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What’s for breakfast?

One of the most common questions I am asked when I mention my ridiculously low budgeted amount for groceries is 

WHAT DO YOU EAT????

The second question is usually “Are you an extreme couponer?” No, no I am not. I used to coupon, but with 5 kids, one in high school and 2 homeschooled, I don’t have time for that. I wish I did. 🙂

Naturally if you are not spending a fortune on groceries, people assume you are eating crap. I can assure you, there is no crap buying here. Why buy crap when you can make crap for free? 

Okay, that was in poor taste. Sorry. :hangs head in shame:

I was talking about chocolate chip cookies. Promise. 

Let’s get back to what we eat. I think one lie that I bought into for many years is that we need variety. I used to stockpile 12 different kinds of cereal. I think I stopped doing that, because I stopped couponing and then I just couldn’t get a good deal. My kids love Fruit Loops, but they don’t need Fruit Loops. If they want Cocoa Crispies, they buy Cocoa Crispies with their own money. 

I’m really good at going off on a tangent. Variety. Focus. We pretty much eat the same thing for breakfast most of the time:

  • Cream of Wheat (my husband’s current kick) There are 24 servings in one box, so it lasts about a month. – $4 (at the most)
  • Oatmeal – With my cholesterol issues, oatmeal is my breakfast of choice at least 4/5 of the weekdays. Our local grocery store has it on sale for 69 cents a pound in the bulk section. I buy the thick cut oats and stock up when it’s on sale. 
  • Cheerios – I keep one box on hand, because my teen likes it and it lasts about a month. A large box is about $3.50
  • Eggs – $7 for 5 dozen. One will last a full month.
  • Potatoes – $2 for a 10 lb bag, unless it’s on sale in a larger size. I buy two for a month. I like to make this at the beginning of the week, then the kids or my husband can just pop it in the microwave for a quick breakfast. Her prices and portion sizes seem to be a bit higher than mine. I make 10 servings from one recipe and calculated that each serving costs about $0.50
  • Pancakes – I use this recipe. We rarely have pancakes, but when we do, it’s a weekend. 

The above is what we generally eat. We always have fruit, veggies and yogurt on hand. Every once in a while we will make omelettes. Charlee, the baby, likes to eat bananas and cottage cheese for breakfast. Piper sticks with toast. In our house, everyone is on their own schedule and pretty much on their own for breakfast. 

I’ve found that keeping breakfast simple makes the mornings easier. Us Dixons are creatures of habits anyway and once we find something we like, we usually stick with it.

While we don’t have an enormous amount of variety in our breakfasts, as individuals, we don’t indulge in a lot of unhealthy breakfast items. Every once in a while I throw in a surprise breakfast item. In fact, I plan on making this for my husband this week. I just want to know if it’s good.  

What do you eat for breakfast? 

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Rabbit-Proof Fence

It’s not often that I have the opportunity to sit and watch a movie in its entirety. By not often, I mean it never happens. It has taken me up to 3 or 4 days to complete one 90 minute movie. Such was the case for Rabbit-Proof Fence. I found the movie to be enjoyable, because I am a sucker for true to life or based on real life stories. I felt that the subject matter was infuriating. Shortly after watching the movie, I posted on Facebook:

“Life is cruel enough on its own, why do people feel the need to help it in its cruelty?”

We get one life and people consistently devalue the life of others. It’s sad and sad is not a big enough word for it, but is there one?

Though I watched this movie several weeks ago, i came to mind today after watching a so-called debate on Facebook. It seems to be common for someone to think that if they did something, everyone else should be able to do it as well. “I quit smoking while I was pregnant, there is no reason you can’t”. “I go to school, run a business, raise 5 kids, make all my meals from scratch, you have no excuses.” “:I went back to work a week after giving birth, no reason you can not”. “my kids never did that, you obviously did something very, VERY wrong. (loser)”

Seriously. 

You can not judge another person’s outcome on your very own experiences. 

I feel like I should repeat that, but I won’t, so please read it again. 

We each have our own lives, our own experiences, our own set of windfalls, and misfortunes. We can set out and attempt to achieve something that another has accomplished and have our results turn out completely different. This doesn’t mean one person is a failure, it simply means that life is different for them! They most likely had a different set of cards handed to them. 

In fact, I have a deck of cards sitting in front of me. I can shuffle them, hand out ten cards per person, and rarely will any of those people be holding the exact same cards. It usually does not work out that way! 

Back to Rabbit-Proof Fence. I was thinking about Molly Craig. She was kidnapped by the government along with her younger sister and a cousin. They were sent to a camp 1500 miles from home to be re-educated. Shortly after arriving at the Moore River Native Settlement Camp, Molly plans to escape. She, her sister, and cousin watched the tracker bring another girl back to camp, who had escaped, but was quickly found. Escaping was pretty much not an option. The stakes, and punishment for being found, were pretty high. 

