Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Social Distancing Day 11

Kids School
Spring Break for myself as well as the kids. So we are not doing any kind of school work this week.

My Work
It is Spring Break at the university I work at, but I still have stuff to do. We are "online" for the rest of the semester. I worked about 2 hours this morning on different things I needed to do. But work is going well.

My Husband's Work
We are not used to working from home, so we don't have a "set office" or anything like that. So our dining room table is a make shift office. He does stuff with data and spreadsheets and has 2 huge  monitors as well as his normal desktop set up. But he is doing good. He's getting into a habit of waking up, taking a shower, then breakfast then starting his day. He gets "off" at 4, so he can log off and hang out with us now, without having any extra commuting time.

Mental Health
It's kind of getting rough. We do still see my parents ( who live across the road from us), besides that we are very rural, which is nice, but we haven't seen ANYBODY in 11 days but them. Today we played outside a lot, went fishing at one of our ponds and played some board games. My 12 year old daughter made some chocolate chip cookies which were nice. 

Supplies and groceries update
Still doing good. We haven't ran out of anything recently. The turkey I took out wasn't thawed for today,so I'll cook it tomorrow. We had cheese ravioli with a home made pasta sauce I canned last summer for lunch and tator tot casserole ( with deer meat) for dinner. We have leftovers of both so we'll have some leftovers to eat over the next few days. I think with the turkey tomorrow I'll make green bean bundles and deviled eggs. 

IF I WENT TO THE STORE TODAY I WOULD BUY
milk
fresh fruit
tortillas
toilet paper
hand sanitizer
sandwich bread
Again, these are all things that if I were not quarantining and they were not out of, I would buy. But we are going to make due.

What's going on around us? 
Two deaths at our local hospital today from the virus. Up to about 250 cases in the state. We are just hunkering down. 

 How is it looking in your area? What have you been doing to #flattenthecurve?

Monday, March 23, 2020

COVID 19 Update: Social Distancing Day 10




Kids School
Spring Break for myself as well as the kids. So we are not doing any kind of school work this week.

My Work
It is Spring Break at the university I work at, but I still have stuff to do. We are "online" for the rest of the semester. I worked about 3 hours this morning on different things I needed to do. But work is going well.

My Husband's Work
We are not used to working from home, so we don't have a "set office" or anything like that. So our dining room table is a make shift office. He does stuff with data and spreadsheets and has 2 huge  monitors as well as his normal desktop set up. But he is doing good. He's getting into a habit of waking up, taking a shower, then breakfast then starting his day. He gets off at 4, so he can log off and hang out with us now, without having any extra commuting time.

Mental Health
It's been rainy, and although it wasn't raining today it was a little cool and wet. But I made sure to get a 45 minute walk in, then played outside with the kids for a while. So we are doing pretty good. We are just now turning the tv on for the day ( 7pm) and my son and husband are watching a show and the girls are watching a show.

Supplies and groceries update
Still doing good. We haven't ran out of anything recently. I took out a turkey from the freezer and my husband cut down a hickory tree a few days ago so we made some chips for the smoker, and plan on smoking a turkey on Wednesday. We still have 10 rolls of toilet paper. We are out of fresh strawberries now, the only fresh fruit we have are grapes and kiwis. We are out of sandwich bread, but I can make bread if we decide it's necessary. I may make some later in the week when I make spaghetti.

IF I WENT TO THE STORE TODAY I WOULD BUY
milk
fresh fruit
tortillas
toilet paper
hand sanitizer
sandwich bread
Again, these are all things that if I were not quarantining and they were not out of, I would buy. But we are going to make due.

What's going on around us? 
In our state schools are closed until April 17th ( at least). So far there have been 197 confirmed cases of the virus, zero deaths that they are reporting. Yesterday the number was 169- so it's going up, although slower than I thought.  Our church did cancel their traditional services but the doors are open if folks want to come in and worship privately. We haven't done that yet, but may soon. The Economic stimulus bill did not pass, so I assume they will try again tomorrow?

 How is it looking in your area? What have you been doing to #flattenthecurve?

COVID- 19 Update Social Distancing Day 9

I read somewhere that it is important to take notes on this chapter in our history, as one day we may want to reflect back on it. I'm not doing anything else at the moment so thought this would be a good time to start.

