Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Six really doesn't seem like THAT many kids to me

I've got six kids. Three boys and three girls. Whenever I tell anybody this, they look at me like I must be a complete lunatic. I have, in fact, had people say "WOW". Now to me, six doesn't seem like a particularly BIG number. My husband and I have been together for 26 yrs...married for almost 22. Our oldest is 21 and our youngest turned a year old last May. Because of the age range, I really don't think of all the kids as one group. We have three groups. The Big Boys (21 & 18), the Little Kids (10 & 8) and the Babies (3 & 1). I enjoy raising children. My mother thinks I'm addicted to having babies, if I am, then I am in denial. Honestly, I enjoy all the stages for different reasons. Now that the oldest two are 21 and 18, I can say that the teen years weren't nearly as hard as I we thought they would be. I do reserve the right to change my mind about that in a few years when we do the "young teen" thing again. I think I may have forgotten some of the hardest stuff, you know like you always forget how difficult those first days with a newborn are....one of those preservation of the species things in our genes. I LOVE talking about kids, so you will probably be seeing a LOT of me around here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

An introduction to my crew!

Hello all! This is my first post here, and I am excited to be a part of the 4 or more board! I have been married for 12 years to my wonderful husband, and we have 4 kids, an 8 year old daughter, a 7 year old son, a 4 year old son, and a 2 year old son. I am a former teacher turned stay at home mom. In my "spare" time (what is that again?) I love to read, sing, shop and camp (does the fact that all my interests are comprised of only four letters say that I am simple minded? I will have to ponder that. . .).

I look forward to blogging here and getting to know everyone better!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Field Trips

I have 5 children. They range in ages from 12 to 10 months. 3 girls and 2 boys. Recently I went on a field trip to a certain farm, that shall remain nameless, with my kindergartner. On the way there I started reminiscing about the other times I have been on this field trip, you know, how cold it was last time, remember I forgot to bring gloves for my son that one year, etc. And then it occurred to me, I have now been on this same field trip 3 times! With absolutely no deviations. The only reason that it has not been four times is because we didn't move into this school district until my oldest was in 2nd grade. And if all goes according to plan I will be going on this trip 2 more times!

When thinking back on it, I have been to the cider mill 4 times, the farm 3 times, old-fashioned town 2 times, the planetarium 2 times, 3 plays, 1 trip to Mackinac Island (my hubby went the second time), 2 times to a day team building camp, the children's museum 3 times, and the list just keeps going on and on.

As more and more of my children go through these same field trips year after year I find myself getting prepared with excuses not to go on the trips that I personally hated. Like, "What you are going to Blah-Blah Village(it rained on us for a good 7 hours that day), oh I think your sister has a doctor's appointment that day, sorry" There are only so many times that I can subject myself to these trips, seriously. I always, always go on the Kindergarten Trips but after that I pick and choose from the ones that I feel won't melt my brain.

I know, I am a bad mom. But don't you think that the schools could get a little bit more creative with the field trips for us poor parents that have more than the average number of kids? Then again, think how the teachers themselves must feel, after 15 years.

Check teaching off of my career idea list!

'til next time

Jillienne (imminent-chaos.blogspot.com)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blessed By Frugal Living...

These days, it seems that reading the newspaper or watching news on television has become scary. But some days it just makes me laugh. No, really. I sit with my cup of coffee and peruse articles online or in the paper about how families can make their dollars go farther in today's economy. These so called financial experts are recommending things that many large families, including my own, have been doing for a long time. It has been very encouraging to be reinforced by the "mainstream media" for some of the simple things that we have tried to do over the years. Now, I have not figured out how to keep my kids from having sudden growth spurts and needing longer pants, nor have they cut back on the amounts that they are eating. In fact, the older they get, the MORE they eat. But, we have found some simple ways to avoid waste if possible. My focus this year was to stretch our budget as far as possible and still provide for all our needs; and quite a few of our wants too. Our system is not perfect, but maybe one or two of our tips will be helpful to your family, or maybe it will just encourage you that you are on the best possible track. Either way, whether the economy is good or bad, living a frugal life won't hurt (after the initial lifestyle change). The easiest budget item in my control is the grocery bill. So, here are a few things I have learned so far this year:

*We really don't NEED as much as we think we do. Once I got this through my thick skull, decisions became so much easier.

