Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Winter Finally Made It!!!

We got a wonderful blizzard about ten days ago, winter has finally arrived in Idaho!! Here's Carter enjoying a day off of school since Mommy decided it wasn't worth it to go and drive with the other crazies out on the roads...

Carter's two little best friends from across the street joined us outside for some white fun!

THIS is what a sledding picture should look like...it's a far cry from the one in my "Make Lemonade" post a few weeks ago!

This blizzard was MUCH anticipated as ski season has been sadly postponed until now due to no snow. Our resort has never in it's 70 year history opened this late so needless to say, us skiers were DYING to get up on the mountain. So the very second we could, we loaded up our skis and headed up Saturday! The weather was amazing and the kids (and us) picked up the knack right away! And we had so much fun we even headed back up Sunday, even though Joshua and I's aching muscles told us we might not want to go for two days in a row very often lol (the kids of course were absolutely fine and ready to go for more!).

A few pictures from the weekend...

This is a beautiful shot Joshua took from the chair lift of the Valley below...

The lines were long to get on the chair lifts cuz surprisingly EVERYONE else was dying to get in some skiing, so this was Carter's "resting" pose while we waited. Yup, head down in the snow and bum up! He was cracking up all of the other waiting skiers with his flexibility.

And here are the two favorite videos...

Karen and Carter heading down the cat track on the "big hill"

And here's all three monkeys skiing down Carter's favorite hill. Trevor is in the grey plaid coat and Emilee is in the full black jumpsuit. This is the only video we managed to get of Trevor because he's so darned speedy and tricky. He's either heading down a black diamond (and there's no way Joshua can hold a camera and live through getting down the hill himself) or he's zooming along the regular trails and I just can't catch him. Also, please notice the VERY TEENAGE activity Emilee is partaking in as she cruises down the hill!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bountiful Baskets

So I joined a produce co-op and picked up my first order today! I got a ton of fruits and veggies, fresh from local farms for about half of the cost of Walmart...all of what you see about cost me $16.50! You know how excited a good deal makes me AND this all came from local farmers...woohoo! You never know exactly what you are going to get, but it was really cool stuff...especially the "expensive" items like kiwi, pomegranetes and tomatoes.

NOW...I have to figure out what to do with some of this stuff lol! I have the veggies pretty much covered as we almost always have a fresh veggie for dinner (though the big monkeys are warily eyeballing the brussel sprouts and Carter has already declared he's not trying those EVER!)...but what to do with all this fruit before it goes bad? I'm thinking banana muffins...and maybe I'll try that applesauce-in-a-crockpot recipe I saw a while back? But (because I'd had some fruit already on hand) I currently posess 13 pears I need to do something with pretty quick. Any suggestions?! I also have more oranges that we'd typically eat with lunches and snacks. Recipes for those? Anyone?! LOL!

And if anyone is interested, here is the link. Check the "locations" tab and see if they have a delivery site near you (*ahem, Sanda!).


Monday, January 16, 2012

You're going where?!

I remember CRACKING UP when my pastor back in Oklahoma told us of his workout routine, and how he hated going to the gym in January. All of the “New Year’s Resolution” people were there, taking up the machines and overcrowding the classes in an attempt to uphold their January 1st promises. He said by February, things were usually back to normal, meaning the gym was mostly empty, and he enjoyed the peace and quiet again as he worked out. HAHAHA at all those crazy people who pound it out at the gym in January…or heck, who go to the gym ever…hahaha…sorta…

So, that said…this is not a New Year’s Resolution post. This is a “coincidentally in January because we’ve finally committed” post. Big news?! Joshua and I joined a gym. Seriously?! Yup, it was Joshua’s idea before anyone goes nuts and blames Momma's gone nuts with some “we all need to get healthy” idea. I have been rather enjoying my plan of eating fairly well and not exercising at all on purpose over the last 20 years (except for a quick stint that would get me back down my to favorite weight after a pregnancy). Geez, saying that number makes me sound OLD! But nonetheless, his idea is a good one. Everyone should be eating better and exercising more, even if the scale number is fairly acceptable.

