26 May 2006

Apparently, you CAN buy love

Last year when Frugalboy was in kindergarten, I was able to spend at least an hour a week in his classroom, helping kids with reading, math, etc. I would go while Frugalgirl1 was in preschool, and my sister-in-law and I traded babysitting, so she'd keep Frugalgirl2.

Fast forward to this school year. Frugalgirl1 started kindergarten, but with a different teacher. Frugalboy was in first grade. Both teachers didn't seem to need as much help in the classroom as last year's teacher. Plus I was hugely pregnant. I didn't want to commit to anything regular because I knew that having a newborn would make it impossible to be in the classroom often. So because of the enormous load of guilt that I feel for not volunteering in their classrooms, I find other ways to help out. Usually it involves time at home. For example, for Frugalboy's class I put together a themed basket for the school's auction. For Frugalgirl's class I cut out hundreds (well, maybe dozens) of paper hearts and took them in for the kids to make Valentine's cards. When their teachers send home notes saying they are in need of tissues, erasers, or antibacterial hand gel, I try and send what they need the very next day.

Frugalboy's teacher does some sort of reading program (if I spent time in the classroom I might actually know the details) wherein she rewards the kids with Tootsie Pops. I have sent a bag or two to school throughout the school year. A couple weeks ago, Frugalboy told me that they were out of Tootsie Pops and needed more. So last week while I was shopping at one of my favorite stores for Frugalgirl2's birthday present (and I know I still haven't blogged about the birthday--I downloaded the pictures off my camera so I haven't forgotten about it yet) I walked down the candy aisle and saw a huge box of Tootsie Pops. I also saw the regular-sized bags of them, and because I am Frugalmom, I did some quick division in my head and the per-pop cost in the box was about 3 cents less than the bag. So I bought it.

The next day I sent it to school with Frugalboy, and when he came home he said that his teacher was so glad I'd sent it, and she had told the whole class, and they were all so impressed. A little more of the guilt lifted from my shoulders and I figured that was that.

Then yesterday he brought home a collection of handmade thank-you cards from the students in the class. Among them...

"Thank you for the Totsy Pops!!!"
"Thank you so much for the tootsy Pops. We need them so much!"
"thank's for the toosy pop's."
"Thank you for the Tose pops! Bring more"
"Thank you for the Tastie Tootsie Pops. You Rock!!!!!!!"
"Can you Bring more tusee pops plees!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??"
and my personal favorite:
"Dear Mommy, I hope you like the cards everyone is giveing you. gues what. I have six books to go until I get one."

I felt SO loved and appreciated!

So I guess you CAN buy the love of a first grader. With an $8 box of Tootsie Pops.

25 May 2006

Eight, Nine, Ten...Ready or Not, Here I Come!

It's not often I get to see my babies asleep, since I put them to bed awake and then shut the door, so when I saw this I had to grab the camera.

24 May 2006

Blue State/Red State

Yesterday was primary election day. The whole thing is quite annoying. It is virtually impossible to find information about the candidates and where they stand on the issues. Frugaldad and I spent quite some time dialed up on the dub-ya dub-ya dub-ya trying to figure out which candidates were the best (or at least the better of the bad) choices. It bothers me how the candidate with the most money usually wins, because s/he makes the most posters, road signs, television commercials, and postcards. Since their name is familiar, they get the votes. The candidates who actually believe in the same things I do rarely get elected because they don't get as many donations as the career politicians who end up compromising everyone's values once they get elected. I got online to check the results early this morning and only a couple of the people I voted for won their races. Oh well.

A funny story, though, from when I went to vote. I had the three girls with me. I parked the van, and as I unbuckled everyone a couple young guys in a Jeep pulled into the space next to me. I could hear them talking and laughing. As I walked behind them to go in to vote, I heard one of them say "We'll make this a blue state one vote at a time." I couldn't resist. I said, loud enough for them to hear, "I doubt it!" And as I walked away, one of them called "Not with an attitude like that!"

I think that means they assumed I was a pessimistic blue voter. Maybe it was my age? Or the fact that I had little kids with me and I drive a van like a soccer mom? What I really am? A red voter in a red state, and I'm not quite rude enough to have told them to take their blue votes back to California where they came from.

Breakfast with Protein--an update

Remember this? I have been feeding my family a breakfast with protein every morning for three weeks now. I think it is definitely making a difference for me, at least. I feel fuller throughout the day, and since I am also trying to eat protein and whole grains for my snacks (like cheese or nuts and Triscuits) I feel full quite often. I also started keeping a food journal, so I feel guilty when I write down "M&Ms" instead of "string cheese". I think I have lost about five pounds. BUT! The experiment is not about losing weight, just getting healthy, and the weight loss is just a bonus.

Last Saturday the boys were off on the Father/Son Campout, and I hadn't managed to finish the dishes on Friday night, so the girls and I just had cereal for breakfast. I had a big bowl of Grape-nuts. And the whole day I felt hungry. I couldn't get enough to eat.

