Friday, February 26, 2010

Unnhhhh.... Ohhhh... :(

I feel yucky when I stand up, sit down or lie down... No fever no real pain, just gut-based yuck. My system is currently noise, light and crowd sensitive. I hope I feel better soon; my "tribesmen" needs me, I need me. :-(

L-Infinity and her AC/DEC (Academic Decathlon) are again in Houston, competing in the State AC/DEC Competition.

Multicultural night tonight and the kiddos are performing but we couldn't go because Mr. Man had to work and has a flight @ 7:30PM while me, well... I feel yuck! Finding someone to take the two little ones wasn't hard, it's having someone watch them while there, is what almost made me start a mutiny of tears, screaming and outright stomping. Thank goodness for good neighbors and friends, one dropped them off, one will pick them up. As I've put it to my hubby why I couldn't afford to go, "I don't want to end up being one of the exhibits from actual puking."

The moving plans are underway, but getting much done, not so much... My poor children, their Spring Break will be spent packing and sorting toys and clothes (sounds familiar from 3 years ago)...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snow again? Where?

We had a forecast of snow showers last night until this afternoon. But aside from "specks-of -snow-are-visible-while-squinting-both-eyes-or-standing-still-long-enough-to-follow-air-movement" for about 15 minutes, the snow shower never really happened. But the cold lingered. brrr!

Oh well... it's still winter until March 21st.

Til' next post!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Academic Family

Sometimes, good luck strikes you once, sometimes, twice. But in our case, good luck hit three times:

Our children, L-Infinity(17), J-Pony(10) and I-Dude(7) all came in differing circumstances by the time they were born though all were C-section babies and breastfed for two years minimum. All walked within 12 months. Only two managed cow's milk, while one couldn't handle dairy at all without breaking out in hives with other food allergies and respiratory episodes. But the glaring things they all have in common are their individual and similar academic prowess.

-Started reading at or just after each turned 2 years old
-Strong ROTE learners, but adaptive to 7 intelligences practice
-Have multiple artistic outlets (singing, drawing, origami, dancing, dimensional art)
-Are avid readers and share the love of the same titles
-Are strong Spellers and have high aptitude for Math
-Qualified and are enrolled in GATE or LEAP (TX) programs
-Are actively involved in school activities (Multi-Cultural Night, Choir, STUCO, Safety Patrol, NHS, AC/DEC)
-Received multiple A Honor Rolls and consistently within the Top 10% of their Grades
-Represented their schools or class (Spelling Bee, Geography Bowl, AC/DEC, UIL)
-Had been hand-picked for advanced programs in school
-Tutored classmates and peers over various subjects
-Helped peers learn how to read or read better

Mr. Man and I, very early on in our marriage established a house of learning and a house of faith. Our tactics were simple: supplement and challenge; redirect and expect focus; talk, listen and learn along with them. That means we work together in giving them the best advantage and push them to their potential while avoiding the damage of over-parenting.

Our parenting style is as typical as most LDS households- strict, traditional, family and cultural-oriented but always fair...

I don't brag about my children academically (though I share them) because good grades and high accomplishments are part of their lives. But if I am to brag about anything about them, is that they also share a love for the simple life that we live and do not get caught up (too much) in what others have that they don't.

To my children, I will always be grateful. Their presence in my life are continuous proof that THERE IS A LIVING, LOVING AND INTELLIGENT GOD.

I couldn't ask for anything more...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Packed 2010!

Dewberryscraftywave Blog

Literally! Both in the contextual definition of "full" and "put away in a box". 2010 is shaping up to be one packed year!

This year, our children all are going in separate but momentous occasions- college, middle school and 3rd grade. One, two or all will end up in different schools or district. As well as a baptism and a blessing for our new nephew. We will be visited and visit family and friends. We are definitely moving, to where not solid yet.

Our projects to reign in all these wonderful changes, is a bit dizzying to me, but they have to be done, one day at a time, until we are ready to hand the last furniture to the movers.

We will be traveling more; to visit our newest nephew in Utah, to a college campus, to rent a violin and to visit a new school. We'll be searching houses for sale and hopefully landing one.

We will be dealing with shedding the awful past, cherishing the good, and welcoming the future. We will continue beloved traditions, but in a new setting once again.

But most of all, we look forward to what this year awaits us...

I may not be around to blog much this year, but be assured that you're all gonna be in the front seat of our new set of adventures! So stay tuned!

Monday, February 15, 2010

FHE: Extended Valentine

Last night was a great dinner, but as often what happens with holidays, Mr. Man and I end up having an "extension" to our celebratin's!

