Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday Savers

This is all about those tips and tricks that you have acquired through your life that save you time, money or sanity.

My savers for today are money-related:

1. Shop sales. I love a good sale and will stock up when things are at rock-bottom prices. The key thing is to only by it if you actually need it and will use it. Some of my favorite items to stock up on are school/office supplies in the month before school starts. Boxes of crayons for 20 cents, rulers for a quarter, flue sticks or bottles for 20 centers, a package of pencils for a dollar, notebooks for a dime apiece, things like that. I just love it all.

2. Shop used stores. I love buying excellent quality clothing and furniture, kids' gear and toys or books from secondhand stores. We have a few kid-specific stores here. I can often find very inexpensive clothing for my kids at these stores. Often, I can even find brand names, which don't really matter to me or my kids, but they do have a better resale value than other brands for when my kids outgrow them.

3. Shop used stores' sales. My husband likes to joke that I'm so cheap that I won't even pay regular used store prices. But it's true! If I can, I wait for the used stores to have sales. One of my favorites is a locally owned store that is also run by the woman who owns it. Twice a year, (generally the last week of June and January) she has a HUGE sale. Usually the discount is something like 10% off on Monday, 20% off on Tuesday, so on and so forth until Saturday when the discount is 60% off (if not more). She is closed on Sundays, which is another quality I like. The sale in June is all spring and summer clothing (and really, its the perfect time for it because it's just beginning to get consistently warm enough for it) and in January, it is fall and winter apparel that is on sale. She even has a regular discount program and you get 20% off your entire purchase with all the stamps on a card filled. She even lets you use this on top of the clearance sale. Very nice!

Okay, those are my three tips for the day. Hope that helps you out some. Tell me what your "savers" are by signing the MckLinky below. Be sure to link to your individual post and not your main page to make it easy for others to find your post. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tackle It Tuesday

This week's tackle was a big one! We rearranged our family room to make it more conducive to use for the purposes we intend for it. Our family room is a longer, semi-narrow room, that we use for so many different things.

It is where our family computer is located. It is where the boys do homework and other side lessons. It is where the kids read books and watch movies. It is also our family's main entrance into our house. (Only guests and service people use the front door) So many uses, yet this is the room that also sees the biggest amount of clutter and disorganization. So I had to change that.

First step was to move van seats out of the room (they are supposed to go out to the garage, but it was raining so Hubby put them in our unused playroom) and then clear off the deep freeze and move that into the place previously occupied by the van seats. This serves a couple of good purposes which you can read about here.

The second step was to clean out the area where the deep freeze had been. Once that was done, we decided to move the Bigs' desks down here. The boys don't use the desks in their room and just allow them to be catch-all surfaces in their rooms. So, to alleviate that, the desks were moved. You can read about our desk organization process here.

Then it was just a matter of fully cleaning the room. Picking up and discarding trash and clutter that had accumulated around the room. We keep a big can for soda cans next to the computer desk because Hubby likes soda. A lot. And he drinks it mostly at the desk. So, to make it easiest for him to dispose of his cans and not let them all pile up on the desk, we placed this can nearby. It sometimes work. The ratio of it working vs. not working is much better than the ratio when it was up in the kitchen, so progress at least, right?

We also moved my desk down from our bedroom. My laptop will be working again this week so I have my desk down here as a place to use it and store it. Plus, it will also be a good place to keep track of all of our monthly things that need to be kept track of. Household management and all that.

So now our family room has been tackled. It still needs a good honest cleaning, but it's decluttered and organized, so now all that is left to tackle is the actual cleaning (vacuuming, dusting, windows, glass, carpet cleaning, wiping down walls, etc.) Yay! :)

Monday, October 19, 2009


Last weekend, I got really sick suddenly on Friday night. Fever, cough, headache, etc. But my cough made me think it was more like bronchitis than anything else. I called the doctor who was on-call for our office. He called in a prescription for me.

Saturday night, I was getting worse and was also having trouble breathing. I called the doctor back again and this time he said to go in to the emergency room, so we went in. Hubby took me in and my mom stayed with the kiddos.

