Welcome to my little ol' blog. I'll be upfront about it: I don't blog very often any more. If you found your way here because you read my book "Trailer Life," have a gander! But it's easier to keep up with me on Instagram or on my Facebook page. I have this long, drawn out theory on why I'm a terrible blogger, but that is a story for another day. Enjoy the ramblings of my life from the last 8 years or so.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Happy Birthday, Ed!

Happy Birthday to our Edsel! 

This year, Ed turned seven! He was so excited to be seven. For his birthday dinner, he chose to eat smoked chicken legs, bacon wrapped shrimp (his two favorite foods), and for his cake, he wanted a chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, and chocolate chips on top. The above photos are across the ages: top left, about four years old, bottom left, first day of Kindergarten, bottom right, a couple of weeks ago. I have no idea about the top right picture. (Yes, that is a permanent marker mustache and goatee!)

Ed is a hoot! He still has much to learn: we are working on sitting still and using a fork. Those two things are kind of related. He's the only kid I've ever known to have fork issues. Weird! I think Ed has low blood sugar/hunger/anger/emotional problems...someone get that boy some food! When he gets really hungry, watch out! He gets all emotional and stuff. He is a super reader, and at the end of the year got an award for most improved writing. You know the fork thing? His grasp is funky with the pencil, too. Totally makes his writing difficult...but he is getting better. 

Ed loves Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Legos, and having little toys in his hands. In fact, he ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS has a little something in his hands. ALWAYS. 

He still loves animals, and thinks stuffed animals are cute. (No one else in the family likes stuffed animals.) He is a good kid, with a big heart. Can't wait to see what the next year brings!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Happy Birthday, Kacy!

This girl is 10, and she is so excited to be "double digits." She is also looking forward to being at the middle school next year, as our school is divided between K-4 and 5-8. For her birthday, Ed and I decorated with some streamers, and we filled the hallway with balloons. Ed helped me because he woke up at 5:45 AM on a Saturday! Ugh. Everyone else was up by 6:00 AM. We had some stuff to do in the the Big City, so while we were at Walmart buying blackout curtains for the kids' rooms, we also picked up two large canvases for Kacy to draw and paint on, a new set of crochet hooks, and a thing of 100% cotton yarn. I mention the cotton yarn specifically because Kacy is notorious for being a project starter, and I wanted her to start and finish a project. I asked her to make a wash cloth. She totally did! And it didn't take her that long, and her stitches are all very neat. We visited my grandma, and got to hang out with my Aunt Kristin, and cousins April and Caley for a bit. Then we grabbed a pizza and went to the meeting I had.

On Sunday, we went to the Bunting's, as is our normal custom. There we had Kacy's favorite meal: chicken enchiladas and refried beans. She also had a lemon cake, and received a cool art kit with a ton of mini canvas panels, as well as a heaping bag full of clothes from her Aunt Jocelyn. Jocelyn has a special talent of finding my girls cool clothes at the thrift store, and she heaps it on them. And I LOVE IT because I am a thrift store kind of girl, and I'm teaching my girls to be that way, too. In fact, it's our next girl's night out: thrift store hopping. Kacy couldn't have been happier.

This Monday we are heading on out to the Sorensen clan for a swim party (it's going to be too cold for me!) and birthday celebration for Kacy, Ed, and my brother Steven.  Good times, good times.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Not Going to Forget This Year!

May is a busy month for us. We have the end of the year usual stuff, just like everyone else. We also have a couple of birthdays! Last year, Kacy had turned 9, and Ed turned 6. I have no idea that we did anything for their birthdays. I can't really remember. We had a lot going on with the aftermath of Ryan's shooting: surgery and doctor's appointments and stuff.

But this year? Bring on the family documentation! Woot, woot!

Kacy turns 10 this Saturday, and she is SO EXCITED! Ed will be 7 ten days after that, and he is just so happy to have a birthday. I'm excited to have a house so I can bake them a cake. I am also going to do a little decoration of the house for them. I want them to feel celebrated and wanted, and I want to know that we love having them in our family.

Last night at the dinner table Kacy said, "So, at this time ten years ago, you were at the hospital getting ready to have me, right?" Ryan just laughed, and I looked at her in horror. "No WAY! Three days in the hospital? No way. I was in there with you the longest though."