With the leftovers from the giftcards we got last Christmas, we hit Olive Garden for lunch! Can't beat a FREE lunch (Again, thanks, Mom and Dad!)

We both had the "Tour of Italy" (Chicken Parmigiana, Lasagna and Fettucine Alfredo) fare and what a choice it was! The soup that came with it, "Potato with Sausage" became one of my instant faves!
ABC News.

Then we went home and gathered the kids to the next phase our extended Valentine's Day celebration- to see this movie we've been waiting for:

It was worth the wait though justifiably, we were disappointed that the movie's creative license condensed much of the back story that made the book series, "hard to put down".

It's a rare opportunity for us to have Monday FHE (Family Home Evening) because of Mr. Man's current work schedule, but having an FHE is what's important to us. Family time is very important to us and we savor each week we get to put that FHE stamp on it, helping to infuse its blessings and divine importance to each of our children...

How do you keep up with FHE in your home?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

HIATUS Over; time to Party!

Well, The Big V day is here and that means, our two-week shopping hiatus is officially over!!! Yeah!!! But sadly, we didn't do so well in the savings department as NEEDED health, school, printer and clothing expenses ate up what we saved from not buying our wants... At least we didn't have to dip in any extra pocket! I think I would consider this one a success as well!

To end the hiatus, we did need to go on a grocery run as fruits and milk ran out. On our way out, we have this left from our Winter Wonderland- a slowly melting snow fort that our next door neighbor's son, Pat did. Great job!

I-Dude and J-Pony loved every minute they spent in it (until I called them).Had to take a second picture.
See that little tilted snow on the left middle? That's a mailbox! LOL
They showed how they kept it up for Pat. Thanks, guys!

And tonight, since it's also Chinese New Year, we celebrated both with an authentic Chinese dinner, both homemade and store-bought!

Look at my little "firecrackers"! We celebrate in honor of my part Chinese heritage on both sides of my family. The kids are just lovin' all the cultural holidays we get to enjoy!

After reading up on my Chinese table etiquette, this is my own rendition. I used candles to represent the fireworks used on celebrating and the red for China and the black for the black stripes on a tiger since it is the Year of The Tiger! Pretty clever, huh?

I made shrimp & broccoli with hoisin garlic sauce, we bought eggrolls and pot stickers (no picture), symbols of prosperity and wealth. The clementines and chocolate for wishes of a sweet life this year. Of course the noodles are the Chinese symbol for wishes of long life.

Poached grouper with soy sauce... It has carrots, ginger and onions that flavored the soy sauce broth. Again, having seafood is considered wishes for wealth and prosperity.

I made both of these dishes. L-Infinity, Mr. Man and I, loved it! J-Pony and I-Dude ate as much as they can of what they can because they wanted this...

I call it, Chocolate Explosion. It's a package of German Chocolate Cake mix but I added chunks of 60% cocoa chocolate bar in the batter. I whisked the eggs before I added it in. The result was a very moist, rich cake with pockets of bittersweet gooeys! The frosting is Dark Chocolate Fudge with powdered sugar on top and I decorated it with the Ferrero Rocher chocolate balls and Dark Chocolated coated almonds! Yum!!!

Happy, happy Valentine's Day, from our family to yours...

Friday, February 12, 2010

SH Days 10, 11, 12 & 13 Snow's On!

Well since there was nothing much to report, I figured I'd just stack them all in one post!

Mostly leftovers for all three meals each day and since insomnia was a battle this week, the kiddos had had to help me get some sleep in the afternoons. All were really patient with me this week though errands quite interrupted much of that slumber plans.

The insomnia totally messed with my appetite and the smell of food in the house made me nauseous. We had to eat out on Tuesday or I starve. We had no choice but to get out of the house. J-Pony needed a new backpack while we are still looking for comparable towels to replace the ones "tainted" by the bathroom flooding. L-Infinity was sick with a nasty "morning assaulter" tummy bug that would render her knocked out for most of the day, after "hugging the porcelain throne" in the morning, on Tuesday and Wednesday! Poor baby! She's also had to babysit these last two Fridays, so that's good.

Then on Wednesday night, we had a snowstorm forecast and by 3AM Thursday, it started to snow! All day Thursday! Look at these! (I also posted in Facebook)

These two were in the afternoon, the beginnings of our 24-hour "Winter Wonderland"! Gorgeous day!

By 11PM, I was still thrilled that I actually told Mr. Man that I just couldn't complain!
See how happy I look? (I was barefeet, too!)
That's not a bad photo, but rather snowing coupled with mild shivering. lol
I-Dude and J-Pony were busy making origami Valentine cards since it was "make your own" kind of theme this year. Too bad they didn't get to use them since our school district declared a two-day Snow Day due to our snowstorm. Lots of slush out there!

