Monday, July 23, 2012

Full Time Working Mom Schedule

I am blessed to have a job.
I am fortunate I love my job.
I am lucky to be able to leave my work at my job so I can devote time away from work to my family.

But I am busy.  Boy, oh boy, am I busy!  Here's an idea of a typical day.  From 5:45 in the morning until 11:00 at night, here's what I do:

Wake up, get showered, dressed, & ready for work.  Get Logan up, dressed, fed, and ready for preschool.
Drop Logan off at school, then go in to work.  Work until 4:30, then get Logan from school and head home.
Pick up Savannah from home, & take both kids to get their allergy shots.  Endure being pummeled by Logan for making him get shots.
Come home.  Exercise.  Shower.
Put in a load of laundry.
Fix dinner.  Clean up dinner (sometimes.  Most nights I have the kids clean up if they didn't help me cook.  It's a house rule.).
Play a game with Logan.
Finish laundry.
Get dinner ready for the next day (i.e. thaw out meat, make Jell-O, marinate meat, etc.).
Get Logan in & out of the shower.  Brush his teeth.  Read him a book (or two).  Put him to bed.
By this time it's around 9:00. 
Time for me to do some picking up around the house.  Then I do envelope stuffing and data entry jobs for my dad.  Occasionally I'll fit a blog entry into the mix.
Around 10:30 I'm wiped out.  I'll relax with a magazine and doze off around 11:00.

And you know what?  As much as I love my children and my husband and my life, I always feel like I'm not doing everything just right.  I'm not giving them the attention they deserve.

How do you do it?  How do you balance a full day at work with time with the family, yet fit in cleaning the house and fixing meals?  Please enlighten me.  I'm still working on it all!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Preschool to Kindergarten Transition

My little guy is getting ready to go to kindergarten.  He's ready.  His preschool teacher says he's ready.  The kindergarten intake teacher says he's ready.  I'm not sure I'm ready.  "He's just a baby," I keep telling people.  I know it's not true, but he's my baby!

So I enrolled him in the before-school program at his school on Tuesday.  This means:
  • He will be dropped off at school before school starts in the morning, and will ride the bus home (providing I can race home from work and beat him to the bus stop).
  • I will need to reconfigure our budget.  This is not a bad thing.  The before-school program is less than half of what we're currently paying for preschool.  Here's to paying off one more (last!) debt.
  • His last day of preschool is coming up in less than a month.  The farewells to his teachers and staff who have been there for him since he started going there at 6 weeks of age will be terribly sad.
Logan with his dad at preschool graduation

My question for you: what do you suggest giving to his teachers and staff as good-bye presents?  We were so blessed to find this day care & preschool.  They have loved my son beyond belief.  They have played with him, taught him, and shown him how to play well with others.  Their rates are very fair and the memories are fond.  So what do I do (knowing that we are still on a budget, but truly love this place) to show my appreciation to this preschool for 5 years of wonderfulness?


I just wanted to let you in on some freebies I came across.  
Hurry and get them before they're all gone!

Free Customizable Greeting Card from CardStore - have it shipped to you to make it totally free!  Use promo code CAJ2719 when you checkout to bring your total to $0.00 .

Do you - or does someone in your family wear contacts?  BioTru is giving away samples of their contact solution.  Give it a try!

Do you like Splenda?  Try Splenda Nectresse for free!

I received a free sample of Lipton Tea & Honey.  It's by my coffee maker at home.  I think I'll try it this weekend.  Get your free sample here.

Garnier Fructis is offering samples of its Fall Flight shampoo & conditioner.  Sign up for one!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Planning Our Menu - Week of July 16-20

Don't you love how I post my weekly menu in the middle of the week? Let's just pretend it's my way of giving you a half a week head start on your menu planning for NEXT week. I'm giving you time to shop this week's deals to prepare for next week's meals.  Okay?   You're welcome.

Monday: Pork chops. I had some frozen from the last sale, so I thawed them out. I also had frozen a package of Kraft Fresh Takes (you know, the bags of cheese & seasoned bread crumbs. You put individual pieces of meat in the bag, shake it around, and bake it) that I used for the pork chops.  Salad.  Garlic bread.  (I think Meijer has pork on sale for $1.79/lb.  Get some!  Have them slice it.  Then freeze it.  I typically get 3 meals out of a $10 roast.)

