Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fast Food Fast and Food Stamps Budget

It's Ash Wednesday. Somehow I got confused and convinced myself that last week was Ash Wednesday so I am a whole lot more prepared than I would have been then!  Last night we celebrated Fat Tuesday with Fettucini Alfredo, Roasted Chicken and Banana Pudding.  Hence forth, desserts (rare as hen's teeth around here) will only make occasional appearances on Sundays and feast days.

This year we will take our third go at living with a "food stamps budget."  The average SNAP benefit for a family of 6 is about $925/month, about $5.07 per person per day, so that's what we will go with. In our past experience, we have found we can eat healthy food with no problem, but virtually no eating out and very few convenience foods fit our budget.  I am thinking of adding a new spin this year and paying cash to make it easier to be sure we meet our budget. Our Fast Food Fast for Lent is easier with the Food Stamps Budget; we just don't have the resources to grab that food very often or at all.

I have talked to Sunshine about it; teens need advance notice of such things --but I will talk to the little ones tonight over our simple meal of soup and biscuits. They are still young enough to need reminding about Lent and why we make sacrifices.

Sunshine had a great idea: Near the end of Lent, we will take $100 and use it to distribute food to the homeless in our community. This will be an excellent way to "press out" our sacrifice in a way that our children can relate to. Sunshine has a big heart for the less fortunate. I have a few weeks to figure out how best to accomplish this!

Our family does not typically give up sweets for Lent, but we do cut back on having sweets around the house and available. I'm thinking now of the Girl Scout cookies we just bought and how I'd better put them in the pantry until Sunday. Fortunately, I employed a lot of restraint in my cookie purchases.

Well it is Ash Wednesday so I'd better go fix the Littles some lunches or they will eat chicken nuggets at school!  Does your family observe Lent (or something similar) and if so, do you make a sacrifice as a family?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Back to Old Town

A couple of months back, it began dawning on me that the charter school was not the right place for Tinker and The Blitz. It was a tough decision for "bloom-where-you-are-planted" me but in the end, we decided to move them back to their home campus of Old Town Elementary.

We have only had good experiences at Old Town. Initially I started Tinker in a charter school for Kinder so she and The Captain would not be in the same school in the same grade. I wanted him to have a chance to blossom on his own. That worked but since this year, The Captain followed me to Forest Creek, the conflict would not be there. 

We moved them over the break and it has been wonderful. Tinker is getting only "good marks" for behavior and The Blitz has had a total turnaround in writing confidence. They needed a chance to succeed; they are too young to give up on school.

Don't misunderstand; I think their charter school is a great school and we loved our teachers there. The teaching methodology was not a good fit, however, for these two early learners. Additionally, I think the numbers of students who were ahead of grade level also impacts the experience for kids like our little guys.

So, for now, la vie en rose!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Auld Lang Syne

Where did the days go?  We are but a few days from the end of the year and I've made nary a post for months.  Thank you, Wilma, for waking me from my reverie.

Huntley Family Reunion -- what a blessing!
I got a new job in August in a Functional Communication classroom of students with autism and that took my focus for September. We then had the supreme pleasure of having my parents nearby for a little over 2 months which was a joy and delight. Then suddenly it was Advent and here we are.  I have little in the way of pictures  to share -- I was technologically challenged for several months --but will end the year with a few sweet notes from Autumn. Guess I need my parents and brothers to send me some photos!  Please forgive me for the really blurry iPod shots! Just a handful of sweet memories!

Pajama day for the Blitz with Ms. Mahoney.  Kinder is the BEST.

Sunshine's first day of school
All the Littles think a "store-bought" veggie tray is a gourmet treat! 

The makings of Thai Salad; just one of a hundred lunches we took to school!

Fancy hair tattoos courtesy of Pepper

Nothing makes us happier than hand-me-downs!

Kindergarten is exhausting!

The Captain's first day of school at Mom's School. 

Pepper's first day of college

Lunchbag. Pepper and I had a one-week before school sewing marathon.  This is the only thing that got photographed!