They did numerous tests (I don't quite remember it all because they gave me a dose of Tylenol - yeah, I am super sensitive to medication) but I do remember the H1N1 test. Ouch and yuck! The test came back negative. The doctor said that the test has a high false negative rate (about 40% of all negative test results are false) and that I had the classic symptoms of the H1N1 flu, so he told me to discontinue the medicine prescribed the previous day and to take the Tamiflu he prescribed instead. So, I did and I'm still not feeling 100% but I am definitely feeling much better than I was.

Fast forward to last Monday night. Boy B started having the same symptoms. We decided that we would keep him home from school the next day. We also made him a doctor's appointment because he ends up with severe respiratory infections and this was the second time this school year that he has had something like this. His ped tested him for H1N1 and sure enough, it was positive. Our ped gave him a prescription for a steroid to help his lungs but no Tamiflu because its not really effective in children.

Boy B started to get over it (to the extent that last night, he came up to me and said, "Mom, I think I lost the flu.") and then by Wednesday, Boy A started showing signs and symptoms as well. So, home he stayed from school for the rest of the week as well. Both are on the mend now.

Another fast forward to Sunday morning. Boy C woke up at 2am and Boy A woke up around 3am. I had my route to do and Hubby hadn't been asleep for very long, so I decided to have the boys go with me. Boys A and B like to go along and do the actual running of the papers if they are up in time for it (not very often are they up at that hour though). But I figured that on Sunday morning, Boys A and C could ride along with me. That way, they would both be supervised and Hubby could continue to sleep. We got home afterwards and Boy C slept from 7am until 9am. Not a very long nap considering he was up most of the night.

All of the kids laid down for naps in the afternoon (Boys A and B are getting over being ill, Girlie is just starting to show signs of it and Boy C appears to have scathed by untouched by it all). Hubby was in charge of naps and he let them all fall asleep late and therefore, sleep late. I ended up waking them all up at 5:00pm. Boy A came down to the family room and ended up falling back asleep on the floor. Boy B stayed awake coloring and Girlie watched a movie. Boy C went to the living room and laid down on the floor up there and fell asleep. It was the same thing that Boy A did so I figured it was related to their non-sleep the night before.

Next thing I know, Hubby is freaking out that and yelling that Boy C is seizing. He rushes up the stairs and before I can tell him not to, he has Boy C in his arms. I take Boy C from him, bring him down to the family room and tell Hubby to call the doctor's office, or rather, the nurse line that answers for them. He is placed on hold immediately - it doesn't even go to a person before it goes to hold. So Hubby is on hold on the phone and I'm sitting with Boy C and making sure he is on his side while he seizes, etc. Meanwhile, our other kids are gathered around, worried about their baby brother.

I tell Hubby that the nurse line is taking too long and tell him to call the hospital ER instead. He calls them and we switch places. I talk to the registrar (though I wish I would have talked to the triage nurse instead) and she said in a very ho-hum way "if you want to bring him in, go ahead" (more on her later, ugh!)

Hubby tells Boy A to go get Boy C some clothes (he had taken his nap in just a diaper) so Boy A goes and gets some footed sleeper jammies for Boy C and we dress him once he stops seizing. At this point, Boy C is back to newborn-like muscle control. His head is too heavy for his body, he is just limp, and unable to help dress himself or even sit up.

Once dressed, I head out the door with him and we go straight to the ER. When I get there, the lovely and caring registrar is sitting at the desk. "I can't help you right now," she informs me, "I'm stuck on something." She was on the phone about a patient, I could tell and I wasn't sure what else to do, so I stepped back to allow for a bit of privacy (you know, HIPPA and all) until one of the other registrars calls to me and has me come back. We go back and I explain what we are there for. The triage nurse (a really wonderful male nurse with fabulous patient care!) comes up before we even have the papers signed and asks me if this is the child with the seizure. I tell him it is and he ushers me back to the triage room. He takes a quick set of vitals (including a temp of 102.6) and health history and then checks on room availability. He says that if we wait for the paperwork and armband to catch up with us and we walk real slow, we could time it just right, because the room was just being cleaned. He checks on the paperwork and the armband and has us wait in the triage room.

