straight. Also, all of a sudden, this seems like a lot of work for not a great product.

The kids and I didn't leave the house today, but we did work on The Number Eight. And, sadly, we buried the angel fish in the yard.