Archive | February 2014

March Challenge

I have a huge freezer in the garage.  I am continually stocking it with things that I find on sale.

My freezer before.  Unorganized, full of frost, and full of food that needs to be utilized.

My freezer before. Unorganized, full of frost, and full of food that needs to be utilized.

I buy bread from the bread store about once a month and I store the bread in there until needed for lunches etc.  I buy French bread and Italian bread  from Wal-Mart when it is on clearance for about a dollar a loaf to help stretch our dinners.  I buy meats that are on sale, such as hams that were on clearance after Christmas or chicken breasts when on sale for $1.69 per pound.

This is all well and good until you need to defrost the beast.  I have been needing to defrost the freezer for some time.  I haven’t gotten around to it.  The ice buildup is so bad that I have 3 baskets that won’t fit  and allow the freezer to close properly with all of the ice buildup.

So, my March challenge is to organize and clear out the freezer so that I am able to defrost it.

It won’t be easy.

First off, I need to clean out my indoor freezer so that I can keep the things that I really need available through this process.  With 7 kids, we need bread etc.  The kitchen freezer will be critical to my success.  Also, I do have much of a whole pig out in the freezer. Of course, I don’t intend to eat all of that pork in a month, but I do want to get it organized to a point that it fits into a crate or two.

My plan is for March is because it is still quite cold here.  I can put my crates of organized food in the garage where it will still be really cold, unplug, clean and defrost the freezer.   I will then put it back together into a cleaned and organized space ready to be utilized.

Besides needing and wanting to get this done, I am hoping the cleaned and organized freezer will help me in a new goal of saving for a short cruise for all 9 of us.  The budget is fairly tight, so I am trying to cut our grocery, household, and miscellaneous spending and use the unspent funds to pay for the cruise.  I don’t know how it will go, but I’d really like to meet this goal.

How about you, are you putting off any chores etc. that you really should do?  I’m going to bite the bullet and get something done.    Here’s to a great March!

Ann

Cruise Pictures

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

Here are the cruise pictures I promised.  My mom has the pictures that the cruise photographers took, but here are some shots from my iPhone.

It was an awesome trip and get away.   We did a 7 night cruise on the Oasis of the Seas.

There were some surprises along the way.    First off, I got to the airport as the plane that was to leave to Charlotte right before mine was cancelled and unloaded.  Then we heard that the Charlotte airport was closed until 8 am.  Our flight was supposed to leave at 7 am, but they delayed it until 8 am., and then 9 am.  I was a nervous wreck.  Then they announced over the PA system that there were zero seats available out of the airport for the rest of the day.  Our plane finally loaded to head out about 9 am and I had a connecting flight at 9:50.  Not likely to happen as it was more than an hour flight.  My husband was awesome and kept me in the loop and encouraged that the connecting flight was likely to be delayed too.  It was, and I finally made it to Ft. Lauderdale 3 hours later than I planned, but I made it!!!

Then later that night we ordered an $18 pizza from the hotel and they charged us $12 to bring it upstairs from the kitchen.  I was ticked.

Our $18 turned $30 pizza!

Then, the same hotel where we paid an arm and a leg to stay for one night, charged us 75 cents plus tax to make a local call.  They charged that to my credit card.  Ugh.

I don’t travel enough to realize that they charge you for everything!!!

We got to the ship with no problems.  I knew that they charge for everything 😉

Our room was very nice.  We had a balcony room overlooking “Central Park”.

It was a beautiful view.

The view from the 14th floor.

The view from the 14th floor.

We saw all of the shows.  They were great!

We had plenty to eat.  They had delicious food and desserts (my weakness)  They had baked Alaska, white chocolate mousse, rum cake a la mode and many more.   For my mom who was stuffed after the main meal, a plate of nothing.

A plate of nothing.

A plate of nothing.

We did the zip line in Labadee, Haiti.  We climbed Dunn River Falls in Jamaica.  That was an awesome and amazing excursion.  It was a hard and long climb up the falls, but it was a really fun time.  We even got “baptized” in the falls.   We did the tour and shop at Cozumel Island.  The ocean is such a pretty bunch of colors of blue it is amazing.  It sure beats seeing the ocean in Florida.

Beautiful ocean view from Jamaica

Beautiful ocean view from Jamaica.

My Aunt heard all of the talk about the different types of Rum on our excursion and had to give the JB (Jamaican Best) a try.  She said it wasn’t even that hot going down!  Wow!

My Aunt drinking a shot of JB--Jamaican Best

coco-loco

It was a fun trip.  It was nice to get away and regroup.  After being home for a week, it almost feels like I didn’t even go.  My husband says believe him, I left 😉

How about you, how do you regroup and recharge?  I’d love to hear.

Ann

February Update on Christmas Savings for 2014

money

It’s been a while since I updated on my Christmas savings for 2014.  I am trying to come up with $2500 for Christmas so that we can have a well planned out, stress free Christmas.  When I last posted about this topic I had $239.

