Monday Rant 10/5/2015

I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the public school system. But before you read any further let me bluntly state that I am good friends with several teacher and other school personnel. I am in no way blaming or shaming them, instead, I think the whole system in North Carolina needs to be overhauled and made better. Public school is really the one of  only two viable options in my rural area. The other option would be home schooling and we don’t feet this is appropriate at this time either.

I refuse to fundraise for the school. It is not that I don’t think the school does not need or deserve extra monies but for me it is a matter of economics.  Currently, we have 3 children in Elementary school, therefore in order to participate in any fundraising we would be expected to sell 3 times the amount. For example, each child is expected to sale 5  items, in order for us to participate we would need to sale 15 items. Another example is the magazine sale, no cost to you simply fill out 4 to 6 post cards with the name and address of family members. Sounds simple enough but even with a large family we don’t have 24 relatives that children are not in the same area to send these too and do I seriously want to send 3 times the junk mail to anyone?

Now that we have established those simple facts, let me start the real rant. I am sick of my children’s “free public education” costing more and more and more each week. To begin the school year, I paid school dues $7 each and purchased T-shirts in the appropriate color for each child to wear on fieldtrip and as part of “Titan Tuesday” each week.  $51 dollars before the first day of school. To purchase a school lunch is $2.85 a day for each child, or $8.55 a day or $42.75 a week or $171 a month. Needless to say,  none of the kids eats school food. I could and do feed all 5 of us at least 2 meals a day for this same $8.55.   The first week of school, we received a notice and each of the kids was excited that they would be have “Future Fridays” this year. Each children should wear a shirt that represents their favorite high school or college. Does not sound like a bad idea until you do a bit of math 3 t-shirts at $20 a piece, which really is a low figure equals $60 for my family.  This provided us with the opportunity to have both Kendall and Lily do math and discussed our priorities as a family. Guess what purchasing and participating in “future Fridays” did not make the list. Fortunately for use both school lunches and college t-shirts were an easy discussion to have with the kids.

“Fundraising opportunities” were easily addressed the first of September with a simple we don’t participate. The next request become a little bit harder but yet not impossible to deny. This was a request from the 2nd grade teachers that we “Donate” $20 so they can purchase a classroom software pack. Another no… I will gladly donate goldfish, paper towels, Kleenx  or just about anything else (except candy) the class needs but not cash.

Next up in the category of things that we have to pay for at public school fieldtrips. Yes, they can be educational and yes the kids enjoy them but since when does it cost $18 and $14 for a fieldtrip. Just for the record, I did pay both of these without too much complaint but still.

Finally school pictures, I love pictures and I have always at least purchased an 8×10 for each grade. This year that will equal a total of $72 spent on school pictures. The bright side, I can purchase online instead of writing three separate checks.



Menu Planning and other Rambling Thoughts

We have really implemented menu planning into our regular routine, Saturday morning after breakfast. This is one of the few times Matt and I can actually sit down and discuss what we want to cook, look in the pantry and cabinets without being in a rush. This morning we also talked about trying to “clean out the freezers as much as possible” prior to our Disney Trip. I don’t usually worry about the freezers in the building as I do about something happening to the smaller freezers in the house.  The plan/goal currently is to eat and use as much as possible in the next 54 days and only pay small amounts of food if needed with no big stock ups.  I honestly don’t thing this is very hard as I was really deliberate about buying and completely restocking our pantry and freezers this past week. We also have already order 80# of chicken, which will be picked up the first week of November. Honestly at this point I don’t even have room to place this chicken anywhere. I am also considering placing a ground beef order for December but this will depend heavily and freezer space as well.

Now on to the planning

Breakfast–  Homemade Breakfast bowls, Pancakes, toast with  jelly, yogurt,  cereal, poptarts, and grits will be out breakfast for the week. Saturday morning- tenderloin, eggs, grits and gravy. Sunday morning- Baked oatmeal( need to decide what kind in the near future.”

Lunch- .The kids were all excited that we bought “uncrustables” this week at Costco, along with grab lunches. I am going to be taking left-overs every day.

Dinner- During the week, things are fairly busy with an activity every night but Friday but we are keeping with the plan!

Saturday- Lunch: BBQ chicken plates              Dinner- Oyster stew or leftovers.