We get Boy C's sheet of stickies (the labels that they use on anything that pertains to his visit tonight) and head off to the room, without the paperwork or the armband. We go in and get situated and the nurse comes in and talks with me and does a quick check of the boy. She asks if I had given him anything for his temp and I said no, because he hadn't had a temp all day and other than the odd sleeping hours, he was acting just fine all day, right up to the point when he started to seize. She said that most likely he had been fine and then spiked a sudden fever which caused the seizure. Okay, cool, I can handle that. Febrile seizure, no big deal. But then they want to know why he had a sudden spike of fever and they decide to test for the H1N1 flu of course. Hubby comes in and joins us at some point during this, but I can't remember when exactly. Anyhow, the nurse goes to get the swabs and comes back with an assistant to help hold Boy C down so she can do the test. It's a quick process which is good because it is one of the most unpleasant experiences ever. Anytime someone has to forcibly stick something up your nose is the makings of a bad day (or night) in my opinion.

She takes the test out and lets us know that they will also do an x-ray to rule out pneumonia, which I guess is a fairly common side effect of H1N1. Then the doctor comes in and talks to me and tells me what they are going to do (or have already done) and then he's gone. I think it was at that point, that registrar came in and finally gave us Boy C's armband. She was totally rude and I'm glad that the whole experience was not based on just her manner. (I also didn't find out until later on when we were leaving that when Hubby got there, the good registrar had caught him and had him sign papers for consent to treat, etc.)

So we go to x-ray and a tech and I hold Boy C in position for one straight-on chest x-ray and one side-view chest x-ray. I am not a big fan of x-rays in general. My father-in-law is a radiologist and he can back me on this one. But when the benefit outweighs the risk, it's worth it.

We get back to the room and the doctor comes back in and informs us the test is positive, and that he will be starting Boy C on Tamiflu to treat it and is ready to head out the door. But I stop him and question his use of Tamiflu. He said that because of Boy C's seizure and the severity of his symptom onset, it was best in his opinion to prescribe the medicine. He also said that if the symptoms had not been so severe and so quickly onset, he wouldn't prescribe it. I accepted that as a good response. I don't like doctors to just throw a prescription at a set of symptoms and even when given prescriptions, we are very cautious about giving them.

By the time we get home, Boy C is almost back to himself. He is still acting very much like a baby and would just lay wherever he was placed. Oh - and one other odd thing that happened while we were at the seemed like Boy C was trying to nurse. I was holding him and he started to do the rooting motions and when he was close, he opened his mouth and started licking my shirt. I kept repositioning him but he kept trying it, so I ended up laying him down and just rubbing his tummy or forehead or his arm instead. It was so odd - he's 24 1/2 months old and hasn't nursed since he was about 10 months old. I don't know what prompted that tonight, but Hubby and I both found it incredibly odd and plan to ask his ped about it later on.

So that was our experience this past week. Hoping that Boy C gets over it all fairly quickly and that Girlie will get it and get it over with as well so that we can all get back to normal again. Ahhhhhh!

Yoplait Giveaway

While blog-surfing, I came across this blog Confessions of A Psychotic Housewife which I got drawn in by the name alone.

While browsing through her blog posts, I came across this one which is a giveaway for a Yoplait YoPlus Yogurt Package. It has a lot of cool things in it. You should head over there and check it out!

And definitely read what she has to say about Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Awareness! And thanks to Yoplait for your continuous support of research and awareness for this disease that affects so many women!

Not Me!

There is a blog carnival that I had never heard of before at a blog that I had never heard of before either. This weekend I once again ran across this blog "Feels Like Chaos" and that blog had a post and a link to this blog "MckMama" which hosts "Not Me Monday" each week, which sounded like quite a bit of fun, so here I joining in. Hmmm, a few things from last week that my kids and I surely did NOT do:

1. Boy A did NOT wake up at 3:30 on Sunday morning and since he was already up, I did NOT suggest that he give me a hand with newspapers. And while doing so, he did NOT deliver each and every newspaper (with full supervision of course!) on my route for a point equivalent of a penny per paper.

