Friday, February 4, 2011

Show us your Life - What do you feed your kids

Kelly, over at Kelly's Korner is hosting the "Show us your Life" series again and this week she is looking for What you feed your kids!  I've talked in previous posts about how much I struggle with figuring out what to feed my kids for lunch.  I followed all of the "good" rules and made my own baby food, introduced any and all fruits and vegetables (even the ones I did not like and make me gag to cook!) and my now 2 year old, ate every single one . .. until he turned 1 1/2 years old . . than he started to be a little pickier.  Now, he comes to the table, looks at the plate and says . . "Nooooo,  Thank you", and than smiles.  I can already hear some of you saying - don't give them a choice or serve them the food and they will eat it.  Well, this is what I've learned, every child is different!  My 1 year old would eat a cob of corn WITHOUT the corn on it but my 2 year old, well, he'd prefer cheese or . . . .cheese.  Don't worry, we don't have "kid food" in the house that is just for them or cook separate meals for them but what I do when I plan all of our meals is to try and include one item that I know each child will eat.  (For Nate, that is ANYTHING and for Josh - well, I have to be creative)  Than, when we fix their plates, we include a little of everything --every single time.  Sometimes he surprises us and sometimes, he just doesn't eat more than a piece of bread.  But again, guess what I've learned - when a kid is hungry, they will eat!!  So here are a couple of pictures and a few more ideas :-)

 A little while ago I posted about a great book called Funky Lunch and yes, I ordered it!  It is super cute and I made our first lunch using that book as a guide.  Ok, so I'm not an artist - this is NOT a letter "A" but rather a rocket.  I used ham and cheese for filling and than made the rocket flares from carrot and cheese.  Our Teddy Grahams were the Astronauts :-)  Did Josh eat it? NO!  He was NOT impressed hahahaha  But it is just a way to be creative.  Normally, I always include a fruit (apples or grapes our his favorites) but it just didn't happen today.
Another thing I've done is incorporate Muffin Tin Monday.  There are all kinds of websites out there but the concept is just to put foods in the tin.  This weeks theme was "Favorite Foods" so I did cheese quesadillas, black olives, grapes, chips and salsa, and white chocolate chips.  Notice the hand is grabbing the quesadilla???  I expected him to grab the chocolate chips first but he ate the whole tortilla first before moving on to the other things. 

Some other ideas for lunch:
1) Crescent wrap ups - Either wrap a crescent roll around the little mini-hot dogs and cook them up or, lay out the crescent dough, spread a little cream cheese mixture on top and than roll up and cut into slices and cook.  What to mix in the cream cheese?  Anything!  I use dry ranch dip and than will add chicken and veggies. 
2) Squished Sandwiches - take a slice of bread and cut off the crust (it is easier to roll) than roll it thin like a tortilla, spread your favorite filling (PB and J) on it and roll it up!  It is amazing how a "roll up" verses a sandwich tastes better
3) Quesadillas - you can throw anything in there - cheese, meat, veggies, the sky is the limit
4) Grilled Cheese - use cookie cutters to make it more festive and throw in some shredded carrot - it matches the cheese
** Again - I know that some people say "don't hide the veggies" - I disagree.  If you have a child who sees a veggie and turns their nose up at, there isn't anything wrong with sneaking veggies into places they can't see.  Trust me, as an adult, I sneak things into our food so we can't taste it too!!
5) Cheese and Crackers - again, use cookie cutters to cut the cheese into cute shapes and get fun crackers. 

I do believe in the mantra that says if you just keep putting it on their plate they will taste it eventually so don't give up.  Pick one fruit or veggie and use it every day for a month - your child may surprise you.  My kids both LOVE apples and grapes, as I mentioned, so I try to keep those on hand all of the time than I try to introduce other fruits/veggies along with those. 

The other BIG thing I've learned since planning lunches for kids - is that you HAVE to plan.  For myself I can just say "leftovers" but with kids - you must have food on hand that they will eat and if you make something for the adults for dinner that the kids really can't eat - make sure and plan something for them (i.e - something way too spicy or even a true soup - make homemade bread and give them a PB and J sandwich with the bread along with some fruit)

Enjoy :-)

For all of my regular readers (and non-regular readers!) I did a "ton" of posts today on everything from coupons to my Home Management Binder - just wrapping up some projects and getting some older posts finally posted so feel free to check those out as well!  . . click on the header and than just scroll down to check them all out!

Organization Challenge - Week 1 Update

As the end of Week 1 with A Bowl Full of Lemons Organizational Challenge comes to an end, I'm very happy with the progress I've made on my Home Management Binder.
Take a quick moment, if you would like, and read my original Post or just keep on reading - see what I did and where I found some great resources!

First, I am still a Flylady believer through and through - the Home Management Binder is basically, a Control Journal.  I found that my simple control journal, though, needed some tweaking and, since I'm more of the bossy management type of person, I liked the name "Home Management Binder"  It just sounds so much more "professional", doesn't it?

 Remember, this is what I started with - just a binder, some pretty paper, and my label maker. (which I actually got has a birthday gift about 10 years ago and it gets alot of use!)

