Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cloth Diapers

I recently purchased some cloth diapers to try. They are much better than the Gerber ones that I originally bought and the company that sold them to me also had rubber pants. Somehow we thought that perhaps we didn't need those because no one sold them. And then we tried putting Rachel in a cloth diaper and, let me tell you, it didn't hold a thing.

Anyway, I went online and found Cotton Babies. They have some good products but a lot of it is terribly expensive. After I had ordered some diapers and rubber pants, I found a "Try It" kit. I would definitely recommend that anyone who wants to try cloth diapers buy this kit--even though I didn't. I'm still thinking about getting one (if I ever learn how to fold diapers right!).

The diaper covers alone are worth $24 (they are usually $12 each) and then each diaper it comes with is $2 and the Snappi is usually over $2. So that's about a $40 value for only $30. Not bad.

I am terrible at putting them on Rachel. I found a site with "Diaper Folding 101," explaining all about the different folds, complete with step-by-step pictures. I'm still terrible at it though so I'm going to have my mom show me how to do it. She used cloth diapers for years.

The diaper folding site also mentioned that a lot of people just make their own cloth diapers. I had never thought about that before, but I guess it would be a great way to recycle old receiving blankets, sheets, towels, etc. If only I knew how to sew!

And I had to include some pictures of Rachel that have nothing to do with anything...except that I took them of her while I was trying to get her picture in a cloth diaper. I gave her the soothie to placate her and she ended up playing with it for about a half hour. She wouldn't let me take it away from her--keep in mind she didn't ever really suck on it, but she did chew on it and wave it around quite a bit.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Time for Learning

I am so excited to send my son, Ian to preschool. Those of you who know him know that he is sooooo ready to go to school. Unfortunately he doesn't start until September. So, in the mean time I decided to try to find some resources of things to do with him at home. In my attempts of looking for stuff I came across this great website called Brightly Beaming Resources that I wanted to share with all of you.

It is a whole preschool curriculum from newborn on up. I know alot of you have young babies like me and are looking for things to do with them. This curriculum has an outline to do with your babies. I am going to start this week with the Steps to Reading Program. I am also going to try to adapt some of things that we will do so that Maggie can have fun with us (she is only almost 7 months old). I think Ian will like it and he will get to spend time with mommy!!!

Take a look at the website, I think you all will like it. It gives ideas for things to with your kids!!!
Happy Schooling!!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Playing with your infant

Rachel is so old that I found myself referring to the good ol' days as "when she was a baby" to Maria at church today. She is still a baby but Maria's baby is so much younger makes Rachel seem so grown up.

Anyway, some other mothers were talking at church at how awkward it is to play with their babies. I had to agree that it was rather awkward for me at first, too. Here is this lump of a baby that doesn't look at anything and doesn't do anything special and we're expected to stimulate it. It's a hard job!

What really helped me was having Emma to babysit. She was a year and a half old. She reacted (sometimes) to things I said, and at least knew how to play a little bit. I'd prop Rachel up somewhere to watch and Emma and I would talk and play and try to involve Rachel. We played a lot of games where we'd stack blocks on Rachel and things like that.

Eventually I just got so used to giving a play-by-play of my life that when Emma stopped coming I continued to do this for Rachel. As she's gotten older it's been easier to "play" with her but she still doesn't "play" well. Mostly she just sucks on things. I'll try to play with her and still just give her a play by play of what I'm doing.

"I'm finding all the red blocks. Is this block red? No. Is this block red? Yes! Yes it is! Where is another red block?"

I do the same thing when we read a book,

"Wow! Look at all the stars. How many stars do you see on the page? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5..."

Sometimes I feel like a lunatic because I talk in this patronizing voice all. day. long.

"Mommy's making pizza dough!" (I always speak in third person. I don't know why.) "She's measuring ONE cup of flour, TWO cups of flour! See how it puffs into the bowl. Now she's mixing. Mix, mix, mix, mix, mix. Do you see her spoon? You want the spoon, don't you? You can't have the spoon..."

It's enough to drive a person mad but I actually enjoy doing it now. It's even more fun when Andrew is home and will answer all my silly questions in a high-pitched baby voice.

Anyway, I don't know. How did you guys play with your babies when they were only a few months old?