Sunday- Lunch- Baked potatoes, cream corn, Paula Deen mac and cheese.    Dinner-Leftovers or cowboy beans depending on how full the fridge is.

Monday- Salisbury steak, rice, green beans and fruit.
Tuesday- Pizza bites or eating at school even.
Wednesday-Spaghetti and meatballs
Thursday-  Chicken fried rice
Friday- Chicken nuggets and French fries.


I am attending a ladies conference next Friday night and Saturday so Matt and the kids will be figuring something out for these days.

5 Things Friday


1. I was so excited and surprised to get an email today that told me, we owe $300 less on our Disney trip than I had originally planned! This is HUGE! We have been planning and paying on this trip since February and our final payment is due mid-month.

2  I was able to sell 2 toys today and that gave me $50 to put in the budget this month.

3. We are experiencing a “rainy season” We have received rain every day for the past week and are predicted to receive an additional 4-12 inches of rain over the weekend. My plans include staying inside and long hot baths. The temperature is also a bit cool for North Carolina in October.

4. We currently are on week 4 without heating or cooling out house!  This should help reduce our electric bill to under $200 for the month of October and hopefully November!

5. We made several huge grocery store trips yesterday and have already spent all but $16 of our grocery budget for the month. I am so disappointed in this but am already facing the fact that I seriously need to increase the budget to a more achievable amount.  I need to do some research and figure out what a reasonable amount would be, any suggestions on where to find this information?

September in Review

Blogging:  Goal: 14 per month This is actually post 18, I may actually have to up the goal next year!   Goal MET!

Weight: Goal:  Met and maintain weight of 175. This goal will be considered met each month that weight loss is achieved and once this weight is achieved, each month maintained is considered achieved.  Struggling still.. I have been able to exercise at least 1 day a week in September but am hoping to get that up to 3 or more for the month of October and November. I have read that you can walk 10 miles a day at Disney and I don’t want to be tired and miss anything.

Spiritual-  Goal. I want to spend time reading and or studying the Bible at least 5 days a week for the year.  Goal MET! This is making a huge difference in my days and I am planning to stay on track with this!

Financial Goals-
1.  Full Fund the budget each month.   Goal MET!

2. Emergency Fund to $2000.  Met. Added $100!  Goal met 4 months in a row!

3. Groceries: Reduce Grocery spending to $300 for the month. I am going to consider this goal met. We actually spent $335 for the month!  This is huge for us and actually helped to fund the budget as well!

4. Gas: Spend $400 a month . Goal Met! We have actually spent $404 for the month but this includes $200 of preventive work  on Matt’s van and a quick repair to the car. I am so excited because the plan for October is to use any extra to pay on our trip and this should actually allow us to use the regular budget in November to cover our gas cost.

5. Eating out- tracking purposes only 217.52. A HUGE ($200) decease from previous months.  I am excited to see we can control this amount!

Disney- GOAL MET!

September turned out to be the most successful month for us in a long  time. I am so excited to post this update but am also looking at the month of October. We will not be able to keep the grocery budget as low as we did in September and we have to finish paying on our Disney trip.  I have already worked out a plan to cover everything that is required for the month but it will dip in savings and leave a huge chunk of things unfunded for the month.  I am really struggling not to let October put a damper on the huge success September was, so I am going to end on that note.

Menu Planning Monday

This is probably one of the most important weeks for us in regards to menu planning. The new months starts on Monday and until then, the goal is to only buy what is absolutely necessary.   By sticking to the plan we should be able to sail into October on a budget high note!

Breakfast– Pancakes, toast with  jelly, yogurt,  cereal, poptarts, and grits will be out breakfast for the week. Saturday morning- Pancakes Sunday morning- Bacon Egg and cheese biscuits

Lunch- . Lunches were all planned and mostly packed on Sunday,  including a salad day for all three kids that we were able to use lettuce from our garden to achieve.

Dinner–Things are going really well with me arriving at home  for dinner most nights of the week.

Saturday- Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches    Dinner- Stuffed Green Pepper soup- This was awesome! I get to enjoy leftovers for lunch at least one day.