Can you imagine having to stay in the hospital that long to have a kid? I know some women who have, or worse, have their babies stay in while they go home... my hats off to you guys! I was fortunate enough to get in on time and leave as soon as possible. Hate those darn hospital beds. And the food. And the noises at night. No wonder new moms are so tired after coming home from the hospital! It's not the having a baby part, it's the lack of sleep due to the environment! Seriously.

Anyway, back to my grown babies: I've got two birthdays coming up, and I need to get a few little things to make them feel special. I'm thinking streamers and balloons, and a homemade cake. That, I can do.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

The annual Mother's Day picture! I think I missed last year, which totally bugs me! But there we are: myself, and the kids that call me mom. Okay, so some other kids call me mom, too, but that's mostly by accident when I'm at the school. 

I love my kids. They teach me a lot. I will readily tell you that I had a few really hard years where I doubted every single thing I did, and where I truly questioned my sanity. But, we all made it past those few years, and now that they are getting a little older (and have a house!), I am able to breathe just a little and step back and truly enjoy them as people. Each child has his/her own personality, and they each bring a different element to the table. For their sake, I will summarize how I see each child:

Kacy (almost 10!): has a reputation for being really, really smart and mature. I know this because I meet people who have substituted her class and just act amazed at how she is. She's nice about it too, not all in your face. (Whew! I hate that!) She is artistically messy and creative. She is also extremely logical. Is this because I played Mozart for her as a baby? Because she was my first born experiment in all things Child Development? I don't know. She is helpful, bossy, watchful, and cautious. Every teacher she has had so far has told me they love her dry sense of humor, and how she gets their jokes in the classroom. She's competitive with herself, and only a little with the kids at school. A future teacher or lawyer?

Will (9 at the end of summer!): has a reputation for hating school. He is always really polite and quiet in school, but he is so bored. It's hard for him to focus. Some of his autistic traits that I focused on from the time he was about one year old are going away. He is becoming more loving, willing to be hugged. The last two years have been amazing for Will in terms of growing up and becoming a cool kid. I tell you what, taking him to a psychologist this last fall for his anxiety problems was extremely helpful to us both. He learned some tricks to help him relax and cope, and I've seen a difference in the occurrence of situations where he would have a hard time dealing with his environment. We were at Taco Bell the other night and he busted out in some cross eyed, weird faced thing where he was making fun of himself and it just cracked Ryan and I up. He is getting it! He is becoming aware of other people's feelings! He is becoming confident in who he is! He is absolutely amazing when it comes to designing things/fixing things/figuring out how things work. Since he was about four years old, if the kids got a toy that needed to be put together, I've told the kids to give it to Will. The boy is fascinated with historical landmarks and architectural achievements (Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty...). Don't play trivia games with him... he'll throw out the fun facts no one else remembers. A future architect/engineer for sure... who has a hot dog stand on the side. 

Ed (almost 7!): has a reputation that spans several time zones. Everyone loves Ed. He loves everyone, too. His teacher tells me he helps her out at school because he is assigned to read with the lower kids and apparently he is all helpful and nice to them while he helps them! That's so weird, because I've never seen him help Jessie. Ed is adventurous, and he lives in his own world. He always, ALWAYS has a little something in his hand... like two small Lego's, a bouncy ball, a bit of string... whatever he finds, and these little things keep him entertained for hours. He is intuitive and sensitive. He still likes to sit on my lap at church, even though he is almost as big as Kacy and Will. He is still a little squirrely. He gets excited about life easily. He also gets very emotional when he's hungry. His life pretty much centers around eating right now. I'm going to have to get a job to afford groceries when these kids hit junior high/high school. Ed has a hard time in school because struggles with sitting still. He's totally paying attention... can tell you everything you've said, but he might be upside down and under a chair. We are working on that. I want Ed to be a veterinarian when he grows up, but only because he has animal magic, and so we have health care when we are old.  

