Being Green!

I just found a great tutorial on making reusable snack & sandwich bags.  Last school year, I did great with packing lunches for the kids.  We hardly ever had to have them buy their lunch.  The thing is, we go through those Ziploc baggies so fast, that it seems like we are always running out.  And, how much money am I spending on them?  I did go to purchasing the Walmart brand of zipper close baggies, but I have been thinking about how we could save some money here.  Plus, just the thought of all that plastic going in the trash…  So I did some searching and found a great tutorial online.  It is so simple, plus it reuses the mylar bags that our chips come in, perfect!  So today, we ran out to get some Wonder Under and some elastic and Savannah and I sat down to make them.  I have never taught her to sew before, but she sat there with me and I think eventually I will have her make her own.  I just think this could be so cute…we could even make them holiday themed…how fun!  I am hoping the kids will take some pride in their bags and take good care of them.  And if and when they get dirty, they are easily washable or they can be wiped out.  I love that!

Here are a couple of views of our first two snack bags.  The dog one was the first one we made…lots of mistakes.  I was learning.  The second one is much neater.  We used some old jeans to make it.  These little bags were so quick to make, and would be easy to do a bunch of them at once I think.  There is also a larger size for a sandwich, which we haven’t made…mostly because we are out of the mylar material.  I only had one bag that I could use.  So if you could save them for me that would be great!

I also found another tutorial for reusable lunch sacks that I haven’t tried yet, but plan too.  I would love to be able to toss our lunch bags in the wash when they get dirty.  Ours were so gross by the end of the year, wiping them clean just didn’t work anymore.  I was even thinking of having the kids paint their own.  I have some good canvas that we can make them out of.  Maybe they will take a little more pride in them, if they have the opportunity to contribute to them!

I figure that I will be saving about 70.00 this school year if I don’t have to buy ziploc sandwich bags, and about 40.00 if we don’t buy lunch bags…plus we are being GREEN!

What a Deal!

Yesterday, I went to our church’s HUGE garage sale. I didn’t find a whole lot I could use, but on the way home, we stopped at a garage sale.  I got 10 pair of size 7 and 8 jeans and shorts for 5.00!  I was so excited! This saves me SO much money…you don’t even know!  And they are in great condition and some of them are even brand names!

Also, today, I got a letter from one of my kindergarten students!  It brought a huge smile to my face!  I’ll be sending Cammie a letter back tomorrow.

DAY 33: The BFF reunion

So just over a year ago, me and my 3 best friends from when I was in high school connected on Facebook.  We all were in the same youth group at Flushing Free Methodist Church where my dad was a pastor.  We saw each other at least twice a week, Sunday School & Church on Sunday, maybe Sunday night, too?, and youth group on Wednesday…then there were lock ins and car washes and bible quizzing, rollerskating and all kinds of other events that brought us together…and when we were apart we were busy writing letters to each other, trying to outdo each other in the number of pages we wrote.  There was also a lot of drama between the four of us, of course, because we were teenagers.  But in the end (not that this is the end, though), now, we are back to being friends on a new level.  It’s kind of a different kind of friendship than I have with anyone else…and I am so glad we are back together (that sounds weird to me, but didn’t know how else to say it).

So, after some messaging back & forth on facebook, we created a Group for ourselves and decided we needed to get together.  We did that last summer when we were at the Otsego County Fair in Gaylord.  We were up there doing the pirate show, and everyone came to visit for the day.

After we got over the initial shock of how we all looked (it had been almost 20 years since I had seen any of them!), it was a blast to hang out and catch up on each other’s lives, & of course, relive the old days a little bit.

This was us in high school.  Just thought I would mention…we did not actually own these hats…or wear hats like this.  We were on a mission to find something that identified our group to wear to IYC (1985).  This picture was just us being goofy.

Then this was us last year at the fair…

On Saturday, we got together again.  This time we met at Covenant Hills Camp where Beth was camping.  We hung out for the day, Beth made us lunch & we took the kids to the lake.  For dinner we all headed over to Zoie’s Chop House in Swartz Creek, which is Bill & Teresa’s new restaurant. They seated us all together at one big long table.  It was good food and a lot of fun.  Bill & Teresa were just like I remember them…and Bill called up Laurie and had her come over.  (Bill & Teresa & Laurie were our youth leaders, back in the day.  Teresa & Laurie took us to IYC, and we had a lot of great adventures together!)  It was so fun being all back together.  Here are some pictures from our day.