Kids School
My kids were out for one week ( last week) then start their Spring Break for tomorrow. Last week was AMI work- which proved to be challenging for the older two, as we only have three laptops in the house; my work, my husbands' work and then our household one. The girls were wanting to do their AMI at the same time, they both had Zoom meetings with their teachers at the same time ( so I downloaded Zoom to my phone and one kid did their Zoom there) and we've had to upgrade to the next phone package ( because we are all using so much data) as well as internet speed package ( again, because at times there are 5 of us using the internet at home, when most of the time there is no one or just one. But all in all, school was fine. I made a list of books for the kids to read that are a bit more "educational" although any reading is fine by me, and ordered the little guy a curriculum book online, which he just started. His AMI consists of 30 minutes of Mobi Max in reading and 30 minutes of math, so I'm adding some to his, along with reading aloud, and practicing his speech ( from speech therapy, each day.) They are out until April 17th as of right now, so we'll see how that goes. The girls Spring Break trip for youth group was canceled, and Silver Dollar City is closed too ( which was what we were going to do for the last part of Spring Break), so we canceled our cabin.

My Work
I work at a university ( teaching) and we were told to put all of our classes online for the REST of the semester and work from home. We aren't allowed back on campus. One employee ( so far) from my institution has tested positive, although I expect more will soon. So I'm teaching online for the rest of the semester. IF the school opens back up to faculty I would like to go back to work, as I just function better in my office, but we'll see how that goes, how the kids' school goes etc.

My Husband's Work
He was sent home last week and told he would be working remotely for at least 30 days. So he's starting on his second week tomorrow. He doesn't like it. He likes his office and his set up, but is doing what he needs to do. His work is different than mine, as he logs in at a certain time and logs off at a certain time and has stuff to do all day. Mine is more flexible and I can work whenever I get up , start a load of clothes, help the kids, go for a short walk, cook lunch etc. His is much more structured and we don't have a work space set aside, so there are times that 4 of us are at the kitchen table working with another kid in the floor beside us with a book or worksheet. But we are making it. We are both getting paid our normal amounts and are good.

Mental Health
It's only Day 9, but we haven't been to church, haven't been out to eat ( everything is closed anyway) haven't been ANYWHERE for 9 days. It has been raining a lot, so that isn't helping. It's also Spring in the south so tornado season is upon us, with 4 in our state one evening last week, and more bad weather expected tomorrow. So today, we just got outside and drove around. We stopped at a city park in a tiny town ( that NO ONE was at) and had a picnic and let the kids play a bit. We just took our time and drove and listened to the radio and that was nice. We've been trying to take the kids fishing behind the house, we made a bon fire to sit around and we've been visiting my parents almost everyday. They live across the road and they are sheltering in place as well, so we have all been mixing our germs and no one elses' for quite some time. Otherwise I wouldn't be going around them. But we are making in. It's been a struggle, but we are trying hard to think of new ways for the kids to hang out inside when it's raining, when both of us have to work all day.

Supplies and groceries update
Thankfully, I'm a pretty good prepper at hear and had a good supply of food. I went to Sam's 10 days ago before we started our self imposed quarantine and bought about $173 worth of stuff. We are almost out of milk, although my mom said she had some we could have that was frozen. We are down to one loaf of bread, but I can make that. Fresh fruit is going to be hard for us, but I made sure to buy things like applesauce and mandarin orange cups when I went to Sam's, to fill in the gap for things I thought we were low on. We have frozen fruit and still have some grapes, a few apples, kiwis and strawberries that are fresh. We still have plenty of deer meat, and beef my brother in law gave us that he processed, so lots of meat. We did NOT however have much toilet paper. We are down to 10 rolls ( for a family of 5) and since we are all home all day every day are going through it fast. But, we'll figure out something when the time comes. My father in law lives by himself and has just bought some toilet paper before this started and said we could have some if we need to.

IF I WENT TO THE STORE TODAY I WOULD BUY
milk
fresh fruit
tortillas
toilet paper
hand sanitizer
sandwich bread
Again, these are all things that if I were not quarantining and they were not out of, I would buy. But we are going to make due.

