30 Days of Thankfulness Day 3

Me as a baby/toddler

That’s me as a little girl. I think I was near 2 there.  I was really into dresses growing up. I can remember the first time I chose a pair of pants instead of a dress. I was 9 years old, we were living in Augsburg, Germany and it was picture day. My Mom had a pretty dressed out and ready for me to go to school, when I put my foot down and THREW an absolute fit that I didn’t want to wear a dress. I wanted to wear pants. I didn’t have many to choose from because up to that point, I refused to wear them. So, my Mom, who wasn’t successful in getting me to change my mind, let me wear pants. That’s one of the first of many clashes she and I have had. I think that’s a part of the growing pains that both parents and children have to go through. And no matter what kind of grief I gave her, no matter how many times she wanted to throttle me (and I’m CERTAIN there was PLENTY as I was a trying child) she never did. She always stuck by her guns and did what she felt was right for me.

Now I’m not an only child. I do have a younger brother who’s almost 5 years younger.  He presented his own unique issues with her. How she handled the two of us, I’ll never fathom. But she did. And considering how we’ve both turned out, I think she did a smashing job. We’re productive people, we both have children and they are loved and well-behaved. We don’t get wild and crazy.

I won’t go into my Mom’s story here. It’s her story to tell. However, I will say this, considering all things, my Mom has overcome some serious obstacles in her path to where she is. And I’m so happy and proud that she’s my Mom. She’s more than just my mother, she’s my friend. She’s one of the few people I can count on for good advice and she’ll tell me the truth whether or not I like it. She’s been my go to person when it comes to rearing my own son. And he positively adores her. He has to see her every other day at least and he has to talk with her on the phone daily.  I have no idea what I’d do without her.  I don’t think I can ever express just how important she is to me. And no matter the struggles we had in the past, we have such a strong bond and always have had one. So on this day I’m beyond grateful that I have the Mom that I have and she’s positively irreplaceable.

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30 Days of Thankfulness Day 2

Nathan

Nathan looking at me.

My son is a source of great joy in my life. He’s intelligent and zany and makes me giggle. And yes I’m grateful for him every moment of every day, even if I would rather lock myself in the bathroom to escape him. But it isn’t my son that I’m grateful at this moment, but rather his new insurance company.

I’m not going to start a debate on how insurance needs to be run, or who needs to run it. But I’ve not had good dealings with insurance companies. I had one tell me that I wasn’t a female and wouldn’t take care of annual preventive care visits. Talk about how hard it is to PROVE your gender. You’d think it would be simple. They can hear your voice over the phone. They can talk with your HR person (because this was through my job.)

ANYWAYS!…My son’s NEW insurance company! We were recently informed of some changes to our insurance company and that he’d have to be transferred to another company and a few options were given to us (comparable companies and plans, etc) by our old company. We picked one because the plan was almost identical. I received a phone call a couple of weeks ago, asking for a bunch of details about my son’s health. I answered them, expecting no more than this. The next day I received another phone call with a representative wanting to set up a face to face meeting. And yesterday was that meeting…

This lady met with me and we went over some health issues my son has. She said that because of his age and his conditions that he falls into their Managed Care Caseload. Which just means that someone will check on us every now and again to make sure that he’s getting his meds that he needs and that he’s able to get to his appointments with his specialist. And if I need ANY sort of assistance with either of these, to let them know and they’d help me. They have a 24 hour nurse hotline as well as an monthly allowance for common household things like ibuprofen, bandaids and such. To be completely honest, I didn’t think insurance companies would do something like that. And when I mentioned that to the representative yesterday, she smiled and said that her company wants healthy clients and they are proactive in keeping them that way. That is something I’m SO grateful for. 🙂

 

 

30 Days of Thankfulness Day 1

(I’ll be sure to add a photo of my soup tomorrow. I don’t have one tonight, sorry. I’m not nearly as talented at the photoing of things as the lady that I got the recipe from.)

So, I guess what the question should be, “What does cooking have to do with Thankfulness?” Super EASY!

Yesterday was a really cool day, and I made some really awesome soup last night. This is a soup, I’d tried before and it was really good, and so I decided to make it again last night. And when you think of it, something filling and warm on a chilly night is such an amazing feeling, even in these times of plenty. Maybe it is just my great-grandparents and grandparents’ teachings coming through. I’m not sure. But when it starts to cool off outside (as it is this time of year), I always crave soups and coffee and hot tea and hot apple cider.

This recipe I borrowed and slightly (and I do mean EVER so slightly adapted) from Kristen aka The Frugal Girl. (You REALLY should check out her blog. She takes some amazing pictures! She even makes her own yogurt!)