On an entirely unrelated note...Rachel has been SO good the past few days. She hasn't cared when I walked out of the room and even played all by herself for like TWO HOURS straight yesterday!!! I hope this is a continuing trend. I might even get something accomplished!

And...I found this site. It's Fisher-Price online learning games. Rachel loves to type on the keyboard so we're going to try it out tomorrow. I think she'll enjoy it.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Break Through

Today we had a break through with elimination communication. The last three weeks it has mainly just been mom and dad catching poop and also baby girl going when we put her on the pot. Today baby girl was in the bathroom shrieking and playing with the potty lid. I came in and asked if she needed to go potty. She started shrieking again. I put her on the potty and sure enough pee pee and pooh pooh. Finally some actual communication about the elimination. Hurray Baby Girl! You had better believe there was a whole lot of screaming, cheering, and clapping going on.

Monday, February 11, 2008

My Favorite way to save on Food Money!

Free food that I don't have to cook!

I am so excited!

So are all of you excited and intrigued and begging that I would type more info?

National pancake day. Free short stack of pancakes (3). 7am to 10pm. IHOP. Here's a link:

Matt heard about this, and I wondered if it was a local thing, but apparently it's all over. So I hope you all have an IHOP nearby. And that you bring a book when you go. Something tells me that free pancake day will attract quite a few customers. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Potty Post

So this ladies is a potty post. This last week we have reintroduced our daughter to elimination communication. We started motivated by Nancy a couple of months ago but at that time our daughter would have had nothing to do with it. This week though we decided to try again. First we just put her on the toilet three nights after dinner. She did her little business and seemed pretty happy about it. So now we are putting her on a few more times a day, after all her meals, in the morning when we wake up, and whenever else I feel like putting her on. She actually loves it. I'll give her a single sheet of toilet paper and she spends a few minutes pretending to blow her nose. She also always leaves me a special surprise in the toilet. So here is her deal. She now knows her business belongs in the toilet and always pees or poops when we put her on it. She just doesn't know yet that it only belongs on the toilet. In the end that's fine with me. My mom teases us that we're just getting better at catching and in a way she's right but we started toilet training with our son before he was two as well and the truth is he never had a fear of going on the toilet like some of the other kids we know. So my mom is probably right. We are probably just good catchers and a good year away from putting our little girl in big girl panties but in the meantime I haven't had to change a poop diaper in three days and if this helps her so that she doesn't have issues going on the potty later well hurray! On a much sicker note our three year old son is obsessed with the baby potty. He loves to be the one to empty it and it's dirty business in the big toilet. ICKY!

Chicken on Sale!

I hate to keep a good price to myself, and with all the talk about grocery budgets lately this seems appropriate. Smith's has great prices on frozen chicken right now... less than 6 dollars for 3-4 pounds bags (depending on what you buy) of boneless skinless breats, thighs, tenderloins, breats with ribs still attached and more. I went yesterday and picked up 8 pounds of chicken for just $12! That's only a $1.50 a pound, which is awesome for boneless skinless breasts. I'm a "stock up when the price is right" shopper, so I figured I'd pass it along to anyone who maybe missed in it in this week's ad (I usually just toss Smith's ads since I don't shop there). Prices good through Tuesday the 12th. Happy grocery budgeting and budget keeping, Ladies!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Why I am in my Pajamas at 1:00

Not like you need an excuse. I love pajamas. But I have a really good one today. It starts last night.

As soon as Matt got home from work we scarfed down dinner (which I pulled out of the oven just after he arrived like magic.) Then we hurriedly got Amy and ourselves ready and went to a BYU basketball game for an elders' quorum activity. (I know, I'm not in elders' quorum, but Matt wanted me to come, and they said elders could bring their wives.) It was time for Amy's evening nap so I put her in her swaddle blanket before her car seat. As I suspected she would, Amy fell asleep on the way to the game. So I got her out and carried her into the Marriott Center rather than bother with her stroller. She still woke up by the time we got in there. But she was happy the whole time at the game. She would startle when loud cheers broke out. She only "cried" twice which was really just a pout with noise that you couldn't hear over the noise of the game. Combined crying time was less than 30 seconds which is incredible since she basically skipped an evening nap. We were so proud.