Today was filled with errands... We've decided to start looking at houses in our area to see if we can stay within the boundaries of our church ward. I don't know about you but it is such a draining process for me! Whew! More to look at until we find just the right one...

Also, we received in the mail that J-Pony, who placed 2nd in her school's Geography Bowl will be joining her friend, and winner, Nathan, to represent their school in the upcoming District Geography Bowl in March! And... it's on a Wednesday morning so that means, Mr. Man and I can go! Yay!!!

Food Budget Trick: Many don't eat Spam, but it is economical, delicious and a good substitute for bacon or ham. I use it when I don't have bacon or when I want to spare my bacon for another day but is craving some. Fat wise, it is easily controlled, you can slice it very thin and have an instant "bacon" like and egg breakfast fare or it's a quick substitute for stir-fry meats, when cubed small. One can, has fed me and my family for two meals. Now that's a great deal!

Our fave way to use it is in fried rice. I use half a can of Spam, two eggs, 4-5 cups of cooked rice, 1 cup of peas and carrots, garlic salt and 1 tbsp. of oil.

That's only $2.59 for the whole dish and for a family of five, that's only 52 cents a plate!

Well, folks... One more day and we'd be done with our Shopping Hiatus! Whew!

Oh, by the way, "the project's" done and was posted at my other blog, What Now? Tablescapes, called "A Bit of Morocco for Valentine's". Come see and tell me what you think.

HAPPY WEDDING ANNIVERSARY TO Mr. Man's parents! We love you, Mom and Dad!

And we have a new nephew! Gary and Kate (Mr. Man's only and older sister), just had their 3rd baby and 2nd son, yesterday evening. Garrison clocked in at 8 lbs. 7 oz. Wow! Congrats to their big siblings, Taryn and Carter!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, February 8, 2010

SH Day 8 & 9- Sleepless...

The past week, I just haven't been able to sleep. I used to be an insomniac ever since my 2nd child was born and got worse by the time the third came. But when we moved here to Texas, I had some relief and was starting to sleep about 5-7 hours on average, now this again... *sigh*

Anyways, still not buying anything we just want and so far our stash has not been depleted.

Yesterday, were all leftovers so no surprise there...

Food Budget Trick: I don't do casseroles; most are high fat, too much sodium, high carbs, greasy; also dependent on cheese and butter, making it more susceptible to spoiling even in the fridge, after a few days. I save money by focusing on what we will eat, not what we might like to eat or what others deem delicious. I also save by creating different dishes using the same ingredients, especially if bought at a great sale price.

Tonight, I made Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli for about $2.25. Only 4 of us ate it because Mr. Man didn't have time to eat before work.

I used:
Leftover buttered thin spaghetti-FREE
1 bag frozen broccoli--------------$1.00
1 link polish sausage--------------$1.25

$2.25/4 = 56 cents a plate!

Hope you had a better weekend than I did...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

SH Day 7- Cleaning The Day Away!

Saturday, is a special day. It is the day we get ready for Sunday...

So the song goes and how our day pretty much went. We made sure that the kids' finished their chores and Mr. Man got to sleep in so he's ready for work tonight. Except to pick up L-Infinity from a Choir competition today, we all stayed in.

Dinner was again composed of leftovers. No fuss, no muss!

Food Budget Trick: Needs come first. Wants can and will wait even with food. I learned this the hard way. Since 2003, I have set a very strict food budget. We still live off that same amount every month. What I do is, I set my amount and gauge my needs list against sales, use coupons, stock up during great deals, before I entertain any wants on my list. And for holidays, I only add 1/4 more to my monthly food allowance. I revise the menu to accomodate that amount. Eating out has to have an occasion or emergency reason, because it is budgeted separately and with very little. Weekends and twice more in the week, we polish off our leftovers. (I read online that the average grocery tab for a family of 4, including everything (pets, toiletries, etc.), is almost $1,000 a month. $1,000 a month! Yowza!) We don't even come anywhere close to that even without much coupon use here. Thank goodness!

Ok, back to the cleaning... I still am. In the master because I'm ready to see a newer and cleaner room plus there's a maintenance inspection going on for our townhome and my unit may be picked soon so clean, clean away I go!

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Friday, February 5, 2010

SH Day 6- Drip, drip... Whoosh!!!

That's what we woke up to this morning. Water streaming from our bath's ceiling vent. Our bathroom is directly underneath the kids' bathroom. It could only be one of two things: either the tub or the toilet overflowed. I don't know about your children, but mine do not take baths early in the morning...

