Relationships

As I near my 30th birthday, I’ve been reflecting on the past decade of my life. It seems as if life has had one theme: change. Most of which has been pleasant and positive. Marriage, babies, moving, new friendships. Things that warm my heart and put a smile on my face. Things I want to soak up and ingrain in my mind.

There have also been uncomfortable, unpleasant changes. Specifically the deaths of loved ones, moving away from family and friends, shifting of relationship placement, and loss of friendships. I don’t know if it was just me, but the last decade of my life seems to be chalk full of those things, especially the latter.

I’m not going to lie, Facebook has been the blazing beacon in making the last two uncomfortable changes much more obvious. Until social media, I had always considered myself a friend to everyone. I conversed easily with others and kind of went with the flow. But now, every “unfriend”, block, and ignored post makes it incredibly obvious that some people don’t like me. Sometimes it is expected. Other times, I’m left scratching my head, wondering why.

Either way, it is painful and cuts deep. I try not to let it bug me, but in my insomniac mind, late at night, I think over every conversation and interaction over and over again. Which, of course, doesn’t help my sleep-deprived state of mind.😉

And so, upon the recent discovery of another person who has blocked me, I’ve decided I’m going to do my best to keep trusting that there was a reason that person was in my life for a short or long season. That I’ve learned something from them. That it’s ok to not be friends with everyone.

And I’m once again stepping away from Facebook for the time being. I have more important things (my little human beings) to focus on.🙂 I know that right now in life, they like me and love me and enjoy being with me. Ask them how they feel when they hit the teen years.😉

How do you feel when someone removes you from their friend list?

Why I Love ALDI

When you are a single-income family, you look for ways to “cut corners” and make ends meet in order to stay under budget.  It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that a family of eight can, quite quickly, rack up a hefty grocery bill in little-to-no time.

I went through a phase where I LOVED to clip coupons.  And, when I can find the time, I still love to match up sales to coupons and save loads of money. (I’m looking at you, Target!) Unfortunately, lately it seems like I don’t have the time and energy to dedicate to clipping coupons like I used to.  Homeschooling, infant, toddler, housework, etc. The daily to-do list is never ending.

What’s a frugal gal to do??

aldi_logo2

Here is where ALDI comes into the picture.🙂 ALDI is my one-stop grocery shop and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad bit addicted. These are my TOP TEN reasons I love ALDI!


1. Price: I love that I can stay under budget while buying a HUGE cart full of groceries. I’m not lying to you when I say I can comfortably spend $200 every other week on healthy groceries (obviously frozen pizzas and ice cream don’t fall into this “healthy” category but, hey, at least the majority is healthy) for our family of eight.

source: Google images

source: Google images

2. Store layout: When you walk into ALDI, you notice that the aisles are wiiiiiide and open.  This is excellent when you have a gaggle of children tagging along for a shopping trip. ALDI keeps their set-up simple and clean.  They don’t constantly change around where things are located.  I can arrange my shopping list in order of which items I will pass first, second, third, etc. which helps me save time!

3. Fast checkout: Not only are ALDI’s aisles easy to navigate, but their checkouts are VERY fast (something that ALDI is well-known for)! Which, might I add, is very important when you are shopping with young children.😉

source: Google images

source: Google images

4. Fresh produce: ALDI always has a variety of fresh produce available.  Obviously this can vary depending on the season, but for the most part I can always get the produce I need.  Everything from peppers, to bananas, to kale, to kiwis.

source: Google images

source: Google images

5. Organic selection: Tagging along with #3 is the super sweet fact that ALDI’s organic (and non-GMO) selection is affordable! Not only that, but I heard from an ALDI representative that they are planning on continuing to grow their organic selection. I try to buy organic whenever possible, especially when it comes to making family favorites, like chili. Right now I can buy organic canned beans, organic canned tomatoes, organic ground beef, and organic tortilla chips for less than what it would cost me to buy the same conventional food items at Walmart.

source: Google images

source: Google images

6. Special buys: I am guilty of serving the same meals over and over again (my kids groan when I mention we are having spaghetti for supper, again).  In an effort to provide a larger variety of meals for my family, I have been meal planning and leaving meal spots open for ALDI’s “special buys”.  Sometimes I will get salmon, or an oriental frozen meal. The great thing about the special buys is that they help me keep our meals fun and different, which means my kids get to taste and try new things.

source: aldi.com

source: aldi.com

7. ALDI store brand: Their store-brand items taste just as good, if not better, than name-brand items.  Our favorites are their spaghetti sauces and, on the very rare occasion, root beer.