Once in the car after the game, we waited a while rather than fighting traffic. Amy fell asleep then too without so much as a cry. How bad I felt when we got home and had to get her out of her carseat to take off her coat so she wouldn't fry in the night! She didn't mind. She decided to play with Daddy for a little while before she went back to bed. So it was almost 11 when she was out for the night. What an amazing baby! We had a very sleepy scripture study and finally conked around midnight. We were both exhausted.

Then . . .

Amy woke up at 6 this morning and decided she wanted to stay awake after I fed her. That's early for her. I didn't mind. In fact I got motivated and cleaned a little and pumped after feeding her, etc. etc. When I put her down for a nap at 7:15ish, I made breakfast. Then Jack came. He's my great-nephew who I watch a few times a week. Jack was asleep soon after his mom left him. So I left Amy (who woke up after only 45 minutes or so) with Matt who was getting ready for work and went back to sleep around 8. When Matt left, Amy was playing quietly in her bouncy chair and Jack and I were sleeping. Wonderful. Until 10. Aren't they great babies!

Then Amy wanted to eat and play for a while. I thought she would need more nap time by then. But she wanted to play. Then she started getting cranky. So I swaddled her and put her in her crib. For a while she talked to herself. I decided I was ready to finally eat some breakfast. I put my waffle in and got it out in time for Jack to start crying. Quick potty break, and then Jack would not be ignored. While I was feeding Jack, Amy lost it. She was screaming so hard. But what could I do? I was feeding Jack.

As soon as he was done, I put him down and went to eat breakfast. I'm cruel, I know. Amy was still screaming. However, I was afraid she might need me for quite a while and that Jack would start needing me too. If I didn't eat something, I was not going to be strong enough to take care of them.

So here I am eating with background music of two screaming babies. (Yes, Jack started crying because I put him down when he was awake.) When I finished I checked on Jack to make sure he was going to make it and then headed to Amy who had the bigger need. To my relief, Jack had fallen asleep again.

Amy on the other hand was VERY angry. She had cried and drooled so much and with a yucky nose that there was a rather large wet spot on her sheet and boogers on her face. (Sorry it's graphic.) I tried just giving her a binkie. No go. So I gave in and nursed her. She fell asleep! Yay! She started crying soon after, but I took a shower anyway. By the time I was out, she was sleep again. And she still is! So both babies have gotten great naps and are still sleeping.

Anyway, when I got out of the shower, I realized that the morning escapade could repeat itself, and if it did I wanted to be well rested. So I put on pajamas and grabbed a book and climbed into bed. I got to sleep for more than an hour. I know this is starting to sound like I am lazy and selfish, but remember I only slept 6 hours last night and have listened to Amy scream quite a bit more than normal this morning. She spoils me. I don't normally hear very much of that. So today took its toll.

So that's my story. And at this point, why get out of my pajamas?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Baby Signs

Brian and I have recently decided (ok... I decided and communicated the decision to Brian) that we want to teach Allison baby sign language. When I was young and naieve (about 2 years ago!) I just thought it was silly... why teach sign language? By the time your baby could understand and use the sign they'd be talking enough anyway, right? I've realized how INCREDIBLY wrong that thinking was. Talking by a year or 18 months? What on Earth was I thinking?
Anyway, we decided to try and it has been so much fun. We're just starting on signs for "milk", "eat", "more" and "please" (I want a polite child). The sign she sees most often is "milk" and she's really starting to understand it, I think. When we sign it to her she gets to excited and then gets mad if we're not quick enough with nursing or a bottle. She's also starting trying to make the sign herself. She'll watch her hands and make the sign, then look at us and get to excited and proud of herself. I can't wait to watch her continue to learn how to communicate with us. =) Anyone else (maybe with older kids) have thoughts on signs that would be useful to teach her? I'd LOVE to hear them!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Desperately Hungry

This post could have any number of titles, really. "I shouldn't have washed the sheets yesterday," or "Sudden Reflux Disorder," or "How do I know when I should take my baby in to see the doctor?"

I almost did call the doctor this morning. I said to myself, "If she does this again, I'm calling the doctor." She hasn't done it again though, and she's sleeping peacefully so I think she'll be okay.

It started at around 4:00 this morning when Rachel woke up crying. I went in to comfort her and she was acting hungry, so I brought her in bed with us and fed her. She had just fallen back to sleep and was busy snuggling up against me, trying to get comfortable, when she started coughing. I was stroking her head and telling her that everything was going to be alright when I saw a big white cloud form right above us. No sooner had I seen it than it rained down on us, completely drenching me, Rachel, and my nice, clean sheets.