I already had these cute page separators from my old control journal.  I used the information from A Bowl Full of Lemons, Organized Home, and A Day in My Life.  By reading through those suggested sections for a notebook, I narrowed down what I thought I really needed.  My topics and what is going in each one is as follows:
1.) Calendars - I have both a week at a glance page (which you can get free here) and a set of Month at a glance calendars as well (I purchased those from CleanMamaPrintables).  Someday, when my family has schedules, I'll put those in this area as well. 
2) Cleaning - This is the section where a copy of my Morning, Afternoon, and Before Bed Routines live.  As well, as detailed cleaning lists, weekly cleaning lists, and "other" cleaning lists reside as well.  One of my "simplify" goals has been to rewrite my to do lists and my routines to make them less of a burden and this project hit the nail on the head.  Through one of the blogs I follow, I found this other blog called A Day In My Life.  She showed a concept she had learned called "A Daily Docket".  When I saw it - I knew that is what has been in my head and, the best thing? Just e-mail her and she will send you a copy - FREE!!  When I got her print outs (which include a Daily to do list, Weekly List and a Monthly Cleaning list) I than tweaked it more to fit my own needs.  I will be laminating them after I live with them for a week so that I can than just reuse them over and over.  I am SOOO excited about this and to share the love, you can click here to actually see what I did in Excel with my documents. 
3) Menu Planning - As I've stated in other posts, another area of simplifying has been in menu planning.  So in the section, my breakdown of our favorite recipes will be housed as well as each menu that I prepare.  I'm also printing off each recipe that goes with that certain weeks menu so that when I come back to it (in a rotating fashion) I'll already have the recipes.  I think eventually I'll have about a 5-6 week rotation where I'll than throw in new stuff or those odd recipes that we only have every great once in awhile.  If you would like to see my Menu Planner just click here.
4) Finances - We are really trying to rein in our finances - more in keeping track of our spending and using the "envelope" system that I learned years ago from Mary Hunt.  I found some cute printables from CleanMamaPrintables that fit what I had in mind.  I love that I did not have to create them!! 
5) To Do - This section is where I'll house my on-going to do list with all of those things I can never seem to remember! I also have an "All Over Everyone" shopping list in there too where I can list all of those things I need to pick up at misc. stores so that when I do get into town, I can just grab that sheet and go without having to think about it.  I also picked that up at CleanMamaPrintables
6) Medical - This is self-explanatory, I think.  I have a sheet that I got here where I can keep track of appointments, doctors, pharmacy's ect for each person throughout the year. It is just a quick "at a glance" type of sheet which will be handy for quick reminders.
7) Family - This is where I will keep a page of personal info on each family; clothing size tracker; birthdays/anniversary dates; recommended websites; etc.  Just mics items for the family.  Organized Home has tons of free printables that you can use for this (as well as many of the other dividers as well)
8) Contacts - A long time ago, I created a spread sheet in Excel that I use as my address book.  I update it periodically, print it and put it in my binder.  I also plan on keeping a list of who to send Christmas Cards to in this section as well as it is different than my address binder.  That way, each year I know how many photos to order without having to scramble at the last minute and order more!
9) Home Management - I plan on keeping my home storage inventory in this section - all of my storage bins are numbered; than I keep a master list of what is in each bin.  When I need something, I can just look at the list, see what bin it is in, and easily find it.  I also did this for my large storage cabinet in the bathroom which houses everything from bath supplies to my large serving platters to kitchen items that are 'specialaized' like a chocolate fountain (yum!) Also in this section I will keep party planners, home remodeling ideas, a list of appliances/repair dates and home inventories.
10) Projects - I keep MY projects in this section.  For example, I have a master list of all of my scrapbook projects that I'm working on or want to do - this is now in this section; I also keep my current craft project list with lists of supplies needed here in this section and I have some blank paper to write down new ideas.
11) Goals - This is where I keep the hard copy of all of those Life on Purpose/Goal sheets I've written for this year. 
12) Travel - I keep my camping list (all of my bins are organized and I have a list of what is in each one) here, information about places we like to go to and also ideas for future trips.  Also, I have a Packing Control Journal that sits here as well. 

This sheet I keep at the very front of my Notebook and it will have the emergency info on it - I also got this from CleanMamaPrintables.

The Week at a Glance Calendar

Monthly Calendars
This is still a work in progress.  Over the next few months, I know I'll tweak, add and/or remove sections because I either don't use them or they don't "make sense" to my life right now.  But it is already 100 % better than it used to be!

About printables - Yes, I purchased some printables from CleanMamaPrintables - they were neat and they were already done!!  In doing more searching I did find many things out there for free -some of them as neat as her stuff and some just kinda "plain jane" so it kinda depends on what you are looking for and how much YOU want to create yourself.  Creating my To Do sheets took me a day and a half and that was using someone's creation as a guide so buying some of the printables really was worth the time it saved me and, I don't know how to created what she did for the most part anyway (at least to make it look the way she did!)

