Zach First Day of Kindergarten

Monday was the official first day of school in NC. I will be posting the traditional back to school pictures with book bags and such on Wednesday. This post is a special one for Zach. His first day of school was really 45 minutes while his dad stayed in the back of the classroom. Zach LOVED school. He is in a small class of 19 students with 11 boys in the group. He was able to complete a scavenger hunt in the classroom, listen to a story and make a craft. I am so excited and proud of him!

IMG_1271 IMG_1268 IMG_1266 IMG_1270 IMG_1269 IMG_1265

Menu Planning Monday

Menu planning is usually not all that difficulty at my house. The main reason for this is that we are always trying to make and package items that make life simpler and easier to survive. For example, when we buy hamburger, part of it is cooked and frozen in 1 pound containers, these can be used for spaghetti, chill or even hamburger helper. This past weekend, I have been focusing on cooking ahead. Breakfast items have been made and place in the fridge for easy quick mornings. I made “Breakfast Burrito filling” on Saturday morning and a large container of baked oatmeal on Sunday. We cooked up several bags of dried beans because they are so much healthier and cheaper than canned beans. On Sunday, we picked 2 gallons of ripe muscadines.  I made a batch of jelly, frozen 8 cups of whole muscadine and made a second “starter” for more jelly. Sometimes by spreading the extra work out it makes it easier and we definitely eat better and spend less.

Now on to the menu plan

Breakfast-Breakfast burritos, baked oatmeal, French toast, toast with new jelly, cereal, poptarts or grits.

Lunch- The kids will be taking Lunchables everyday, I will take leftovers Monday, Wednesday and Friday with a sandwich on Tuesday. Matt will be eating from the fridge or sandwich every day.

Dinner– I am trying to stick to my goal of leaving work by 5:30 daily so I can eat with the family most nights.

Saturday- Lunch: Coconut shrimp and grilled pineapple.   Dinner- Chicken Enchiladas

Sunday- Lunch- with my parents.  Dinner-out of the fridge.

Monday- Spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread.
Tuesday- Grilled Chicken salad
Wednesday-Pulled pork, green beans and fruit
Thursday-  Sonic corn dogs ($0.50 each)
Friday- Cowboy beans and cucumber relish from the freezer.

Saving on Saturday- Vacation

sos

I really do enjoy travelling and especially enjoyed our vacation this year if you could not tell by all the pictures. One reason, that I was able to enjoy our vacation this year is because of the fact that we actually spent overall less on a week at the beach than we have spent on a long weekend trip. So today, I am going to share some tips that I used this year to not only save money but also to make this trip so enjoyable.

The first and most important tip is PLAN AHEAD!.  I booked our condo in January this year in order to get the specific week that I wanted for the rate we could easily afford. But I actually started buying for the trip back in November 2014. CVS usually runs some awesome Black Friday sales, starting the Sunday before Thanksgiving, for the past several years these have included laundry detergent for free after ECB.  I am pretty brand loyal, but in this case, I carried the free laundry detergent home and placed in a plastic container. During our beach trip, we typically come in from the beach and toss all suits and towels in the wash. My thoughts are free is good enough as long as it helps to remove the sand. Other items that I find on good deals (usually $0.75 or less) include hand soap, toilet paper, dishwasher tablet and dishwashing liquid.

The next way that I plan ahead for our vacation is meal planning. I know there are a few meals that the entire family loves and so if I am making one of these I will just make two and place the second in the deep freezer to take to the beach. Our plan ahead meals this year included baked ziti, chicken and broccoli casserole and gravy biscuits. If I find a good deal on a special snack food that we like I will also go ahead and purchase that as well. This year these items included goldfish crackers, Oreos and  Kit Kat Minis.  I also do the same with paper plates, cups and silverware. The condo does have a dishwasher but I prefer the paper for the convenience.

Another way that we save money is by saving and reusing certain items year after year.  I have a 20 year collection of sand toys that I store in a large bag in our building. Each year we take it with us to the beach. Some years we come back with less sand toys as if they break they are thrown away at the beach. We also have purchased a beach cart, umbrella and several chairs that are specifically for beach use. It may seem like a lot of trouble to carry these items back and forth but in the big picture it continues to save us money as we don’t purchase new items unless they are needed.

A finally way that we save money on vacation is by increasing the temperature of our house to 82* and turning off/unplugging anything possible. Our electric bill dropped by $30 this month in comparison to last month with the only difference being our vacation week. We also saw a $5 decrease in our water bill which is a direct result of less laundry.

How have you been saving money this week?

5 Things Friday

5thingsfriday-logoRED1. The kids start to school on Monday. We had a meet the teacher night last night and everyone is excited. In anticipation of this we are following the school night schedule around here including bedtimes! This also means that I am trying to get some filling/quick breakfast made over the next couple of morning to help in the mornings. Did I mention that Tuesday and Friday will be the first time in 10 years that ALL my children will be in school?