Shari and Carla on the swings…finding we don’t fit into these swings quite like we used to!

The whole crew at the restaurant.

Me with Teresa & Bill and their daughter Angie…who was just a baby back then.

Me and Laurie.

us girls with Teresa, Laurie & Bill.

me and my BFFs.

The whole crew…

Back Row (L -> R) Shari, Gene & Beth, Sam, Bill, Roger(Carla’s finace), Tylor (Carla’s daughter)

Middle Row (L ->R) Savannah, Me, Laurie, Teresa, Carla

Front (L ->R) in order of their heads, Karson (whose you can’t really see) Jasmin, Max, Jessup, Dakota & Loran (last three are also Carla’s kids).

Somehow Heidi (Beth’s daughter) Alayna (Heidi’s baby) and Josh (Gene’s son) didn’t make it in the picture…they may have left early I think, but they were also with us most of the day.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun to see my girls again…I wish we could all hang out just the four of us sometime, that would be a blast!  We are thinking about an extended time together without kids for next year…we’ll see what happens.

DAY 30: Ann Arbor Art Fair

I haven’t been to the Ann Arbor Art Fair in years.  It’s really fun.  More fun with adults than kids…but I decided to chance it today and take my oldest 3 to Ann Arbor.  I looked online and found a mall that was closer than any other parking that had a shuttle bus…for $4.00 & kids under 12 are free!  Perfect.  Glad to pay $4.00 to not have to deal with parking downtown.  Plus the bus had air and comfy seats!

We dropped off Jasmin at Wendy’s house on the way, and she was so tired by the time we got there…I have to admit, we were kind of glad for the peace and quiet after we dropped her off.

The art fair is pretty overwhelming.  There are so many artists there!  We definitely didn’t see everything.  But our first stop was Mrs. Garnett’s booth.  Savannah had drawn her a picture and the kids were excited to see her and her artwork.  She gave them each a postcard of her Rollerskates. Mrs. Garnett is the kids’ art teacher and a good friend of mine.

It was a hot day and most of our walking was in the sun.  We looked for shade when we could and cooled off with some ice cream.

And after that we found a fountain where we put our feet in and the kids stuck their heads in the water.

We saw some amazing art and some really cool jewelry and ceramics and glass sculptures.  We couldn’t take pictures of a lot of the art we saw, but our favorites were life size bronze sculptures of kids…and a dog and a puppy, a glass robot, some recycled art figures, and the digitally created art.  A lot of different styles.  I kind of wish it wasn’t so hot…I think the kids would have enjoyed it more.  The boys complained a lot.  We walked for about 4 hours…only sat down a couple of times.  We were tired out.

The kids won yo-yos, made Japanese fans, hugged a guy dressed up in a giant remote control suit, saw Google headquarters (that was exciting to them), gave money to street performers & drank free Nestle Quick Chocolate Milk. It was about 5 when we headed back.  On the way to the bus stop, we saw a guy making rings from silver spoons.  Savannah found one with an S on it, so I let her get one.  It’s pretty cute.

And we got to watch him make it, too!

Here she is with it on, and I know the picture is blurry…I will get a better one later.  She’s sleeping right now.

And to top it all off, Savannah gave me the best foot massage on the busride back to the mall!  It felt so great.

I also found a really cool necklace…I will post about that tomorrow.  It was a fun day and even though the kids weren’t thoroughly enjoying every minute of the adventure…I think they still had fun, too.

CRAZY DAY…not a lot to say

Tonight I gave up the opportunity to watch TV with Sam.  I wanted to do something creative…but, lacking the energy…opted for an hour surfing the internet, looking at cool blogs of people who do creative stuff.  I have a ton of ideas swarming through my head right now.  Chances are I will do nothing about them, because life allows little time for creativity on most days.  This week is pretty laid back, though…until Friday.  So I might get to make something.