Jessie (just turned 5!): is a fire cracker. She is so crazy sometimes, it scares me. She is out going. She has two moms: Kacy and me! She takes direction from Kacy, even asking her what her homework is. She is studying for kindergarten (her idea, not mine) when she's not watching "Avatar, the Last Airbender". She is afraid of zombies and bears right now. She gets so mad sometimes that everyone else in the house can read, and she can't yet. She loves candy, and friends are important to her. Her thoughts focus on having a horse, and naming it Peanut. (She wants a plain brown one.) She is my little buddy, and even though she causes me grief in the grocery store still (buy me this! get me that!), she loves going places with me. She's planning on becoming a police woman, and hiring me to baby sit her kids. She also said that she is going to clear some bushes away and live next door, so her kids won't have far to walk to my house when she goes to work. I think she will become a rodeo trick rider and then a police woman. 

These little people call me mom, and I hope I do a good job for them. I hope I meet all their individual needs. And have them grow up to put their dirty underwear in the laundry and not on the floor. We are working on that right now. 

I am looking forward to me spa day they have in the works. (Which, by the way, when I mentioned that yesterday at family dinner, I heard Kacy say, "Well, you need to let me know when you want it so I can make sure I'm free."  What?!? Like, she has to check her calendar? So funny.)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Thoughts on Motherhood

I don't know if the title of this post is accurate. You see, I'm not sure what my thoughts on motherhood are yet. I usually do my best thinking when I write things down and sort them out. Let me give it a go by relating my own story on motherhood.

When we first got married, becoming a mother was not even a thought for me. I grew up assuming I would have kids someday, just as I assumed I would get married. But that was the end of my thought process about both subjects. I never dwelt on either idea, and what thoughts I did have about becoming a mother usually involved the idea that I didn't really care for other people's children. Yes, some of them were entertaining, and I loved interacting with them in a teaching kind of way. But I didn't care for babies. I don't get any kind of thrill or warm fuzzy when I held babies. My only thought was, "Someone needs to take this thing so I can go and do. I can't just sit here." 

It took awhile to get Kacy. Of course I would not tell anyone of the problems I was having with my body, and I'm sure the family just thought I was putting my ambitions over having kids. We lied a bit about it too, like when people would say, "Don't you want kids?" "When are you going to pop one out?" I would say things like, "No way! I'm not ready for that yet." Or, "When I'm done with school." I had graduated college one month before we married, and then enrolled in the teaching credential program when I fell into a teaching job. I was not going to say, "Why, yes, I would love to get pregnant, and you should see me cry every month when it doesn't happen. Yay for you and your non-endometriosis ridden body." After two years of this, I basically gave up hope, acknowledging the fact that I was probably going to have to have surgery because of the pain. Go ahead and ask me: "Hey, Karrie! What's it feel like to have your ovaries stuck to your abdominal wall?" Ummm...it hurts. A lot sometimes. Thanks for asking. 

We were blessed, and my finishing the credential program, starting my third year of teaching, and enrolling in the Master's degree program in Child Development all led to a focus away from having kids... and I got pregnant. Neither one of us could believe it, so we didn't tell anyone for 14 weeks. I hate telling people that news. I don't know why. I find it a little embarrassing. Like, "Hey! Ryan knocked me up! Go us!" I know, I know. Inappropriate. I think my carpooling buddy/BFF's mom knew, but only because she held my hair out of my face when I puked after the carpooling trips from Delano to Bakersfield. 

Kacy was born one week early. A few months later I was pregnant again, and had a miscarriage at 11 weeks. That was fun. Not. I was so mad at my body. The doctor told me to wait two months before trying to get pregnant again. I waited one. Got pregnant with Will. Waited until 17 weeks until we told anyone. No one knew about the miscarriage, and I liked it that way. Sympathy just makes me cry more, and I'm an ugly crier who doesn't really enjoy tears and snot and feeling sad. Of course people thought we were nuts: Kacy and Will are 15 months apart. But you see, my body is funky. It has issues. So, having been told that pregnancy lessens endometriosis for a bit, I only had brief windows of opportunity before my insides would seize up again. Got pregnant when Will was six months old. Ended in another miscarriage, this time at 6 weeks. Miscarriages were becoming normal for me I suppose. I took this one better. Besides, that day, Ryan had a horrible dental experience with an abscessed tooth and some shady dentists. That was more important. I was all logical about it: I have a pattern! Baby, miscarriage, baby, miscarriage... see? I remember it hurt the most when the same week I had my second miscarriage, Jocelyn announced that she was pregnant and due in January... because that's when I would have been due. Of course I was happy for her, but I was like, "Why do some people seem to think about getting pregnant and they do?" Like my sister Kendra! She'll be all, I think it would be good to have a baby next June. What does she do? Have a baby next June. Lucky ducks. Oh ya... I didn't tell anyone about the second one either. Same reasons. I did later though...via a mass email to the girls in the family... and I can't remember what spurred it on. I'm thinking someone joked around about having another, and I just couldn't joke back. So I let them all in. Which is hard. 