Fabulous cousin time at our Cousin Camp Family Reunion
It has been a whirlwind few months and I am grateful, grateful as the year draws to a close. I hope your new year is blessed!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Haircuts, a Lunchbox and Other Joys

Pepper is home for the long weekend and I was ever so glad to see her take out the clippers.  She let all the kids pick out their own hair do and they are a bit extreme -- but SO cute.  She did a great job.  Here are the "before," "during" and "afters" of Tink:

The pictures don't do it justice; it's adorable.

Here's the Blitz's new cut; he says we have to call him "Flash" now:

He's not so "Flash"y when he gets home from school. Kindergarten is leaving him completely shagged out.  The other day I went to Weight Watchers and when I got home at 6:30, this is how he was:

Daddy put him to bed and he didn't wake until 5:30 the next morning! Thankfully he'd been fed first!

Here is The Captain with his cool cut. I love his curls but he loves the shaved head.  At least Pepper convinced him to add a little decoration!

Finally, I did squeeze in time to make a new lunchbox from scraps I had around. I priced out new lunch boxes on Amazon and at Target and they are SO expensive!  It's lined in oilcloth and insulated. The total cost was $1 for the drawstring.  I love it because it's big enough for a bento box and a soda standing up.  I bought a book of lunchbox patterns on Kindle.  I'm working on another one now.    Pepper got inspired and made her own but I didn't get a picture and it's at SFA now.

Monday, August 11, 2014

School Days

Believe it or not, school has started here in Central Texas. The Blitz and Tinker go to Meridian World School, a charter school nearby.  They start early, take a week off in October and finish a week earlier than everyone else. It works for me!

So the Blitz is in kindergarten. He was fine, but I cried after I left him! He seems too little for school but looks very enthusiastic in these shots.

But he was happy and excited and thinks Ms. Mahoney is the bomb!

Tinker is also very happy to be back in school and practically pushed me out the door. She's a firecracker, that one.

In two weeks Pepper heads to school and then The Captain. More photos to come!

A Clever Homemade Toy - Faux "Find-It"

I've been quiet here because I've been in the summer doldrums. I can't blame the weather.

 Most years by August we are all hunkered down under the nearest A/C vent glowering at each other like trolls because we CAN'T-TAKE-THE-HEAT one more minute! Not the case this year; we had one of the longest winters I have had in my 36 years of Texas life. I did not send the kids to school in shorts until May. We couldn't swim without freezing until well into June and even then it was too cold for me. These past couple of weeks have had very warm days but the evenings and mornings are tolerable, even cool.

Just as it started getting good and hot, we headed. to vacation. Yep that's right! Months ago we planned a fun family reunion at a campground in Colorado and we just got back.

We have taken many a road trip so we have good coping skills, but something new is always fun, right?  I sat down with Pepper to order car bingo and sketch books and she suggested "Find It" which we'd seen in the doctor's offices. It's that clear tube filled with beads and there are tiny objects hidden within it.  We did find them online but they are $20 each. That was more than seemed reasonable. Pepper immediately said, I can make one -- and devoted her day to doing so.

Here is the result. She decided to make it into a robot. Isn't it adorable?  She used little stuff we had around, like keys, pencils, buttons, etc. She used beads from her collection and one day she can have them back! She found a little light that she attached to the top so when they shake it, the light comes on. The kids were wild about it!

Because they need a key for what to look for, she cleverly attached duplicate items to a ribbon to help them see exactly what they are looking for. Isn't it clever?

You could make an even simpler version by not trying to make it cute like Pepper did. If you make your own, be sure to let me know!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

I think the man of the hour had a great day.  He looks pretty relaxed here, right?

Pepper and her fella decided to fix a beautiful feast for us. They made roasted salmon (which I forgot to photograph), cauliflower "Cous Cous"

Luscious sweet potatoes

Here is the whole plate:

And they topped it off with  truly the most amazing cake I have ever eaten.  And I have eaten a little cake in my lifetime.

Now that is saying something. Ever. EVER.

It was amazing. It was delectable. It was memorable. I will never run out of adjectives! They spent hours in the kitchen and it was so beautiful.

(Here they are with our favorite photo bomber.)

I think I am really getting used to having an adult for a child. Oh, my goodness, it was sublime. Can I get a witness? Oh wait, I've got one -- Grandma was here. Here she is playing paper dolls with Tinker.

Happy Father's Day everyone!