I thought you all would be amused at how last week went for me. Get a drink and a (healthy) snack and sit back and enjoy. Here’s the blow by blow.

SATURDAY—Joshua signs TWO YEAR commitment at the gym and gets a package of workouts with a trainer for us. “Us”? OK, a trainer is probably a good idea for me to get started with, because I really have no idea what to do in a gym that doesn’t have a beam, a set of bars, a vault and a 40x40 floor.

SUNDAY and MONDAY—nothing, business at home as usual.

TUESDAY—I realize that today is my last day of “not exercising.” I meet my trainer tomorrow for my first workout. If this was his idea, how come Joshua doesn’t have to go first?! I plan a crockpot dinner for tomorrow since I assume I’ll be in no shape to cook come 5pm.

WEDNESDAY—My perky trainer, Doug, meets me at the door of the gym and says “OK, Karen, hit the elliptical for a quick 5 min warmup and then we’ll go do some strength training.” “Uh, Doug, can you show me how to turn the thing on?...” Yeah, this is gonna be good… Work me he does, for 60 straight minutes. I am completely annoyed at how my balance SUCKS when I try to do some of the exercises and he cracks up when I do back leg lifts that I point my toe without even thinking (my gymnastics coach would be proud). The arms part of the workout is what kills me. I head out to the car when I’m done and they feel like jell-o…serious jell-o. I reach up to pull the gear shift into Reverse and I realize I’m in trouble. Then I need to turn the wheel to get out of the parking spot and I think “OMGosh, has my power steering gone out?!” I think I’m going to die! Good thing there are only three turns between here and my driveway.

THURSDAY—My arms don’t feel quite as bad as I expected, bad, but not THAT bad. I decide I might as well give the daycare at the gym a whirl for Carter, so instead of coupon shopping like normal, we head back to the place of torture and check him into the daycare. He does well getting dropped off (this kind of thing has been hard for him lately) and I do 30 minutes on the elliptical. Can I note here that 30 mins on the elliptical only earns you about 240 calories burned? That just SUCKS and really put into perspective the work I’m doing vs. how easy it is to pop junk into my mouth. Nonetheless, I pick up a happy Carter (phew) and we head home. I’m rather proud of myself…I survived 30 mins of cardio without dying and have now gone to the gym twice. Oh! And I’m drinking water. This alone is something to create a banner for. Water is not my beverage of choice…ever. It has no taste and so for me, that means it has no value. Give me coffee or juice or soda or lemonade, please. But, Joshua bought me a cute Camelback bottle last weekend, yanno so I can look the exercising part. It cracked me up because it comes with this advertising sticker that says “drink 24% more water with our bottle”. That seemed terribly lame to me. Yeah, whatever, a cute sippy and pink plastic isn’t going to make me drink more water. But here I am. I’ve gone from drinking 4-8 oz per day (yeah, I know…BAD) to FORTY EIGHT ounces per day. And I am laughing to admit, I kinda don’t hate it. I’m now one of those weird people you see lugging their water bottle with them EVERYWHERE. Dear Camelback…your product really is a miracle worker. Only real noticeable issue…I am going to the bathroom A LOT and that’s just annoying haha!

