Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool

I love that I am able to homeschool our babies. I am very thankful for the Easy Peasy curriculum. It is what I used when first starting out homeschooling and working full time. Then I switched to an expensive curriculum. The kids hated it and now we are back to EP.

It is free. It is computer based which my kids love. I love that it includes Bible lessons. It goes all the way to high school. We do supplement because they lessons are a bit short for my kids. But Pinterest has some great ideas for that.

What are some fugal homeschooling sites you use?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Banana Ice Cream

DS3 has had a dairy allergy up until recently. This limited us on what we could cook or eat. I have found several alternatives to ice cream that I will be happy to share. One of our favorites is super simple. Banana ice cream as I mentioned in my Meal Planning post.

Banana Ice Cream:

What you need:

Peel bananas... I do one per person
Freeze bananas. A couple hours work, but honestly I just peel and freeze in a bag as they are about to go bad and pull them out when we have enough.
Put in blender and mix until creamy. If too runny add a few ice cubes.
Enjoy :)

Pretty easy right!? We use this with the kids for cooking lessons. Ok who am I kidding... we are homeschoolers, its cooking, math, reading, economics and science and possibly greenhouse.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Food Waste Friday

This week is more realistic...

What got tossed out this week:\
  • 2 20 ounce diet cokes that one of the kids opened and refused to fess up to
  • half of a hamburger
  • half of a petro
  • a full plate of spaghetti
  • a hamburger bun
  • two half sandwiches

Menu Planning

With a big family comes lots of hungry bellies and lots of running around. I love to keep life a little more simple. Hey, mama's got to have her time too, right? Our kids will eat pretty much anything that doesn't eat them first and that is a bit of a burden on the budget but also not good for some of them. We have two of our precious boys that are heavier. We don't want them to struggle with their weight so we are trying to teach them to eat healthy. I have turned to meal planning and grocery booking (price book) to come to the rescue.

I do my meal plans a little differently that other ladies I know who meal plan. I use a word document and divide up to breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  I have it on four 4 week cycles... one for each season. We do more soups and stews in the fall and winter and more salads and grilling in the spring and summer. I include a weekly shopping list for each weeks menu. I then go and check the sales ads as to where I need to go. I laminate them so I can cross what I already have or have already put in my cart off the list. I like to be able to reuse my list and menus.

I include two left over days on our menus. One is always Thursday for dinner. We have scouts that night and really pushed for time that day. It is so much easier for us to do that. The other day is Sunday lunch time. That way we can all come home from church and relax and it clears the clutter for where I make a large Sunday dinner. Plus I hate food waste. It is a major pet peeve for me! I actually save left over veggies and fruits out of the serving bowl, bones, soups, broths, meat, and grains without sauce. I put them in separate bags in the freezer. I use leftover bones, onions, carrots, celery, peppers to make bone broth. I save left over broths and veggies, grains and meats for soups or casseroles. I save fruits for smoothies or compote. I will freeze yogurt and milk right before it goes out of date and will mix it will the fruit and some ice to make fruit sherbet or ice cream (we love banana ice cream).

I use a lot of ziplock bags. I do rinse and reuse until they are on their last leg. Once I realize I am only going to get one more use out of it, I will use it for raw meat. I do not reuse bags that have contained raw meat.

What are some of your meal planning tips?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Scouting Life

We are a homeschooling family. DS1 and DS2 are in public school, but the other three are homeschooled. The biggest concern that gets expressed to us is concern about them socializing. Well for one with as many siblings, cousins and playmates that they have, they socialize a great deal. Not to mention that we also attend a co-op. I admittedly did not enroll them in co-op this semester due to not having a car to take them to school on Fridays.

Another social activity we do is cub scouts. DS3 wants to be an Eagle Scout one day. We are definitely a scouting family. We include some of the activities into our school day. I am a pack leader. We love the scouting life.