*I learned how to cook a whole chicken fryer or roaster. Yeah, I am way behind on this, and I hate to admit that I only bought boneless skinless fresh chicken for 12 years. Oh my, was that dumb. (see the next tip for more on this)

*Our family doesn't do well with leftovers. The kids say "this AGAIN??" Oh wait, that is me. OK, there are very few leftovers that I like to reheat and have for myself, so we were wasting a lot. Hmm, let's think about this, it doesn't save me money if I throw out half of it. So, I started planning completely different meals with planned left overs. For example, when I cook a chicken roaster, we have a big meal with roasted or rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes and fixings for the first meal, then I can pull off plenty chicken to make chicken pot pie or soup for a different meal later that week.

*When I make soup, spaghetti sauce, or chili, I end up with a very big crock pot full. In the past, I would waste too much, so now, before I even serve it the first meal, I set aside half and freeze it. It isn't really leftovers 3 weeks later, right? Cook once, serve twice...I Love It!!

*Hang clothes to dry. My electric bill went down $20 per month versus last year by not using the dryer.

*Combine trips in the car. Yes, today I was out of kitty litter, and had to go out only for that, but before I left, I checked all other pet supplies, to make sure I wasn't going to have to return in two days for bird treats of fish food.

*Keep a master grocery list and check off items needed throughout the week. Oh yeah, I actually take the list with me to the grocery store now. Radical, I know.

*I add $20-50 to each week's grocery store run in order to stock the pantry with sale items. I am not disciplined enough to read the ads ahead of time, but I grab one when I hit the store. If chicken fryers are on sale for $0.79 per pound, I buy 5 and freeze the extra. I stock up and freeze or store seasonal items for use later. I plan meals around what is on hand at home, and rotate first in, first out for the pantry and freezer items too.

*We have a lot of pets... We love our pets, but they eat a lot too. So, I do the same thing with pet supplies that I do with stocking the freezer. I try to keep one on hand, and add it to the list when I open my last item (treats, bag of food, kitty litter). This way, when I find a good deal and save $3 per package of cat litter, I buy two, and rarely ever pay full price for anything.

*Swap babysitting time with the neighbors.

*Plan at home date night. Kids go to bed at 7:30 anyway, so we plan to have our couple time with homemade snacks or a carry out appetizer at home. A card game or movie rental is much cheaper than eating out or going to the movie theater.

*Look for sales on kids clothing and try to buy a season ahead for basics when they are on sale. Guess what, that cute little Gap t-shirt is just as cute on sale for $5 as it was full price for $20.

*Switch to a cheaper cell phone plan. I don't use a gazillion minutes, and I don't send text messages, why was I paying for it? I was able to cut $20 per month from my cell phone bill by going to a cheaper plan with fewer minutes.

Well, this certainly doesn't make the stock market any less volatile, nor does it make my retirement account look any bigger, but every little bit helps. Cooking at home saves a ton versus eating out, and these days every penny counts. If you have frugal tips, please leave them in the comment section, I am always looking for another way to stretch my dollars.

If I could share one piece of advice with the world... Just remember, when things look scary, count your blessings. Family, Friends, Health, and the ability to do my best to care for those I love; these are all things to help me sleep well at night no matter what the stock market does.

Checking in

Everything around here is pretty darn good....Things are flowing pretty well normal. The girls had Brownies last night and Sparks. Ash got her family cooking badge. She was pretty excited. We went to a tree auction on the weekend and bought a whole whack of fruit trees, so we spent most of the weekend planting. The kids had some friends over for a sleep over on saturday night, so that was nice.

Friday night is my hubby and my date night, so he came home from work and after the youngest bunch of kids were in bed, the oldest bunch were in the downstairs tv room, he cooked me dinner. It was awesome....then we went to our tv room and watched a movie. It was nice. I love that we do that every friday night, it really gets us re connected in a way that I was worried we would miss out on with everything we have going on in our life. I highly reccomend it to people with alot of children...no I take that back. I recommend it to anyone...do a date night...no matter what.

Were going to Canada's Wonderland on Saturday with the kidlets, we have free tickets to take us all. Everyone is so excited. I cannot wait.

I hope everyone has a great day!