FRIDAY—Meet with Doug again. He’s terribly amused at the report that I just about couldn’t drive myself home and happily sets to abusing another set of muscles on my body…my legs. Who knew backward lunges were such murder?! Certainly I did these decades ago when I was in gymnastics but I have no recollection of them being so terrible. Oh and the plank! I could kill the person who invented this one. And what makes it all the worse is I’m wearing 5+ year old tennis shoes that are a nice shade of green from mowing the lawn because it’s not like I used them for anything such as exercising. And these sad, old shoes have no traction so they slip. I can’t hold the plank for more than a couple of seconds because my darn shoes are skating out from underneath me. Doug makes fun of my shoes and gives me homework…get GOOD shoes this weekend. Yes, sir lol. I make it through the workout though and it’s time to go. We’ve been in the upstairs section of the gym and Doug says “let’s go” and heads down the stairs back to his office. I follow…until about stair number three when I realize I have NO muscle control in my legs and I’m about to splat on the landing below. I grab the handrail with BOTH hands and arm-crawl down the stairs. Doug wonders what took me so long and happily books me two more sessions for next week. He tells me my homework is two more cardio sessions and one strength training between now and then. I pick up Carter from preschool and have to run a couple of errands, one of which is right next to my favorite Starbucks AND I just happen to have a birthday giftcard waiting to be used so I stop in. I am reading the menu, trying to decide what to get. Vanilla latte…java chip…hmmm. And then I see “make it skinny”. Oh man, here we go. I’ve now done three workouts and suddenly this little voice in the back of my head is making me think about choices. I go with the skinny vanilla latte. Conclusion? “Skinny” isn’t worth it. I didn’t like it much and would rather have not had it or rather have wasted the calories on the real deal.

SATURDAY—Joshua meets with Doug for the first time…ha, finally he gets a turn! Me, I’m barely walking because Friday’s leg workout was murder! Going up or down the stairs, sitting down or getting up from sitting bring me close to tears. BUT…as soon as Joshua is done at the gym, we trade kids and Emilee and I head to the gym and to put in 30 more mins of cardio together. Shocked yet?! I am!! Oh yes, and I should note here that Emilee sailed through this like it was nothing, even putting in a couple of minutes of top speed work. Darn young kids *wink*! Today is also the day I notice I’m STARVING! What is this deal about working out that makes you need to eat more? And I buy shiny new workout shoes. Man, these better make the plank easier!

SUNDAY—Joshua is SORE! Poor thing, I know how he feels and as much as it’s amusing to make fun of him like he did to me, I hate to see him hurting…and I’m still sore too. BUT…are you ready?...we both suck it up and head to the gym first thing in the morning! We get on side by side ellipticals and put in 30 mins. This was by far my favorite day. Joshua and I always walk/sit/stand with him on the left, me on the right, due to his hearing loss in his left ear. We even rearranged our wedding that way (bride is supposed to go on the left) so he could hear me. It caused many questions but hey, it’s how we do things! So it was great to have him on my left as we worked out, kinda just felt right. I love this guy and doing this together was AWESOME!

MONDAY—Today the kids are off school and it was so tempting to just stay home and be lazy, but I got myself up and went to the gym to do a strength training workout on my own. I went with my list of things to do, did it, and didn’t even kill myself or an innocent bystander with some crazy exercise machine or flying dumbbell!

Tomorrow is my rest day and then I am going to start all over again. Proud of me yet? I am really quite proud of myself. Six days in a row I’ve gone to the gym after about 7300 of not. And I'm kinda scared to say it out loud, but I think I'm enjoying it. I've been a tad bored lately, with not much to focus on, and this is kinda nice to look forward to (after the part where I can't walk wears off). And I’m proud of Joshua. He doesn’t like exercise either, but he’s keeping at it…and all the more difficult for him, he’s doing it on the road under crazy hotel conditions and at weird hours. I’m really excited to think that if we EVER get any snow Joshua and I will be able to tear up that powder like never before!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Make snow-ish lemonade...

All of us snow skiers are in mourning right now, of our ski season quickly slipping away due to the complete lack of snow. We got a dusting last night...not enough to even start to make a dent up on the mountain...but the boys decided to "make lemonade" of the situation and they are out there having a blast!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Nine Couponing Tips

Alicia asked me for ten couponing tips and I came up with nine so I thought I'd share with everyone. These are the things that are working for me and my family right now. I am not nearly as into the couponing thing as others (like stockpiling 50 of every item and having a binder of 2000 clipped coupons) but this method is keeping my family fed and clean. This isn't the only way to do it, but maybe you can glean some ideas you want to use from my craziness system :-).