Tuesday: Breakfast.  I took some of the turkey bacon (that I got on sale at Walgreens with a coupon for 44¢ last week) out of the freezer and cooked that up.  Added a couple omelets (I got medium sized eggs at Kroger for 88¢ and used 5 of those.  It was just the little guy and me eating last night.) and some "homemade" biscuits made from Bisquick and milk (have you ever tried those?  The biscuits were tasty, flaky, and amazing!).

Wednesday: Grilled chicken.  I pulled a package of four chicken breasts out of the freezer last night and have them marinading today (since I've already used all my Lawry's marinade, I made my own concoction: teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, pepper, and garlic).  I'll steam a little squash with parmesan cheese (squash complements of my mom's and dad's gardens), and also have some mashed potatoes.

Thursday: Ravioli with homemade sauce (more from the freezer - that I made in a sudden I-can't-believe-I-don't-have-any-spaghetti-sauce-on-hand moment).  Salad.  King's Hawaiian Rolls (I acquired these as part of a phenomenal deal I got on Wholly Guacamole, King's Hawaiian Rolls, and ground beef.)

Friday: Sea Cuisine salmon & tilapia.  Kroger had a Buy One Get One Free deal on these a couple weeks ago and I used two printable coupons.  Got 4 filets (2 per package, already seasoned) for about $7.  It's more than I typically like to pay for a meal, but I love the flavor of these, and I feel so good after I've eaten fish.  I'll add a bit of rice to this, and also make some Jell-O.  Voila!

Remember - you can download my printable weekly meal planner here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Coupon Giveaways

I have been receiving all sorts of products to sample and spread the word about.  Along with those products, I receive coupons to share with YOU!  I'd love to mail you coupons; just fill out the form below to request yours (quantities limited).

I have been trying out Brew Over Ice K-Cups (I'm loving the sweet tea ones.  A packet of splenda, a cup of ice, and one of the Brew Over Ice K-Cups and I'm set!  It brews a big, cool cup of iced tea perfectly!  I also love the half lemonade/half sweet tea, iced hazelnut coffee, and iced coffee blends.)

I tried the Kroger frozen pizza, tortilla cupz, vitamin water & frozen fruit bars (lemonade fruit bars are to die for!) with the family on a family movie night, and they were ALL a hit.  An entire meal that EVERYONE loves, on a tight budget?  That's for me!

I've already posted about Lawry's. It's a new staple in my house.  AND I've used the Seasoned Salt for scrambled eggs, on pasta, and while grilling chicken thighs.  You can't go wrong!

My kids devoured the Motts fruit snacks I got to try out.  We went on vacation, and the fruit snacks were gone long before they even tapped into the cookies.  Another winner.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Don't Miss These Deals!

Being frugal is part of my lifestyle.  It started out as a necessity a few years ago, and from then grew to more of a passion.  I like love need to save money.  I guess that makes it more of an obsession...

Anyway, I know the week is drawing to a close, but I wanted to share some of what I found as "have to have" deals this week, at least in my neck of the woods.  

In preparing for back-to-school, I'm already scouring the sales ads on Sunday for the best prices and promotions.  Usually Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, and all the drug stores will offer incentives to get you in their stores.  This week, Staples caught my attention.  Here are some of their best deals this week:
  • Staples Glue 1¢ (limit 2 with $5 purchase)
  • Bic round stic ballpoint pens, black, 8 pk. 1¢ (limit 2 with $5 purchase)
  • Rose Art crayons, 24 pk. 1¢ (limit 2 with $5 purchase)
  • Scotch super glue gel 4 pk. $4.29 - $1.30 instant store savings - $2.99 easy rebate (can submit online!) = free (limit 1)
  • Paper Mate sharpwrite .7 mm mechanical pencils 25¢
  • Staples 8.5 x 11 multipurpose paper, 500 sheets $6.99 - $6.74 easy rebate (can submit online!) = 25¢ each (limit 2)
  • Bic great erase dry erase markers, fine tip, assorted 4 pack 50¢
  • Staples glue sticks, 4 pack $1
  • Also, in their ad is a coupon for $5 off a $30 purchase.  So I added a couple more things (a nylon pencil pouch, on my son's school supply list, along with a dry erase lined marker board for him, and a pink gel pen for me) to get up to the $30 mark, and used the coupon to bring my order down to around $26.  THEN, I also get back $9.53 in rebates, making my total for all these things around $17.  "That was easy."