2. Boys A and B did NOT begin rearranging furniture in our house at 6:30 on Sunday morning either. And I did NOT just sit there and watch them do it.

3. Girlie did NOT sleep in a recliner almost every night last week. And of course, I did NOT just let her stay there since she would have been so adorable sleeping there like that.

4. My kids did NOT play in a pile of clean laundry last Friday, which did NOT in turn prompt me to need to rewash half of it. And I did NOT in turn get upset with them, since I have endless patience and I so enjoy doing laundry.

5. Hubby and I did NOT have childcare arranged for Friday night so we could go grocery shopping without the kiddos and then sneak dinner at a restaurant into our trip. Surely we would not have done that!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

It has been awhile since I have done Menu Plan Monday, hosted by Org Junkie so I figure that its time to join in again. Following is the week's plan for our dinners.

Monday Homemade pizza
Tuesday Grilled chicken and steamed summer veggies
Wednesday Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
Thursday Hubby's super yummy chili
Friday Burritos
Saturday Leftovers I think...

The big kids eat breakfast at school and the days that I have obligations outside of the home, my mother-in-law feeds the Littles breakfast at her house. This is a busy week so I don't think I'll have any breakfast prep at all.

Same thing with lunches. The Bigs will have lunch at school, the Littles will have lunch at my mother-in-law's house, so it's just myself and Hubby to plan lunches for. And honestly, we will probably either have leftovers from the previous night or else a quick salad.

That's our super simple plan for this week's meals. Head on over to Org Junkie's blog to join in for Menu Plan Monday.

Organize Your Work Area: The Homework Edition

Next up is my kids' homework area. They originally had their desks in their room, but we were having a few issues with that. The biggest ones being that the boys generally do their homework in the family room anyhow, they were hoarding supplies which their sister would end up getting into and they just collected miscellaneous items in and on their desks.

So after moving the deep freeze from one area of the room to another (which you can read about here) we had a sizable open area that I had to fill up that I knew would work perfectly for their desks.

I talked to the boys about it and they agreed that moving the desks to the family room would work the best so that was our next step.

Once the desks were in place, I decided to also organize their workspace. They each have three deeper drawers on the left side of their desks and one long shallow drawer over their lap. The long shallow drawer holds their pencil, eraser, pencil sharpener, ruler, pair of safety scissors, glue stick or bottle, package of crayons and a highlighter. The top drawer on the side holds lined paper, the second drawer holds blank printer paper that they use to color on an the bottom drawer holds their finished art projects. On the wall over their desks is their daily chore list and expectation sheet.

When they come home from school, they are to hang their backpacks on the back of their chairs, take their homework out and begin working on it. When they are done, they are to put their homework in their folders, put it in their bags and check their list for what to do next.

This process allows them the opportunity to take responsibility for their own homework assignments. If they use the process that has been set up, they won't have to scramble looking for lost or forgotten assignments or try to find their backpack at the last moment in the morning, which we have faced in the past. We have even allowed them to go on to school without their backpacks and/or homework and allowed the natural consequence of that to take place (while at the same time, having explained to the teacher what was going on - a lesson in person responsibility).

So anyhow, that is our homework set-up. Hope that it may help someone else or spawn other ideas. Share the set-up you have for your kids below. Remember to link to your individual post and not to the main page of your blog to make it easier to find.

Organize Your Work Area: The Newspaper Edition

There are a number of ways to organize different work areas. Today the focus is on my newspaper prep area.

A short while ago, I decided to take on an early morning paper route. I am an early riser or a night owl, depending on the day so this works really well for me.

It also forces me to get some exercise as well. Since it is done in the middle of the night, no one can see me, dripping sweat and looking rather scuzzy.