Frugalboy seems to be eating less of the lunches I pack for him, and he says he isn't quite as hungry at school.

Frugaldad really enjoys breakfast, so he is happy with the plan.

Frugalgirl2 doesn't seem to like to eat much in the morning so she eats the least of anyone, and then she wants snacks all morning long.

Frugalgirl1 doesn't come home from kindergarten as famished as she used to, so if she has to wait a few minutes for lunch it isn't such a big deal.

All in all, I think that the breakfast with protein is a good idea. I am also trying to get more vegetables into everyone, but one step at a time. Sometime soon I also plan to start cooking with grains like quinoa.

23 May 2006

too busy to update

I would really like to spend some time here! But alas, I have been really busy. Yesterday we had a birthday here at the Frugal Farm and now we have a 3 year-old! Pictures of the fabulous cake and a tribute to my little sweetie soon to come.

I also have a political rant brewing in my head as today is primary election day, but I will have to get to it later.

16 May 2006

Not exactly the best thing for the diet

I didn't get any sort of dessert on Mother's Day, so yesterday I decided to make something rich and chocolately. This was the first time I made this recipe, and it was fantastic! Very rich, so you only need a small piece, and then there's still leftovers for tomorrow!

Chocolate Cheesecake Squares
from Everyday Food

Nonstick cooking spray
8 chocolate wafer cookies
1 bar (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
1 large whole egg plus 1 large egg white
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Line with two crisscrossed pieces of parchment or wax paper, spraying between sheets. Spray lined pan; set aside.
  2. Process cookies in a food processor until finely ground. Gently press crumbs into bottom of prepared pan (do not rinse processor bowl).
  3. Blend cream cheese and sour cream in food processor until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add cocoa, cornstarch, sugar, egg, and egg white; process until smooth. Pour into pan; sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  4. Bake until just set, 35 to 40 minutes; cool completely in pan. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Invert onto a tray; peel off paper, and reinvert crust side down. Cut into 9 squares
Per serving: 302 calories; 12.6 grams fat; 6.7 grams protein; 42 grams carbohydrates; 1.5 grams fiber

It's official--time to babyproof

Frugalbaby has been able to scoot backwards for quite some time now. Last week she figured out how to move forward, but it wasn't your typical baby crawl. It was more of a straighten-one-leg-completely-enough-to-propel-myself-forward type of crawl. And yesterday? She started slowly alternating her legs and arms, and now she can get across a room before you have time to run and move anything in her path. Where has the time gone? It seems like only a short time ago that I was in the hospital walking the halls, waiting for the contractions to be strong enough to justify the epidural. Now she's seven and a half months old, and mobile!

13 May 2006

The Garden---it will be good this year

Last weekend we spent some time getting our garden area ready for planting. But I didn't get anything planted. Then I read my friend Heidi's blog and she got her garden in and I was jealous. Throughout the week I have been working a little at a time, and this morning I spent a bunch of time, and though I am not finished yet, this will definitely be the best garden I have had since 2001. Pics and updates to come...

12 May 2006

You should really read this

Frugaldad sent me this link. It is an article about sugar substitutes, and repeats some of the information I read about in Little Sugar Addicts. You should read it, then never drink a diet soda again. (And for the record, I don't drink it ever.) I've always been wary of sugar substitutes, and don't like to buy "light" yogurt or other lower-calorie products. Guess my intuition was pretty good.

On related notes, I'll update on the breakfast-with-protein experiment soon.

11 May 2006

Swayin' in the Breeze

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how clean my diapers look after they have spent a day in the sun. Sure, they are just a cover for a baby's bottom, and it doesn't matter if it's stained, but I find it theraputic to hang them on the line, and to fold them when they are nice and bright and white from the sun. It's amazing how the sun can bleach the stains right out.

And Frugalgirl2 needed her picture taken as she helped me hang the diapers.

10 May 2006

I'm not the only one...

When I was setting up this blog, frugalmom.blogspot.com was already taken. So I came up with something else. Then yesterday I got to wondering, who has frugalmom.blogspot.com? Well, Frugal Mom does, of course! But she hasn't made an entry in almost a year.

I've had the screenname frugalmom on the Babycenter message boards for over 3 years, so in my mind, I am the only frugalmom. But now I know, there's at least one more.

08 May 2006


NAYY--an acronym that I picked up on SYOD. This Yahoo Group is a fiercely moderated group, and if you should happen to accidentally mention some website with which you are affiliated and will receive compensation from, you are immediately banned. So the acronym NAYY has become commonly used. What does it mean, you ask? It's Not Affiliated, Yada, Yada. It means that you like what you're recommending but it doesn't pay your bills. You're just a happy consumer, not a spam-happy retailer.

Ninety-nine point nine percent of the links that I make on this blog will be NAYY. So don't go accusing me of trying to make a buck off my friends, and here is the disclaimer for all future posts.