I-Dude and J-Pony, the two groggy and stunned culprits, had different, and not helpful, reactions (speechless and totally shocked) to what happened while Mr. Man leaps out of bed to assess the damage then just as quickly, gathered all the towels (ewwww!) to sop up the rising flood (the result, 1 inch of water and 1 foot wide perimeter outside.

Good morning, Mommy and Daddy! :-)

We made sure that "Daddy" took care of upstairs and I took care of downstairs. After so much "eww de toilette" (no I didn't spell it wrong, just making a point), I assertively informed Mr. Man that we are replacing our towels, TODAY! (thank goodness for paychecks!)

Then we also realized that our original "project" is not gonna fly as our "budget" went out the window; and if you know me well enough, high budget means NOTHING WILL BE BOUGHT OR EVERYTHING WILL BE RETURNED.

After a quick trip to the storage and returns of the materials from the original plans, we ate lunch and went to Ross. With my eye singled on the a new but similar angle, our project materials list was completely crossed out and we were under budget by almost $50.00! Yay!!!

Tonight, dinner was all leftovers, meaning completely FREE!

Food Budget Trick: Eat with your mouth, not just your eyes. Chew your food and let your brain taste it. I insist that no one asks for a second helping until they show that their plates are empty. I also insist on not piling on too much food on anyone's plate if it's a new dish or a favorite dish. If a new dish, it shows how much we like it and if it's worth our money to cook it again. For a fave dish, I prevent overeating and waste on plates.

Other than that, it was pretty uneventful... Mr. Man and I went on our "Smallville" date (FREE) and did our taxes. Oh yeah, the kiddos, all three, yes, all three because the bathroom was filthy on top of the disaster; were sequestered into manageable shifts to THOROUGHLY clean the bathroom, I mean dusted, mopped, wiped down, swept and sanitized!

So... How was your Friday?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

SH Day 5- Gloomy Day...

Yesterday, it rained for most of the day. Today, it just drizzled for most of the day. Yup, it was pretty gloomy...

The kids woke up late again and had to be driven to school.

Since sleeping hasn't been part of my late evening repertoire for over 4 days now (former insomniac), sleeping in today was rather nice. I woke up cause the phone rang.

The afternoon was spent doing errands, picking up and dropping off our teen.

The project, got as far as bringing the much needed tool out of the box! (woop te doo... *yawn*)

Food Budget Trick: Eating is very much psychological, ergo can be manipulated. So I do, rather strictly. In my home, dessert is not a normal part of the meal. It is a treat approved by me. Soda is once a week. Snacks are on a schedule or for school. ONLY. And... IT HAS TO BE ON SALE- A GREAT SALE. ONLY. This way, our food money is further stretched to accomodate more necessities. No one misses out on anything and whining gets cut to a minimum.

Dinner was another Filipino dish called "Sinigang na Baboy" (Pork in Sour Broth) over rice.

I got the pork last week at Kroger for 99 cents/lb. The family pack I got cost $5.04

I used:
1/3 pkg, pork country style ribs-------------------------1.68
1 bag of frozen spinach----------------------------------1.00
1 lb. taro root---------------------------------------------.99
1 packet of tamarind season mix(Asian mart, 2/$1)--FREE (Dec)
Water and seasoning------------------------------------FREE
Rice-------------------------------------------------------FREE (Jan)

1.68 + 1 + .99 = $3.67 /5 = 73 cents a plate! (and again, leftovers for tomorrow!)

With that little expense for dinner by only using what we have, the day certainly didn't end gloomy! (though cold still stands. "brrr!!!")

5 days down, 9 more to go!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

SH Day 4- 9 Long Hours!

First, the kids forgot to wake up in time to catch the bus.

Next are dentist and doctor's appointments.

Then we decided to tackle needed materials for our V-Day project (which I will reveal, after V-day, of course!). We needed lumber, a piece of 4x4 to be specific. One piece. You would think that it would be quite easy to go down to your local hardware store and check it off your list. Nooooooo!

a) There was too much splitting and cracking on each piece.
b) The inventory is too low for any decent choices.
c) Neither of us bothered to ask why the inventory's too low.
d) Project needed revision two other times because your hubby's coming up with tools to buy for a "glue and cut" project you had originally.
e) Only one store carries untreated lumber in three cities!
f) You find out "e" after you waste gas going to other cities.
g) You end up at the first store buying the exact same things in your cart 5 hours ago!

Yes, folks... we got the materials, now the question is, will we have the time to finish it by day before V-day since said holiday is on Sunday? (cross your fingers!)