I love that it teaches the kids love for themselves, their community and the Lord. DS3 loves the camps and camping trips. He gets excited to do archery, BB guns and slingshots. I have to brag... my kid is a very good shot. He wants to be the most decorated kid in the pack. DS3 is my blah kid. He doesn't really get excited about anything, but he does with his scouting. He puts effort into it and I love that. I love that he could potentially get a scholarship to college.

What are some extra curriculars that your kiddos love? 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Problems Only Blended Families Will Understand

I love my big, blended family and would not change this life for the world. But there are just some things that you encounter as a blended family that I was not prepared to tackle. Whether it is the looks or questions strangers ask or the emotions you feel that you are not sure that you should feel.

1. They are mine! All of them!
One question I get all too often is "are they all yours?" No, sweet cheeks, I just kidnapped a few kids and decided to test my ability to grocery shop with extra hands grabbing and extra "buy me" whines to boot. For the record, I am a grocery champion! Where's my trophy? Of course they are all mine! Even if they weren't, is that really anyone's business? No, they didn't all come from my body. But they each have my heart and that is what really counts.

2. The Case of the Ex
I did not realize that strange relationship that I would have with baby mama. It's such an uncomfortable relationship. He loved her first. It didn't work out for this reason or that. But he did love her first. I loved Ex first. I still love him just not in the same way. I actually did pick Ex over Brad 11 years ago. When Ex and I were engaged, I met Brad at a place where he worked. He flirted and I told him to take a hike! This little anecdote just got brought to recognition recently by a story we were talking about. It's fun how our paths crossed. But I digress. We both loved someone else first. I am best friends with Ex. It's awkward. It has to be. I get very protective over Brad. I hate when he has to go to Baby Mama's without me. There is a weird sense of jealousy that I just cannot rationalize.

3. My Kids are Perfect
I have the strange need to stand up for my kids, even when they are wrong. They have been through a lot since their father and I split and I will try the rest of my life to make it up to them. So naturally, I want to protect them, even when they are way out of line. I want to keep them from harm. They have a new man in their life and that is hard for them to accept. So I find myself wanting to stand up for them even when Brad is right.

4. There Are No "MY" Kids
They are our kids. We love them. You will love your added children. For some people this is an instant connection, for some it takes a long time. I know one family that the kids couldn't stand their stepmom and she tried her best to love them but it really didn't happen for them until they were adults. Now they love her through and through. I am blessed. I love DS1 and DS2 with all my heart and they love me too. In fact, I got upset that they had to leave the other day. It's really hard for Brad and I not to be under the same roof. I started crying when I was saying goodbye. When they left DS2 asked if they had done something to upset me. Brad told them no that I just hate to see them leave. DS2 said I hate when she's sad and wish I could fix it. They have my heart and I would protect them with my life.

5. Sibling Rivalry on Steroids
 While our kids adore and love each other, they want to strangle each other half the time. The older ones get upset because the littles are hyper and loud. The littles get upset because the bigs won't play with them. DS1 and DS2 get upset if their dad pays more attention to DS3,4,&5 and they get upset if I pay more attention to DS1&2. It's a balancing act and assertion of dominance over the territory of the bio parent. They don't share us adults well. Sometimes, I feel like stretch Armstrong being pulled 1000 directions because the kids want me to do this with them and another is shouting look at me and another is saying they are hungry.

At the end of the day, we will survive this. We will get through this. We will grow in love and as a family. It will just take a little time to make it smooth sailing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Stopping the Soda Habit

So I have been wanting to stop drinking soda for a long time! I want to be more healthy and lose weight. Soda is terrible for your teeth as well. I would like to lose 43 pounds. I really want to get in shape. So I am walking away from the soda pop. I am drinking bottled water like crazy but the tap water around here is nasty. You can taste the chemicals even after filtering it. I have been infusing the water with cucumber or lemons or limes to make it taste better. I am determined to get healthy now that we have stopped smoking. I read somewhere that if you stop drinking soda you will lose up to 20 pounds in a year. I will not drink diet soda either. Aspartame is horrible for you and I am incredibly sensitive to it... headaches, tummy aches, etc.