I’ve just recently found my taste for soups. I’m more of a stew or chili kind of gal. Thick and chunky is my style. So my soups reflect that. I’m one of those that adds liquid a little at a time until I get it to the right thickness.  I’d be content to be able to eat my soup with a spork. 🙂

This soup fits the bill perfectly because you can make it as thin or as chunky as you like. It’s a HARDY soup and honestly doesn’t cost much to make. The only thing about this soup is, it is NOT of the fix and forget variety. It does take some vigilance on your part to prevent some scorching, however, the end product is so awesome that it is WELL worth the 30 or so minutes it takes to put it all together. 🙂  So, now for the soup!

Homemade Baked Potato Soup (slightly adapted from The Frugal Girl)

  • 4 large or 5 medium russets, baked and cooled
  • 12 strips of bacon, cooked crispy
  • 1-2 green onions, chopped (including some green parts)
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 6 or so cups of milk (whole milk works best, but can lighten caloric load with lower fat milk)
  • 3/4 tsp salt (I found that I didn’t use as much, but start at 1/2tsp and work your way up)
  • 3/4 tsp white pepper (Again, start at 1/2 tsp and work your way up)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 8oz tub sour cream

(In advance, bake potatoes and fry up bacon and let both cool)

Peel potatoes, if you don’t mind some potato skins, leave some skin on the potatoes.  Mash roughly. I like my soups chunky, so I left some substantial chunks.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat and let melt and add flour. Make a rue until it is a blonde color. Start adding milk slowly, stirring constantly. This is a pretty hairy point. Yes, your flour will clump up somewhat, it’s ok. KEEP STIRRING and stirring a LOT. It’ll eventually smooth out. Keep stirring until it starts to thicken up and get bubbly. (I add around 5 cups of milk to start off with.)

(DO NOT TURN UP HEAT OR WALK AWAY FROM THE POT. IT WILL SCORCH AND GET REALLY NASTY IF YOU DO.)

Add salt and pepper. Stir in potatoes, most of the bacon  and onions and cheese (leave some for topping).  Cook until completely heated through.

Turn down heat to low, make sure it is NOT boiling and add sour cream. It’s finished and ready to eat at this point. ENJOY! 😀

Let me know if you try this! It’s amazing and though you can’t fix and forget, it is still VERY easy to make. 😀

Food Glorious Food….

This past week, I drove to the next county over to try this place out. One of the blogs I check out all the time, RAVES about Aldi. Kristen, aka The Frugal Girl, LOVES Aldi. She shops there all the time, so I thought I’d check it out and see if it compares to what I do have in my town.

First I will say what tempted me to drive the 35 miles to check it out. Recently in a blog post, she mentioned that she was invited by Aldi to visit their home base and she got to see the inner workings of the business.  She describes the treatment of the employees and the measures that the business takes to save the consumer money without sacrificing on quality.  This is what tempted me to drive the distance to try it out. Integrity is important to me and if that means traveling 35 miles to support a business that treats people fairly, then I will do so.

The second reason is there are some specialty shops there that I can visit while I’m getting groceries at Aldi’s. So my Mom and my son in tow, we trekked on to check this place out.

My first impression of the store is just how small it is. It TRULY is tiny, however, there was plenty of items that I do use in stock. So I purchased $46 worth of merchandise, including chips, hummus, fish, canned goods, toilet tissue, and produce.  This is what I think think of the store.  Though the store was small, it was easy for my Mom to shop, which is really important. With her having a torn meniscus in her left knee, too much walking is really painful to her. Second, the products are REALLY easy to find.  Their produce was VERY good. I was really impressed with their produce. All of it was crisp and fresh and very well priced. ($1.98 for 2lbs of grapes! HELLO!!)

Though their food is private label and there ARE differences between them and the name brand, for the most part the differences are negligible. So, I wouldn’t be adverse to buying these things again in the future.  There’s a store in town that is similar in product, they are still a little pricier than Aldi’s. So this alone isn’t enough to draw me to them. But there IS the first reason to go, integrity.

One of the biggest draws of this store was some of their merchandise that I saw on their website.  They are a company with a German heritage and they had a LOT of German type of items there.  I bought Mr. W some sweet Bavarian mustard. (I used to live in Augsburg, Germany, and I remember this being the type of mustard offered with bratwurst.) I bought some pre-made pork schnitzel.  The schnitzel was ok. It was a good pork patty, but nothing like the “real” thing.  But overall it is nice to get something here that reminds me of my childhood.

The things that I don’t like about Aldi are few. First I don’t like that it is so far away. Second, I don’t like how little the selection is, though I’ll add that  I understand why it is that way.  And I’m unsure if this is the same for all the stores, but this particular store had isled merchandise all the way to the checkout counter, so it made it hard to shop those items when people were waiting to be checked out.

