Lots of pictures!
First Christmas Eve
To be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with Shutterfly. I LOVE pictures and I LOVE products made out of pictures. Shipping cost is the problem with Shutterfly. I should not have to paid $7.99 shipping for a book that cost me $15.99 to make. I knew I wanted to get a couple of books made, a couple of calendars and of course some prints made from our family photo session last week. So off to Shutterfly I go. I am so excited and pleased that I was able to get free shipping! The code is SHIP49. I also had a “free” book code from Coke rewards that I had stored on the account. Their current sale of half off books also made this a much better deal. I was able to purchase a total of 3 books, 8×8 size, and 2 11×14 prints and 1 8×10 print for a total including shipping of $53! Two of the books were of this handsome guy!And the third was a book of the best pictures of our family session. Including this one
I am hopeful to be able to get a couple of calendars made in the next couple of weeks!
This past Saturday prior to the huge, historical, massive snow storm we had family pictures done. I scheduled these several weeks ago. Here are some of the tips I have learned and a peek at some of the pictures.
#1 I have learned over the years that we need to have these done at home or someone’s house we know to save stress and headache. We had an awesome photographer who was as happy as we were to do pictures inside and outside the house.
#2 Prepare food that can be eaten the entire time, no one makes good pictures when you are hungry.#3 Coordinating outfits make awesome pictures. I was luck enough to find us all coordination outfits at Old Navy this year. Unfortunately, Zach decided he did not like the “feel” of his matching shirt but I also had matching ties for him and Braxton which he liked better.
#4 Some times you need causal pictures just to keep it real
#5 Christmas pajamas are a must
#6 Babies make awesome pictures when they are asleep
#7 Black and white pictures make me look better
And finally this is my absolute favorite picture so far
I have been debating even writing this post for several days. November was a month that was busy, frightening and unforgettable but I also want to stay true to myself and have documented some of the reasons that things happen. First we decided to take a trip to Michigan to visit over Thanksgiving. I am a planner and two weeks is never enough time to plan a 7 day trip. But this Amanda was sick and the two weeks turned into 3 days. I spent 5 solid days at the hospital with her and ended up eating several meals just to make the days go faster. I don’t regret spending the time at the hospital and would do it again if needed but it made the month really short. I don’t even think I have actual numbers this month but best guess has to work for now.
Financial- I did fairly well for our trip expenses and I still plan to write a blog post about that. I did end up spending money on more new clothes and shoes. The good news is that we paid all our bills and we have no real needs.
Grocery budget $500- I did end up staying under this amount I am positive. However I am going to guess that I spent around $200 this month on groceries. I am going to plan a HUGE grocery trip at the end of December but the goal is to stay well under $100 prior to that.
Gas- Our trip to Michigan cost us 7 tanks of gas for around $250. I have absolutely no idea what else was spent in gas for the month except $15 on parking for the hospital.
Kid/Summer expenses: Kendall gymnastics $60 was the only required spending for the month but I am thinking I also paid $20 on a fieldtrip.
Earned $100- I have gift cards left for Christmas and we used $70 for trip expenses .
Blogging-5 for the month. I had many things to think about an little time to blog this month.
Exercise- Zero… no explanation.
The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and changes that I could had no way to prepare and plan for.
First, Matt’s stepmother, fell and broke her hip. After some discussion and thought, we decided that we needed to travel to Michigan over Thanksgiving. In fact, we are currently in a hotel in Claire Michigan. My goal is to get a post over the next day or so that gives some ideas on ways to save on last minute traveling.
Next, Amanda, my oldest daughter, has spent 5 days in Cardiac ICU and 5 days in an regular hospital room. She developed a complication from pregnancy that caused her heart to fail, which in turned caused several blood clots in both lungs and one in her heart. The first days of this episode, were the most scary thing I have ever experienced. I stayed with her for almost a solid week. We are all thankful and blessed that she is home, and expected to make a full recovery. The recovery will be slow but still is expected to be full. It was a tough decision for us to leave her and come to Michigan but it was the right one for us. Amanda was very supportive of this.