My yelping and, "Oh, no! Baby!" woke Andrew up and he help dry me and Rachel off and got her some fresh pyjamas while I got changed, myself. I had to lay a towel down to cover up the big milk stain the was covering my side of the bed.

Eventually we all got settled in and slept well until seven or eight. I can't even remember when we woke up. Is that sad or what?

Andrew brought Rachel in to me and I started feeding her. She started acting like she had to go potty so we interrupted breakfast and she had a little potty time. She's so funny when she goes pee--it always takes her a bit by surprise. She'll start going and then turn around to look at me with this quizzical look on her face. I say, "You're peeing...that's pee pee," which she'll accept as a logical enough explanation and will turn back around. She understands BMs a whole lot better, probably because she has to do a little pushing so whether it happens in the potty or the diaper it feels the same (except the degree of squishiness after, in which case she prefers the potty).

Anyway, we successfully went potty and I laid Rachel down on her little mat so that I could empty the potty and wash my hands. While I was doing so I heard her ravenously sucking away at something. Expecting her to be sucking on her hand or foot, I turned around to see what she was up to.

She had flipped onto her stomach and was latched onto the floor! She had a nice clean seal, with her lips suctioned perfectly to the floor, and was sucking away. I didn't think that would be possible, but apparently it is if you're really hungry, which Rachel was so we went back to bed to finish giving her her breakfast.

After she had finished eating she looked at me, completely satisfied, and then started to drift off for her usual post-feeding shuteye, a slight smile gracing her face. Her relaxation was again interrupted by a coughing fit and, lucky for me, because she had just finished eating I was directly in her line of fire.

Cough, cough, BLAH!

She vomited up the entirety of her breakfast all over me, herself, and the towel that I had covering up the previous mess.

So Andrew ran into the bedroom and helped change Rachel while I changed myself...again. My third outfit of the day by 8 AM. I told Andrew, "If she does this again I'm going to call the doctor." I'm so worried that she'll get dehydrated or something but don't want to be one of those overreacting mothers.

As soon as she was back in my arms she wanted to eat again; she was still hungry, having missed out on two feedings already. It's been about a half hour since she ate and she's coughed a few times and has kept everything in her tummy, so I think she'll be alright. I hope she gets over this soon!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Control your finances and budget with Buddi

There’s been a lot of chatter in the Mother’s Lounge recently about budgeting and money, especially with all these great posts about monthly menu choices. Many commenters and writers have asked about different ways of creating and tracking a budget and Nancy briefly mentioned Buddi, an open source (meaning it’s free and made by a community programmers in their free time), cross platform (it works on Windows, Mac, and Linux) financial management program that I use and love. Today I’ll show you how to get started with Buddi so you can take control of your budget and money.

Getting started
First, you’ll need to download and install Buddi. There are two ways to install Buddi in Windows: download an installation program or download a standalone .exe file. You’ll probably want to get the installation package. It’s easier to work with. Just click next a whole bunch of times until the program is installed.

You’ll also probably want to use the internet banking features for all your banks, credit cards, and investments. You could wait until the institution sends you your monthly statement, but why waste trees and put off account reconciliation until the end of the month? You can reconcile on an ongoing basis, as I’ll explain below.

Initial set up
The basic premise of Buddi (and finances in general) is to keep track of where your money goes. Your money can sit in a bank account, credit card account, stock investments, CDs, your wallet—wherever. When you spend money, you move your money from one of those accounts to a budget category. For example, when you buy groceries with a debit card, you move $50 from your checking account to the grocery category. When you get a paycheck, you put money in your bank account from a budget category.

When you first open up Buddi you’ll see a screen with 3 tabs: My Accounts, My Budget, and My Reports. The accounts tab shows your bank and credit card accounts; the budget tab shows your budget categories; the reports tab makes statistical reports (duh).

You obviously won’t have any account information or budget categories. You’ll need to set those up first. To create accounts, go to Edit -> Create Account. Choose the type of account you want, a name, and an initial value. If you want more account types (like CD, for example), you can add those under Edit -> Edit Account Types. You can change from the British/Canadian spelling of “chequing” in Edit -> Preferences -> Locale.

