Confessions of a Frazzled Mama…….. Sunday Madness!

I think everyone expects mothers to be Super Moms. Indestructible, faster than a speeding bullet, reliable, never tired, always ready at a moments notice, always abled, Suzy Homemaker, and Betty Crocker. We are expected to kiss every boo boo, make every “pincy bug” disappear, chase away the monsters, be at the beck and call, cook, clean, cook again, clean some more, bring in SOME sort of a supplemental income, have intimacy with our spouses, manage our ministries, finish school, some how fit in time to accomplish our dreams, and at the end of the day fold laundry and put it away until we are blue in the face. We don’t dare let our husbands do the grocery shopping, because our grocery bill’s would shoot up ten fold, and we’d never have enough or it would all be chips and salsa, with hot dogs for food. We manage the delicate balance of good and yummy in our household menu’s, along side keeping the budget as low as possible using coupons and price matching. Ever see a man attempt it? I have, it isn’t pretty. Not unless he has my VERY detailed list can he pull it off, and even then, it’s a shot in the dark, because he forgets to see if the stores brand is a better deal. What about keeping the children entertained? Ever see a daddy holding a hot glue gun making arts and crafts, or water basted oil paints on a canvas for a Daddy gift? Ever see one attempt to bake and decorate cookies? No, that’s all a mommies job.

I whole heartily think that we should be serving as we are called to do, but do you realize how HARD, and TIRING and DRAINING it is to be 6 months pregnant getting a toddler and a preschooler ready for church on a Sunday morning BY YOUR SELF!? No help! Chasing the toddler because he wants to be chased and not get ready, then he kicks, screams, bites, and bangs his head into your chest because you are attempting to put on the GOD AWFUL DREADED shoes, that MUST, I repeat, MUST stay on. Heaven help you if you put the socks on without immediately putting the shoes on, because the socks almost ALWAYS end up off his feet SOMEWHERE in the house, before you can get shoes on him. Then there’s getting Zechy’s diaper bag and Jayden’s go bag ready, filling one with extra diapers, and the other with a change of pants and undies JUST in case he doesn’t make it to the big boy potty; then stealthily sneaking in the sippy cups without them noticing, or you hear the ENDLESS whine that they want it. You know that if you give in, then that means dirtying up another sippy, and another one to keep track of, and fill up. So, you drag your feet back to the cubbard, and drag out two more sippy cups and fill them.

BY the time you get every one dressed, ready to go, and get ready to walk out the door, just to remember that you forgot your keys and have to rush back inside with everyone to get your keys, and back out, and then fight them to get into the car without running off and buckled in, you’re exhausted, so tired, that you seriously contemplate just getting out of the car and going back in to lay down for a nap. However, that thought is brief, because you know that you have about 20 kids at church waiting and depending on you to be there on time to teach them, and that your children have a need to know about God. So you start the car, drive the mile up the road to church, and then one by one, you slowly unload everyone on your own. You somehow juggle your lesson plans and bible in one hand, while holding the bags on your shoulder, then grabbing your toddler by his hand with your free hand, and telling your preschooler to hold your back pocket and hold tight following.

After you finally get the kids inside to your classroom to set, you then have to take them to their classrooms and check them in, just to leave to start checking in the children for you class. After church, you manage to check out the kids, drag yourself, the kids an all of your belongings BACK to the car, load them up, and go home. Your husband was on Worship, or sound, so is still packing up and loading his truck up. You get home first and end up unloading your children and all of your belongings. One has to pee, one is screaming because he wants another sippy and his hungry and ready for a nap; you yourself have to pee because the third one is tap dancing on your bladder. By this point, you literally have NO energy left, and you feel out of breath, and ready to collapse. Some how you you get the one into the bathroom fast enough to potty, while holding the other, you get yourself on the potty, and then take them both to the kitchen to make a quick lunch and get sippy’s. Then it’s bum change, and the herding upstairs to their separate rooms to take a nap. By this time, you are starving because you realized, that although you made breakfast for the kids, you totally forgot to eat yourself, but you’re SO exhausted and winded that you just want to sit down.

