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Blog Posts on My Frugal Life:

Summer Vacation
Thursday, July 09, 2009 | By Jess

Well, it is that time of the year, we are heading out bright and early tomorrow morning. My boys both would like to go to Disneyland, but we are visiting family this year.  We are driving to Chewelah in Eastern Washington for their local Chataqua festival.  My aunt Sally (also a ThriftyFunner) always invites the whole extended family and everyone has a great time.  It reminds me of my own childhood because we would visit as often as we could. I can't wait for my boys to see everyone!

After that, we are driving over to visit Grandma Nancy in Leavenworth. Leavenworth is a charming Bavarian  town high in the mountains.  Their property has a little creek and lots of space for boys (and dogs) to run.  Although it won't be as "exciting" as Disneyland might be, I hope that they will have a great time and make some of their own childhood memories.


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Kindergarten Graduation
Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | By Jess

I just got back from my youngest son's kindergarten graduation. Those kiddos are so adorable at that age.  I took my video camera and recorded the whole thing, mostly because I have a DVD of my older son's graduation and I don't want anyone feeling left out.  I'll have to work on converting it over to a DVD, perhaps in time to give it to Grandma Nancy when we visit this summer.

It is so much harder to keep up on the photos and memory keeping with your second (or more) child.  I have a fraction of the photos, despite the fact that we all have digital cameras now.  I have box after box of video tapes from one camera or another that I have to get transferred before I break ANOTHER camcorder.  And those digital photos are hopelessly disorganized and have multiple copies on my hard drive, due to backups and extra downloads. It seems like it is a full time job preserving what is happening NOW for people to appreciate in the future.  I don't even have my wedding album finished, 12 years after the big day.

Still, it is worth doing. Sometimes on a boring, rainy afternoon, my house is filled with laughter from my boys watching their earlier selves.  I put together a DVD, back when I worked for a company that had all the equipment to make this easy, called "The Amazing Adventures of Beck and Ethan" It was about the time my oldest was in Kindergarten and I made it as a Mother's Day presents for the grandmas.  Three out of four of those grandmas and great grandmas are now gone but I'm sure they treasured the glimpse into our daily life.

If you are great about memory keeping, good for you. Keep it up because your children or grandchildren will love you for it some day.  If you aren't so great about this, do what you can. You don't have to use a video camera or even photos.  Some of the best (and funniest) memories I have from my own childhood are from audio cassettes that my brothers and sisters and I recorded: plays, commercials, songs.  It is hilarious and sometimes touching.  If you don't have access to any of this, take a moment and write down some precious memories of your own or ask your kids to tell you what they remember about last Christmas, or what they want to be when they grow up. You will be so glad you did!

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How Can You Possibly Explain This To Your Kids
Friday, June 05, 2009 | By Jess

This post is going to be a bit deeper than usual.  I just got back from a memorial assembly at my children's elementary school.  I live in Hillsboro, OR and last week a father shot his two young children and then himself at a local nature reserve.  The boy was a second grader at our school.  I guess the father was having a tough time, in the middle of a divorce and other problems.  Somehow, he thought this was the best way to "take care of his children".  The mother sent the children to school and never saw them alive again.  My heart is breaking for the whole situation.  This comes on the heels of news last week that a mother threw her two children off the Sellwood Bridge, in nearby Portland.  Only one survived.

I know that these stories are becoming all too common throughout communities in the U.S., perhaps because of the increasing financial pressures here.  And there are tragedies in the world that are far far worse: war, political unrest, the list goes on.  But I don't live there and, although I care about the struggles of people across our planet, I have to be a mother and member of my own community first.  And I don't know what to say to my own children, that won't scare them.  

I have utmost respect for our principal and teachers, who dealt with a very tough situation with understanding and compassion.  Elementary school age children are too young to have to deal with such horror.  I looked out at the sea of young bright faces, especially the first graders, and tried to imagine how anyone could snuff such potential in a selfish and desparate act.  And I wonder what I can do to prevent these tragedies.  Of course, there is not much I can do directly.  But indirectly, there is something we can all do.

This family, or the countless other families that dot the headlines regularly, were part of a network of extended family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.  Someone must have had concerns about the mounting pressures but maybe didn't want to bring it up.  It is embarassing for grown-ups to accept help, or a sympathetic ear, or a couple hours of child care.  So if you see someone suffering in your community, see what you can do to give them the support they need, before it is too late.  It might bruise their pride a little bit, but it also might be the connection that they need to make it through.

I hope everyone will take this opportunity to hug their children, or grandchildren tight. I know that is what I am going to do.


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Spring Break
Monday, March 23, 2009 | By Jess

Well, it is that time of year again.  Spring Break, which is 6 1/2 days off from school this year.  I have my two boys here watching cartoons while I get my Monday morning work done.  I don't want to have them just watch TV and play video games the entire week, so I need to plan some frugal activities to keep them occupied.

Today, we are going grocery shopping. I usually go by myself or with my kindergartner but this week we will all go together. I hope to encourage them to cook with me this week. The weather isn't too great, so I plan to do some baking, maybe cookies, maybe bread.  All these things are relatively inexpensive and I can give the surplus away to friends to avoid blowing my diet.

Last Thursday, we went to the library and they both picked out books to read.  My 3rd grader is to read and report on a book every day of spring break.  They both now have their own library cards and I plan to go again later in the week.  The trick is keeping all the books together so we don't have fines, especially on the one movie I let them pick out. It costs $1 a day it is late, so it adds up very fast.