Kombucha has been a wonderful alternative to soda pop for me. It is rather expensive to buy. I have learned how to make basic kombucha, but I would really like to make flavored alternatives. It is really tasty and very good for you and your gut health. It is easy to make and inexpensive to make.

I really need to drink more water though. I am going to set timers on my phone to remind me to drink water.

Monday, January 23, 2017

My Coke Rewards

I love my soda, but I am way to cheap to pay full price for it if I can avoid it. I use my coke rewards to help get some discounts. My whole family is coke people not Pepsi people. They do not use my coke rewards however. They save their codes for me and I go pick them up and enter them in as much as I can in a week. We enter codes religiously. We save up and order coupons. I like to order them 4 coupons at a time, because most sales around here are 4 for $# so that gives an even bigger discount.

I advise using my coke rewards even if you don't want to use the discounts or coupons. You can donate your points to your child's school which is wonderful! I love finding ways to give back, especially when it doesn't cost a penny!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Food Waste Friday

So I don't actually have a picture this week for Food Waste Friday! We had a tight week and nothing got thrown out. This is definitely not the norm for us. I wish it were though!

Tune in next week for a more realistic picture.

Being Productive

Adjusting to our newly blended family is taking some work. I am very type A personality and I truly do have OCD (like actually diagnosed with it not someone who just claims to be) so I like organization... I need it. I am working on a way to make our machine finely tuned and running smoothly, while saving time and money. This does not come naturally. It takes work, patience and lots of love. I am working on a family binder (series to come), color coding system, chore schedule, laundry schedule and daily routine schedule. To make this work we will all have to pitch in. I am in the process of making menu plans and collecting ideas from the kids as to what foods they will absolutely not eat. DS1 and DS5 are impossible to please with foods, yet they are my chunky kids who like to eat a lot.

I really need to get this machine fine tuned and everyone on a schedule. Of course it will be easier once we are able to get under one roof. I am greatly appreciative of Brad's communication skills. He calls to tell me all the changes in his plans and when he will be out of town working and what not so that way we do not double book ourselves. I will be posting a series on our method of running a family as large and as crazy busy as ours. I would really like to do some video blogs at some point this year, but it will be a bit difficult until we get internet. Right now, I have to use the library or my parents' internet.

I am finding it difficult to allow my kids to be somewhat free range and have control over what they do and when AND have a controlled semi sort of organized home life. I do not want to infringe on their personal desires for their little lives but I can not stand chaos!

What are some ways that you keep your family organized?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Making Weeknights So Easy: 5 Day Ecourse Free

So I am loving doing online courses lately. It's nice to have the opportunity to hear ideas from other people that may make my life a bit easier!



Earn points and redeem toward gift cards. I have redeemed for CVS gift cards to coupon with in the past. BzzAgent is a word of mouth marketing sight that will reward in MyPoints points. So it is a win win. You can watch videos, shop online or do searches to earn points. Who doesn't love free money? This website is very similar to Swagbucks. You can print and redeem coupons for points. Of course, redemption of coupons does take a little while to get your points added to your account. You can earn points by participating in sponsored deals or trials. So do cost money, but if you are interested in trying the product anyway, you might as well go through their site and earn points too! You can earn points through referring a friend.

Disclaimer: The links are my referral links and I will receive points for sign ups through my links.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Journey to Zero Waste

My job as a mama to all of my little lovelies is to try my best to make this world a better place for them. That is one of the main reasons I am a passionate activist. I once saw a video of a woman who could fit all of her landfill destined waste in a jelly jar. Wow! A jelly jar. No this is not a realistic goal for our family but we can significantly reduce our waste! I attempt live green. We cloth diaper, recycle and reuse when we can. I personally would like to family cloth but Brad is a no go on that. Haha. We clean naturally. We fix what we can before tossing it and buy a new one. But I am learning there is still so much more we can do! 2017 it is going to be my personal mission to find more ways to reduce waste and save money. Join me on this journey.