As you add all your accounts you’ll notice that they are nested in categories, as shown (click to enlarge the picture):

Now that your accounts are set up, you need to create budget categories, which also follow the nested idea. Switch to the My Budget tab, go to Edit -> Create Budget Category, and make categories. It’s best if you set up your parent categories first, like Salary, Church, Car, Entertainment, Personal, School, Utilities, and whatever else, and then add categories with those as parents. In the end you’ll have something like this:

Transactions and budgeting
Now that all your accounts are set up, you can start adding transaction information. On your My Accounts page, double click on an account to open it and add information. If, for example, I just bought $45.23 of groceries at Costco with my ING Orange checking account, I’d double click on that account and fill out the information like so:

Easy enough! Repeat the same process to add any type of transaction: income and expenses. Choose the order of cash flow between accounts and/or categories, put in the information, and save it. You can go back later and edit the transactions if there are errors. You can even set up recurring transactions in the Edit menu.

Buddi doesn’t just track your expenses though—it’s a budgeting and reporting program too. In your My Budget tab you can set your budget limits for each category each month, as shown:

Your net income/loss is shown in the bottom right corner. Buddi budgets on a monthly basis (in this case… you could change that to weekly, biweekly, quarterly, or yearly), so for March you need to enter the same values. Rather than type each amount again, you can go to Edit -> Copy Values to Next Period to copy everything to the March column, changing different category amounts as needed.

Once you have your projected budget set and records of your actual transactions saved, you can use the various reports on the My Reports tab to see how close you were to your budget. Voila! You have a full fledged budgeting system!

My Buddi workflow
There are a lot of financial management programs out there. Some, like Quicken and Microsoft Money, cost money and can connect to your bank accounts online and show you real time balance and transaction information. Others, like Buddi, are free but lack that backdoor connection to your financial institutions, meaning you have to keep track of every single transaction.

This is good. This lets you see everything that’s going on with your account and lets you remember transactions that you may have lost receipts for.

Here’s how I work with Buddi. I keep every receipt possible until I can input the information into the appropriate accounts, after which I get rid of all the receipts (unless I need it for a gift, return, church reimbursement, or whatever). During the month I check my different bank accounts online to see if the transactions have cleared. If they have posted online, I mark the transaction in Buddi as reconciled and keep going. The reconciled option is not enabled by default—you’ll need to go to Edit -> Preferences -> Show ‘reconciled’ checkbox for transactions.

I generally bring both Buddi and the bank website up on the same page and go down the two lists item by item, adding missed items to Buddi as necessary. In the end I have an accurate view of my total net worth, and a clear idea of how my budget is working.

For power users, there are a few plugins that let you import and export CSV spreadsheets that you can download from your financial institutions or previous financial software. You can read more about Buddi at Lifehacker, where they also have a plethora of financial advice.

So, Buddi has worked great for me for the past year and I’ll continue using it. I haven’t even touched its budgeting capabilities—our budget has been “spend as little as possible.” Maybe I’ll start actually budgeting since Buddi can do it so well.

Good luck getting your finances in order!

Guest writer Andrew Heiss has almost graduated from BYU and is ready to put a steady cash flow into Buddi. Wait. No. He’s ready to be a grad student and continue to have a sporadic cash flow. It makes financial recordkeeping (and life in general) a lot more interesting.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Three Cheers for Rachel

In the past 4 days, we have changed 5 stinky diapers. We changed no stinky diapers yesterday!

And I just wanted to say that that's awesome! I know some people's babies don't relieve themselves all that often, but Rachel seems to empty her bowels pretty regularly. We still have the 6-8 poopy diapers a day--it never died down. Now that she's eating solid foods more often though, she seems to be able to "hold" it until we get her to the potty better. And I think that she may even be down to 4 BMs per day.

I just love it though. Her one poopy diaper on Thursday was changed by Andrew. And then she did two on Friday. None on Saturday. And two today. Everything else was caught in the potty!