P

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I am LOVING fall....

the colours , the smells, everything. The kids have been out playing in the leaves together for the last two days, soaking in the sun. Its great to watch them play together. We spent some time yesterday getting the garden and farm set for winter...what a job that is. Now that my oldest can drive teh tractor and pull the trailer though it makes my like tht much easier. Yesterday the two oldest were able to clean the stalls in the barn without me , which was weird...I was there, but doing something else. Its nice that we are all able to work together.

I have been thinking of ways to tell the family that were pregnant, when were pregnant *smiles* I dont want to tell them in person because I dont want the negativity. I dont want to tell them over the phone, becuase its so impersonal, and well, I dont want their negativity. SO I think I have come up with an idea. I think that were going to put together cards to send to everyone that saysomething like...Its time to celebrate, were having number 5!! Please join us for our first trimester party, at BLAH date and share in our excitment. Then have all the kids sign it and send them out in the mail..lol

Thoughts?

Pheen

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hello Everyone!

Whew were through Thanksgiving! It was crazy around here, having all the grandparents and brothers and sisters over for a feast. It was nice, but I am still putting my house back together. Its official, The husband and I have decided to go for number 5! Were beside ourselves with excitment. even though we know that our families arent going to be happy about it. I dont understand how people can be so angry about people have babies. *rolls eyes* Its not like we ask them to babysit our clan or even have an input in their daily lives. BUT they still feel like they have an opinon about whether or not we have more...argh.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Changing Seasons

I have to admit that Autumn is my favorite season. The colors are fabulous and the weather usually is just right for my tastes, I don't like being too hot or too cold. I will turn on the central air at the first sign of warmth and equally I will throw on the furnace if my toes get too frosty. The Power Company just loves me.

The real reason that I am so partial to Autumn though is that this time of year everything seems new and possible. More so to me than any other time. Traditionally, January 1st is when most would consider the start of everything new, but to me that is just a random time smack in the dead of winter, where everything is covered in snow and ice, unless you are one of the truly lucky that don't have to deal with those things. Living in Michigan though, snow and ice is exactly what I get.

Some people love the Spring, because of the beginning of the warmer weather. The snow starts to melt, flowers start to bloom and all of my fellow hibernators start waking up from their long winter hiatus. To me, Autumn seems fraught with possibilities. The new school year starts, giving the kids a brand new shiny year to do with what they please, and when the school year begins, I become in turns more and less busy. The kid's day in and out demands on my time lessen, while the schools demands on my time increase. But there is still that shiny few hours during the day that is mine and mine alone. In the Fall, sweaters come out and tank tops get stored away until next Summer. For me, that means the start of one more year to finally lose the weight and look fabulous next year.

To me Autumn holds all the promise to start over, do it better, start what you have been putting off, maybe that exercise program, or that book you want to write, maybe some college classes that you have been dying to take, maybe start blogging again. The possibilities are endless! So bring on the Autumn, the soccer games, the pumpkin spice lattes, apple cider and doughnuts, football, and whatever else rocks your boat, I am ready!

This year my Autumn resolutions are: Lose a ton of weight(more on that later), spend more time taking care of me, I am a better mommy that way, and give myself the time everyday to write, even if it's just making a commitment to ignore some of the chores and blog. Oh and go to like a zillion soccer games. I threw that in there, because I KNOW I can follow through on that one.

Jillienne

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hello Again

Greetings All

I have posted in awhile, but I am re inspired , so look out for this blogging maniac..lol

Intro of sorts, I am a SAHM Homschooling Organic Farmer Mama of 4. Wow thats a mouth ful! We are living out out life on our own amazing little organic farm and loving it . I have 4 children, ages 11, 8, 6 and 2. We are currently in negotiations for baby #5 , I will keep you posted..lol

Life here is pretty crazy. We follow a pretty tight schedule for the most part, simply because with the farm and the kids and the schooling, we would never be able to fit it all in if we didnt. Also being a one income family , my hubby works a truck driver , we need to be pretty frugul with how we run things. Though we do make money off the farm , its not enough yet to do much other then feed us for free. Which I suppose is pretty awesome.

I just started a 30 day no spend challenge with a few of my friends...I am excited. Today is day one. I am nervous, because I am a self proclaimed stress shopper. Alas it will be good for me.

I look forward to talking with you all and sharing my day!

cheers

Phoenix