Forward to Will turning a year old, and I get pregnant again. And I am puking everywhere starting from day one. When they couldn't find his heartbeat at first, and ordered an ultrasound, my sweet doctor told me not to worry, he was sure everything was fine...(he had seen me a lot in the last few years!) and I remember telling him, "I know I'm fine, because I've been puking like no body's business everyday." Nine months later, enter Ed. Ed turns one, and I get pregnant again. I don't tell anyone until my mom thinks I'm getting fat and asks my sister to ask me if I'm pregnant. I was like 16 weeks along. No more miscarriages! Jessie was number four.

Here is where I give my thoughts on the number of children a person decides to have. I really hate (HATE) that we judge each other on this. If we have 18 kids we are nuts. If we have 1 we are selfish. There may be an ounce of truth for some in those statements, but honestly, we don't know the reasons that some families think two kids is enough, 4 kids, or 10 kids. All I know is that your magic number is not the same as my magic number. Yay for you if you are fertile and have the patience of the tides. If you ask me where number five is, and I say two truths for me: my body is worn out (and until your ovaries get stuck to your abdominal wall, and you are prone to miscarriages, just shut up about it), and it's hard to raise children in the looney bin... take my word for it that I am done bearing children. Ryan and I have prayed about it and listened to our hearts about it...and that's why we have four and not three. When four came, we both knew. 

I had my kids fairly close together. It is both easy and difficult at the same time. It gets a little easier as they get older. I was literally drowning in toddlers at one point in my life. I look back at photos and think, "Oh, wow! What was I thinking?" We rode that crazy train, and it was fun! Tough, but fun. I tried my best to take the kids out into the world. I would usually shed tears of frustration after excursions out to the real world. I often thought it would have been better to just stay home. Nothing says "Good times" like crowding four little kids and a mom into the handicap stall in the Walmart bathroom while the newborn cries, the almost two year old crawls around on the dirty floor (and then out the stall), the three year old is playing with the lock on the door, and your oldest, who just turned five, tries to help. I can honestly say, I am so glad that is behind me. Sure, it's funny now. But how awesome is it that these little people can go to the bathroom by themselves? And use their own stall? And then wash their hands and wait for me if they are faster than me? And can I get a "Hoo-rah!" that Ed does not flee any more. No more fleeing the bathroom, the store, the church, the car, the gas station, the property... this literally makes me weepy. This huge stress in my life, this simple act of fleeing into parking lots and out of the places we were in, has been extinguished, and I do not have to worry about it any longer. Raise you hand if you lost the same kid twice. And police were called. Twice. If you did, we should have a party together.

Sometimes I feel more like a manager, than a mother. My personality type dictates this, as well as the ages of my children. I often feel like I'm herding the kids. Or rather, herding cats. Sometimes I feel badly that they literally have to take a number to get my attention, but honestly, I only have one brain and just can't listen to them all at the same time. I try not to shoo them away too often. I am trying to teach them to be logical thinkers, and see things from other peoples' points of view. I am trying to teach them the importance of education, reading, and nutrition. I want them to be considerate of others. I am teaching them to put their tooth brushes away when they are finished using them... and I'm teaching them that scum on their teeth is disgusting and brushing is a must. I'm teaching them that screaming in the car is not okay, and that if you have to go to the bathroom on a road trip, a bit of warning before the "I'm going to pee me pants!" is nice. You know, so you have time to find a bathroom and not have to settle for the dirt on the side of the road. I'm teaching them that I mean what I say, and I say what I mean. I'm teaching them our family's faith, and look for opportunities to incorporate it's teachings in everyday situations, so it's not just a "Sunday" thing, or an "organization" thing. I'm teaching them family is important every time we go and visit family, even when it costs us gas money and time. I'm trying to teach them that me loving them is not me giving them everything they want, or letting them do everything they want, when they want to do it. Loving them is more than hugs and kisses. More than the photographic moment of a mother and her child baking cookies together.

There are so many things I am teaching them.