LUNCH was totally FREE- The kids brought lunch from home or got FREE school lunch while Mr. Man and I dined at Red Lobster (ya posh,huh?) using our birthday giftcards from his parents! (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) We shared a salad before and a gooey slice of chocolate cake after our surf and turf fare. Plus, we portioned the cards for two lunches! Yay, another FREE lunch soon for us!

Mutual was tonight, and we ended picking up all three kids from school as well. The road was our home today, thank goodness no road incidents to bother with. (though there certainly were a lot of "rain" novice drivers out!)

Ok, onto some inexpensive dinner segment:

Last night, I started to make Tinola, a Filipino chicken dish with broth, ginger, and pepper leaves.

Last week, I got the drumstick family pack- it had 18 in it for exactly $7.00

I used:
7 Drumsticks----------------------------------$2.72
1/4 Onion, 1 lb. head (H-Mart,.39/lb)----------.10
1 Pepper Leaves, frozen (H-Mar, 2.99)------$2.99
4 cups Jasmine rice (Costco,50lb., abt $22, Dec)-FREE
Spices and water- FREE

$2.72 + .10 + $2.99 = $5.81 / 5 = $1.16 a plate! (And we had seconds with just rice and broth!)

The best part, all of our dinners, we've had enough leftovers that fed at least two for lunch or late snack!

If you add the cost of the rice, 4 cups (typical amount used) is about 2 lbs, so...
.44 a pound x 2 = 88 cents only to feed 5 people with enough leftover for one person for lunch the next day.

Food Budget Trick: I don't use a lot of meat in feeding my family, so I end up portioning it through small cuts and smaller amounts before it hits the freezer. If a recipe calls for a pound of red meat, I decide how much less meat I want to use. Normally, 1/4 to 1/2 lb. is enough to feed us and have some for the next day.

Lesson learned today, don't use lumber for any small projects. *sigh* :-D

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

SH Day 3- Oodles & Noodles!

Oodles of talents, that's what! J-Pony had her very first Activity Days Talent Show tonight. It was amazing! The girls are oozing with talents-from singing to dancing to instruments and skits! J-Pony participated in a skit and she also played Ode to Joy in her recorder. Very well I might add...

Then, we came home and we made dinner. A little late, and the kids had dessert first (after the Talent Show, were treats), but since L-Infinity came home with 5 medals last Saturday, we decided to make something rich and inexpensive at the same time! A "Blue Plate Special" moment!

Tonight's dinner was for L's accomplishment last Saturday and for announcing that her AC/DEC team- made it to STATE! They'll be competing in Houston the last weekend of this month!

So, I made... SS Pasta! SS for Spinach and Shrimp on a top of a boatload of pasta. Ok, only one package but it was so rich you'd think one plate is unmanageable! This is my "quick to impress" dish that gets made in a jiffy!

Food Budget Trick: Since we do grocery shopping every two weeks, the same items we buy are considered paid for by the third week. So if a pantry or fridge item's dated 3 weeks or older, we consider it FREE since the food budget's been replaced. Also, frozen veggies are strictly budgeted for the normal sale price of the area for inexpensive stock up. (here, $1 a bag)

Ok, here's what I used and how much:
Barilla Thin Spaghetti (1 pkg, sale)---99 cents
Shrimp, 1/3lb. ($3.99/lb)--------- $1.33
1/2 bag frozen Spinach ($1 bag)---- 50 cents
1 cup margarine ($3.49 qt)----------87 cents
1 cup milk ($2.29 gal)-------------- 14 cents
1/2 cup grated parmesan (Costco 2-pk, Jan)-FREE
Apple cider (Target 2-gal, Jan)-FREE

.99 + 1.33 + .50 + .87 + .14 = $3.83 / 5 = 77 cents a plate! Yeah! That "$10 Dinners" show host has nothing on me! LOL

Monday, February 1, 2010

SH Day 2- 95 cents a Plate!

We had to buy milk, bananas and toothpaste today for our needs, but food for dinner, noooo problem!

Last week, I got these Hormel Polish Sausage 2-pk, BIGIF for $4.99. So that made it $2.50 each pk for us. Then in the freezer, I had these two store brand frozen bags of stir-fry veggies with rice that only cost me $1 each. What to make, what to make?

A one dish wonder called Sausage Stir-fry!

I only used one of the sausages, making it $1.25 + $2, subtotal- $3.25

Then, my children found a box of family size brownies in the pantry, that cost me $1.49 (on sale, $2, reg. $2.50) since I bought it with a promo of B10G$5off from Kroger.

We only had water and 1 full plate each (that's all we needed, oddly enough).

So let's see... $1.25 + $2 + $1.49 = $4.74 / 5 of us = .945 or 95 cents a plate + dessert!

Can't beat that!