Molly did it anyway. It took 9 weeks to walk 1500 miles back to her home in Jigalong. It was not easy, but she accomplished what she set out to do. She and her sister were reunited with their mother and grandmother. Why did others not accomplish their mission? Were they failures? If Molly could do it, why couldn’t they do the same? What if Molly had listened to the girls that said it was impossible? What if seeing others brought back to camp and severely punished had deterred her? 

Her journey, while it looked the same on the surface, was completely different from any of the other girls. She had a different set of circumstances, a different background, different knowledge, and different opportunities. They may have been trying to achieve the same goal, but they were achieving it with a different life. Those other girls were not failures for not achieving what they set out to do. The wind could have blown in a different direction for them, yes, it’s as simple as that!

So why don’t we start encouraging people in THEIR journey and stop projecting our experiences on them? Am I advocating that we should not share our experiences? Absolutely not. Our shared experiences can be encouraging to other people! We do not have to criticize another because their experience did not turn out exactly the way ours did. We can recognize that the tools at each of our disposals are not the same, even if they appear to be. Stop saying “if I did it, you can too”, because I will drop you in the middle of nowhere, and tell you to walk 1500 miles home. If Molly Craig did it, we all can, right? Yeah, if we need to walk that far, we could, how many of us theoretically need to make that trek though?

So, encourage! Share! Please, though, let’s not discredit someone’s experience because it doesn’t mimic our own.

Five Mistakes I’ve made in Marriage

My most popular posts, by and large have been on the topic of marriage, followed closely by finances/ saving money. This is a bit ironic, since these two topics are near and dear to my heart. I am passionate about my marriage, your marriage and the marriages of people I barely or don’t know. I don’t have marriage figured out. I am far from the perfect wife. One, because the perfect wife doesn’t exist. Two, because I’m selfish, and self centered and I want what I want and I want what I want yesterday. Not in a few minutes, dear. 🙂 I am also pretty excited about finances and saving money. Maybe since these are the most widely read topics on my blog, that passion is coming through my words? 

I don’t know why God uses me for marriage or finances. I’m stumbling through these things just like anyone else. In fact, when it comes to marriage, I have screwed up just about every day. Sometimes I know I’ve screwed up. Other times it takes people hitting me with a 2 X 4 (ouch) to wake me up. 

Here are 5 mistakes I’ve made in marriage. 5 mistakes I’ve repeated in marriage and 5 mistakes I hope to never make again. Just to be clear, that’s 5 mistakes total, not 15. Ahem, I haven’t made quite that many. 😉

  1. Expecting my husband to fill my every need. This is a pretty tall order. I have a lot of needs. Some of these expectations are known, but sometimes I want him to know what it is and fill it, because we are in love and people in love don’t have to be told what to do. They just know!!! Right? Yeah, I’ve learned, not so much. He’s human. I’m human and when we’re humans together, we mess things up. My husband is a man, not a God, but at times I’ve treated him as if he has failed because he hasn’t met my every need. Newsflash to me: he can’t. It’s just not possible. 
  2. Being too proud to apologize. Proud. Stubborn. Same thing in this case. I act like having to apologize for a misstep will paralyze me. What? Me? Admit to a mistake? Eh, eh, eh. Yeah. I’ll be honest with you. For years, I would drag my feet. I would mope. I would hope that my mistake would just be swept under the rug. Now, my husband is the forgive and forget type guy. He would forgive and forget sans apology, but last month, yes last month, for the first time ever I sincerely apologized to him. I knew I had screwed up. I knew I made a mistake. I found him, looked into his eyes and I apologized. When I asked for forgiveness, he said “of course”. He’s obviously a better human than me. The bonus is… it didn’t kill me. I LIVED TO TELL ABOUT IT. I’m waiting for the shirt. I survived Apology 2014. Yes?
  3. My way or the highway. I’m pretty smart, so naturally I know how to do stuff better than my husband. Load the dishwasher, do laundry, discipline the children, pay the bills. I know it all! That attitude actually hasn’t served me well over the years. I’ve discredited my husband’s honor as a husband, a man, AND a dad. He felt like he was stupid a lot of the time, because I didn’t give any thought to his ideas or his way of doing things, but when I started listening to him, I realized “hey, um, wow! This guy is pretty smart. (he married me after all) Maybe I should listen to him more.” I’ve learned that a lot of times his ideas are much better than mine. 
  4. Not tonight, dear. 😉 I bought into the lie that once we were married, I never had to put out… unless I felt like it. Well, dude! I just never felt like it. I was tired, I had a headache, people have been touching me all day!!! If there was an excuse I could use it. But here’s the thing… I do things for people all the time that I don’t technically feel like doing. I do dishes when I don’t feel like doing them, because they need to be done. I help the kids with their homework when I don’t feel like it. So many things,but I neglected my husband and the things he needed, because I figured he was an adult, he could do those things himself. UGH. Really? So I stopped saying no. Hear me out, sometimes there is a good reason for saying no, but just because I can? That’s not a good enough reason in my  book. He’s not a dictator or an abuser, so I feel good about not saying no to him. I have found that even if I’m not in the mood when we start, I am when we get going. 😀
  5. I can do it myself. I’m pretty independent. I have learned how to do most things myself and I bristle at the thought of letting anyone help me. Even if I didn’t quite know how to do something, I would stumble through it. I think I have screwed up a few things this way. Over the years I have learned that it’s okay to accept help, and it’s okay to ask for help. I have learned that he likes it when I come to him for assistance with anything. It makes him feel good to be needed. It also lightens the load for me, because I have someone helping me! Win, win, and win. 