Oh, actually today I did make something.  I mentioned we were getting interviewed for the paper.  That went well, I thought.  I seriously thought I was going to go crazy this morning though.  I, of course, being the stellar housewife that I am, waited until 9:30 this morning to start cleaning my house.  The guy from the paper…he was to arrive at noon.  And, of course, I had the two LEAST helpful kids here with me the entire morning.  Actually, I should say that Karson did do about 5 things that I asked him too.  Which was big for him…especially considering that he ended the day with a fever of 102.

I picked fresh flowers from the yard and made a fun & colorful arrangement for the buffet.  At about 10 minutes to 12, I finally felt the house was clean enough for a guest, and got busy with lunch.  I got this fabulous recipe from a friend of ours and (thankfully) had purchased all the ingredients the night before.  It was actually pretty easy to make…and quick.  OK…it would have been quicker had I been able to find my CAN OPENER!…but I improvised and got the beans, corn and oranges out of the cans.   I made a black bean and corn chicken salad which we ate with Tostitos Scoops and pita bread, fruit salad and some yummy raspberry bars…from a box.   It was a nice light lunch…and even the kids liked it.  (OK actually only half of the kids liked it).  And Sam was happy and that made me happy.  So it was a good lunch. I’m probably going to make some more tomorrow…just need some more chicken.  If I do, I’ll post pictures and a recipe.

Then I took a nap (after the guy left) and when I got up, my parents came over  They were back in town to look at a couple more houses.  I fed them leftovers from lunch, which they loved.  Later after Sam came home, I went to look at a house they were looking at for the second time.  It’s really cute, great location, I can really see them in that house.  Of course, i haven’t seen any of the other houses they’ve looked at…so…I don’t know what they will decide and they are kind of in a crunch for time since they have accepted the offer on their home in South Bend.  I am excited, though.  They have never lived close by the entire time we have been married…so I am looking forward to it!  Plus, if they buy the house I saw tonight, the kids could ride the bus to their house, it’s right near their school.  Not that they would do that often, but it would be a cool thing!

Family Camp

We just got back from family camp at Somerset Beach Campground.  We were there for the past week.  I love family camp.  It’s a great opportunity to reconnect with friends we don’t see so often.  It’s a time for the kids to spend with their friends.  They develop some great friendships and make new friends, too.  It’s almost always a time of spiritual growth for me, too.

This year the theme was “passing the torch” and instead of one special speaker for the week, there were several retired pastors/superintendents who gave the messages for the evening services.  I have to admit, being in the younger generation (I know, I’m not so young anymore…), I was not terribly excited about hearing these guys…but seriously, they had great messages, wise words, and amazing stories to share with us!  I got so much out of their talks.  Also, in the morning bible study we heard Pastor Larry Cranston.  He is a great teacher and spoke one day on dealing with conflict and another day on forgiveness.  Great, great teaching on those two days.  I need to get the recordings of those two bible studies so I can remember everything he said.  I mean I took notes, but he covered so much!  Good stuff.  I am thankful I had the opportunity to hear him.

We spent every afternoon at the beach of Mission Lake.  Got a lot of sun, but came home with great tans!  Karson really improved his swimming skills and can actually stay under water for about 10 sec. without even holding his nose!  Jasmin enjoyed the water.  She was either throwing mud or filling any container she could find with water and dumping it on the sand.  Why she enjoyed that so much, i will never know…but she is 2.  She did float around in her floaty a lot, too.  Savannah loved riding the paddle boats and swimming out to the raft with her friends.  And Savannah and Max really enjoyed playing carpet ball which apparently is a big hit at the beach.

I did not take many pictures of camping.  We were pretty busy, and most of our down time, I was cleaning up after four kids who were also just as busy!  Our camper was a wreck most of the time…but we had fun.

Bed time was hard almost every night.  We usually did something with friends or family every night after the service and were out till way past dark.  And usually that involved some kind of sugary snack…root beer floats, ice cream cones, s’mores…it wasn’t easy to get 4 kids to sleep after that…and it was late when we started to get ready for bed anyway!  The first night Jasmin didn’t go to sleep till 12:30 am…she was laughing, turning on lights and getting out of bed.  I was exhausted by the time she settled down!