Sometimes I forget that I might actually be doing an okay job of teaching and loving my kids. I forget because I yelled at them (again) for not cleaning their room when I asked them to. I forget because instead of feeling highly amused and thrilled with their latest Lego or paper creation, I am annoyed about the mess of paper I know has been left behind, or by the 200 millionth time I've had the creation explained to me. I forget when I see toys strewn about the yard...oh, wait, those aren't toys. Those are tools, building supplies, and other miscellaneous items that have been hauled around and dropped all over the property (usually in the driveway area). I forget when I find myself just craving "me time," and I tell them to go outside or something. This is my biggest fear: that if I shoo them away every time they bug me, pretty soon they will get the message that I don't want them around. And then they'll be teenagers who won't talk to me, because obviously I've shooed them away their whole lives. I don't want that. I try to limit it... but oh, how easy it is to forget. I forget when I am so angry at them for not cleaning up/ goofing off before bed that I refuse to read to them or give them a hug and a kiss goodnight. I forget when I look at the girls' hair and see how messy it's gotten, and that I don't really care! (You should see my hair!) I forget when I try to put my own needs in front of theirs. I forget when I start managing more than mothering.


When I was drowning in little kid-hood, it was hard for me to see the big picture. Now that they are older, the shift from forgetting to remembering what a mother is is balancing itself out. I think. I still don't know if I know what I'm doing. I have this idea in my head of what I would like for them to be as adults... and I'm trying to lay that foundation now. It's hard. It's not for wimps. It can't be handed off to child care workers or Sunday school teachers. (I've been both!) It takes a strong woman to raise a child. Gutsy. And yet, we do. Some of us are more naturally inclined to embrace everything about it. The diapers, the lack of sleep, the endless laundry, and the messes. Some of us are like, "What?!? No one told me about this part!" Some of us will compare ourselves to others, and wonder that because we didn't want to have 11 kids, if we are somehow inferior to those who do. Some of us relish motherhood, while others of us tolerate it. We all have different talents to use in mothering, and I know I appreciate the aunts and grandmas and great-grandmas in my kids lives who bring different talents in caring when they interact with my kids.

I think as Mother's Day rolls around, and we see all the Facebook posts about how awesome everyone's moms are, as we sit in church on Sunday and hear how wonderful children are, and how mothers never raise their voices or get angry... and you did both because your kid went outside in his only white shirt and played in the mud...with no shoes on...and then fell on some gravel and started bleeding out of his face...staining his only white shirt... all because he didn't stay in the house like you asked him too... and your other kid can't find his shoe... and your other kid is still in her pajamas... and you don't have your hair combed yet...  we need to remember to set our ideas and expectations high as a mother. Strive to be the best mother EVER. Strive to never yell unless the house is on fire. And them sit back, yell "FIRE" and "Get back in this house right now! Find your shoe! Stop crying!" and wipe the blood of his face, make the other wear ugly school shoes, get your baby dressed in the car, and put your hair in a ponytail. The idea of actually catching something on fire to validate it all? Don't do that. Entertain that thought for about a second...and then throw it out. That's not a good path to take. Just don't be surprised if it appears. You are, after all, only human. And a mother. Then, take your best trying self, pony tail, wrinkled skirt, and half-dressed bloody children and all, and GO and DO. And if you church passes out a long stemmed rose or chrysanthemum, go ahead and give up on saving it until you get home. Give it to the kid who thinks it's a magic wand, and don't be surprised with all that's left is the stem. It's going to happen.

Because, your kids are human, and so are you. And, a human mother does the best she can with what she's given. Sometimes she's a little crazy. That's fine.

To all the women out there who are mothers: be it your children under your feet, the ones who live a thousand miles away, those women whose children are grown, or those who never had children of their own but have inserted themselves into the lives of children: to you, I salute you. Do your best, be your best, and know that I see the good you do. Be honest with your self evaluation, but also be kind. Don't compare yourself to any one else. They are not you, you are not them. Help if it's wanted. Protect where it's needed. Hug who needs hugging.

A quote that hangs at my desk, where I can see it every day, reads as follows: 

"The greatest work you will ever do will be within the walls of your home." (Harold B. Lee)

While I strive to keep balance in all things, this is my reminder of what is MOST important.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Geocache Find

The Geocache find at the top of Unal Peak... AKA "Hey mom, what is this bag of grass in here for? It looks like trash!"