8. One-stop shop: I can literally buy all of my groceries I need at ALDI.  Anything from diapers, to kitchen sponges, to flowers.  When I go grocery shopping at Target or Walmart, I often run across things I “need” but hadn’t planned on buying (*ahem* I may or may not be addicted to the DVD bargain bins in the electronics department). At ALDI, that temptation isn’t there, meaning I’m able to stay within my budget. (It also means my kids won’t begging for anything and everything they see when we pass the toy aisles at other stores.)

aldi_bags1

source: Google images

9. Eco-friendly: You need to either bring your own grocery bags or you have to buy them.  I think this helps create consumer responsibility.  No one wants to buy bags, so in a way this forces the customer to bring their own bags to the store, which results in less plastic waste.  You also have the option to use their cardboard item display boxes (usually found in a big metal “crate” in some aisles) to put your groceries in after checking out. I love recycling/reusing!

10. The price: I know this was my #1, but seriously, this is the one thing that made a difference for me and my family.  I cannot stress how much money you can save by shopping ALDI! It definitely makes living on one income very doable.

source: Google images

source: Google images

So the next time you go grocery shopping, grab a quarter (because you have to “pay” a quarter to use their carts… don’t worry, you’ll get it back when you return the cart) and head to your local ALDI. I really think you should give this unique store a try! Let me know if ALDI helps you and your family save money!🙂

Best ever, easy peasy, edible chocolate chip cookie dough

I may or may not have an infatuation with raw chocolate chip cookie dough. (Hint: I do.) In fact, the only reason I make chocolate chip cookies is so I can have a spoonful (or ten) of the gooey, delicious dough.

Excuse me while I drool. ;)

Excuse me while I drool.😉

Every time I sneak some of the delectable dough, the voice of my home economics teacher comes into my head: “If you eat raw cookie dough, you will get salmonella!” In fact, there are an estimated 1.4 million reported cases of salmonella in the USA each year, of which 500-1,000 cases result in death. So I guess eating raw eggs might not be a fantastic idea after all.

In an effort to make a healthier example for my kids (and to avoid becoming a statistic), I decided to try edible chocolate chip cookie.  A simple Google search brings up over 300,000 results.  Pinterest is filled with oodles and oodles of recipes.  My husband and I tried out a few different recipes and couldn’t help but feel like they had missed the mark somewhere.  I wanted something quintessential; something that tasted “Nestle Tollhouse”, mouth-watering good.

And so, after trial and error, I have created what I feel is the very best, edible, easy peasy, raw chocolate chip cookie dough. My kids would agree.😉 Now, keep in mind the fact that I am NOT a cook/chef/culinary expert.  I’m just an avid fan of all things cookie dough, on a mission to spread the love. Here you go!

Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

1 stick (1/2 cup) softened butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
White milk
Flour
Chocolate chips

Combine butter, sugars and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl until well-blended.  Add in vanilla.  Slowly add in the flour (I started with approximately 3/4 cup). Add in a couple of tablespoons of milk. <<Keep adding a small amount of flour and/or milk until you reach the consistency you desire.  I prefer my cookie dough to be a bit firmer so I added more flour and less milk (about 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/4-1/2 cup milk). If you want your dough to be “gooier”, add more milk and less flour. You can’t really mess it up.>> Mix until smooth. Add in as many chocolate chips as you’d like!  You can enjoy the dough right away or let it chill in the fridge to firm up a bit.

Let me know what you think!🙂

Goodbye, 2014

As I sit here, on the eve of a new year, the memories from the last 365 days come flooding in.

This year has been bittersweet. We have officially lived in our new state for one year. One year we have lived away from our family support system. One year we have spent adjusting to a new area. One year I have missed my former home with every inch of my heart.

But along with the heartache came hope. New friendships were made and are growing even as I type this out. Our house on the farm feels more like home than it did at this same time last year. Our family grew again this past summer, filling a hole I didn’t know we had.

The kids are growing and learning and changing so fast. Much more quickly than I would like them to. I am so thankful for the time I have at home with my six children. Our days are spent exploring with each other and enjoying each other.

Looking onward to next year, I am anticipating great things. I’m setting a goal to daily journal my life at home with each of the kids in order to attempt to preserve these sweet memories. The things my kids say, the things we do together, the fleeting moments we can’t get back. These really are the best days of our lives.

And so, goodbye, 2014! It has been a year of growing and changing. I’m thankful for all of my blessings this year brought, and I’m hopeful for many more blessings to come!

