Change – week one

This week has been a long one.  It’s the first week of Matt gone to training and me home with all three hooligans.  It’s also the first week I put into gear the changes I outlined in my last blog post.  All in all, I’d count us successful on many levels.  
The boys have gotten involved in breaking down boxes to put into the recycling bin.  Gabe is most excited, they really encourage recycling at school, and thinks it’s the coolest.  
I have joined the online savings club Swagbucks and am trying to remember to use it when clipping online coupons and as a search engine.  I’m still pretty new to it, but from what I gather, you can gather points or “bucks” in many different methods and then redeem those “bucks” into gift cards.  So far so good!  It’s a way to save money without costing anything but a little time.  Also, I stuck to the goal of eating fast food/take out/restaurant food only once this week and am trying to cut it back to twice a month.  Starbucks was visited only twice this week and both times with a gift card!
We’ve changed in many ways this week regarding what we have eaten.  I bought a small jar of coconut oil from the commissary and have only used it a couple times, but I like it.  It works very nicely as a topping for homemade popcorn, a revelation by the way.  I can’t believe it’s taken me THIS long to start making my popcorn from scratch.  What was I thinking all these years?  I don’t even want to think about all the money I’ve squandered or preservatives I’ve inhaled during my years of consuming popcorn, especially pregnant with Gabe – that was a big popcorn time for me.  I also made two different types of granola, the healthy kind for me and one with chocolate chips and peanut butter for the kids.  The link is the original recipe.  It started as bars, but I don’t think it was moist enough to stick together.  I altered it and have included the recipe below.  It works fantastically as a cereal though, and I feel much better about it.  I also attempted baked chicken tenders, instead of store bought, but we found them rather bland.  Next time I think I’ll marinate the chicken with honey mustard, Italian dressing or balsamic vinegar, SOMETHING to give it a little taste.  Tonight, during movie night, was probably the biggest change in eating habits.  Usually we have bagged popcorn and lots of candy, but instead I made popcorn from scratch and drizzled a little coconut oil and salt on top, cut up some fruit and cut up small PB and Nutella sandwiches.  It was a huge hit, the boys didn’t even notice the lack of candy.  We were able to find the Sprout’s Farmer’s Market and it is awesome, but very hard to get to, so I’m unsure how often we’ll make it all the way over.  It’s literally on the opposite side of the mountains for us, so we have to drive all the way around them, takes about 1/2 hour one way.  We got some great deals on organic apples (99 cents a pound), a 3 lb bag of mandarin oranges ($3.99), a small spaghetti squash (80 cents) and bananas (59 cents a pound).  My favorite part of grocery stores like that are the binned items, things you can buy per pound.  We got veggie chips to try, organic popcorn kernels (that worked fantastically), yogurt pretzels (Gabe’s personal favorite) and quinoa.  I dream of buying my baking goods per pound and storing them in buckets and canisters one day.
A lot that I’ve been meaning to do was accomplished this week.  It’s just amazing how much you can get done when you make a plan to do it.  Zander, Calla and I attended the weekly library story time on base and found that we sorely missed our friends from story time at Camp Humphrey’s (Korea).  I managed to strike up a conversation with a couple women and it was nice having an adult conversation, instead of one with an almost two year old.  Zander was happy coloring the paper the librarian gave him and cleaning the tables and chairs with baby wipes.  Calla was perfectly content being held and watching the other kids.  A win for everyone.  I managed to complete every cleaning task I set up for myself.  It wasn’t always done on the day it was supposed to, but I didn’t stress about it or freak out on the kids when they uncleaned 
The biggest challenge this week was the last two “mores” – being more involved with the kids and being optimistic.  With Matt got this week, it reminded me how hard it is to be the Mom and the Dad, how much I lean on him, we lean on each other, for support and advice.  Even though this is something all us military families deal with on a constant basis, it never really gets easier.  When your babies wake up in the middle of the night screaming for “Daddy”, it really does break your heart knowing you can’t always be what they want.  It’s hard to remain optimistic and put on a happy face for them, but I guess that’s where the “thankful” and “I love you because” boards has really helped me this week.  They are a constant reminder to see the joy in life.  I am beyond thankful that his training is only until the end of February and not a deployment.  I am beyond thankful that we can talk and text and Facebook and Skype.  I love him because of his efforts to stay involved in our family by calling and talking to the boys.  And I love how the boys have really stepped up and started listening better and helping more. 
We can do this.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip granola bars

4 tbs. smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup rice krispies
1/4 – 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Pull out two 9×5 loaf pans or one 11×7 baking pan
and line with parchment paper, butter or spray.
Combine peanut butter and honey into a saucepan.
Melt together over low-medium heat.
Once melted and mixed together, take off heat
and add in oats and rice krispies.  Fold everything
together until evenly coated.  Spread mixture into pans
and press down with spatula.  Sprinkle chocolate chips
over the top of the mixture and press down with the spatula.
Let it sit for 20 minutes, lift out of pan and bag or put in an airtight
container.

“Kitchen Sink” granola bars

4 tbs. coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup rice krispies
1 tbs. raisins
1 tbs. craisins
1 tbs. almonds

Pull out two 9×5 loaf pans or one 11×7 baking pan
and line with parchment paper, butter or spray.
Combine coconut oil and honey in a sauce pan and melt
together over low-medium heat.  Once it’s melted together
add the cinnamon and stir together.  Remove from heat and
add oats and rice krispies.  After those are completely coated,
add in the raisins, craisins and almonds.  Stir together until
evenly distributed.  Spread mixture out into a pan.  When
it cools after 20 minutes, lift out of the pan and bag or put in airtight
container.

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One response to “Change – week one

  1. I can't wait to see what else you do with the coconut oil! We just bought some for the first time; at a birthday party last week, a friend of a friend brought sweet potatoes baked in coconut oil. Neither of us have ever liked sweet potatoes but we each tried a piece and it was amazing! So we got some coconut oil and are going to try that this week. We don't have any other ideas on what to do with it though. I know we can cook with it like we do olive oil but it's more expensive to use that way…Aaron also wanted me to point you in the direction of this: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2007/03/15/how-to-make-your-own-laundry-detergent-and-save-big-money/ We make this laundry detergent and it has saved us a ton of money. I'm sure you do lots more laundry than we do but unless you're really attached to a brand of laundry soap, this is basically the same ingredients as commercial soap for a lot cheaper. He says to use about a cup a load but we never use that much and our clothes come out clean. The washing soda was the hardest thing for me to find; the rest was easy. We use fragrance-free dove for the bar soap; I tried it with cheap Dial and my clothes made my skin itch. Anyway we do a lot of this stuff (make bread at home, etc.) so I can't wait to see what you come up with! I love finding out new things! 🙂

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