Your questions answered: TV, coupons, gardening, FoodSaver bags... plus a family update!
I've got a bunch of questions to answer, plus it's been way too long since I've done a real family update-type of post! So, here is all of that... plus the first pregnancy picture of myself with #5 (thanks to my cameraman Yehoshua)! :)
Moshe (2), Ruth (4), Yehoshua (7) and Eliyahu (6)
I was wondering if you could tell us what you do for entertainment without TV and netflix. I know its possible but just curious.
As far as "screen" entertainment, we have an Xbox360. We use it to watch DVDs, and we have a small selection of our own DVDs. Some are educational (like Planet Earth or Matthew) and some are just for fun (like Up). :) We do let the boys play video games on the weekends (usually not on school days).
Pretty much any day of the week they are allowed to play games that use the Xbox Kinect (camera) because those are indoor exercise games (Fruit Ninja, Kinect Sports, etc.). With the weather being rainy so often, it's really nice to have an indoor exercise option for the kids (and me...) that is FUN! :)
And aside from that, we do things like board or card games, puzzles, books, drawing, play dough, building blocks, Legos, coloring books, Duplos, making tents with blankets, all that good stuff. :)
Tammy, do you ever use coupons? You can really save money on personal items like deodorant, shampoo, any vitamins or medicines.
I do coupons occasionally. We honestly don't purchase a lot of personal care items, but when we do (like for toothpaste -- since I'm partial to Crest Original) I usually have a $0.50 coupon which does help. And I try my best to wait for the Costco coupons to help lower our grocery budget for things we'd be purchasing anyway! :)
One thing I found for us personally was that since we don't use most of the items, even if it was free-after-rebate or coupon, we still pay 9.5% tax on the pre-coupon pre-rebate prices here in Washington and it just wasn't worth my time and gas to make a stop for items that we might end up needing (or might not use at all before they expired!).
I used to regularly do Rite Aid's single check rebate program and get some good deals on toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc. but they've changed that program and I wasn't finding good enough deals to warrant going often enough to use the "rewards" before they would expire.
I'm also a homebody, we just have 1 vehicle (so any errands have to be done at the busiest traffic times of the day/week -- and take away from our family time), I have 4 young children, and we eat a lot of plain "ingredients" like milk, butter, cheese, veggies, beans, etc... The store sales here usually are within pennies of what I can pay at Costco, and I admit I really like Costco. ;)
So... that's what has shaped my grocery shopping method for this season of our lives. :)
Have you considered teaching beginning music to a few outside kids for some extra spending money?
Yes, I have! I haven't advertised for any music students in recent years, though. I love teaching but don't feel that it's a good time for me to pursue it as a business.
Also, do you garden? Even a small vegetable garden can make a huge difference in your grocery bill.
I had some herbs in pots last summer, and hope to grow more herbs and some lettuce this year! We don't get a lot of direct sunlight at our house/yard due to all the trees nearby, and our summers can stay on the cool side (highs of 65-70 degrees) so that can make it tricky if you live in a shaded area. ;)
I also have a food saver and I LOVE it, but I find the bags to be pricey and felt guilty about throwing them away.... I now wash and re-use them repeatedly!! I write on the edge just like you do so when I cut them open to use nothing is written on the useful part of the bag. I have been doing this for more then a year now and find the bags work fine used repeatedly. I was wondering if you did the same thing?
Yes! I definitely re-use my FoodSaver bags, because they are really expensive. I bought my last box at Costco with a coupon, but it was still expensive! It's worth it to me that we *love* our freezer meals/food, though, and don't have to "endure" them. ;)
Even better than washing the Food Saver bags: if I've just frozen a casserole and then vacuum-sealed it, the FoodSaver bag doesn't get very dirty at all (since the food is already frozen when it goes in). When I take the food out, still frozen, and put it into a baking dish, I put the empty nearly-clean FoodSaver bag back in the freezer without washing it, to save it for later use.