What's going on around us? 
In our state schools are closed until April 17th ( at least). So far there have been 164 confirmed cases of the virus, zero deaths that they are reporting. Universities have all sent their classes to online for the semester. Eating establishments and bars are only doing curbside pick up and drive through ( and delivery, although no one delivers where we are). Sam's was very very low on EVERYTHING ( no chicken at all in the whole store when I went, along with a ton of other stuff). I haven't been in 10 days but Facebook is reporting similar situations. Kroger pick up, Walmart pick up etc. isn't even booking grocery pickups as they are all full for at least a week ( which I guess is how far the booking goes out). Churches are doing online services ( although ours didn't... although we didn't go). It's a small church, but still... The schools are offering breakfasts and lunches for kids that need it. The bus driver asked us if we needed her to deliver any, but we declined. We are in good shape, and the kids never ate school meals anyways, so I'm not out any extra money since I'm used to packing their meals.

So that's it. I'd like to do more updates each day as a journal to look back on in a few years, but we'll see. If you've read down this far- bless you. How is it looking in your area? What have you been doing to #flattenthecurve?

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Book Review: White Christmas Pie by Wanda Brunstetter

Book Review: White Christmas Pie by Wanda E. Brunstetter



While I do love reading, I'm not getting to it as often as I like nowadays. I keep saying once I'm finished with my PhD I'll have more time to read. Who knows? But over the holiday break I get a chance to read more often. I just finished White Christmas Pie by Wanda Brunstetter.

This book was a nice, light read. The main character was Will who was left to be raised by Amish couple when he was 6 by his English father Frank who was looking for a new job, as his job as on the road trucker wouldn't suffice for a young boy that needed to be in school. Fast forward to when Will is 22 and still living with the Amish family and is engaged to an Amish young lady to be married.

What will happen with Frank reaches out to meet his son? Will will leave the church and return to be an Englisher? What will happen to his fiancee?

This book was neat because it told the story from the perspective of Will, but also from his biological father Frank. Both, were struggling with some issues and it was interesting to see the perspective from both sides.

The White Christmas Pie doesn't come into play into later on the story, the last probably 4-5 chapters really, but it tied everything together nicely.

If you like Amish fiction- this is a good one.

If you are interested in my other book reviews- you can see them here.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

A note about my freezer and pantry and $100 grocery challenge

Yesterday I posted about my challenge to spend only $100 in January on groceries for my family of 5. I just wanted to expand on that a bit. I'm hoping to keep my spending down in January to jumpstart our debt payoff for the year, but also to eat up some of what is in my pantry/freezer so I'll know what I'm running low on for this gardening season and to be able to defrost my small chest freezer as it's time!

1. We live in an area where I have Sam's Club, Kroger and Walmart available. I prefer not to go to Walmart as it is in an area of town further from my home, it's always super crowded and it's kind of shady. I do go to Sam's Club sometimes but do the majority of my weekly shopping at Kroger.

2. We eat meat, mainly venison (deer meat ) and fish that we catch ourselves. We also occasionally get a wild boar and make sausage from that. I do buy turkey bacon and chicken sometimes, but we don't have any at the moment and I don't see myself buying any during January and my low spend challenge.

3. We were gifted a turkey at Christmas from a man in our church, and although we typically don't buy a turkey, we may smoke it during January and enjoy turkey this month.

4. I can and freeze a lot from our garden during the year. I have a pantry full of pickles, relish, jelly etc. It's hard to make a meal though with pickles and jam/jelly even though they are nice. I can other items as well like pasta sauce, green beans, soup etc. but am running low of most of those. I'm sure I'll use those items up during the month.


5. We have blackberry and blueberry bushes and along with eating them fresh last spring/summer and canning some, I have quite a few berries frozen. I'll use that for just eating plain, muffins, smoothies popsicles etc.


6. We have chickens so will have a supply of fresh eggs all month.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

January- $100 a month for Groceries Challenge

January Challenge: $100 this month for groceries!

Week 1

We are a family of 5, kids are 14,12 and 8 and both my husband and I work full time. We are trying to pay down our debt, live intentionally and keep some kind of order in our chaos. This month my challenge to myself is to spend $100 or less or groceries. I normally spend $400 a month on groceries. So this month I will be trying to eat out of our freezer and pantries and keep purchases to a minimum. 
The first trip of the year was to Kroger and ended up costing $23.07. 
A few other things about our family- we don't have food allergies- so no restrictions there and no special diets. I'm a Registered Dietitian so we try to eat healthy, but I'm not on any restrictive sort of diet. My kids take their lunches to school each day, as do my husband and I. I cook 99% of the meals, and we are committed to not eat out in January.