One problem I see where our family is concerned is how much food goes to waste! We are going to challenge ourselves to not waste food. Money is tight for us...as it is for most. We will compost what we don't consume, but the goal here is to remove the waste. We will start doing Food Waste Fridays for accountability. I have asked for a food recycler for our kitchen for my birthday, but I don't see that happening unless we get a house first!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


My nails were a mess! I really want to feel better about myself, and if I'm being truthful, I want to be amazing for Brad. I want to everything he's ever dreamed of. So I kind of want to model myself after June Cleaver. She was always stunning, upbeat and Suzy homemakery! Now, I'm a tomboy and that's not going to change. I'm just me...take it or leave it! With that being said I'm a lipstick tomboy. I want to get dirty and sweaty with the boys, but I want to look pretty doing it.

So another Pinterest trick of two was tried tonight. I wanted to do my nails, because I refuse to pay salon prices this month. So here are the pins and results:

Elmers Glue: So it worked well. I did not have any polish that I couldn't get easily off of my cuticles. So basically, you put Elmer's glue around you nails at the cuticle. Paint. Dry. Peel off glue and perfect nails!

Listerine Foot Soak: It smelled and felt great! However, it did not work for me the way that Pinterest suggested. I ended up using my PedEgg because I know it makes me smooth. In all fairness, I don't have a lot of dead skin on my feet due to regular maintenance. I might work better for someone with flakey skin.

Polish in the Fridge: I didn't really notice a difference to be honest. I know that it is supposed to make it thicker and therefore smoother. I did not notice a difference. However, I am cheap and refuse to pay out the ying yang for polish! I buy mine at the dollar store, but I use an Avon Top Coat. I will buy more expensive products if I have a coupon for it.

Follow Me on Pinterest @thriftymamaof5


Monday, January 16, 2017

And... We THOUGHT We Bought A House

Well... Our perfect house was a nightmare! When the home inspection was done, we learned that there was upward of $50,000 in immediate repairs needed on the home. We obviously do not have that money laying around. We were given the opportunity to get out of our contract and walk away which we did, but we lose $397 for the home and pest inspection and will have to pay for another one when we go to put a contract on another home. We are back to looking and we went to look at a few this weekend. I have a feeling we have a long road ahead of us. I really hate this because we don't live together yet. We are together as much as we can. I hate us all not being together everyday. BUT we have to be adults and worry about the needs of our rather large family and not the wants that will be solved once we get into a house.

House hunting is giving me a headache! We both have certain things that we need in the house that we will not budge on. But our wallet says one of us has to budge a little. I believe that God saved us one the first house. It was a little out of our price range and Brad was planning on getting a second job for us to be able to afford it and live comfortably. I would much rather have a smaller, fixer upper house that is in our comfy budget, than having to stretch and scrimp and pinch every penny. Praying for this house to come together. We are actually looking for a bit of a project house so that we can let the boys help and teach them skills as we fix it up. It is going to be a hobby for the two of us as we fix it up and plan to sell it 5 or 6 years down the road when we need a bit of a bigger home.

Everything happens for a reason, but goodness gracious my patience is running thin.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


Ok so there's an app for your phone (iPhone not sure about android) but you earn gift cards just for driving. It's called mileup. If you have to drive anyway, you might as well use the app and save some money. Brad travels for work a lot and this is going to benefit us greatly. You get 2 points a mile and gift cards start at 1000 points. We are going to Florida (508 miles) next month so thats 1016 miles round trip times that by two and 2032 points per person so if we wanted to cash out we could have $20 in Walmart , amazon or target gift cards or $20 in regal gift cards. Plus if you use gift cards to buy gas at Walmart it take $.03 a gallon in gas. My friend and her husband are getting $50+ a month in gift cards. For me that's a win win situation.