Now we just have to figure out how to get her to hold her pee, I guess.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

What the Buchanan's are Eating this month

It took me awhile to figure out what to plan for meals this month. I sat in front of my food shelves in the garage and tried to come up with meals that I already had things for so I could stick to my food budget better. Here is our menu for the month

3 - Superbowl Party at friends house
10 - Sweet & Sour Crockpot Chicken with Rice
17 - Swiss Steak
24 - Chicken a la Orange with Rice

4 - Steak & Onions
11 - Leftovers
18 - Potato Casserole
25 - Leftovers

5 - Spaghetti
12 - Manicotti
19 - Fetticini
26 - Spaghetti again

6 - Enchiladas
13 - Leftovers
20 - Quesadillas
27 - Tacos

7 - Eggs & Hashbrowns
14 - French Toast
21 - Pancakes
28 - Make-up Day

8 - Subs
15 - Sloppy Joes
22 - Chef Salad
29 - Subs

2 - Used a Christmas Gift and got take out from Applebee's
9 - Celebrating Valentine's Day early and eating at the Melting Pot
16 - Pizza
23 - Pizza

I hope this menu works and if all goes well I really won't have to buy a whole lot of groceries because I pretty much have everything already.

Some of you have wrote about making your meat stretch buy having vegetarian meals. I have such a hard time with doing that because I don't like most of vegetables, so most of our meals have meat in them. Since I have a huge deep freezer in my garage I have the space to stock up on meats and I try to do that when a store is having a good deal on chicken or beef.

I like reading everyone suggestions on keeping to food budget. Thanks to all gave ideas!!!!

My Thoughts on Budgeting

I know Heather's question on budgeting wasn't directed towards me, but I have a few thoughts about it.

First of all I think that budgeting is like dieting . . . or exercise . . . or scripture study. If you decide to make huge drastic changes all at once, you are likely to get discouraged. Elder Bednar said, "Small, steady, incremental spiritual improvements are the steps the Lord would have us take. Preparing to walk guiltless before God . . . does not result from sporadic spurts of intense spiritual activity" (Oct. 2007 conference).

Likewise with budgeting, I think we need to start with where we are. In order to do that, we need to find out where we are. I am a believer in tracking what you spend your money on for at least a month or two. I think we are often surprised when we do this at how much we spend on certain items. It adds up. Then we are able to make some informed decisions about what can be eliminated or cut back on to reduce spending. I am also a big fan of both spouses at least being aware of money spent. I spend so much more when I don't know where we stand on our budget which has gotten me into some trouble.

So then, after determining what you usually spend, you can look for ways to cut back (only a few ways at a time so you don't get discouraged) and decrease the amount alloted to spend - decrease by a manageable amount. Also, although I don't always do this, it helps me if I can divide my monthly food allotment between the weeks in the month so that I am making sacrifices here and there throughout the month instead of having a week of starving at the end of the month. (We're still working on this one.)

A few ideas about how to cut back:
Shop from a list. Don't buy things that aren't on the list. I make my list as I make my monthly menu. In theory this would cut down on shopping trips which cuts the "smaller" purchases which really add up. We gotta still work on that part too.

Figure out ways to stretch your meals farther. Don't waste leftovers like we do. If you find you have extra of some things at some point, figure out what you can do with them. (I waste a lot of sour cream and things like that because I only need part of it for a recipe.

To make a meal bigger (have more servings) add more rice or some other ingredient that is relatively cheap, and eat that meal for longer. Make double of whatever you are making and put some in the freezer. This saves time too. I love pulling a meal out of the freezer to eat!

Comparison shop. Buy cheap brands. With perishable foods, don't buy the biggest package you can find just because the unit price is cheaper if that means you are going to just let some waste. But if the food is nonperishable buy in bulk (a little at a time. Don't buy everything in bulk all the time.)

Plan meals well. I am starting to realize that it helps to group meals together that utilize the same perishable foods. It's not smart to use half of my head of lettuce in my dinner on the first day and then the other half the last day of the month. It will go bad in between. Another thing I want to work on is figuring out which meals are cheaper to make. I know I need to cut down on buying as much meat because it is expensive. Anyone have any good tips on this aspect? I can't think of things to make very often that don't have chicken or beef (the preferred meats at our house).

