Friday, January 27, 2012

Let's Go Krogering:)

I have been slacking on my couponing duties since my son, Aidan, was born 8 months ago. Life has just seemed so crazy and I haven't had the time or energy to get back on the "coupon wagon", so to speak. But, after I saw the great deals in their ad this week for the gameday mega deals, I couldn't help myself. I sorted my coupons, ordered some more, and boy was it worth it! Here is what I got for under a hundred dollars!

2-Kleenex Hand Towels
1-Loaf of bread
3-Finish dishwasher tablet packages
6-packages Oscar Meyer Deli Meats
3-packages turkey bacon
6-Orville Redenbacher popcorn
1-dole salad
1-pack yoplait yogurt parfait
6-pepperidge farm garlic breads
3-BIG boxes fruity pebbles
1-gerber yogurt package
2-cans pumpkin
6-krusteez cookie mixes
2-cans wolf chili
1-bic mechanical pencil set
2-chichi tortillas
12-uncle bens rice
2-tropicana orange juice
2-french's mustard
1-heluva buffalo dip
2-pancake mix
1-muffin mix
1-swanson flavor concentrate
6-kft american singles packs
6-ken's salad dressings
3-franks thick hot sauce
1-gallon milk
1-bag mixed fresh veggies

my total SHOULD have been-$264 and I paid 99.63!
I have had much higher savings percentages, but I am super excited because this all stuff we actually will USE, plus it is so hard to get a good price on meat and the bacon and lunch meats were great deals!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Stretch Your Budget by Stretching your Food!

I recently read a post where a blogger talked about stretching her food budget and she suggested to stretch meat by using other proteins or grains mixed into them to stretch them further.  I began thinking about how true this simple idea was. For instance I only buy the leanest ground beef which is almost $4.00 a pound. Imagine how excited I would get if I found it half price! I would fill my cart with it and freeze it all up for later. But, in essence, you can almost half the price yourself by only using half the amount. If you use a healthy filler you are also adding nutrition and protein without all the added fat! Although I was skeptical I gave it a try.

 My first attempt was to make and prepare a bag of black beans (I had never done this before) and mix them half and half with our taco meat. The black beans were only under $2 for 2 lbs which made a HUGE batch.

I could see the distrust on my husbands face when I told him we were eating a taco "mixture" for dinner but he agreed to try-he knows when it comes to my money saving ideas resistance is futile.

Honestly-IT WAS AWESOME. I seasoned the beans with cumin, salt, chili powder, and taco seasoning, seasoned the taco meat like normal and mixed the two together. Maya and I liked them BETTER than normal and even Travis admitted he didn't miss the extra meat at all! The best part is we still have half the meat left and 3/4 of the beans left ( I didn't mix them all in, just enough to make it a 50/50 ratio. I froze up two more bags of black beans since I prepared them all AND a bag of taco mixture for another nights dinner. Delicious, affordable, AND healthier than our normal tacos-I can't wait to try more! If you are interested, I can give more specifics on how to prepare the beans-it is not as hard as it sounds!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snapfish 99 prints for $.99= $6.48 for 99 photos!

Snapfish is offering 99 prints for $.99= $6.48 for 99 photos! Add 99 photos to your cart and use code 99PRINTS to get the discount. This is a great price and perfect timing for printing out those Christmas photos that are just sitting on your camera:)

All 2012 calendars and planners $2.99 with free shipping:)

All 2012 Calendars $2.99 with free shipping:)

I ordered through this company last year and had no problems and they are doing it again!  All 2012 calendars are just $2.99. They have lots of fun ones too! GOHastings I especially like the planners for $2.99! There are lots of great options for getting organized!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why are we the hardest on those we love the most?

After a particularly trying day dealing with a cranky two year old, I sat down-nearly in tears, and tried to evaluate what had gone wrong. There is no feeling worse for me than the realization that I have somehow raised a child who refuses to listen to me, does not react to any form of discipline, and is COMPLETELY out of  control. To make matters worse, if my husband so much as looks at her sternly she becomes a withering mess of apologies and tears. Why then, is she SO resistant to me?

It seemed so unfair. I dedicate my life to her. I spend every moment making her smiley face pancakes and cutting crusts off her sandwiches, yet she behaves worse for me than anyone else. She screams "No Mommy", hand outstretched to keep me away so often that it is a reflex. She rolls her eyes at me when I say I love her. It seems she spends her whole life trying to escape my embrace.

Then it occurred to me just how similar we really are.  You see I too have a history of treating the people, who love me the most, the worst.