Sunday- Lunch- Cowboy Beans (previously made)    Dinner-Coconut shrimp

Monday- Spinach Ravioli- Finishing up a bag.
Tuesday- Hamburger helper.
Wednesday-Pork Roast, green beans and fruit.
Thursday-  Chicken Broccoli Casserole
Friday- Hamburger with FF

5 Things Friday


1. Just because I like to be a rule breaker, I am going to post my saving on Saturday, in today’s list!  Amazon was running an awesome deal on Amazon Prime- $67 for a year’s membership. Matt helped us to join today. This will save us $4 a month starting in January because of the kid’s Kindle subscription. So we are going to enjoy free shipping, movies, music and books for $31 or $2.58 a month.

2. Our Menu plan this week was side track by a couple of things. First, a person at church is growing some awesome peppers and was generous enough to share these. We ended up having Pepper Steak on Sunday afternoon and Chicken Fajitas on Thursday. The second change was due to me locating a container of grilled chicken on Wednesday. Because I did not want for this to get wasted we had chicken fajitas on Thursday instead of shrimp and a awesome chicken pot pie on Friday.

3. This coming week will be the most challenging for our budget. So far for the month of October we are less than $10 over gas and groceries(which I cut to $300).  We already have a menu plan in place so my goal is to stay the course and celebrate an awesome successful month!

4.I have absolutely no plans for tomorrow. My goal is to not leave the house all day!

5.The kids had an early release day today and were picked up from school at 12 noon. I am very proud to say that so far this year, no one has missed a day of school or received a tardy. FIRST TIME EVER!


Update of Square Foot Garden

This summer we have spent a lot of energy updating and expanding our square foot garden. I am excited that at the end of September we are still enjoying some of it’s benefits.  Our large tomatoes have all died except for one plant that is actually laying on the ground, however the cherry and grape tomatoes are still going strong. We have plenty to snack on and I am still freezing some, usually once a week.

A couple of weeks ago, on a whim, I decided to try my hand at fall planting. I picked up 9 cabbage plants and 9 lettuce plants.

imageI was able to pull a couple of leaves last week to use on a salad last week and plan to use some for my lunch tomorrow.

Since I was not sure how these, the cabbage, would turn out, I decided to plant 4 in a bed with soil that I had purchased locally and 5 in a bed of “Mel’s Mix” which cost with shipping $18 a bag , but is recommended in “Square Foot Gardening.”

These are in "regular" soil.

These are in “regular” soil.

Mel's mix

Mel’s mix

As you can tell there is a huge difference. But does it justify over $10 a bag??  I should also clarify that these are located side by side so the only difference is soil.

After removing the corn stalks, we are suddenly growing peppers.

imageFinally, this is the part of the garden that I am most excited about….sweet potatoes.


The purple blooms have started this week and with hopefully a month left of growing. I can hardly wait  to see what we harvest when it is time to dig up the potatoes.


Menu Planning Monday

This week is back to the normal busy routine. The weather is turning cooler so I am starting adding a soup day to most weeks. The challenge for the next two weeks is to use the groceries we have on hand and make a good list of items needed  on the first of October. I currently sit at $306 spent on groceries and that included buying a gallon of milk for this week.

Check out this awesome list of ways to use food and not waste, written by a friend of mine.

Now on to the menu plan

Breakfast– French toast, toast with new jelly, yogurt,  cereal, poptarts, grits or donuts at least for Monday and Tuesday. . Zach has been grabbing applesauce or canned fruit for breakfast as well.  Sunday morning- Breakfast Omelet

Lunch- For some odd reason, we have one Lunchable left in the fridge but no one wanted it this week. Lunches were all planned and mostly packed on Sunday. Our lunches include homemade chicken dunks, tomato, ranch and cheese, sandwiches one day, and a “grab day” which means crackers for most. I am going to take leftovers and Matt is eating these as well.

Dinner–Things are going really well with me arriving at home  for dinner most nights of the week.

Saturday- Lunch: McDonalds (profits from yard sale) .   Dinner- Hamburger Helper (we had the meat left from Thursday, we ended up eating our leftovers from Olive Garden).

Sunday- Lunch- My parents   Dinner-Pepper Steak using fresh peppers!

Monday- Rice Creola
Tuesday- Tomato Soup and Tomato/Basil Drop Biscuits
Wednesday-Salisbury steak, rice, green beans and fruit.
Thursday-  Coconut Shrimp
Friday- Chicken Broccoli Casserole

It just occurred to me that we are have rice three times this week. Matt loves it so I don’t think he will mind.