*Disclaimer: the link is my referral code. You get bonus points when someone signs up under your code.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Homemade Hair Mask

This year I have decided that I would like to not only take better care of myself, but want to feel prettier too. I really wanted to cut off my hair because I'm bored with it, but Brad really likes my long hair, as does my mother. So instead of cutting it, I am going learn to take care of it and style it and keep it looking nice. So of course I took to Pinterest! First thing on the list it coconut oil hair mask.

I did one egg, a tablespoon of honey, 2 tablespoons coconut oil and 2 tablespoons olive oil. I left it on for half hour, and what was left in the bowl I used as a facial mask. My hair is smooth and non frizzy. My face is soft and smooth. I am very excited about it! It worked great!

No frizz!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Pinch Me

I love freebies! Who doesn't? It's a great way to stretch your budget and even a great way to give back. If we don't use a product we get a sample of, we will donate it. Local animal shelters take pet food, food banks will take food items, we do blessing bags with hygiene items. This year, we have chosen two organizations we really would like to help... Operation Christmas Child and Standing Rock Water Protectors. So any hygiene items we get will be distributed between the two. But I digress...

I have stumbled upon Pinch Me. I am in love with this site! They often times give full sized samples just for reviewing the product. So far I have received tomato paste, foundation, eyeliner, lipstick, baby butt paste, and two dish cloths. I would recommend this site to anyone. The surveys are quick and painless, as is ordering the samples.

I can't wait to see what I get in my mailbox next!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Calendar To Organize This Big Family

Keeping up with everyone's  schedule is kind of a mess around here. We want to make sure that the whole family's needs and social and professional schedules are met. We have implemented the old fashioned calendar method. We have a planner that every appointment and scheduled meeting is written down on it, as is bills and birthdays. Though to be honest, mama is the only one allowed to actually write on it. I may be a bit touchy about that one. So every event that someone wants to attend has to be written down and scheduled or it does not get priority. Everyone has an assigned color on the calendar and we have a color for when the whole family is participating. So far it is working pretty well, but I would like to find an electronic version that I can use as a back up.

Using a calendar also helps us with school and save us money by avoiding late fees. DS1 has had issues with doing school work. He is extremely smart and gets bored easily. We have had him start using his own pocket calendar to mark down assignments and have the teachers mark off on them as well to show us that he is not lying about assignments. It may sound harsh, but he has a bright future as long as he will apply himself. I would much rather him be frustrated with us now for having to get the agenda signed, than for him to be frustrated because he can't afford to live on his own as an adult. We want our children to not have to struggle like we have had to do.

We have a lot of upcoming doctor appointments. The calendar is my best friend. The color system makes it so much easier to keep up with getting everyone where they need to be. My calendar may be full but so it my heart.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

We Bought a House

After many tedious months, we finally have found a house big enough to accommodate our large family! We are so blessed! It is going to need quite a bit of fixing up, but thankfully Brad is very skilled in fixing things. Me? Not so much... but I am really good at supervising while he does it! Haha. I am rapidly falling in love with Pinterest. There are so many inexpensive and easy fixes to make the place more modern.

The house needs painting and flooring, but the fixtures are from the 1960s. The feature that under no circumstances is to be changed... the beautiful French doors leading to the dining room! I am so in love with them. I am going to be a Pinterest trying queen in the next few months. Some things will have to come more quickly than others. The house has no smoke detectors! There are several exit doors to the house which is great in case of a fire, but really bad when DS4 is a runner due to the autism. We will be getting a burglar alarm immediately. We are about to enter the teenage years with our older boys anyway. An alarm will save us some headaches from young men who think they get to sneak out! I love how they think we were never young... news flash we created and pulled off more ideas than you'll ever think of!

We have a little over three acres of land. So we are going to be homesteading a little bit! We are going to plant a garden, get chickens, ducks and possibly meat rabbits. I am excited to learn new things and share them with you! I am sure there will be some hilarious fails along the way, but hey we all have to learn somehow!