Then when you start thinking of just how hungry you are and you slowly pull one leg at a time off of the couch, and work your way to the kitchen, you realize you have to take something out for dinner, because you space Cadetted it earlier. (Yes I make up my own words, lol, I’m delirious at this point…..) Alas your husband comes sweeping in, finally, just to remind you that you have to be at the banquet hall for the church’s Christmas dinner. He wants to know if you are going ahead of time with him, or leaving later with the kids. Oiy! You really DON’T want to be stuck there for an hour and a half with children by yourself, and yet you dread the morning madness of getting them ready to go and loading them up all by yourself again. So you weight out the options, which one is the best of the two evil options……Ultimately you are far too tired to even think about managing the kids on your own for an hour in a half in a strange place, and so you opt to wait until later to start the madness all over by yourself.

On the way there, your phone acts up, so you can’t seem to get directions to get to this banquet hall, you’re late because you didn’t realize that it wasn’t at the church until a half hour before, and didn’t have directions to get there from your husband. Then you use your own inner navigation skills you picked up as a pizza delivery person in your younger years. Only issue was, we now lived in a strange new town, and the road I thought would go through to where we needed to go, somehow dead ends, and can’t get you to your destination. Your phone still is not cooperating, and you nearly break down crying, as you are driving around, and around in circles in Sun City trying to find your way, while one child screams for a sippy cup and another screams because he’s hungry and is CONVINCED we left daddy at home and asking the 20 questions as to why daddy is not coming to eat with us. You can’t reach the sippy cup because it’s in the diaper bag behind your seat. The third child is apparently doing the river dance, again, on your bladder, and you nearly pee yourself, and have to will yourself not to pee.

As if that’s not enough, you finally make it to your destination, nearly 40 mins late. Then you can’t find parking, and have to park pretty close to the back 50, and unload, and lock the car, slowly you waddle yourself up to the door, and try to get inside quickly because now your preschooler has to use the bathroom. You suddenly see your husband heading towards a bathroom and then send your son to see daddy to go with him, and he has a melt down, of course, and wont go to the bathroom with daddy, so you take him with you, get them settled in, and then rush the two of you off to the bathroom as quickly as possible. Just in time too, because I darn near did pee myself. Took every muscle in my body NOT to pee myself.

Your husband is off doing sound and playing worship, so you try your best to hold the fort down at your table, only to be met with severe opposition from your toddler that just wants to run around and DESTROY everything; when I say destroy, I honestly mean, destroy, he is so much worse than his brother ever was, so strong willed, more so than his brother. You manage to get them to eat, not being able to take more than a couple of bites of your food. Then you give in, and just let them run around with the other kids, while you stand up and eat your  now cold food; which I didn’t even get to finish much of, between the constant running off to stop my destroyer. Desert is finally called, you get up with two in tow and your tickets to the desert line, of course they want everything in sight, and I tell them only ONE! That’s all they get is one! Finally you get their deserts on the plates and while your preschooler toddles behind you holding his plate ever so carefully with both hands, you are trying to manage two other plates in one hand, and your toddler is having a melt down because he wants the desert NOW, and doesn’t want to wait until we get back to the table.

When you finally make it back to the table, you try your best to fastly take the cupcake wrapper off, and the plastic toy off the top, but your toddler is having a melt down because he thinks you are apparently trying to eat his desert. Finally you get him to see that it’s ready and push him closer to the table and he begins to happily eat it. By then your preschooler starts to whine because he can’t pull the chair out, so you help pull the chair out, get him up to the table and take the wrapper off of the cupcake so he can eat his. You get about two bites into your brownie, just to have your toddler be done and want to run around and DESTROY again.