Now, some of the things I love (NAYY of course):
Cloth diapering
Garden-fresh tomatoes
Dark chocolate

05 May 2006

Never Underestimate the Power of Bribery--I Mean Rewards

Some people don't understand the difference between Bribery and Rewards. A Bribe is when you give something to someone with the expectation that they will do something for you afterwards. A Reward is when the person does something for you, and then you give them something. There's a big difference, especially when it comes to children and parenting, because a Bribe puts the power in the hands of the child, and the Reward puts the power in the hands of the parent.

Sometimes, though, even though I know the power of the Reward, I still forget about it. I forget that kids need instant gratification. The promise of "We'll go to the park this afternoon if you sweep the sidewalk" isn't any good because they need the reward now.

I haven't been able to convice Frugalboy to clean his room for nearly a week. He asks to play on the computer when he gets home from school and I tell him the same thing every time.

Not Unless Your Room Is Clean.

The same thing, every day. He obviously doesn't want to play that badly or else he'd pick up his Legos and Bionicles and all the dirty socks that accumulate between laundry days.

Yesterday I was informed that there was no school today. I was a little unprepared for this news because having 4 children at home all day keeps me a lot busier than having 2 at home in the morning, 3 in the afternoon, and 4 after 4. So after lunch today I pulled some reinforcements out of my closet. A box of lime Tic Tacs. I told him that if he cleaned his room so that it could be vacuumed, and didn't just cover his dresser, nightstand, and bed with the stuff, that I'd give him the candy. I made him clean out the corners and under the edges of the bed.

After a week of refusing to clean it, he had it spotless in less than 20 minutes. I gave his younger sisters the same challenge (I had a 3-pack of Tic Tacs) and they had their room clean in about 5 minutes. (It wasn't quite as messy)

The 3-pack of Tic Tacs at the dollar store was totally worth it. It bought me an hour of time (3 kids x 20 minutes each at the computer) to fold laundry, sit at the sewing machine, put today's bread in the freezer, and vacuum everyone's spotlessly clean bedrooms.

04 May 2006

The Best Macaroni Salad. Ever.

And for your eating enjoyment, a recipe. Frugaldad won't eat any kind of macaroni salad with a mayo dressing. Except this one. I used to make it just for me, and then once he tasted it, and now? We both love this one so much.

Supper on the Porch Salad

2 cups elbow macaroni
1 cup chopped cooked ham
1 cup cubed sharp cheese
1 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped bell pepper (red or green)
1/4 cup sliced green onion
2 tbsp diced pimiento
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Cook macaroni according to directions, drain and cool. Mix together with ham, cheese, celery, pepper, onion, pimiento, and relish. In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise and mustard, and salt and pepper. Pour over other ingredients and mix lightly. Chill.

Then try and restrain yourself from eating it all in one sitting. Seriously. It. is. that. good.

My First Real Knitting Project

Last night I finished my first real knitting project--a poncho for Frugalbaby. It is really basic--2 rectangles knit in garter stitch, then I crocheted around the edge with fancy yarn. Look how cute!

edited to add: I was in 3 different stores today and got compliments from total strangers in every one. Yay for me! Not to mention Frugalbaby is absolutely adorable.

03 May 2006

Today's experiment

I am reading Little Sugar Addicts and I hope to get my kids eating healthier. My goal is not to eliminate sugar completely, but to get them to enjoy eating vegetables and other healthy foods. This morning for breakfast we had sausage, scrambled eggs, and a smoothie made with whey protein powder that I got at the Boise Co-op. We'll see if the kids stay full all morning and how their moods are affected by having such a high protein breakfast instead of sugared cereal. (By the way, the sweetest cereals I usually buy are generic honey-nut cheerios, frosted mini-wheats, and Life--all whole grain but still with added sugar)

It's 11:20 and I have yet to hit the pantry for a snack, so the high-protein is working for me.

01 May 2006

The Trampoline? It has seen better days

Saturday was a beautiful day. It was in the 70s, and not windy. Around dinnertime, the sky in the west started getting dark. Thunderstorms were forecast for Saturday night. I had promised Frugalgirls 1 and 2 that we could go for a bike ride before the day was over so after dinner I put the little ones in the trailer and Frugalgirl1 rode her bike (without training wheels!) and we went for a ride up and down the street. It was starting to get cloudy and breezy and I even felt a few raindrops. We came in and the storm was starting to move in quickly. The chickens were out in the yard and I thought I had better get them shut up into their coop before it got too stormy. I went outside again and the weather was getting worse very quickly. Frugalgirl1 came out to help me chase the chickens and while she was out there with me, a huge wall of wind blasted into us. There were still two stubborn chickens, but I knew they'd be all right and that every single window in the house was open and I needed to get out of the weather, and get the windows shut. I turned to go inside and as I did, the wind picked up the trampoline, and threw it across the yard. There was nothing I could do. I'm just glad that I wasn't in its path, and neither was my daughter, or even my chickens.