I don’t mind paying the quarter for the cart, you get it back when you return it to the store OR as I found out, someone coming into the store will give you your their quarter for your cart. I don’t mind using my own bags. I prefer to do that anyway.  I am just grateful that I have enough bags for both my Mom and myself. We’re going to have to work on getting her some bags! 😀

I know there are people who want to be critical of Aldi because the selection is small and there isn’t a lot of organic food there. Here’s my take on all that. If all you had was Aldi for 100 miles around, then I can understand your dismay. However, there are farmers markets and other stores that sell organic foods. I don’t equate the processed foods because ALL grocery stores sell processed foods, even places like Whole Foods. Those that don’t are called FARMERS MARKETS. Go to them. I highly suggest going to your local farmers market. I do. I buy my local produce there. I buy my pumpkins there. I buy fresh ground peanut butter and apple cider there. However, I see more benefit to Aldi than detriment.

So my final verdict, I’d definitely shop there. When I need to go to the butcher down there, I’ll hit Aldi’s up. So this looks to be an every other week thing and I’ll just shop my local Save-a-lot.

Random Thoughts

Isn't he the best looking Spiderman there is?!?

First off, I want to admire just how handsome Spidey is. 😀  I do think he gives any of the new actors a run for their money on handsomeness. But then, I’m probably VERY biased. 🙂

Sorry, I’ve been absent a while. There has been some stuff going on. It definitely seems that when life decides to go nuts, it REALLY goes nuts! One of my Mom’s good friends passed away at the early part of the month. He was only a year older than she and he was in poor health. However much we may miss him, everyone agrees that he’s home and no longer suffering.  On Saturday we are having a benefit concert at church to help his family with funeral costs and medical expenses. I really hope there’s a great turn out for his wife and children. He was a very well loved man by many people.

I FINALLY got through to the nurses and doctors about my son’s speech issues. I love him dearly but he’s not very clear on many sounds. We finally had him evaluated by a speech therapist and we have a game plan in. I dealt with feeling incompetent for a little while, but really if I’d have done what the doctors wanted, which is wait and let the school system catch it, I would have failed my son then. He sees the therapist once a week and he’s only had 2 sessions with Ms. Emily but he’s already making such progress! I’m so grateful to have gotten him the help now instead of later. Though I’m still fighting mad at how long it has taken the “professionals” to acknowledge the problem. (Oh and my son will be 3 soon and isn’t even speaking on a 2 year old level.)  But all that matters is that he’s getting the help and he’s flourishing. 🙂

I’ve been having some health issues to contend with.  I’m struggling with taking care of me before taking care of everyone else. It’s a remnant of my childhood. My Mom was always putting herself last in order to care for all of us. And I’ve found myself in that same bracket. Everyone comes before me. It took some serious discussion for me to go to the doctor. The doctor agreed with Mr. W and had me donate some blood for their tests. I go back in a couple of weeks for some screenings and the results of the screens and bloodwork. I have faith that everything will work out. It’s just worrisome with the waiting.

I am excited for the upcoming holiday season. 🙂 It all starts with Halloween. We’ve carved and painted pumpkins, we have ghosts flying around the yard. Thanksgiving is next and then there is Christmas. And in the middle of all that there are most of my families birthdays. 🙂

I think Thursday is a good day for random thoughts. What do you think?

Funny Things Kids Say

The following is overheard while I was cooking supper.

Nathan had gotten into some trouble with his Dad. His Dad was trying to get him to do something, and as with most 2 year olds, he doesn’t have much attention span or listen well.

“Nathan, I’m not telling you again! I said take that to your room! If I have to tell you one more time, you’re going to your room too!”

“Toy hater!” (said with as much disgust as a 2 year old can muster, finger pointing and the whole nine yards.)

At that point, I had to turn away. I started to snicker and I couldn’t let Nathan see me because that would undermine everything that was going on. So I continued mashing my potatoes, while his Dad defended his position on toys.

I guess to a 2 year old, being a “toy hater” is akin to calling someone a murderer or something. At least that was the inflection in his tone. But he was so serious and it was so funny. His father handled it wonderfully though. He handled it with all the seriousness that the situation warranted. But when it was over, we had a good laugh over it.

So, what has your children called you out of the blue?

WFMW

Kristen over at We Are THAT Family has a weekly post where she tells what works or does not work for her and her family. This is my contribution.

Cell phones…They do NOT work for me.

I’ll let that one sink in.

I know what you’re thinking. How can they NOT work for you?!?! Seriously, your entire life can subsist on that one little piece of equipment. And back when they came into our area, I had one and it was good. It was a phone. I made calls, I received calls…it worked like it was supposed to. And though yes, there was text messaging, it was a pay per message deal. Nothing at all like it is now.

Now, you can not only make calls, you can text, surf the internet, listen to music on the mp3 player, watch a movie, take photos, take video, keep in contact with people on instant messenger as well as facebook. Now they’re coming with applications that can be downloaded as well as qwerty keyboards so you don’t have to count how many times you push a number in order to get it to write.