So anyhow, the papers are dropped off at my door (how convenient is that?!) and I bring them inside to insert the ads, count them up and then either bag or band the papers. It took me about a week to find a workable solution that did not involve straining my muscles and making them cramp up.

There is also a fair amount of paperwork involved in the process, which also needs to be kept well organized.

So this is what I did:

I took an area that was being mis-utilized in our family room, near the door where the papers are dropped off. I had Hubby move two van seats and a huge amount of clutter that had stacked up on top of the seats and dealt with it, leaving me an empty floor area.

I then moved our deep freeze into that spot. The freezer was already in the room, but in a different location and having it in this spot now is much more functional and aesthetically pleasing. It is also the perfect work height for me to do what I need to do.

On the wall above the freezer, I hung an unused over-the-door-organizer that I got at Target a few years ago. There is a basket above and seven (coat) hooks below. There are also seven (hat or scarf) hook type things as well, but I don't use those individual hooks.

In my basket, I store my paperwork in file folders: my route list, my contracts, my financial information, any paperwork that has to do with this job.

I also use six of the seven (coat) hooks for needed supplies. The first hook has the bags that I use for one publication. I deliver five, so it's very important that I keep the things that belong to each publication straight. The next hook is used to store the HUGE rubber bands that my papers come in. My hauler has to pay for these and while they don't cost much, I still try to save them for him so that it will save him a little bit of money as well. Plus, its reusing the bands which I also like. The next hook holds my bag of daily rubber bands. I can use these on all but one of the publications. The next hook is the bags for the main paper that I deliver. The hook that follows is for my Sunday rubber bands. Then there is an unused hook and then last, a third set of bags that I use for three publications. These bags are primarily for use for the one publication that is not to be banded, but I can (and do) also use these bags for two other publications that I deliver.

In the morning, when I get my papers, I bring them inside, look through the paperwork. I count up my papers, taking note of any changes to the delivery list for that day. I flip my papers over (inserting ads and folding/rolling the papers are so much easier from the "wrong" side) then I either bag or band the papers, drop it in my tote and move on to the next paper.

It has saved me so much time and has also saved my muscles an incredible amount. I can get through my stack of 40 papers in about 10-20 minutes and be on my way.

I love my set-up! It just makes it all so easy! How do you have your own work area set up? It may be your out-of-home office, your home office, whatever. Share with us. Click below to add your post to the list. And remember to link to your individual post and not to the main page of your blog so that it's easier for others to find it.

So anyhow, that is our homework set-up. Hope that it may help someone else or spawn other ideas. Share the set-up you have for your kids below. Remember to link to your individual post and not to the main page of your blog to make it easier to find.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Finish It Friday - Fridge Clean Out many things to finish today, but because of the way appointments were set up today, not much actually got finished. I had an 8:00am dentist appointment that I decided to cancel, since our older boys stayed the night at Grandma M's house last night and I was able to sleep in. (I did cancel prior to the appointment time though!) We had an 11:00 teaching appointment for Boy C, as we cancelled his usual Tuesday morning teaching session earlier this week. And then I had a 12:30 appointment clear across town that lasted about an hour. Then went to my mom's house and picked her up so she could come over and watch the little kids and be here when the big kids got home from school. Hubby and I went to Red Robin to use our $20.00 credit on our loyalty card, then we went grocery shopping. Maybe that's what I finished up today - grocery shopping (and the typical clean-out-the-fridge-so-I-can-put-the-new-groceries-away routine that immediately follows shopping). I took my mom back home and Boy B went with her as well. We had friends over for cards after dinner and it was a lot of fun overall! I also tackled a huge pile of dishes that have piled up this week. Yuck! Not planning on that one happening again!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Time For Me Thursday - Going Out

First off, HAPPY SECOND BIRTHDAY to Boy C!!!

Well, we have been working hard in the garage and in the house, both. Tonight, we are taking time off from both of them. We have plans to go out with a friend and just have a great time! We're both going someplace that we have never been to before and we're really looking forward to it. Our friend is an old veteran there, though.

So, that is what I'm doing for me today. Oh, that and I slept in this morning. Yay me! :) Woot!