#1 Get your SUNDAY PAPER and clip the coupons for products you will buy no matter what (ie. we always buy Head and Shoulders shampoo and Cheeze Its crackers). Even if its not on sale, using these coupons will save me some money when I buy them anyway. Keep the ads for later (see "Shop at Walmart"). File away coupon inserts by date in manilla folders for easy reference later.

#2 CARRY CLIPPED COUPONS in a small/medium coupon (index card) divider at all times.

#3 Keep an eye on the COUPONING BLOGS. I have loaded four couponing sites into Google Reader, which serves as a sort of email system for incoming info on coupon deals. There are probably 100 posts per day and I can scan them all in less than 15 minutes, just looking for key words like "Walmart deals" or "free shampoo at Walgreens this week", depending on what our family needs. Google Reader is also fantastic because you can save a post for later (like if you want to go back and print later or keep the list of Walgreens deals handy for later) because otherwise if you are reading directly off of the couponing blog, that post is buried within a day and it will take a ton of time to go looking for it when you want it. You also never know where you left off the last time you read on the blog, but Google Reader only shows you new posts you haven’t read yet. Here are the four links to the blogs I read. The first two are national sites and the second two are more regional to my area.

#4 SHOP AT WALMART. I know, this has it's issues, but for our family it is what is working right now. Walmart hands down has the generally cheaper prices in our area. Winco is a close runner up but doesn't accept competitor coupons so it falls to second place (it's also farther from my house). Here's the key to Walmart...they are price matching and accepting just about any coupon on the planet, especially from other stores. I scan the ads each week and just take them all into Walmart and they will match what Albertsons or Walgreens has advertised. (The exception here is for stores like Walgreens and CVS that issue "store cash" type coupons...Walmart won't honor that deal.) So instead of running around like crazy to half a dozen stores, I just hit Walmart with my stack of ads and do all my deals in one trip. They also accept Kmart and Albertson's "doublers"...which means you can stack a cents off manufacturer coupon with the "doubler" and get a super deal without schlepping to those stores. AND typically Walmart's base price is LOWER than that of Kmart or Albertsons anyway so you get an even more super deal.

#5 Keep an eye on WALGREENS REGISTER REWARDS (or CVS ECB deals) and hit that store when there's something free or what you need.

#6 Know your UNIT PRICES. I have a spreadsheet of about 50 commonly purchased food and sundry items that our family uses and what the unit price is at Walmart, Winco and Costco. It helps me know if a “sale” is a “good deal” (because for example…Albertsons might put hamburger “on sale” for $3.79 but my spreadsheet tells me that the normal price at Costco is $2.69 so that’s not a “good deal.”)

#7 If you have a COSTCO MEMBERSHIP, use it for key items. Milk and eggs are cheapest in my town at Costco. Cereal and crackers are cheapest when a fantastic coupon deal is nowhere to be found. Ground beef is also cheaper there, and sometimes chicken and pork. Again, know your unit prices because sometimes Costco is ALOT more expensive...bigger is not always better!

#8 Use the store LOYALTY CARDS at places like Albertsons and CVS. Put the key ring ones on your car keys so you'll always have them. The deals you are shopping are usually better when swiping the card and there are frequently quarterly perks that cash out etc...so swipe those cards no matter what!

#9 My last tip on saving money is to set a BUDGET. We have a weekly budget and no matter the deal, I don’t go over it. I see it as my job to get the most I can for the least I can, but it would defeat the “savings” idea if I went nuts and got “good deals” but still spent an insane amount of money. I make sure that my shopping fits within our budget, while keeping a balance of healthy food in the house. I also utilize this budget with cash only. It's impossible to overspend cash, but it's pretty easy to do it while swiping some sort of card.