So here's what I got:
-6 cucumbers ( in the produce bin for 99 cents) Will cut up to snack on, put in the kids lunches etc. Couldn't pass up such a great deal.
- Huge bag of sugar snap peas on sale for $3.99 from $7.99. Again, to snack on, kids lunches and I might stir fry them with the peppers and ingredients I have at home
- 3 lbs of apples for $2.99
- 2 bell peppers @ 89 cents each
- 1 gallon of milk for the kids because they love milk
- bunch of bananas
- 2 containers of turkey for the kids lunches. One of my children can't have peanut butter and jelly at their school because another child has allergies, so I send turkey with him. The other kids get pb&js
- loaf of bread
- package of sliced cheese for sandwiches and crackers and cheese

Total of $23.07 for week 1

I know I can make bread for cheaper. And I do sometimes. But I bought this loaf for .89 cents and feel that the saving of time is worth the 50 or so cents I save versus making it. To all you that make your own bread all the time- kudos- you are my hero.

So that's where we are. My kids and I are off work/school until January the 6th, so I'll cook and prep a lot of meals and snacks in the next few days.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

End of the year update: Finances, debt, family and more



Happy New Year's Eve!

I did want to just give an update on a few things going on in our life, and I would love to start updating the site more often. I've tried to clean up the site a bit ( I removed the AdSense for one thing, as I didn't understand how it worked and it looked to clutter up the blog). So as we approach the new year I wanted to share a few updates:

                                                                      Finances:
One of the things I've been open about here is our debt. Which is ridiculous. The last time I posted about it was in October of 2018 which you can read about here.  At that time our non mortgage debt was $144,798. Since then we have paid off $20,484. Bringing our debt down to $124,213. I'm glad that number is going down, however, it needs to go down further. I'm still being frugal, I'm sticking with our budget, but it just seems with 3 growing kids, a home to maintain and my tuition ( more on that in a minute) we did not have a ton extra to save. So for this next year, my goal is to get that number under $100k. So walk with me as we get that number lower!

                                                                    Family: 
We are doing so well. My kids are now 14, 12 and 8 and man are they amazing kiddos. They are doing great in school, and the older two are active in our church youth group, while the little guy is still in the Children's group at church. The 14 year old and 8 year old are taking piano lessons this coming year, the 14 year old has been taking lessons for a while but January will be the first month for the 8 year old. The 12 year old is doing great in her sewing classes- they aren't monthly lessons, but she does take a class here and there when there is one that tickles her fancy. Last night she hemmed a pair of jeans for my uncle and he gave her $3. So she's pretty excited about that.

                                                                   Animals:
We still have a ton of chickens ( not a ton, but maybe 25?) I haven't counted in a while. The chickens are really my 14 year old's thing and she knows their names, keeps tabs on them etc. We are getting some beautiful eggs each day and we enjoy fresh eggs. We still have 3 goats but are out of the rabbit business.
Throwback of my daughter when she was little, but she has always adored her chickens. 

                                                              My school: 
Thankfully, I am about to finish my PhD. I am on the dissertation phase and have collected my pilot data and am about to go into full scale data collection. I hope to be finished by the end of the Spring Semester. I may have to extend my graduation into the summer, but bottom line is that I only have about 3 more hours of tuition to pay, and most of that is paid for with a scholarship. I've tried really hard to get scholarships throughout this process, and anything I've owed, we've cashed flowed. We vowed for no new debt for my PhD- which we stuck to. So after my next tuition bill we will be finished paying for that and that money can be put somewhere else. I've also had to travel pretty often to the university, which was costly for plane tickets, hotels etc. So after one more trip ( to defend my dissertation) that expense will be finished as well!

I am starting a Pantry Challenge tomorrow, with my grocery budget being only $100 for the month of January ( and I haven't bought groceries in almost a week already) so that will help clean my freezer out and plan for what food(s) we need to plant and put up this gardening season. Read more about that in the coming days.

How has your year been? I'm excited to get back to visit with you guys!