This seems to put even less wear on the bags than washing them... and makes me a lot more comfortable with the amount of bag it takes to FoodSave a casserole. ;)
Yehoshua is 7 1/2 and is in second grade. He does part of his homeschooling with my mom on the phone each weekday. It's a big help to me and gives him some extra accountability, too. :) Yehoshua loves Legos, math, art, RC cars, sports, science, and video games.
He's a great big brother and shows such kindness to the younger children (in-between the moments of rough-housing!). Some of Yehoshua's chores are folding laundry, vacuuming, clearing and washing the table, dishes, picking up, and yard work. :)
Eliyahu just turned 6! He's a big boy (nearly the same size as Yehoshua) and is constantly melting my heart with the cute things he says. Eliyahu is in kindergarten (homeschooled) and loves drawing, starfall.com, puzzles, games, cooking, riding his bicycle, Legos/Duplos and RC cars. His chores are the same as Yehoshua's. :)
Ruth just turned 4 and is our sweet smiley sunshine girl. Ruth loves doing preschool work (at home), dolls, coloring, stuffed animals, Boggle Jr., babies, the color pink, Hello Kitty, her quilt, organizing things, and anything "baby" or miniature. Ruth's chores are sweeping, cleaning her room, setting the table, and putting away laundry. :)
Moshe just turned 2 years old. He's a cuddly little guy who runs around the house getting into mischief or joining in whatever everyone else is doing. Moshe is starting to talk and his little uh-huhs and thank-yous are heartwarming. He loves his stuffed tiger and orangutan and usually takes a good nap every day.
Moshe is also my early riser, usually by 5am daily! His "chores" are helping to clean up whatever mess he's just made. ;) Moshe loves hanging out with dad, even if it means sitting quietly on dad's lap while reading the news.
And the new baby! We're all getting excited to meet him or her. Late March is the estimated due date, so I've got a good 8 weeks left... which doesn't feel like very long when I start thinking about all the things I'd like to get done before then. :)
...one of which is to be as much help to Joshua as possible! He is recovering well from his first surgery (a brain/nerve surgery for Trigeminal Neuralgia) and getting lots of rest. He still has a headache (surgery was 9 days ago) but the doctors are impressed at his recovery so far. We're so thankful there haven't been any complications at all!
In 2 weeks, Joshua will have a second surgery (involving the inner ear and brain, but for an unrelated condition). So, we'll be having a long stretch here of keeping the house calm/quiet and making sure Joshua gets as much rest as possible. :)
I had no idea Joshua would be off work for 4 months! Is there anything you guys need? Prayers to you all. And you are doing awesome. --Katie
Barring unforeseen complications, Joshua should be able to return to work after 10-12 weeks. We've been blessed with help from family and friends -- and I'm thankful that (despite feeling like a whale much of the time!) I still feel pretty good and am able to keep things running smoothly while Joshua gets better. :)
And, since we've known for a while that these surgeries could become necessary, we've been putting aside anything "extra" to get us through Joshua's time off work. I'm just so thankful that we have insurance and that Joshua can get the medical care he needs! :)
One of my projects recently: making cloth baby wipes! I pulled out my hand-me-down sewing machine and some hand-me-down fabric and made some really affordable baby wipes (I bought thread only!).
I'm not an experienced seamstress by any means, but baby wipes are simple and fun and something I am constantly using... now I have some soft new ones for the new baby. ;)
What kind or brand of covers do you use for your CD prefolds?
I really like the Dappi brand nylon pull-on covers. (That link is to the best price I've found for them. I've ordered a couple times.) They're affordable, last a long time, are soft and comfy, and are quick to pull on. :)
I also have a few knitted wool soakers, which I LOVE, but only use when my baby is "predictable" enough to not need to wash them. ;) They're great for overnight wet diapers... SO nice!
And, I have a few miscellaneous covers (Thirsties, Bummis, and Flip) that were given to me. They all work well; Bummis are probably my favorite brand for wrap-style covers (that I've tried).
I like having wrap-style covers for younger babies; at Moshe's age now (2), the pull-on Dappis are my favorite. :) Actually -- I just really like having some variety, because sometimes different things work best depending on the baby/age! :)