I am happy to report that I now have $440 for Christmas.  I am chugging away with my goal.

I am finding out that the first battle is getting a plan, which I have (to save $2500).  The second battle is working the plan that I made, which I am so far (setting money aside when my husband gets paid and saving any unexpected cash that I can get my hands on).  But by far, the hardest battle for me is not touching the money.  I seem to always have something that wants to wreck my plan.

How do you keep your plan rolling down the track?  Are you preparing for Christmas?

Ann

Home Sweet Home

home sweet home

I hit the door around 8 pm Saturday night.

I was welcomed home to a beautiful welcome home party.  It was A’s idea to put streamers all around the dining room to celebrate my homecoming.

dining room streamers

My husband and kids got me the Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook that I had been wanting.  I went away for more than a week and I got presents!  I am loved!

ada with present

the lodge cookbook

L, my 15 month old daughter didn’t recognize me, and that hurt a little.  She didn’t want me to hold her.  She wanted my husband.  It took an hour or more to get her to warm up to me.  A, my 7-year-old daughter  was HYPER.  She was so glad to see me.  It must be a girl thing.  She bounced around the house all night 🙂

The boys were glad to see me, but it wasn’t as stressful for them not having me here, I guess.  They were interested in the presents that I brought home.  I got everyone a T-shirt.  My thinking is that we don’t need anything else cluttering the place up and I know that they wear them to death.  I got cool cups from the ship (drink of the day) and everyone got one of those too.  Again, functional, not clutter.

It was a fun time away.  I got to see my Mom and Aunt for a week.  We had warm, sunny days in the 80’s, we ate and ate ( I gained 5 pounds), and we watched all of the shows.  I tried  roasted duck for the first time.  It was not greasy as I had heard.  I climbed a waterfall.  I learned about tequila and tried a variety of flavors.  I bought some hot sauce for my boys to critique.  I walked and walked and walked.  That ship was huge and no matter what, we got off of the elevator and it was the LONG way back to the room.  We got up early and enjoyed our days to the fullest.  It was an awesome time.

I was gone long enough to be ready to face my many challenges head-on again.

With 7 children the challenges are many, but I wouldn’t change a thing…well, maybe a couple of things 😉  It is hard.  I am growing people, 7 different people.  All with different gifts and challenges.  I am hopeful that the work I am doing will help grow good productive people who will make the world a better place.  People who will marry, grow, work hard, produce good fruit, and teach their own children the lessons that I am trying to teach them.

Here we go again.

Ann

Heading Home

I am currently riding on the last leg of my trip. It has been a wonderful time away. I spent a lot of time with my Mom and Aunt. I don’t get to do that much.

We took a Royal Caribbean cruise on the ship called Oasis of the Seas. It was huge! We spent the entire week walking. It seemed no matter what elevator we got off of, it was the long way back to the room :). It took us several days to figure out which restaurants were free and which cost extra fees (there weren’t many). It also took a day to figure out where to get coffee early in the morning. The food was awesome, and there was so much of it. Needless to say I ate too much.

We saw all of the shows. They were great! There was plenty to do every day. We really had some good times together.

I will post some pictures soon.

Right now I can’t wait to see my husband and kids!

Ann

Gone For A Week

I’ll be gone for a week for a wonderful cruise vacation with my Mom and Aunt. I will get back into the groove of posting when I return. Bon Voyage!

Fun Cub Scout Pack Meeting

S is 9 years old and a Bear scout. He has been really enjoying his den meetings as they are a small group of boys where they get to do lots of hands-on activities.

He doesn’t usually like the pack meetings as they talk a lot and he has to just sit, listen, and watch himself and others in his pack get awards. Boring!

Yesterday he had shooting 4H and a pack meeting. He loves the shooting 4H because they shoot guns and bow and arrows. What’s not to love? Anyway, shooting 4H was getting ready for elections so it was a “no shooting” night.

S rationalized that if there was no shooting he wouldn’t mind missing the meeting and doing the Cub Scout pack meeting instead. Boy was he ever glad!

They had a Boy Scout Scoutmaster from a nearby troop come to the meeting to do a knot-tying demonstration. S loved it! He mastered all of the knots that they taught. He helped the kids and even some adults to learn to tie the knots when he had each mastered.

Paracord  Keychain

Paracord key chain is yellow and black.  The grey round thing is a monkey fist (I think) :/

The Scoutmaster also had a goodie bag that each of the kids got to pick out of that had parachute cord “key chains”. They aren’t really key chains, but if I had one that is what I would use it for 🙂 He showed the boys different things they could make with the parachute cord too.

S loved that it was hands-on and that he can use these knots when he moves up to Boy Scouts which is in “just 2 years”. It was a lot of fun. Here are some pictures from the meeting.

Paracprd trivets

Paracord Trivets

Paracord Belt with carabiner latch

Paracord belt with double carabiner latch.

Bowline knot

Bowline knot

Beginning of knot tying lesson.

S at the beginning of knot tying lesson.