2. Yesterday, was a sad day. We spent most of the day outside working in the yard and square foot garden. The reason it was so sad is that I ended up pulling up and throwing in the compost pile, about half the corn, the cucumber plants and about half of the tomato plants. We have had such a dry summer and with us being out of town last week, so no extra watering, they were dead. It was bittersweet because I was able to harvest enough corn for dinner last night and 2 small watermelon that we used for dinner today. We should continue to get a couple of tomato in daily and maybe just maybe a green pepper or so.

3. I was able to leave work on or before 5:30 every day this week and even managed to get home by 5pm this evening!  I know this is hard to understand but it is a HUGE deal for me and something I plan to continue.

4.I want to spend most of tomorrow at the pool as it will only be open for 3 more weekends. I have not checked the forecast but heard it included storms.

5. I was able to get an additional 2 GB of data and $20 knocked off my Verizon bill tonight just by asking!

Random Tuesday Thoughts

  • We have been home from vacation for 2 days and are about 1/2 the way unpacked. Goal- Be completely unpacked by Saturday.
  • I am going to be changing/hopefully reducing my work schedule over the next month to make things a little bit easier around here in the evenings. My goal until the changes officially take place and for the whole school year is to be leaving work by 5:30. So far I have been home 2 days in a row. Go me!
  • During my extended lunch break today, we headed to Winston to Vision Works to order both Zach and Kendall new glasses. The lesson we learned is that glasses for the little kids need to have nose pieces to keep them from sliding off their face. I did use a coupon surprised? We were able to purchase 2 pair of glasses with transitional lens plus a very nice contact lens case for Lily to take to school for $200.
  • I am planning to attend a continuing education class in September, it will be the first time in 10 years I have stayed by myself in a hotel room. I think I am a little too excited!
  • Disney planning is in full swing as soon as we finish unpacking from the Beach.
  • As part of getting ready to go back to school, I had the kids try on and get rid of any shoes that were too small or that they did not like. Kendall is upset because now she is left with only 22 pairs of shoes.
  • Lily has cheerleading every night this week and man is it rough trying to get everyone back on a school schedule. Zach will start Kindergarten and we are trying to eliminate naps up front so the evening have been full of attitude. Tonight was at least better than last night. Zach made it to his “normal” 7:30 bedtime. Last night he was in bed at 6:50.
  • Amanda has started college and so far I am very proud of the hours she is putting in to be successful!
  • We are on budget so far for the month in both groceries and gas. I am so proud of this especially because of the massive Costco trip we made on Sunday in addition to the purchase of school supplies today.
  • Blogging is always better at the beach, I guess the smell of the ocean makes my thoughts come easier!

 

5 Things Friday

1. I really really like the new logo for today that Carla used on her blog. But because I am using my new IPAD. I was uanble to figure out how to copy it. So be sure to check it out on her page.

2. We only have 1 full day of vacation left. I am not looking forward to returning to the real world but I am so THANKFUL for this vacation as it has been one of the best one yet.

3. This evening we decided to head about 15 minutes north to try out a Seafood Resturant that was recommended to us by a friend. It was honestly some of the best food and service that I have recieved in year. It was also a great chance to get some more pictures of my kids, you know I honestly don’t have or share enough of these guys. The resturant was located on the dock which the ship bring in the fresh seafood.

image image

 

4.Tonight stop at Boulineau’s included ice cream by the scoop on a fresh made waffle cone and adult beverages to be enjoyed.

5. I took my first ever selfie today. Going to share just in the effort to keep things real

image image image

10 Signs- We are on Vacation

WIth small children, it has been said that vacation is just as much work or more as staying at home. I know for us, our schedule does not change dramatically. This year  has been nice with the elimination of nap time and we have been staying up later than normal. So I want to share with you 10 signs that definitely mean we are on vacation.

1. Chocolate/Peanut butter Poptarts and Kool-aid are both consider legitimate breakfast food.image
2. Dessert is a requirment and must contain either frozen something or be a donut.
3. Daily trips to the local store “Boulineau’s” always include at least one non food item. Today we purchased a t-shirt, fishing net and shovel.

image

4. Pajama’s and bathing suits make up the majority of our clothing choices.

5. Daily shell hunting, count as exercise and are much more fun than using a treadmill.

image

6. Sleeping late, still means 7am but watching the sun rise over the ocean makes it seem ok.

7. Pink hats are not only fashionable but make spotting kids in the ocean much easier.
image

8. Castle building is cooperative effort that can take all day.

9. Game nights involves food and lots of friends.
10. Blog writing is fun and easy because I have lots of pictures to choose from.image