Other deals:
  • Kroger has their Top Flight spiral notebooks on sale for 19¢ each (limit 10), and their Crayola crayons 24 pk. for 39¢ (limit 10)
  • Ivory soap is on sale at Walgreens for 99¢  Use the $1 coupon from the most recent Procter & Gamble coupon insert to get FREE Ivory bar soap.
  • Bayer aspirin is always a good price at WalMart.  Use the recent $3 coupon to get many varieties of Bayer aspirin (including children's) free.
  • Zest body wash is on sale at Rite Aid for $2.99.  You get a $2 +UP (Rite Aid) reward on this, and there was a $1 coupon in this week's coupon inserts, making this free.  (Limit 2)
  • Also at Rite Aid, Powerade is 97¢.  Sign up for Rite Aid Video Values, watch a video here and earn a printable coupon for $1.50 off 2 PowerAde drinks, bringing down your total to 44¢ for 2.
  • At CVS, Purex Crystals are on sale B1G1F (by the way, I love, love, love these!) use 2 $1 Internet printable coupons (from Facebook) and get these 2/$3.  Edit - these were around $7 at my store, so they ended up being 2/$5-ish.  Still a good deal for how much I love them!
Good luck with your shopping this week!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Planning Our Menu - Week of July 2-6

I plan my menus based on a combination of what I have purchased on sale in the past (and are readily available in the house), along with what's on sale this week (extra bonus if I have coupons for the items, which I usually do!).  It makes meal planning a breeze.

This week's menu is fairly simple, and created from items on sale this week (and some items on sale a couple weeks ago):

Monday: Breakfast.  (Walgreen's has eggs and Butterball turkey bacon on sale for 99¢ this week!  Plus there's a coupon for 55¢ off Butterball turkey bacon, so I scored a pack for 44¢).  On the menu: Turkey,  Bacon, egg, and cheese omelets.  Turkey bacon.  Biscuits. Total cost for the meal for everyone: $3.00, and I still have 4 eggs left in the carton!

Tuesday: Salmon (on sale at Kroger for $4.99/lb. this week).  Lima beans.  Rice.  Savannah will be having Yakisoba noodles (which I got free with a 50¢ coupon at Kroger).  She doesn't eat seafood.  Poor girl.  Total cost for the meal for everyone: $7.50.  A little pricey for my tastes, but I consider this a "fancy" meal, considering we're eating something as sophisticated as seafood.

Wednesday: Pork roast (on sale at Meijer a couple weeks ago.  I froze it until today.).   I'll be putting it in the slow cooker with some BBQ sauce for a glorious pile of shredded BBQ pork for 4th of July and loading it onto King's Hawaiian buns (used a $1 coupon to get the pack of buns for $1).  Watermelon.  Ore Ida grilling potatoes (going to pick some up with Kroger's sale + coupon tomorrow morning).  Total cost of this meal will be about $6.50 (assuming we eat 1/3 of the watermelon.  Which I think I could do on my own.)

Thursday: Spaghetti with homemade sauce.  (I wish I could say I made the sauce from scratch because it's healthier, cheaper, and more flavorful (which it kind of is - all of these things), but truth be told, I ran out of sauce last time in the middle of my making pasta, so I had to make some from scratch with what I had on hand.  It made enough to use that night + enough to freeze for a couple more meals.  Salad.  Garlic Bread. Total cost of this meal: for pasta, ingredients for sauce, lettuce & veggies for salad, and bread $5.00 is a safe estimate.

Friday: "The Truly Awesome" frozen pizza (Kroger brand).  Kroger Tortilla Cupz (great for scooping up salsa) and Kroger Frozen Fruit Bars.  (I am doing a Bzz Campaign for these for Family Night.  While hubby is working late, I'll be family-ing it up with the kids and a RedBox movie.  Anyway, Kroger brand food is typically super duper tasty but costs only a fraction of what national brand foods cost.  I'll let you know what we think about all these goodies BzzAgent sent me to try out!)  Total cost for this: FREE!  Even if I add some salsa to the mix, I got the salsa for 25¢ for the jar, so feeding my family for a quarter on Friday night & using a promo code for the RedBox movie?  You betcha!

Remember - you can download my printable weekly meal planner here.