Me: Thumbing through the sign-in book... "Well, "Evan" thought he would leave something "green that expanded your mind."  That's marijuana. That's a half-smoked joint. Don't do drugs..." and then the anti-drug, clean and healthy living lecture started. 

Girls' Night Out

This last weekend, the boys went camping on a "Father-Sons" camp-out. Kacy, who has never been tent camping, was not happy about it. I tried to tell her that technically, we camped for 7 of her 9 years of life in the trailer, but she wasn't having that. So while the boys went camping in the mountains, we girls packed up some stuff and headed to the mountains, too.

We packed up my tent, a change of clothes, and some snacks, and off we went. We camped at Cedar Creek campground, right off Hwy 155 between Wofford Heights and Glennville, CA. We got there a bit late, set up camp, started a fire, and sat around. I asked the girls what they wanted to talk about, and Jessie says, "Make-up." Kacy and I just laugh, and Jessie replies, "What? We are girls, and girls talk about make up and stuff." We played 20 questions instead. 

We went to bed too early for my tastes, right after we played Uno and Go Fish. I tossed and turned most of the night, as is my regular first night away from my own bed routine. At 11:30 a car came into the campground. We were the only ones there until that time. I thought, "Who comes camping at 11:30 at night?" I just knew they were serial killers. And my only weapon was my shovel, which I had stupidly left by the fire ring. How was I supposed to whack them with my shovel if it was so far away? Their truck kept running, backing up and going forward for about 20 minutes. Then I thought for sure they were drunk serial killers. I got up out of my toasty sleeping bag and unzipped a window, and saw that they were fairly far away. Then, I got tired and decided to just go to sleep, and if they came to kill us, they came to kill us. Nothing I could do about it.

Turns out, the kind of person who pulls up at 11:30 at night at a desolate camping spot on the side of the road and runs their truck for 20 minutes is an older couple with a small trailer that they were trying to park in a level spot. Not serial killers.  

Next morning, we woke up, broke camp, and found our hiking trail! We went on the Unal Trail, and the trail head starts right across the street from the CalTrans sand shed on Hwy 155. The hike is a loop, 3 miles, not too bad! It has markers along the way, and if there had been brochures in the box at the start of the hike, we could have seen some cool sites through the eyes of the local Native American tribe, the Tabatalabul. But no, there were no brochures. So we guessed and speculated. I'd like to go again, but with some information in hand first. 

We did make it to Unal Peak, where there is a nice bench. There is also a stack of rocks next to the bench... with a Geocache box in it. 

All in all, the girls had the BEST TIME EVER and want to have a girls' night once a month. I think we might do thrift store shopping for our next one.

But only because I had a breakdown before church on Sunday with "I have nothing to wear!" and Ryan said, "You had the chance to have a girls' night, and you could have shopped. You are the one who went camping instead of shopping." True, true. But I like camping, and hate shopping, so is it even a choice here? 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Discovering Lapbooks!

Look what I discovered! It's a hands-on, creative thinking, visual organizing dream come true! This is going to be PERFECT for our summer vacation. And after we practice, we can probably incorporate these into our "after-school" stuff. This is the first one. I showed Kacy a video from YouTube of someone making one. I showed her some pictures, printed out a few mini-book templates, and then I let her just go. She used this lapbook to represent what she learned about Mission Santa Ines. It was perfectly engaging for her. The kids have to learn something first, keep track of it, and then they can do the "fun" part of cutting, pasting, and organizing their information. The one source I have bookmarked so far is from a homeschool website called "Homeschool Share." If you click on the link, it will take you directly to their lapbooking page, with lots of free lapbook ideas. I like the idea of more free form stuff for the older kids, but I love some of the structure for the younger kids, and the ideas for myself.

One of the things I really like about lapbooks is the semi-durable nature of them. The kids can keep them and review them. 

I think we might start our summer learning off with the solar system/stars/planets etc. 


Last night after my Stake YW meeting, I went to the grocery store. ALL BY MYSELF! That was the first time that's ever happened, in like 10 years. I got home just after midnight...to no power. Do you know what it's like to unload a car full of groceries at midnight with no power? It wasn't all that bad, but I did unpack and cut up all the meat I bought by the light of one candle. That was actually kind of nice- the vanilla smell masked the raw meat smell a little. But still... I am lucky to have all my fingers intact.