Have something to motivate yourself on small and big levels. For instance, this month we get to buy things to make yummy desserts that Matt will particularly love IF we have enough money to buy the ingredients at the end of the month. Hopefully that will help our self-control. Our large level goal is to pay off our mortgage as fast as we can. We love the idea of getting out of debt. So we allot enough money to double our mortgage payment each month. Plus any unexpected or unused money we throw at our mortgage as well. We are both obsessed with this goal which makes it kind of fun. When we are out of debt, we will suddenly have a lot more discretionary money each month. At that point, Matt really wants to raise our food budget so that we don't have to be quite so stingy. This principle of sacrifice now so that you can enjoy financial freedom later is a big Dave Ramsey thing. I know some people don't believe in doing this, but we like the idea. And it's not that we will go crazy just because we get out of debt. We'll be a little less stingy and be able to invest more.

Now, if you all want to completely ignore me, that's fine. I don't do all these things myself. But we are trying. And we are trying new ideas each month to improve. We have abandoned some ideas along the way that didn't work so much for us. Again, I really think it is important to work on this in a line upon line way. Don't try drastic things at once. If a month doesn't go so well, evaluate what you need to change (whether it is making a more realistic goal or working on self-control or whatever), don't be discouraged, and try again. That's what I think. I hope this helps someone. I hope it was understandable, not too much rambling. Good luck to all.

An Introduction and Dinner with the Thornock's

Hi all! I'm Rosie... Bonnie and I know each other (she served in my home ward!). I love reading the posts here, so Nancy added me as a contributor. I love reading here, and I'm excited to contribute.
Anyway, reading here I "stole" the idea of monthly meal plans... before trying it I'd seriously gotten out of the habit of making dinner and into the habit of eating out. Not so good the the budget! Anyway, we tried it last month and it worked well, so here's what the Thornock's will be eating during the month of February.

1 - Leftovers
2 - Ginger Beef Stir Fry
3 - BBQ Pork Ribs (my friend April's recipe!)
4 - Mormon Mommy Casserole
5 - Wontons
6 - Haystacks
7 - Oven BBQ Chicken
8 - Pizza
9 - Taco Bean Soup & Quesodillas
10 - Chili
11 - Enchiladas
12 - Pork & Pineapple Veggies
13 - Parmesan Chicken
14 - Fondue (Valentines Fun!)
15 - Pizza
16 - Honey Lime Chicken Sandwiches
17 - Crock Pot Roast
18 - Tacos
19 - Chicken & Rice
20 - Lasagne
21 - Chicken Pockets
22 - Pizza
23 - Purgers and Fries
24 - Beef Stew
25 - Burritos
26 - Chicken Creole (my grandma's recipe)
27 - Eat out
28 - Lousiana Red Beans and Rice (Brian's choice)
29 - Pizza

Hopefully this month we'll be able to stick to both our eating out budget AND our grocery budget! =)

Friday, February 1, 2008


There is this cool (open source, free) program made by a Canadian Mormon. It's called Buddi. Andrew and I use that. Mostly Andrew uses it and I just give him receipts and the like. He does all the finances, which I like.

Andrew is way into it. He made the icon able to resize on a Mac (he didn't design it, he just "redrew" it to look exactly the same, which is kind of less cool, but cool nonetheless).

It has a budgeting tab and a tracking thing so you can see what percent of your spending is spent where, which really helps you decide where to trim your budget, etc.

Anyway, I don't know all that much about it...and we don't always shop that cheap. We just came back from grocery shopping and I think we spent about $100 (or $50 per week). Sometimes we just find great deals.

Andrew said that he will post a tutorial about it since he knows about it and I don't.

February Food

Bonnie's so on top of things! Here I was thinking I was all cool for having finished our menu. I think I need to start incorporating some new ideas. I'm recycling way too much from our previous menus!

1- Pizza
2- "Groundhogs" in a blanket
3- Fast Sunday. We're banking on having dinner at one of our parents' houses
4- Enchiladas
6- Stroganoff on rice
7- Lasagna
8- Pizza
9- Meatloaf
10- Pancakes or Waffles
11- Taco Soup (from the freezer)
13- Rice and meatballs
14- Heart shaped pizza
15- Pizza (two nights in a row, I know. We love pizza)
16- Sub sandwiches
17- Bacon, eggs, hashbrowns
18- Fajitas
20- Sweet and Sour on rice
21- Fettuccine Alfredo
22- Pizza (Kelli's wedding so we might just want to eat and run...Little Ceasars?)
23- French Toast
24- Meat Loaf
25- Burritos
27- BBQ Chicken
28- Spaghetti
29- Pizza--perhaps in the shape of a frog to celebrate the leap year?