How many people HONESTLY use their phone as a phone anymore? Now I’m not saying that they don’t still have their use, they do. I just don’t care for all the bells and whistles that is automatically on the phones. Not to mention the expense of something I might use less than 100 minutes in 6 months.

It’s just not something that adds any value to my life. So it doesn’t work for my family…

Don’t forget to check Kristen’s blog (linked at the top) for other Works For Me Wednesday posts. 🙂

How much is too much?

 

How do you know when you’ve shared too much information with people? I’ve had a personal friend ask if it was really necessary to name my blog “Mom, I pooted…” She thinks that it is a wee bit too personal and it’s not “tasteful”. Seriously though, who’s toddler has NEVER made a reference to their passing gas. It’s either poot, toot, fart or as my niece loved to say…flatulence. It’s something that they do that makes us want to deny any knowledge of them. It’s their goal in life to make our faces burn so red that we experience our own solar flares. But really, what is too much? I don’t think talking about the potty or diaper changes or the muck that’s in them is too far, yet, I’m reticent in posting more personal information like his first and middle name. First name, no problem, as well as some photos. But we’ve never had naked baby pictures taken nor will we. But really, where is the line drawn? I see some blogs that focus on their finances and they’re so bold that they actually put out their income and outcome. ACK! I wouldn’t dream of putting my finances so boldly out there. I understand the need for accountability, however, I can do that in a more private fashion. The other side of the coin is, making my personal life so out there that it makes others uncomfortable.

So exactly how much is too much? And how do you decide what you will or not publish?

Laundry, the true love of my life….

…no seriously…

Nah, I love the smell of clean laundry. I love the feel of clean sheets and warm, fresh from the dryer towels. It’s the DOING of the laundry that I’m not so in love with.  (I know there are some moms out there that do…call me…we can work out something…)

After I had Nathan, I became very concerned with what I was putting out there, chemically. That and I stopped working to stay home with him, it kind of became a money crunch.  So what’s a gal to do? We can’t keep buying clothes. So I started doing some research and found out I could make my own laundry soap far cheaper than I could make it. Armed with my new found knowledge, I went to a local store and purchased some Borax, Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, and some Fels Naptha. (You can use Ivory soap…yeah seriously the bar soap! I just prefer the smell of the Fels Naptha.) Oh and can’t forget the grater.  The recipe that I use is dry, but you could just as easily make a liquid soap as well. The best part, I spend around $30/YEAR on laundry soap.  I use distilled white vinegar as a softener. The only thing I use commercially is dryer sheets. I haven’t found anything yet that equals them in the static department.

So, now for the “recipe”……

You will need :

Borax

Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

Fels Naptha (it’s a bar soap in the laundry soap isle. I generally get mine at Kroger for $1.29.)

  • Grate the bar of soap on the small grate setting on the grater. (this is the worst part, it takes around 20 minutes.)
  • Grab a pint Mason Jar (or whatever you have handy.)
  • Mix 1/4 cup borax, 1/4 cup A&HSWS, 1/2 cup grated fels naptha.
  • Shake like crazy to mix it all up.
  • Use 1 tbsp per normal load. More if you have hard water. I use 3 tbsp per large load.

Now, this isn’t convenient, but I am happy that I do it. We’re saving plenty of money and it’s better for my son’s health. (He has breathing issues.) So it works for my family.

In what ways do you save your family money?

 

Being a SAHM is SOOOOO exciting!

We get to do wonderful things like cooking and cleaning and playing with tots/children. We get to wipe snotty noses from kids squirming away from us. We get to change diapers that should require hazmat suits. It’s the glorious life. But every mom out there that stays home would tell you that she’d not trade it for anything in the world. Which is true for the most part. There are moments we’d probably trade in a New York minute. (Remember those biohazard diapers? Yeah, those moments we’d trade for a job shoveling gravel.) But overall our children bring joy to our lives. My son amazes me all the time. He’s picking up on things I didn’t know he was exposed to. He’s developing this wonderful and smart personality that makes me wish I could freeze time and hang on to it a little longer. But….there are times….trying times….times where he is trying exert his own little self (in all the wrong places and things, mind you!) that makes me want to speed time up.

temper tantrum

The hair says it all...

Yeah, times like that. Those are the times that you wish to escape into the bathroom and question whether or not you and the Mr. should just switch spots. Thankfully, those times are few and far between. Most of the time he’s cute and fun and sassy.

Jamming out!

Rockin' the 'hawk

Most of the time, he’s spontaneous and funny and full of life. And every day I’m reminded that though it’s not exciting and there’s not much appreciation or credit, it’s by far one of the most rewarding and fulfilling jobs I’ve ever had. But no doubt that by the end of the day, I’m so happy when he’s sleeping peacefully in his bed…

Sleeping peacefully

…so I can crawl into mine, frazzled and exhausted…. 🙂