If the weather clears up, we will walk to the park or the school to play most afternoons.  I'll bring our dog and walk while they swing and slide. We also will probably go swimming at least once as we have a yearly membership, courtesy of my husband's job.  We have a zoo membership too, so that is a good outing for later in the week, almost free if I pack a picnic lunch.

And, I'm sure, they will get some video game time mixed in there. I will try to limit that and also encourage them to play the more active games, like Wii Fit.  Heck, maybe I will get in some exercise during the day too.  I also have plans to plant some seeds and starts in our garden bed so we can look forward to fresh produce all summer long. Kids love to garden.  The Easter Bunny knows this and always brings gardening things in their baskets, but that is a couple weeks away yet.

I have a friend that will watch them for an afternoon so I can have lunch with my husband, probably toward the end of the week.  We will probably go and have lunch one day with the entire family too, maybe even today.  The week will be over before we all know it.

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Big old mess
Sunday, June 01, 2008 | By cantmissamy

ok anyone with young children might can relate to what I woke up to this morning. Slept in to 9 am but kept hearing my son who is 4 downstairs laughing and items crashing oh what a mess did I find. A dozen and a half of eggs were in the chairs, on the floor, and places I swear I am not sure how they got there, everything on top of the tv was down, and some items I might never find. I wonder why he thinks that when mom sleeps in he can do whatever he wants. I keep thinking back to when I was a kid and if I ever did anything like this? Who knows but if I did then I am getting pay back now.

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potty training
Monday, October 29, 2007 | By Forster

I have a daughter who just turned 3-years-old last July.  She refuses to sit on the potty.  I have even tried rewarding her with treats but that does not seem to work.  I know she is ready to be potty trained because she is constantly asking me to change her diaper.  She is very stubborn.  Any suggestions?  Help me.

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$-saving tip for new or expectant parents
Monday, April 30, 2007 | By maryjane72

Cut baby wipes in half. Literally.
Tiny bottoms really don't need a full-sized wipe, and if the job is a particularly messy one use the other half.

I'm not particularly a big fan of Wal-mart, but I highly  recommend the White Cloud brand of diapers they carry. My first-born was coddled with Pampers and Huggies Supreme diapers.  In a pinch, I tried White Cloud. Never switched back! They are comparable in quality to Huggies Supreme, besides, who can resist the John Lennon Real Love designs?


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Volunteering At School
Thursday, January 25, 2007 | By Jess

Good Morning!

It's a cold and foggy morning here in Oregon.  I got up a bit early this morning.  It's funny how I have more energy if I get up early, but can never remember that when the alarm goes off in my dark, warm bed.

Yesterday, I volunteered at my son's elementary school. I was there for the library time in the afternoon and stayed to the end of the day.  I shelved books and read nursery rhymes to the kids.  My son is in first grade and they listened pretty well to the nursery rhymes, chiming in when they knew it and clapping for me at the end.  The next class was second graders, and it was obvious that these kids were older and more jaded.  There were some behavior problems, many rolled eyes; a tough crowd.  All in all, I had a pretty good time.  I  think it will be helpful to see other kids besides my own.  Plus, my son Beck was thrilled to see me and showed me how he was sitting perfectly and following all directions.  Of course, we had a big battle of wills at dinner time but I'd rather have it that way than bad behavior at school and good at home.  As my little brother said growing up, "I can't be good ALL the time"

The shared room thing seems to be going well.  They only try to sneak into our room every other night or so.  Yesterday morning, I found them both in Ethan's bed, two little angels (while sleeping anyway). We need to work on the cleaning and making beds but . . . baby steps, right.

Well, time to get to work!

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Kids Sharing A Room
Friday, December 29, 2006 | By Jess

Today is my first day of entirely working from home.  As it is still winter break, I have my two boys home with me.  We will see how much work I get done! Luckily, Ethan (4) is still asleep, in my bed.  Beck (6) is playing with some of his Christmas toys and singing to himself in the bedroom.

We have had some challenges lately regarding bedtimes and staying in your own bed.  There have been nights when both of the boys will be in our bed and my husband and I will wind up asleep on the couch or in one of the twin beds.  Then Ethan, who is especially persistent about sleeping next to Mama, will track me down and we will both be in a twin bed instead of in a queen.

The boys currently have their own rooms.  I often find them sleeping together in the morning in one or the other room, if my door was locked or something.  So, we have decided to move them both into the bigger room and change the smaller one into a playroom, maybe with a guest bed.  I figure there will be some giggling and silliness until they get used to it but maybe they will sleep better for the companionship.  I shared a room for awhile with my two brothers and they shared a room until they were teenagers.  

Another problem this may fix is the mess.  My younger son's room is always a disaster because they both play in there and then my wily oldest refuses to clean up "Ethan's" toys.  If they share a playroom, they will both be responsible.  As I am going to be working exclusively from home now, I need to be able to concentrate on my work.  I can't do that if I have mess around me all the time.

I'll keep you all posted on how it goes.


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Thank You Parents!
Monday, December 11, 2006 | By

Thank you to all the parents who have stayed in contact with me through out their adoption process and after they have returned to the states.  I am so grateful to be in contact with the parents of the babies I took care of for 6 months.  I look forward to being updated about these beautiful children as they grow.  They will always be in my heart.

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