Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Crown of Thorns...

Finally, this year, the kids and I baked a crown of thorns made of flour, salt, cinnamon and water!  I thoroughly enjoyed this Lenten project, and I am looking forward to its unfolding throughout the next less-than-forty days left of this Lenten season.  The girls have already pulled out few thorns (toothpicks) from the crown every time they did something thoughtful, kind or generous.  I am glad they have taken control of the project rather than my handling it.  What are some of my thorns I need to pull out, I begin to wonder, and the first thing that comes to my mind is the over-reacting Mommy yelling at her kids to do something for the second, third, fourth,...an umpteenth time!  Ouch!  Those are my thorns I need to work on this Lenten season so that I can be transformed into a new, better-adjusted Mommy for the sake of my family.  So, wish me luck...that I may be able to pull out a few of my thorns this time.  Perhaps, then, I can truly celebrate Easter, the risen Christ among us, as a new, enlightened and transformed Mommy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


For the last four months or so, I have been waking up every morning thinking about...well, MONEY, and how to bring it under control to make it work for my family of five.  I used to take first five minutes of my day in prayer, now I spend every waking moment thinking about...well, MONEY.  I am afraid I have let myself fall prey to letting MONEY take control of my life rather than my taking control of it.  Perhaps, it goes both ways.  In any case, I have stopped being fully present in the moment especially when my kids come home from school, still dazed and distracted from thinking about and reading about money.  It is a wonder how I go through the motions of every day routine at all!  I had to remind myself what the point of all my research and hard work in order to come up with a system that works for my family in the first place was--to provide for my family of five now and in the future by living frugally and nurturing that value of frugal living by appreciating one another now...frugally.  But, if I am not fully present to them when they are around, what good will that do?  So, my goal this Lenten season (this spring season before Easter) is to do just that!  Turn off the computer (since that is one main distraction for me--the internet) and give my kids my fullest possible attention...before they grow up so fast and start turning ME off!  So, wish me luck and send your prayers my way toward being a fully-present stay-at-home mom!  Too easy said!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Veggies in Bulk...

One of my goals this year is to reduce our grocery budget over time.  One of the few things I am trying to get in the habit of doing is buying needed grocery items in bulk on sale while reducing the number of trips to once a week at the most.  Doing a 2-week menu based on sales and what is available in my pantry and freezer has definitely helped reduce that number of shopping trips as well as the stress it brings to go out with a toddler anywhere...sometimes.  Anyways, I definitely look forward to my weekly sale fliers every Tuesday afternoon to see what might be on sale in each of the stores just to keep abreast of what I might be cooking for the next week or two.  America's Cheapest Family and Miserly MOMS have definitely been helpful in bringing about the change, especially that of buying things on sale in bulk and preparing them in bulk and freezing them for later use.  I have begun to enlist the help of my six- and five-year-olds with peeling carrots and onions in bulk, and so far it's been great...even if the carrots peeled are now half the thickness of their original form.  But, I get it.  It's one thing I have begun to look forward to doing on our weekends--washing, peeling, cutting vegetables ahead of time to save time later.  I am hoping I'll eventually get to freeze-cooking one or two of the meals for the week (Money Saving Mom is another advocate of this project).  For now, I am trying to cook dinners in bulk to last two or three meals.  It does save energy, time and gas to cook in bulk, and I just wonder why I didn't think of that.  I love cooking brown rice in bulk in our pressure cooker and freezing two freezer bags of cooked brown rice for later in the week.  Even though cooking in bulk (larger than enough for one meal for five) sometimes means we end up eating more, I am learning the value of freeze-cooking even one meal for the week since that means one day I do not have to cook or spend extra money to get something quick just because I didn't have the time or didn't feel like cooking.  While this is an on-going project for me that I still have to implement, it has been just wonderful sticking to my 2-week menu and preparing vegetables in advance for future cooking in the week ahead during the weekend...at least when it's not Super Bowl Sunday, that is.

Monday, February 4, 2013


In my attempt to be more frugal this year, I have begun to take Miserly MOMS's advice and start making few things home-made!  I started with the basic pizza dough first.  Then, I moved on to making my very first home-made whole-wheat tortillas!  I used a simple recipe I found on line...although I had to make adjustments since I lost the instructions (Note to self: always save the entire recipe, not just the ingredient list)!  Anyways, they turned out all right for my first attempt, and my kids and husband were quite impressed.  They are so yummy and simple to make, I didn't realize, and are just wonderful as cheese quesadillas, our kids' favorite!  My next project: home-made granola!  Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

College...Part I

Or it should be entitled, What I got out of The Economides' Money Smart Family System: Teaching Financial Independence to Children of Every Age (Thomas Nelson, 2012) http://www.amazon.com/The-MoneySmart-Family-System-Independence/dp/1400202841/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359941103&sr=8-1&keywords=money+smart+family+system

So what did I learn?  It is as important as starting and contributing to college savings accounts for your kids as educating them as early as possible the value of frugality in their own saving/spending habits.  By the way, I have found that Louisiana and New York 529 plans are among the ones with the lowest fees (although Louisiana one is only open to Louisianans).  For more information on this subject, please refer to www.savingforcollege.com.  I guess my challenge is to come up with a system that works for my own family...one that will help my husband and me to teach our own children the value of saving and spending money wisely while living within and below our means that we have learned over the years.  I especially like their point system that translates into dollars (kind of like an allowance).  For now, however, I think we'll stick to the point system that translates into rewards, e.g., 10 minutes on the ipad, which is their biggest object of interest right now.  My six- and five-year-olds are OK with saving all their money in their piggy banks for college...at least for now.  But, it is definitely a challenge and a call to come up with my own system that will work for our family.  Once I have it figured out, it will be my next blog post on this subject.  Stay tuned.