Something that was different this year, was my parents were around for pretty much the whole week.  The didn’t camp there, but stayed at our house in Jackson instead.  They spent some time meeting with someone at a bank they are getting their new house financed at, and looking at houses.  While they were here, they accepted an offer on their house. Pretty amazing thing (these days) that they had an offer just a few days after they listed it!  We are pretty excited!  Looks like they have closing scheduled for August 20th or somewhere around that.  Now we just need to find a house around here.  They found one they like, but aren’t totally sure they are going to make an offer on it.  We may go look at it with them later this week.   And the time that they weren’t busy meeting with their agent, they were out at camp with us.  We enjoyed having them around.  I know the kids loved it!

But camp is over.  We have great memories, lots of dirty laundry and a camper that needs to get cleaned out.  I have a lot to do tomorrow and Monday, because on Tuesday we are going to be interviewed by the CitPat at our house.  We will have Pirate Island at the Jackson County Fair in a few weeks and they want to do a story on our family, I guess.  THAT should be interesting!

Day 17: Getting Ready for Camp

Sometimes it’s frustrating being the mom.  Not that I don’t love my kids…I can’t imagine life without them.  But it’s just not easy and is often frustrating. Things are going better, I think, with behavior with Savannah, Max and Karson.  So I am glad about that, though they all have their moments…and Savannah has been so moody lately.  Not sure what that’s all about.

I am getting geared up for camping next week.  I will be camping with all the kids.  Sam will still be working and will come join us in the evenings when he can.  I’ve done it before…but I’ve always had my friend Cary around to help out.  It was a team effort.  She also camps with her kids and Chuck comes out at night if he can.  The first year we camped at Somerset for family camp, Sam and I borrowed my mom and dad’s fifth wheel. Savannah was 4, Max was just 2 and Karson was 10 months old.  Sam spent more time out there that year, but since it was our first year, we didn’t have an electric site…it was kind of crazy camping in that big fancy fifth wheel with no electricity!  Cary brought her kids out that year every day, I think.  So did my sister Cyndi.  And we planned meals together and hung out every day.  So the next year (we still did not have a camper), I suggested we do it again.  I made arrangements to borrow a friend’s camper…and it worked out great.  The camper was perfect for all 7 of us. Crowded, but it worked.  And as the kids got older, it got easier.  We did the same thing the next year.  Then we got our own camper.  We had just purchased it…and were still getting used to it.  It was really crowded with all 7 of us…and I was pregnant…and there was a gas leak.  That year of family camp wasn’t the greatest, but we still enjoyed it.  Cary didn’t come out to camp till like Tuesday or something. The next Spring we sold the Prowler and bought the Sportsmen.  Definitely the upgrade.  It was perfect for our family with 4 bunks in the back, the queen size bed in the front and a slide in the living area.  We LOVE this camper.

Cary stayed with us one more year in the Sportsmen…but then last year, we couldn’t make it to family camp because we were doing the Pirate Show in Charlotte at the Eaton County Fair.  I was sad, because I just love going to family camp.  The kids love it, too.  It was hard for me to give it up.  Cary got a site and put their tent on it and stayed in the tent all week. We got to go visit a couple of evenings when our shows ended early.  I missed camp.  I haven’t talked to Cary about doing meals together this year…but I’ll probably give her a call.

Things will be a little different this year.  We won’t be staying together…and my mom and dad are going to be around all week.  They are actually staying at our house and driving out when they want.  I think they are also hoping to do some house hunting while they are here, too. It will be fun having them around.  They won’t spend all their time with us, because my sister & her family are camping out there too.  I’m sure we’ll be hanging out together a lot.

As I am typing this I am thinking of a huge list of things to do tomorrow. Besides cleaning and packing the camper…I have phone calls to make, menus to plan, shopping!

Speaking of shopping – something I spend very little time doing for myself…I scooted out at 8:30 tonight so I could see if I could find a pair of capris to replace the ones that I just noticed a hole in.  Of course, I couldn’t find anything in that amount of time.  I know, wrong time of the year to be looking for capris but I was hoping for a sale or something.  Not one pair in my size in the store I went to.  So I went to Kohl’s because they close at 10…and all I could find were 2 pair of jeans that looked horrid on me.   I did find some flip flops for a good price, though…and that was another thing on my mental list.