Luckily, I have purchased most of our Christmas gift, and did not plan to spend much time shopping over Thanksgiving. We had a menu plan in place and Matt was able to stick to it and keep things functioning at home, while I focused on Amanda. This trip although short planned and much debated, has given me some time to sit, relax and catch up on some sleep, which I would not have completed at home.
This is the short explanation of the last couple of weeks. I am praising God for walking beside me and carrying me!
Did I mention I am sick? So it is off to bed I go!
Fair Warning- Picture or Kid overload depending on how you want to look at it!
The kids start back to school on Monday, so we wanted to make today fun and relaxing! One of the ways to have fun that is usually not crazy expensive is community days. Our community day was “Big Toy Day”. This event was held at the small county airport. Cost was $5 for everyone over 10. Matt was working so it was $10 for Lily and I. Amanda and David met us but they covered their own cost!
The highlight of the day for everyone was the airplane ride. This was free for children between the ages of 8-17. All three of the kids got to ride in the same small plane.
Also present was a variety of different trucks, airplanes, equipment and race cars.
Everything was free except for food. Kendall and Zach enjoyed a turn in the bouncy a house.
I ended up purchasing 3 waters, 1 diet coke, two hot dogs and chips for a total of $7. The kids had taken their own chore money. Kendall bought a soda with caffeine, and a small shaved ice ($4), Lily a large shaved ice ($5) and Zach a soda with caffeine.
After eating, we headed home to meet Matt and head to the pool for a relaxing couple of hours. I packed a cooler and our pool dues are paid yearly so total cost for the afternoon was $0.
In some ways, I wish that summer would not end!
Shopping pictures from our beach trip
One of the biggest changes or should I say most difficult change for me, is going to be that I am responsible for dinner most days of the week. Both Matt and I will be working until around 4:30pm each day. I know myself and realize that if I don’t have something that is already complete in the crockpot or can be placed in the oven with five minutes or less of prep than I will want to eat out. But really after working all day who does want to cook? With this in mind, I spent most of my day today working on meal preparation. I know there are a couple of people who wander what and how so I am going to provide probably too many details.
First up was left-over chicken and pasta from the beach. This was an excellent meal made by Amanda but we had leftovers especially chicken breast. I shredded 1/4 of the chicken breast, mixed in about half a block of cream cheese together with the left-over pasta and this was our lunch today. I shredded the rest of the chicken breast, added a bag of frozen vegetables, cut up a potato, 2 cans of cream of chicken soup mixed with a cup of chicken broth and pour on top. Kendall wrote a index card with the directions for the topping and in the freezer it went.
I purchased a 10 pound bag of chicken breast from Costco that I pulled out next. I used my insta pot to cook approximately 4 pounds, really as full as it would go. Next, the kitchen aid shredded the chicken. I was able to make 2 containers of Chicken Broccoli Casserole . I have learned that I needed to chop up the broccoli in order to make everyone happy. I also made 2 batches of Chicken Enchiladas- I don’t add the salsa or cheese on top before freezing. Finally made a regular Chicken Pie. Kendall added a card with instructions. I also labeled both the top and side with what each thing was. I added about another 3 pounds of chicken breast to the instapot and cut this is cubes for Chicken Fried Rice. ( I will try and add the recipe for this soon). I left 6 breast in the bag and added a bottle of Italian dressing. This will marinate for 3 or 4 days and become awesome grilled chicken. That is a total of 8 meals from one bag of chicken and 9 meals prepped for the day.
We, Matt and I did an inventory last night and we have 2 meals of cowboy beans, a meal of taco soup, several meals of Salisbury steak, taco meat and sloopy joes all prepared. Matt is also excited to find 10 more frozen burritos.
Taco meat is easy, brown 5 pounds of hamburger dump in crock pot along with water and seasoning, cook on low for 3-4 hours. We divide ours into 1# bags for either tacos or nachos.
Sloppy joes are similar with 5 pounds of browned hamburger, this also cooks in the crook pot for several hours. These are also packed in 1# bags, which feeds the 6 or 7 of us easily.
We also have lots of beef from the cow we purchased. I do want to make some easy breakfast this week but am starting to feel more comfortable with our meals. The last stage will be writing out a meal plan for the month some time this week.