I know I've shared TONS of info, links, etc in this post but the Home Management Notebook is a HUGE tool.  It gathers all of our family documents into one place; it allows us freedom because we aren't searching for stuff we need at the last minute; it organizes all of our daily, monthly, yearly routines - from cleaning to doctor's appointment - into one place; and, in case of a fire, tornado, hurricane (ok, maybe not in Michigan haha) all I have to do is grab that notebook on my way out the door and I have everything I need to keep our family going. 
So, I feel like I accomplished many things this week by just getting this one challenge done :-)  Can't wait for the next one!

Savings Angel

Shopping Success :-)  This is my third week using Savings Angel and it has really made a difference!  This week, I was really just shopping the deals since I did the bulk of my shopping for two weeks, last Friday.  See all of this stuff??? It would have cost, at full price, $68.96 but I only paid . .. . .$22.83 so that is a savings of $46.13  Can you believe it?  And yes, it is stuff that we use or like to have as special treats but I seldom buy (chip dip, pretzel bites, ect) because it never fit into the budget.  My best deals?  That Chip Dip - normally is $1.50 and I got it for $0.24; The cheese singles run $7.79 for the two packs but I paid $1.88; the pretzels are $2.62 normally and I paid $0.81. 
The more I use this system the more I love it.  I know it isn't for everyone because of the monthly fee but it has simplified so much for me - the coupon search, the coupon cutting and storing (because now I only cut out what I need for that week) and just the stress from shopping.  Yes, I'm still working on stocking up on things - for example . . I had to by Toilet Paper today - I couldn't get a great deal because we HAD to have it but one of the deals I'm watching for is Toilet Paper!!! 

If you don't enjoy reading my savings post - just skip this one (normally on Friday night) - I'm posting it because it is a great record for myself to show how much I'm saving :-)

Savings Angel

I mentioned in my meal planning post not long ago that I was trying out for a two week trial just to see what happens.  I went shopping today, 01/21/11, and this is my SavingsAngel proof:
See all that stuff - the regular price on all of that would have been $53.82.  That's a lot of dough!  But, what did I pay?  Are you sitting down?  I paid . . . . . . $18.00.  Seriously.  Between sales, matching coupons with the help of SavingsAngel and being a MPerks member at Meijer - I only paid $18.00 for all of that stuff!  And yes, it is stuff we use.  To make it even more real, I had to buy juice this week - we were out; I had to buy butter tubs this week - we were out; I needed corn for a meal and we had no chips in the house.  The cleaning stuff - I'm so excited!  I haven't bought cleaning stuff in a long time as I was using up things I had on hand and, boy, I've missed that Pine-Sol smell.  See the two Tilex bottles - I ended up getting both of them for $1.00 - normally $8.22.  I'm super, duper excited!  On top of that, my grocery budget right now is $100.00.  Today, I spent $89.40 and yes, that includes that $18.00.  I'm in shock, trust me.  Now, even my husband is a skeptic of this whole program so I know one week won't prove that this is worth the monthly fee BUT, I'm pretty sure it will be.  I only paid $5.00 for the two week trial and I saved $35.82 on one trip. 

When I went through the list on SavingsAngel I was very careful to only chose things that we use; I don't want to stock up on things that we don't use. Plus, I had a goal to only spend $20.00 of my grocery budget on "stock-ups"  Needless to say I can't WAIT to see the new posting this next week, plan my grocery list, and see how much I can save!!

Lets see if I'm as excited next week as I am this week ;-)

Week Two - 1/28/11
WHEW!  That is all I have to say.  Because of how our grocery money lined up against the budget the next few weeks, I shopped for two weeks at once and let me tell you, that is not fun!  From the planning, to the "couponing" (Is that a word??) to the shopping.  I had to get a second cart by the time I hit the frozen section!  I don't have a picture to show this week of my Saving Angels Savings - it was too hard to do while trying to sort the groceries to put them away (frozen stuff downstairs, stuff needed for recipes this week upstairs, stuff needed for next week and stock pile items to the pantry, bathroom items, etc - too much sorting!)  But I do have totals for you :-)  The items that I specifically took from Savings Angel would have totaled $100.38 if I had paid full price for all of the items but, it only cost me $62.85 - a savings total of $37.53.  This included a good Conditioner that normally runs $4.00 that I got for $0.99, a bag of salad that was free after buying 2 bottles of dressing (which I needed and had a $1.00 coupon for!), getting dish detergant free (a $6.58 value) when I bought a rinse agent for that I had a $0.75 coupon for.  Plus throw in two boxes of diapers AND the fact that I didn't notice she charged me for three boxes of toaster strudal when I only bought two :-(  

There is one other disclaimer on this week's total - I shop at Meijer and this week was "Meijer Sale Week" - it is a huge sale on all things Meijer brand meaning there were not as many coupons to match up to name brand sale items.  I did also stock up on some Meijer items that were seperate from Savings Angel and I didn't include in the total. 

Am I going to keep going with Savings Angel? Yes.  I'm going to give it one full month and see what happens from there.  I'm learning to use the website more in order to get better deals and I'm starting to get a nice set of coupons to use which helps too!

So with that said, I'm tired! 

On a side note, if you decide to try Savings Angel - let me know, I have a code you can plug in and I get "credit" for you ($5.00 for each person - which goes toward my monthly fee!)

Thanks :-)