So, about this once a month shopping... I'm trying to have faith that it will work. I had a vague recollection the other day that sis-in-law Jocelyn has done this before. (*note to self: ask her about it- what worked for her, what failed, what tips/tricks she personally has*) So, I set this budget for myself for the six of us. While I think talking in detail about money can be weird, I'm going to share my food budget. I don't think it's enough, but without a reference, I'm not sure. Maybe I just spend too much.

So, for the whole month, a family of six hearty eaters, I allotted $600. This means smart shopping on my part, to make every dollar count. I'm not always a smart shopper! This first month might be a little rough.

So, in the last few days, this is what I did. Wait! Isn't it supposed to be ONCE a month? Yeah, well... I drive a little car and it filled up way faster than I thought.

Day one: I was in Bako anyways, because Ryan needed to do some paperwork. I went to Lowe's to buy three 5 gallon buckets with lids (*note: buy three more!). I also bought a few tomato plants, a cucumber plant, a zucchini plant, and some marigolds. The marigolds because they are orange (bonus) and smelly (functional). I'm working on my black thumb, hoping to turn it a little more green. Oh, and I bought heavy duty trash bags. We don't have trash service, so ours hangs out a bit before it gets taken to the dump. Because of our trash situation, regular trash cans and liners don't work for us and we use the big old trash cans and the 3 mil liners in the them. Those are expensive! (But cheaper than paying for a dumpster every month- our only option.) So, in all, that trip was a little less than $60. Those liners were half that cost... they should last me at least two months. Maybe two and a half.

Then, off to Costco. After doing a little research on the internet, I found the consensus to be that Costco has the best prices on baking items. I relied on this information, and found it to be true, compared to Foods Co and Winco in Bakersfield. I bought 50 pounds of flour, 25 pounds of brown and white sugar, chocolate chips, 25 pounds of rice and beans, and then supplies: freezer Ziplocs in gallon and quart sizes, parchment paper, plastic wrap, foil, cooking spray, oil (veggie and olive), and a couple of big spices. I figure this will all last me three months or so... except the chocolate chips. A 3.5 pound bag will last a month or so around here. I do like cookies! I also bought a $35 blender... and I've already used it once and it was awesome. Total for all that: just under $240. Ouch. That was a big chunk. On the plus side, I kind of like baking, and I've already made my own hamburger buns that were WAY, way better than any store bought. And, in an effort to cut back on preservatives and cost, my little bit of flour and man power is way cheaper than an equivalent. I don't think I'll buy buns again...we had them for sandwiches last night, and they were awesome.
I also experimented making my own mayonnaise. Total success on that front, too. Of course I use other peoples' genius in recipes... I did not come up with that. But seriously, we are big mayo eaters and Best Foods is the only things allowed in our house, and it's expensive. And, the store is so far away. I thought it would be prudent to be able to make my own.

Last night was the second trip (to coincide with my meeting). I filled up my cart and had to quit shopping! I really think that if I'm going to shop once a month, Ryan will have to come with me to push another cart. My car would hold it all (I think), but the cart just filled up way too fast. I bought things like milk, meat, cheese, a few boxes of cereal, and a few canned goods. Produce. That is the tricky part... this produce will not last a month. You can't freeze lettuce! I may have to just budget in a second mini-trip for produce only. I tried to buy a ton of apples and carrots and stuff, and frozen veggies. But still, I look at it all and think, "No way."  Total spent last night at Winco: just over $300.00.

So, my budget is gone. Don't tell my wallet, but I did save another $100 for food later. But, what this means for us this month is: no eating out. Because we do that! Too much. Nothing fancy, but when you make trips to town, and town is so far away, you always seem to be in town for a meal. Hopefully not having to go to town as often will help this. Also, I am going to have to be diligent in baking and cooking. I can't have a lazy day. I am highly motivated, as we have some fun plans and are trying to save money. Since I can't work right now, I am looking at ways I can work in our home that would save us money. I hate meal planning, grocery shopping, and preparing meals that don't seem appreciated. But I am going to have to change my attitude about that, and try to make it fun. I have to say, eating those delicious buns last night was like a pat on the back... good food on a budget with a little work. Not too shabby!