As a teenager, I was horrific to my mother. I remember screaming at the top of my lungs that I hated her, because I was not allowed to dress like a whore for the school dance. I cry thinking about it now-as a mother I know how horribly those words must have hurt. I remember being embarrassed of my parents because they were older than my friends' parents were and asking them to stay in the cruel. I didn't realize how lucky I was to HAVE parents, especially the rare gift of parents that were still together. Did I hate her? No. Was I really that embarrassed. No. I was simply trying to win. It was a game and I aimed to hurt them until I won. Thank God they never let me.

In my marriage I have similar issues. I have a loving and committed husband. I know he will never leave. His love his steadfast, constant, and all-inclusive. But I can never resist hurting him. At times I have told him he is not enough, that I deserve more, that I am unhappy. These things are not true. These are my tests, my love meters, my insecure child begging for attention and reassurance. I need to see that no matter how I act, how I treat him, what I say. He will stay. He will love me, and he will stay.

Which brings us to Maya. I am at a loss at how to deal with her tiny little rebellions. She can be such a sweet girl, but then out comes the anger, the pushing, the testing.  Yes I guess testing is the right way to look at it-though not in the traditional way of thinking. Maybe she isn't testing the rules or testing the boundaries, maybe she is, in fact, testing me. Am I passing? Maybe, much like her Mama she needs to see that no matter how she acts, how she treats me, what she says. I will stay. I will love her, and I will stay. Luckily, that is a test I can pass with flying colors.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fumbling through this together:)

Well, this blogging stuff is tricky! But I have an exciting announcement to make-I will be adding some sections for my readers. While continuing to have original content, I will be reviving my great deals blog and linking it here so it is all in one place. I would eventually like to share all my passions in one spot-savings, photography, writing, and also link to my favorite bloggers and stores as well! It looks like I have a long road ahead of me:) Bear with me as we discover-together-just what Amy Jo Stays Home will grow into:)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wasted Days...

When it comes to being me, some days are easier than others. I am sure that's the truth for everyone. But today as I watched the clock like a hawk, waiting for nap time so I could get some things accomplished, it occurred to me that I was wishing away five hours. Now losing a mere five hours seems insignificant, but is it?

Imagine if instead of grumpily watching the clock, I dedicated those five hours to something positive. Five hours of cooking-something Maya loves to do-would have gotten me enough freezer food for a weeks worth of meals. Five hours of playing restaurant with her might have made a memory she took with her for the rest of her life. Maybe that five hour play session would be the one she told her own children, or grandchildren mom wasn't like that-my mom liked to play with me ALL DAY.

The guilt set in. Then I took it even further. What if those five hours were my last. Obviously they weren't, but can we ever really know that? Would I want my daughters last memories of me to be of me typing away online-too busy to put more playdoh into the fun factory (for the three hundredth time)? What if I knew they were my last five hours? I would be racing, feverishly, too accomplish all I could. To help those I love, to give them enough hugs to last them until we meet again, to remind them that I love them-even though I rarely say it, to write my book, to run a marathon, to spend time with God and be comforted that although death is an earthly end-it is not THE end.

Then it hit me. Someone, somewhere, IS in their last five hours. They may have been in an accident, or have fought bravely against a disease. Perhaps age has simply taken its toll and their life is quickly fading. They sit there, knowing the end is near, wishing so desperately for one more day-to live REALLY live. To hold the ones they cherish, or write that last page, to tickle their child, or run one more race, to say more I love yous, to apologize for the tears they have caused...What would they think of me? The watcher of the clock.  Squandering away my time here like an irresponsible snob, not only allowing the minutes to pass, but WISHING for them to pass faster.

Maya forgive me. You are a blessing and every second with you is a gift that I do not deserve. Aidan forgive me. You are so sweet and undemanding of my attention that you get far less than your share. Lord forgive me. Thank you for every second I have been given. Help me to use them to encourage, to love, to improve, to rejoice, to honor, and to serve you, and may I never take another second for granted.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Remember that little things can create big change...

I mentioned in my last blog post that I am, at times, disappointed in myself. The logical part of me knows this is silly. I have two beautiful kids,(especially right now since they're napping), I got to graduate from college, I live in a nice home, am married to my high school sweetheart...It is a pretty sweet set up honestly. But deep inside of me there is still a tug. Some days it is is a small nudge, and others it is an overwhelming pull-like I am on the losing end of a tug-of-war game. It is the strong, ever-present throbbing of a "dream deferred".

Perhaps it is due to my rather indulged childhood, or being raised in a generation that taught high self-esteem over honesty. Maybe everyone starts out this way and I just never outgrew it. Maybe I am special. But, truly, I have always believed I would be someone. The kind of someone that changed things. I always knew that I would awaken minds, warm souls, and  challenge the norms. I always felt I had more to offer than my small town could handle, that one day I would break out and emerge-a swan done being an ugly duckling. It isn't about money or fame so much as it is about validation. That people would hear what I had to say and nod in agreement and shed tears of clarity.  My mom would say how proud she was or maybe even my dad...I am not sure I have ever heard him say those words to anyone-let alone me.