A letter to my husband

My love:

Last night, you helped me search desperately for a pacifier for our crying baby.  We like to joke about the pacifiers in our house growing two legs and walking away because we can never find one when we need one. I crawled on the floor, trying to peer under the armchair.  I was growing frustrated and I’m sure you could sense it.

You came over, without a word from me, and effortlessly lifted the side of the chair so I could get a better look.  Success.  You cradled our daughter in your arms and stuck the pacifier in her mouth.  Instant calm.  You held her on your chest, laid down on the couch, and drifted to sleep with our baby.  No complaints from you.  This is the stuff I know you live for.

I’ve lost track of how many times this scenario has played out over the years.  You are the calm in our storm of life.  You’re level-headed and steady when I’m past my breaking point. Eight years of marriage and that hasn’t changed.

We met at a concert at the campus I attended and we started dating shortly thereafter.  We were 19 and you were my first real relationship. We spent all of our non-school and non-working hours with each other.  Apart from me getting cold feet a few times while dating, our relationship was strong.  10 months after we started dating, we got married.  A “whirlwind romance” some have said.  I like to think the timing was just perfect.  A little over a year after that we welcomed our first child.  And our family has been growing ever since.

You are a hard worker and provider for our family.  You work diligently at both of your day jobs and come home exhausted. But that doesn’t stop you. You roll up your sleeves and jump right in to this beautiful chaos we call home. You choose to be present with us both physically and mentally. You are such an amazing example for our kids of what a dad and husband should be.

You’ve seen me at my emotional high points, and you’ve seen me at my dark, low points.  You’ve walked with me through post partum depression.  You’ve forgiven me for saying and doing things I know I shouldn’t. You’ve reasoned with me when I was unreasonable. You’ve loved me when I didn’t seem lovable.

You’ve sat up with me late at night, whether I was nursing a baby or awake with my own thoughts.  You’ve literally seen my body morph and change during and after pregnancy, and still call me beautiful. You’ve held my hand during six labors, day and night.  You volunteer to get up with the kids at night, and don’t complain about it. You have given me a life far beyond my wildest expectations.

There are days I wonder why you chose me. I’m impatient and selfish and a dozen other things you don’t deserve.  And you love me anyways. Your unconditional love for me is like a fine sand paper, gently wearing away at all my rough edges and flaws. And over time, slowly but surely, your patience and endurance is refining me. I’m growing into the woman you’ve seen all along. Thank you.

To me, you’re the only one I would ever dream of doing life with. You don’t need red carpet, or glitz and glam, or a trophy.  You find your satisfaction and peace in knowing that you make a difference in your kids’ lives; in my life. You aren’t perfect, nor do you pretend to be. You are human.  And I love you just the way you are. Imperfections included.

You’ve dreamed with me,
laughed with me,
and grown up with me.

I can’t wait to see what this new year brings.

I love you morer,
Deanne

You might have a large family if…

Just a quick, fun post today!🙂 Enjoy!

You might have a large family if…

toothbrushes

Your toothbrushes are color-coded.

You buy a “family size” bag of cereal and it only lasts you one day.

You have enough clothing in your closets to clothe a small nation.

You have to check out two rooms at hotels in order to stay under their per-room capacity limits.

You can’t spend less than $30 when going out to eat, even at McDonalds.

You only go out to eat at certain restaurants on nights when kids eat free.

You use three cans of “family size” condensed soup for one meal.

You realize that your family is too big for most things “family size”.

You have more kids than almost anyone you personally know.

Your kids always have someone to play with.

You debate buying a dairy cow because of how much milk you go through in one month.

You traded in your mini-van for a 15 passenger van, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

You don’t remember the last time you haven’t had a child in diapers.

You buy memberships at museums and zoos instead of a ticket per person because it is cheaper that way.

Your older kids “fight” over who gets to hold the baby next.

You pack more things for an overnight trip than most families pack for a week-long vacation.

You have multiple sets of bunk-beds.

You have a pile of shoes in all colors and sizes by your front door.

You can’t get behind on laundry or you will never catch back up.

You group your kids into two groups: the big kids and the little kids.

Your kids are used to stares, questions and comments by strangers when out in public.

You never have enough lines when filling out forms requiring you to list dependents.

You take advantage of group discount days.

You have been compared to the Duggar family.

You and/or your spouse have/has a difficult time remembering the birthdates of your children. (It’s actually kind of entertaining watching my husband try.😉 )

Your toyroom looks like a hodge-podge toy store for boys and girls of all ages.

You have to start getting ready to leave an hour before you need to be somewhere 10 miles away.

You can’t imagine life any other way.❤

Flashback Friday: Pardon me, but your flaws are showing

This post was originally published April 18th of this year. But I really wanted to share it again. So I’m making this my “Flashback Friday” post. Enjoy!