You TRY to keep him entertained, sit him in your lap, talk to him, play with him, but he wants to run around and destroy, so he has ANOTHER melt down, kicking, HIGH PITCH screaming, and banging his head into your chest. Daddy is on stage playing for the rest of the group. You feel so embarrassed, but you are so at your wits end, and so ready to get up and leave, and so tired, that you just try your best to smile through the tears that want to run down your face. As if that’s not enough, they both start having melt downs because they are now ready for bed, and there’s tears coming down both of their faces, and you can’t get your husband to stop talking long enough to get over and help you take the kids to the car so you can rush and get them home into bed; and you seriously want to let your tears fall down with theirs. However, you don’t, you just try and keep calm, suddenly a good friend from church with re enforcements and her son a little older than your preschooler come over with more cars to help keep them entertained as daddy wraps up. FINALLY he walks over, try’s to help, and get them out to the car, and FINALLY you get home, and get them undressed, washed up, dressed in pj’s, sippy’s and doggy’s in hand, and make your way up what seems like 30 flights of stairs, and into bed. FINALLY you are able to sit down, or so you thought, your third child, apparently thinks that it’s still party time, and again, starts doing a river dance, and you peel one part of your body at a time off of the couch that you just got comfortable in, just to go pee.

You then think, since it’s still earlyish, you can edit some client pictures and return emails, yeah, not happening tonight. It’s the only time I get uninterrupted time to work!

NORMAL Sunday’s take it out of me, but I’m always able to have some rest so it’s not so bad, today, was a nightmare, and I broke down in tears. Mommies need help, and rest too! We are not always super hero’s that come flying in to save the day, we need help! Mommies are people too! I think daddy’s forget that we are not super human, and that we have our limits. Today was definitely WAY past my limit. Lord I hope that tomorrow is a MUCH calmer day!

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Grocery Shopping Saving, My how I do it.

I guess it’s been said, and brought up to my attention, that I’m rather great at budgeting our grocery bill! I just am a penny pincher, and I do all that I need to, to save when I can. So to help a few friends out that have asked me how I do things.

 

First, I start with all of the local ads. I go through each ad, page by page. I list each store, and under each store I write down ONLY items we eat, need, or want to eat. Then I make a master list combining all of the stores. It looks something like this: (See below)

Fry’s:

  • Banana’s .39 cents /lb
  • Oscar Myer 8 count Hot Dogs 2 for $1
  • etc….

Bashas:

  • Milk $1.12 ea
  • Libby’s 14.25-16 oz canned veggies 4 for $1
  • Banana’s .49 cents/lb

Albertsons:

  • Chicken buy 1 get 2 free
  • Boneless pork chops buy 1 get 2 free
  • etc…

Then I do my master List of all of the stores. If there are duplicate items (normally there are, since I write down ALL items, regardless if it’s under another store yet or not) I ONLY write down the store that has it for the cheapest value. It’s NOT always necessarily the cheapest price, but it’s the cheapest value. For example this last grocery run, Hidden Valley Ranch 28oz was 2 for $5 at one store, and the 72 oz was $6 at another store. You have to break it down to price per unit. In this case, price per oz. 28 x 2= 56 because it’s 2 units of 28oz for $5. Now divide. 5/56= .09 cents per oz. Now Divide 6/72= .08 cents per oz. Sure it’s only .01 cent difference, however, that cent makes a difference in tax later. The BETTER value is the 72oz for $6.

So my master list would look something like this:

Grocery List:

  • Banana’s .39cents/lb @ Fry’s
  • Oscar Myer 8 Ct Hot Dogs 2 for $1 @ Fry’s C= .45cents off when you buy 2.
  • Milk $1.12 @ Bashas
  • Libby’s 14.25-16oz canned veggies 4 for $1 @ Bashas C=.50 cents off when you buy 5 or more.
  • Chicken buy 1 get 2 @ Albertsons
  • Sugar (I add items I’m out of and need, that I couldn’t find a price match for at the end.)