Happy Leap Year, by the way.

As for budgeting, Bonnie....I just have to say this because it was kind of thrilling. When we went up to pay for our groceries last month, it was $18 for the first two weeks in January. I was like "Boo-ya!" And we ate well, too!

We buy a LOT of storage when it is on sale. So like, if refried beans are on sale, we'll buy a whole case. We eat beans a lot. Now we have two cases under our bed and just shop from there.

When I was "nesting" I went on a food storage binge. We have a lot of it and we just keep using it up so all we ever buy now is like milk and veggies and a few other essentials, and other things as we run out.

I guess I should mention that the next two week period we spent almost $100 but we had a few pairs of shorts (for Andrew--the boy lives in shorts) and some flash drives, so really I guess only about $50 was spent on food.

I suppose it also helps that we're welcome to shop in my mom's food storage. :)

Now I'm just rambling, but I also wanted to mention that I hear you about wasting food! We're trying to work on this, too. I usually eat leftovers for lunch, but sometimes Andrew specifically asks me to save him something...and then he'll forget and won't eat it. It drives me crazy. Then I'll forget to eat things if they aren't in plain sight (curse those fridge drawers). So I really need to leave fruit on my counter, I guess. Anyway, let me know if you figure that out! :) It's a challenge!

February Menu

We're doing pizza night Monday night and leftovers still on Sunday this month. Saturday turned out to be biscuit night just because I kept finding so many biscuit recipes that looked good. The rest is pretty random. I tried to group things this month by what would go bad. I want the dinners with lettuce close together and the dinners with carrots and celery close together so that I don't end up cutting too much and wasting or anything like that. Plus I made a note of dairy products that will be used so that I can buy them later in the month if necessary so they won't go bad. It seems like this dinner planning is an ever-evolving process where I am constantly fighting the budget and wasting food. I am always trying to get better in these areas, and I think I have a long way to go. To give Matt incentive this month to try to help with staying in the food budget, I promised that I would make desserts that looked really good to him during the last week of the month if we could still afford the ingredients by then with what was left of our budget. We'll see how we do. So here's the lowdown:

1 - skillet lo mein - I did this last month and bought a bag of frozen lo mein stuff to put in the recipe. It turned out to have everything we needed in the bag. So this is a quick, easy fix and yummy. I'm not doing the whole big shopping trip until tomorrow so we needed something simple.
8 - Chicken Fajitas w/ Guacamole
15 - Chicken Taco Fettucine
22 - Corn Tortilla Lasagna
29 - Whatever I haven't made yet from the month calendar (There are always a few that I don't get to. Plus we are lucky enough this month to get a few dinners from my niece as partial payment for me watching her baby a couple days a week. Yippee! So there will be dinners that I don't end up doing because of those freebies.)

2 - Hoagie Sandwiches
9 - Matt wants Pigs in a Blanket for lunch, Mini Shepherd's Pies for dinner
16 - Sesame Hot Dogs
23 - Best Chicken 'n' Biscuits

3 - Mexican Beef and Bean Casserole - We can't have leftovers on Fast Sunday.
10 - Leftovers
17 - Leftovers
24 - Leftovers

4 - Party Pizzas
11 - Papa John's Pizza
18 - Boboli Pizza
25 - Little Ceasar's Pizza

5 - Beef Enchiladas
12 - Hash Brown Sausage Bake
19 - Chicken a la King
26 - Whatever we haven't had yet

6 - Super Duper Nacho Night (Thanks, Matt for a great idea)
13 - Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup
20 - Potato-Bean Soup
27 - Southwestern Bean Soup

7 - Pesto Chicken Manicotti
14 - Mystery Valentine's Day Date :)
21 - Hearty Chicken and Noodles
28 - Topsy-Turvy Beef Pie

Last month we started evaluating dinners after eating them. If it gets a score of 7 or higher from both of us, we'll add it to the list of our dinners we like. If it gets 6 from one of us, we can do it again, but only occasionally. I hope this helps me build a repertoire. I have made lots of things we have liked since we got married, but I forget what and where they are. So I don't make them again. I dream of a day where it is easier to plan cooking dinner when I know of lots of things to make. I know it will happen some day. If any of you want any recipes, I'd be happy to give them. Let me know.