As I have gotten older, I have gotten better at ignoring this voice.  I am too busy, too practical, too old, too responsible.  As the old adage goes "If you don't want to do something you will always be able to find a reason." But still, sometimes I lie awake at night and ask myself, "When will you make your move?" I am lost as to what my move even is, so this is a difficult question. Maybe to write a book? I have always wanted to do that...But my fear of failure keeps me from even beginning. What if the story I have longed to tell the world, my masterpiece, my quintessence is average? Or even bad? What if noone reads it? What if I can't even finish? I then carefully brush the dream aside and continue trying to forget that I used to believe I was special.

But today I got a message. It was from an old friend-more of an acquaintance really. It thanked me for my last blog post. He shared with me that he and his wife were going through some things and that they took comfort in knowing that noone was perfect and that they were not alone. I smiled and tears welled up in my eyes. Perhaps I am not ready to change the world with the great american novel, perhaps I never will be. But maybe if I follow my heart and share my own truth, I can make a difference in one person's world, and maybe that's least for now.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Stop trying to "seem" anything...

If there is one thing in my life I am adamant about, it is being authentic. I pride myself in being me and ONLY me and not caring what anyone thinks...that being said I spend too much of my life trying to "seem" things...prettier, thinner, smarter, funnier, stronger, older, younger... The list goes on like a tunnel of mirrors. I have always been a good actress and one of the burdens that comes along with that is that I spend so much of my life pretending to be the person I want to be,it becomes difficult to know whether I am "being" a good mom, or just "seeming" like one. A few days ago I got an email from a friend and one of their comments sent me spinning. "Wow", "It looks like you have everything figured out, you have just the life you always said you wanted, you are so lucky to have your white picket fence." I felt INSTANTLY guilty for her seeing me in this light. YES I have a wonderful husband and children. Yes I have a nice home. YES I am generally very happy. I have much to be thankful for. But the perfect life she was seeing in my facebook albums was NOT real. These were highlights. My life has lowlights too. So in the interest of being honest and admitting, once and for all that I am NOT, nor do I claim to be, perfect. Here are my confessions.

Here are some parts of my life  you won't see pictures of in my facebook albums:

Travis and I argue. ALOT. It is part of how we communicate. We do not have a perfect marriage. No one does. What we do have is love and a commitment to see it through, forever, no matter what.

I am PAINFULLY insecure. I have this tough girl act down to a science, but the truth is, I am extremely insecure. I hate my facial paralysis and I feel like the whole world stares at my squinty eye. I have dry skin, dandruff, and scar tissue on my lip that looks like a cold sore. Most days, I couldn't care less. I go on with my life and laugh and smile and forget about it. But I have the other days too. The days that I try on 6 outfits and hate them all and cry because I don't look like a model. Yep I am that shallow.

My kids make me cry. Yep I love them more than anything in the world but somedays it seems IMPOSSIBLE to be a good mom. Both kids are screaming, the puppy is biting my arm, I just found a pee puddle on the couch and dinner is burning and sending smoke into the house...a good mom takes a deep breathe and carries on calmly, maybe even with a giggle. Sometimes I do that too, but sometimes-I cry.

My kids are not perfect. I understand there is some unwritten rule where we are supposed to believe our kids are angels but here's the deal. They aren't. Maya says no CONSTANTLY. She is not a good listener. She gets so mad that she bites and she has an unbreakable will. Aidan is a fountain of spit and is CONSTANTLY soaked.  Maya is so stubborn I truly feel like we will never be able to know what she knows. she knows all her colors but calls everything green. Sh can count to ten but won't unless we can find a way to trick her. Some days she tells me "no mama go away". I have no idea what the correct reaction to this is but sometimes it makes me cry. It hurts.

My house is a mess almost ALL the time. Seriously. It's bad. I have only washed my windows about twice in the last 7 years. There, I said it.

I am lonely. I know I shouldn't be. I know I am lucky. I know I have a husband and family and friends that all love me. But still, sometimes I feel alone.

I am disappointed in myself. i always thought I would be a huge success. I thought there would be this defining moment in life where I showed the world they were wrong about me. I would be the ceo of something, the inventor of something, the writer of something. I am not.

There are a million more. But truthfully, despite it all I am happy. I love my life, the goods and the bads. I wouldn't trade my crazy kids for anything in the world and I like them better than the stepford children on TV. This life is the one I was meant to have, even if it doesn't fit the plan I had in my head. Perfect no, but perfect for me:)