So, do you want to admit to your mistakes? I went first. It’s your turn. 

Edited to add: I’m really not as big of a jerk as I make myself sound. I promise! This is an accumulation of mistakes I have made over 16 years, so I think I get some grace in that regard. If my husband was speaking of me, he would never think these horrible things, much less say them. I tend to be harder on myself than anyone else is going to be. 

Spicy Variety

Or is it?

“Variety is the spice of life”. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it one too many times. According to The Free Dictionary, it’s something you say that means life is more interesting when it changes often and you have many different experiences. 

Oh, really? I guess I am not going to argue with that sentiment, because I love variety, I love change, I get bored with the monotony of my life. Hey. I’m a stay at home mom, not much changes around here. I mean, if you want variety, I’ve got laundry, dishes, diapers, bathrooms. If that’s not variety, I’m not sure there is such a thing. It’s definitely monotonous variety. 

I wonder if variety really is the spice of life though, because truthfully, variety stresses me the heck out! I want change and excitement, but I hate change and the only excitement I get are things that no one wants. I am comfortable sticking with what I know. I usually order the same things, no matter where I go. My husband encourages me to TRY NEW THINGS! I look at him, over the top of the glasses I don’t wear and say “You’re lucky I don’t like change. Dang lucky. Know what I’m saying, hm?” Then he shuts up, tries something new and complains about how he should have ordered what he usually ordered, because what he did order just was not that delicious. 

I prove my point by doing nothing, once again. 

When I go to the store to purchase some hairspray, I leave the store without purchasing hairspray. We can repeat this scenario with just about any product I need to purchase. Toothpaste, mini pads, band aids, etc, etc, etc! There are too many choices and I get so overwhelmed just trying to decide which one is best. Can they not just slap a product on the shelf and say “THIS. This will work if your hair is short, long, frizzy, dry, wet, oily, normal”? Obviously not. I’m expected to stand there, read who this product is perfectly perfect for and make a decision. 

Which leads me to this. If I purchase one, I will wonder “Huh, maybe I should have purchased the other one. I bet this one isn’t good enough, the other one is probably better. I wonder what Walgreens’ return policy is.” 

Variety leads to discontentment. You know that there is always something better out there. If you don’t actually know it, you know there must be something better out there and unless you can convince yourself that you don’t need better, you leave on an adventure to find better. Variety makes me forget to just love what I already have! 

So, variety may be the spice of life, but I am resisting, because for me, variety is the stress of life! I am going to live and love what I have. 

And next time I am in the store, I am going to send my 9 year old down the hair care aisle and I am going to love the hair spray she brings me. 🙂

How about you? Is variety the spice of your life or are you like me and it stresses you out? 

TBT- The Past is the Past

It’s Throwback Thursday. I can’t post many pictures, because they were stolen a few years ago. I can throw back a blog post though. Enjoy:

Last night while my husband and son were at boy scouts, my girls and I cuddled up on the couch to watch Sarah’s Choice. (I knew the content before hand and I was okay with my girls, ranging in age from 6 – 18 seeing it)

It was a great opportunity to talk about unplanned pregnancy, choices, decisions, and the rest of your life. I have often told each of my kids “Sometimes you have to give up something to do what is right” and this movie was a great example of that.

In the movie, two friends are astounded that a co-worker would go to college for 4 years, get a great job, receive a promotion and then give it all up when she had a baby. “What a waste!” they said. My girls said “That’s not a waste! It’s a baby and a baby is a great gift”. (smile, mom!)

Then Taylor said “that’s what Auntie Heather did. She gave up her job to stay home with her boys. It’s not a waste”.

I looked at her and said “honey, do you remember that I quit my job to stay home with all of you kids?”. She shook her head no.

The fact that she couldn’t remember made me smile. Before Piper was born, I had a great job. I had both Jack and Taylor while working there, and returned to work each time, broken hearted, but determined not to give up what I had worked for. I was able to make my own schedule, for the most part, was earning $20 an hour, had great benefits. I had started on the production floor and worked my way up to an assistant/ clerk in the finance department.

I thought “this is what my kids will always remember. They will never know a stay at home mom. It’s too late for me to change it. It’s impossible anyway.”

After Piper was born though, I couldn’t return. I could not go back. The thought of it made me physically ill. I didn’t have a clue how we would make it, I only knew that we had to.

So I gave it all up. I have never looked back. I thought for sure that my kids would remember those stressful years.

Last night showed me that it’s never too late and my kids only remember me as the mom who has stayed home with them.

What a gift her lack of memory was for me.

It’s never too late to change. It’s never too late to do what is right.

What are you wanting to change? Maybe you feel like it’s too late?