 

 

Second, I clip ONLY coupons from the newspapers, and my online coupon sites that we USE, and NEED. I don’t waste my time clipping coupons I may or may never use, or items we may or may never need. I have a coupon pile of un-clipped coupons, in case I need to go back and retrieve it, however, once those are expired, I toss them. I don’t like clutter, or things taking up space. You don’t NEED to be an extreme couponer, to use coupons effectively. My philosophy is, only clip what you will use. You may be wondering what the C= at the end of my master list above mean. Those are my coupons I have clipped. I match my coupons up to the items on my list. I will cross check my coupons with the ad match list, and again figure out what the BEST value is. Sometimes using the couponed item is the best value, and sometimes, it’s not. The trick with this list, is to remember that this list is ONLY a guide, it’s not an absolute. I’ll explain that more in a few steps from now.

 

Third, I meal plan. I make a month calendar, and I meal plan for the month. I make sure to include Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and snacks. EVEN if on the OFF chance we eat out instead of cooking at home, I STILL plan for every meal and snack. That way I KNOW I will have enough to last, and perhaps hold us over if I don’t get to grocery shop on time. My Meal Plan looks something like this (See Below):

Monday 11/19

B: Cherrios 1/2 banana

Snack: Gold fish

Lunch: PBJ Sandwich, carrots w/ ranch

Snack: Celery w/pb

Dinner: Pork Chops, baked potatoes, dinner rolls, green beans

I do this for every day of the month. Again I use this as a GUIDE! It’s not set in stone, and I don’t rigidly go by this schedule. It’s just a guide to let me know HOW much food I need to buy. If I want to have BBQ ribs one night, vs Pork chops, we are flexible enough to change it. If I’m not feeling well, then I have hot dogs we can do from another nights meal. Or if Our son wants Carrots instead of green beans, then we change it out.

 

Fourth, I price match and use coupons at Walmart. The Walmart by our house is a rural Walmart, and our food is not taxed, plus we get fresh food daily there, and prices are lower, than city Walmarts. Perks of living out in the boonies. =) This is where I use the master grocery list above as a guide. Let’s go back to the Hidden Valley Ranch from my last grocery list. We determined that the 72oz bottle for $6 was the best value. However, when I get to the store, I don’t just automatically grab that. I look to see if any other ranch that I know we will eat, has a better deal. For example: Great Foods Ranch (Walmarts Brand) was 36oz at $2.50 ea. Just do the math again. We know that the 72oz @ $6 is .08 cents/oz. So all we need to do is 2.50/36= .07 cents/oz. Yes, it’s LESS than the 72 oz’s, however it’s cheaper. You can get 2 36 oz bottles that is equal to 72 oz’s for a $1 cheaper, because it comes out to $5 instead of $6. You are getting the SAME amount of ozs as you intended to get, at a cheaper price. Don’t be afraid to try off brands. My husband was a Hidden Valley Ranch snob for a LONG time. Then the price of ranch kept increasing, and I said enough is enough. I’m getting what’s cheaper, and you’ll eat it or you wont. I try to buy the Hidden Valley Ranch when I can, if it’s the better deal, just for him, however, he knows, that if it’s not the better deal, I’m not getting it. You’ll be surprised how many of the off brands, and brands your not fully aware of, have no taste difference, or very slightly different. It IS okay to “splurge” every now and again, and get the “good” stuff. Just not as a habit. Now if Hidden Valley Ranch had a coupon that I clipped, I would have already figured it out with the coupon. I do clip coupons for all ranches, just IN case, the coupon and in store deal combined is better.

 

Fifth, I buy my bulk items from Costco/Sams club. Mostly hygiene, and baby items like diapers, etc. Sams club gives you MORE diapers in their box, for the same price that it is at Costco. However, you get MORE wipes in a box for a cheaper price per unit at Costco, same with Gold fish. (That’s why we have both memberships. I sat down one day and figured out how many diapers, and other items we buy in bulk, and then divided it all buy the cost of the membership. The cost of the membership is minute in the amount that we save. To buy half the amount of diapers from Walmart we pay 3 dollars less than we do at Sams club.) We typically only buy snack items in bulk, and hygiene such as toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, baby butt cream, diapers, wipes, sometimes canned food and boxed food items, if there were no good deals in ads, or coupons. Soda in bulk is almost always cheaper at Sams and or Costco, not always the case, that’s why knowing that a 36 pack of pepsi is $5.30 at Costco/Sams is their set price, unless they have a coupon that month comes into play. Safeway will do 4 12pks for $10 every couple of months. Break the unit price down like before and you can see where it’s cheaper.