It’s frustrating trying to shop.  It takes time, and I don’t have it.  I know I am not very fashionable…but I have to settle for clothes that are affordable and convenient (shopping for clothes at Walmart & Meijer).  I absolutely can not shop for clothes for myself with my 4 kids with me.  I really can’t even do it with one.  I’ve tried it, it doesn’t work.  So I am giving up on the capris…I think I might try to sew up the hole.  It will be noticeable if someone looks, but I am hoping no one will be looking there. So I will just be happy with my 2 pairs of shorts, my capris with a bleach stai, my capris with the hole and a pair of jeans.  It’ll work.  I’ll make it work…and we will have a blast!

Day 16: Back Home

We drove home from our vacation today.  We had spent the last 4 days in Shipshewana.  Sam and Savannah sold magic at the flea market.  We all stayed at the Farmstead Inn across the street.  We had a great time.  Grandma and Grandpa (my mom and dad) spent the first two days with us.  The kids loved that.  We played in the pool a lot…it was so hot!

The kids loved looking for frogs in the nearby pond and we did walk around in the flea market a little.  It was kind of hard to do that with the kids.  They just don’t enjoy that kind of thing.

We also tried to find a geocache that was nearby…but we never could find it.  Here is Savannah looking for it.  We were kind of sad that we couldn’t find it.  We think maybe it had been removed or something.

On Tuesday, I took the kids down to South Bend to see Grandma and Grandpa.  It was fun to see their house and all the work they have done on it.  It looks really nice.  They have been working so hard.  The boys had fun playing with some new “squirt guns” that they had found at the flea market.

We also took the kids to the park, but it was so hot.  This is really a funny picture.  Max was really, really hot – I think a little overheated.  Jasmin was “starvin, mom” (of course) and Karson was feeling really sick…from the heat and he had been on the merry-go-round.  Not a good combination, because after that we went to Steak and Shake…we were thinking the Shakes sounded fabulous after being out in the hot sun…and he got sick at the restaurant.  I felt so bad for him.  I am glad my dad was there to take him to the bathroom.  (Also, secretly, glad I didn’t have to see that before I ate lunch!)

So anyway…today, we packed up after breakfast and went to the flea market.  Mainly, Savannah had wanted to get her best friend a gift for her birthday (whose party she went to tonight) and I wanted to buy some beads for my bracelet.

Sam got me this bracelet for Christmas.  I told him it would be a good gift that I would really love because he could buy me charms for different occasions to add to it.  So I got the bracelet…and one really awesome bead.  I had no idea they were so expensive, and neither did he.  When we were down in Shipshe at Spring Break, he picked up a couple of beads…but today, I bought some more.  They were very inexpensive, imitation Pandora beads, I know, but I like them just as much.  I found one that was a sign language hand saying “I love  you” and crystal looking one.  It’s really pretty.  I also got a couple of the ones that you clip on, so the beads don’t slide all around.  AND Max wanted to buy me one…he bought the one that says “mom” with his own money!  Cutie.  I love that one a lot.  So when we got home tonight, I had to get all my beads on my bracelet and I drew a picture of them. 🙂

Day 12: Fun with Friends

Yesterday we spent the day at Somerset beach Campground with some friends.  It was a lot of fun and the kids really loved playing with each other. We went down to the beach for some fun and because the kids wanted to swim.  They had a great time.  I got way too much sun.

Later that evening we went to eat at Dennys…kids are free on Sat. night.  Jasmin  was very tired because she hadn’t had a nap all day and dinner was not a pleasant experience.  Her booster seat slid off the chair and she hit her head on the legs of the table beside us and when she started screaming, I took her out to the car.  When we got home, we put her to bed and then I took Savannah, Max and Karson to the fireworks at Cascades.  Archers found us and watched fireworks with us.  It was fun.  The traffic wasn’t fun, but I just tried not to be impatient.  We didn’t get home till midnight almost.