I just want to get this out in the open: I am not a perfect mom.

Phew! I feel so much better having said that (typed that?) out loud. Because, I mean, everyone thought I was perfect, right? (~crickets chirping~)

Let’s be honest here. I will never blog about things I’ve perfected, because that wouldn’t be physically possible. Imperfect me training up my imperfect children in the way they should go is a constant work in progress. I (as a mom, wife, human) am a work in progress. (And I don’t aspire to perfection; I want my imperfections and trials and improvements to help other people know they aren’t alone.)

It seems like there is some invisible expectation out there that says moms should have it all together. All the time. And never complain about anything. Ever. Especially not about their darling children. Because raising children is easy peasy, rainbows and sunshine all the time. And if you complain about your kids you are either a terrible mom, you can’t handle your kids, or you should stop having kids.

Am I the only one thinking that sounds nuts right about now? Believe it or not, I’ve heard people say these things. (Even from people who don’t even have children! What?!)

There are lots of things I have learned about parenting through trial and error. And error. And error. Life doesn’t come with an eraser or rewind button. We (moms) are imperfect people trying our hardest to raise our children as best as we know possible. Unfortunately every child is different, and unfortunately kids do not come with instruction manuals. There are some things about parenthood that no amount of parenting books and child-rearing classes can teach you. There are some things about parenthood that require rolling up your sleeves, pulling on your mudboots and jumping in head first.

So when moms feel the constant pressure to always have a cheerful façade on their faces (butter up, Buttercup, right?), to never talk about the struggles of the daily grind that goes with raising children, to always portray the epitome of Suzy Homemaker, we are really only setting each other (and ourselves) up for failure (at least in our own minds).

There is no such thing as a perfect mom, nor should there exist a “standard” that makes raising a family more difficult than it has to be.

Social media has made this almost exceedingly impossible. Instead of seeing the nitty-gritty things moms encounter on a day-to-day basis, we only see snapshots of the times that go right. Here is a typical conversation I have with myself in my head while scrolling through Facebook on any given day:

“So-and-so’s kids are always dressed perfectly; they never have snot trails dribbling down their noses or leftover spaghetti noodles dried in their hair. Her house is always immaculate (when is the last time I could walk across the floor without tripping on a toy?) and her food is always equally portioned (why won’t my kids eat anything but Goldfish crackers and pizza??). Her completed Pinterest projects are awe-inspiring and she is always doing awesome crafts with her kids. She just ran her 20th marathon! Her kids are even smiling while sitting in the shopping cart at Target (I’m usually the frazzled/frustrated mom with a screaming baby trying to corral her kids to stay near the cart). Even their recent family picture is flawless with everyone smiling and looking at the camera. What am I doing wrong?! World’s worst mom.”

I need to knock it off! Deep down I know it isn’t always like that at their house. But when my own daily imperfections are sitting there staring me in the face, and I’m not allowed to talk about them openly with other moms to see if I’m the only one, it is hard to remember that we all have days like that. It is hard to remember my house isn’t always a war-zone, my kids are usually well-behaved at the store (I’m giving my kids the benefit of the doubt here), we do eat healthy food (although I wish my kids weren’t so picky about some things), I do find time to go on my elliptical (ten minutes a day counts as something, right???)…

And my kids are just as loved as anyone else’s. Period. At the end of any good-or-bad-or-in-between day, that is all that matters.

I don’t have this parenting thing figured out, and neither do you, and that is okay. We don’t need to figure it all out all at once. Take the little successes in stride and work on areas that need to be improved upon (FYI- I have found that bribing my kids with Dum-Dum suckers at the store is a HUGE sanity-saver!!!).

Don’t be afraid to share your struggles and successes with your friends and family. Post a status on Facebook without fear of negative judgments. Call up your support system and let off some steam on days that seem to offer more bad than good mommy moments. Because at one time or another we all have hard days. We all have days where we feel we are missing the mark in more ways than one. Days we need to be reminded that we aren’t alone in this journey. Celebrate the successes with each other, and build each other up in times that are extremely difficult. Set aside the assumption that if things aren’t going right today– things aren’t going as “perfectly” as they should– you have somehow failed Motherhood: 101. Remember: we are all works in progress!

Unconditional love and acceptance goes a long way in a world that seems to look down its nose at us. Stop judging other people by their current situation and, instead, start loving them for the total, beautiful mom they are growing into.

(When I was editing this blog post today, I found this quote and thought it fit perfectly!)

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Have a blessed day at the start of this wonderful weekend of new beginnings!