 

Sixth, I have a separate budget for groceries that is not part of our grocery budget for items that go on super sales. Items that have a LONG shelf life. For example, last grocery shopping trip, canned tuna was .15 cents ea, vs the normal .49 cents ea. If you eat Tuna, you know it’s hardly EVER on sale, that’s a GOOD time to stock up. Same with boxed and other canned foods. Such as Hamburger Helper, it was on sale at 10 for $5, most times, at best it’s 10 for $10. You get the idea.

 

Seventh, I know when to shop at what stores. For example, Albertsons does their buy 1 get two free on almost all meats the 3rd week of the month. That’s when they have the highest volume and best meat to do this with. You HAVE to go to Albertson’s for this, Walmart does not price match BOGO’s especially on meat, UNLESS the ad happens to have a “unit” price savings, etc. Which it never or on a very rare occasion does. It’s BETTER to price match at Walmart the second week of the month. This is the week when ads are the best, because this is the week they have their largest volume of food come in. Ads typically drop on Wednesday here, so I never go that day, they get low, and don’t restock until that night, so I go on Thursday’s or Friday’s. Saturday’s there are too many people there doing what I’m doing. I’ve found that Thursday’s are OPTIMAL days to go and price match during that second week. I bulk buy the fourth week of the month, because that’s the week when Costco drops their coupon ad, and you can get TP, Diapers, Wipes, etc cheaper. Hint, if Costco does their $5 off on Huggies diapers then it’s still a better deal to get diapers at Sams club. HOWEVER if they drop their $6 off on Huggies diapers that week, then it’s a better deal per unit at Costco. Cleaning supplies are on the best deals the first week of the month.

 

I have four separate grocery/shopping budgets. 1 for groceries, 1 for hygiene, 1 for cleaning/bulk/other needs and 1 for perishable short shelf life items, like milk, produce, etc. I didn’t learn all of this over night. It took me about 6 months of going to various stores every week, listing things, watching trends, really looking at the ads and coupons, talking to the grocery stores, etc. Yes, TALK to your grocery managers! They are willing to tell you how that particular store operates on sales, coupons, price match, etc. Talk to the produce and meat guys, they are MORE than willing to tell you when things go on sale, and what the trends are. Sometimes if you ASK the meat guy, he will give you meat at a RIDICULOUS lowered price if he has to take it off the shelf that day or the next. Meat is STILL good if you freeze it! Just remember your basic food handling, get it chilled and frozen promptly and defrost it properly, to get it out of the food danger zone, and COOK it at the proper temps. You can google search all of that if you don’t know how.

 

I do this for EVERYTHING! I price match and use coupons for everything. I have a rule, IF it’s NOT on sale, with a coupon or/ or price ad match, then we DON’T get it, unless we ABSOLUTELY need it. That’s how I Birthday and Christmas shop as well. I start Christmas shopping and birthday shopping almost the day after. A penny here or there may not seem like a lot right now, or at that time, but it does add up quickly. You are taxed on every single penny, so that ads up. I’ve been able to cut our $600/month food bill down to about $250/month. That’s just using coupons I need and will use, with price matching. I’m not an extreme couponer, and I have no desire to be, or stock up an entire closet or garage, to me that’s wasteful. But I do back stock enough in my fridge and cupboards, JUST in case there is an emergency. We are NOT on any public assistance, we don’t qualify, so I’ve had to radically take a look at our budgets, and make some significant changes. None of what I do, takes more than two days. One day I spend going through the ads (usually a Wednesday), clipping my coupons, getting organized, etc. and the second day (about two hours) at the grocery stores. I DO look at the ads every week to stay current with trends or if on the off chance, an item we didn’t stock up on, is now at a super sale price, I can stock up on. However, that’s rare, and the system I use, is really been doing great.

 

I hope this helps some of you! Happy shopping and saving!