Saturday, January 31, 2009

My husband is so sweet

I'm taking a class in Family Development to get that credential. I had class yesterday and although I did my assignments, my printer at work decided not to recognize me or my officemates. I tried to print at home and could only get the top section of each page to print. I know that there's something you're supposed to do when that happens, but I couldn't remember what. So I just emailed my assignments to my advisors.

When I got to class, I heard that one of my advisors would be there late in the day to go over portfolios with us. I didn't want to be there without my papers to go over and I didn't have my laptop or even my flashdrive with me. So I couldn't ask someone to print the stuff out quickly and I couldn't leave to go to the library because you don't leave this class -- they serve breakfast and lunch so that you can be there all day and get your course hours in. We just get a couple of 15 minute breaks and that wouldn't have been long enough for me to have gotten somewhere and back.

I called my husband on a break and told him what had happened. My class was being held downtown and he works about 7 blocks away. Even though he already had to leave work early to be home when the kids got off the bus, that sweet man printed my stuff out and left work with enough time to bring the papers over to my class. And it was COLD here!

He is so sweet!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Tuition Exchange Programs

We have 4 children and would like for all of them to attend some form of post-secondary education. Although they can each qualify for $10,000 a year for 4 years from the Pittsburgh Promise if they choose a qualifying institution, I'm thinking that will be something to use for room/board/books and won't really do much for tuition.

Although I wouldn't press moms to work if they are able to be at home, our family had reached the point where this was the right decision for us. One of the great things about my job (besides having the same schedule as my children) is that they all qualify for free tuition at the University of Pittsburgh. It doesn't matter if it's Mom or Dad (or another guardian) who works there as long as you are able to claim the child as your dependent.

That gives them a choice of campuses and a huge selection of majors, but it doesn't mean that it will match the choices all four boys will make. An even greater benefit is the Tuition Exchange Program -- a list of colleges that will honor Pitt's tuition program for employee's dependents if they have been employed for at least 12 months. I've heard of many people taking a job in the bookstore or cafe for a low stress & limited commitment way to help their kids go to school. There are variations on the program, but it sure gives my kids a lot more options if they want to minimize the cost of their higher education.

Check out the link at

For even more money saving ideas, check out Frugal Fridays on Crystal's blog

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lots of Catching Up

Well, we had a full day off yesterday which is a whole lot easier on me than a 2 hour delay. With a 2 hour delay I just lose time from work and don't really have time to get much done at home and I have to get everyone off to school when they think that they should actually be able to read one more chapter, sleep 10 more minutes, or turn on the tv.

Since we had a whole day off yesterday I did 9 loads of laundry and got them all folded/hung up/sorted/delivered and mostly put away. But with 6 of us, that's just a dent in the great wall of laundry that exists -- I went about a week without being able to use my washer. I stopped having other people do the wash because they don't seem to notice that things must be pretreated and checked before drying.

When I got back to work, there were so many requests that I couldn't get halfway through and I am out of the office for a class tomorrow. To top it off, we already got an email letting us know that there will be a 2 hour delay on Monday (for the safety of the students). No matter which way the SuperBowl goes, there will likely be some drivers out who should have stayed in bed. So I won't even be able to catch up with a full day Monday.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Best Bow & "Arrows" for kids

We have 4 boys who love the archery range at camp -- it was my favorite, too. We let our oldest have a bow of his own when he was 10, but he was only allowed to practice when his little brothers were safely in the house. The littlest ones' birthday was coming up and we found a great gift -- marshmallow bows & arrows!

They use miniature marshmallows which makes them far superior to the Nerf products. I can get a bag of ammo for $1 and if they're a little stale, so much the better. The bows come in two designs - classic or camo -- so we got one of each for the twins. Check out the video here:

We got ours on sale at and we are thinking of getting the marshmallow guns for the two oldest (and maybe a couple of more for Mom and Dad). The guns look more like a loaded caulk gun than anything you'd be scared for your teenager to carry around. I would have loved having this gift when I worked at the Computer Center at Chatham. However, working in an elementary school means that if I brought this in, it'd be confiscated 'til the end of the year...

For more great ideas, check out Works For Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer!

The Steelers had a schedule conflict

Yesterday we had an inservice day that I wasn't too excited about, but it was great! The only problem was that when it was put on the calendar, some of the Pittsburgh Steelers were supposed to be there, but it seems they had a conflict and just had to be in Tampa :) So Franco Harris was there live and rest were video. I was thrilled to see a clip of my oldest playing violin in the first Pittsburgh Promise video and I hope that they'll make it available on the website so that my husband can see it. We had been invited to come film a clip as a family this summer but it was when my husband came down with pneumonia so to at least see Drew on screen was quite a surprise. There's an article about the event here: and on the school website here:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Washer Delay Cycles

are good for more than just managing the time that you run the washer. They're also good for the clothes that you find need pretreating for longer than just the 5 minutes when your kids finally bring their laundry down. Stuff that you know needs a while with pretreater can be tossed aside for the last load after you spray it. Then put it on delay for however long you have -- I usually do an 8 or 12 hour delay so that I can put it in the dryer the next morning.

This does two things for me -- the stains have a better chance of coming out & I only have to double check one or two loads to see if stains remained before drying the laundry.

For more Works for Me Wednesday, check out Rocks in My Dryer

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

No trip to the laundromat yet

Well, I managed to find at least 4 uniforms per child (I'm glad that it's a short week!) and so I don't have to make the trek to the laundromat just yet. I'm going to search for the problem with the washer so that maybe I can make the repair department understand what's going on. We'll make our decision based on whether we think we can make the repair ourselves, the cost of the repairman coming out, or renewing the warranty (which I don't want to do).

I think this is a good week to wear all of my hand washables that I've been saving up to do.....

Monday, January 19, 2009

Today's totally unbalanced menu

First off, my husband does not voluntarily eat anything that he can recognize as a plant unless it is deep fried. Second, I do not deep fry. Third, I've tried the Angel Food program and although it is a lot of food for the money, it too often is food that I can't get my family to eat. Don't get me wrong -- there's nothing wrong with the quality. It's just that the chicken is too spicy for my kids to eat without complaining that their mouths are burning. Then there are just some foods that I'm not used to cooking so they don't make it into the routine menus at our house. So I end up with a surplus of some foods stocking my freezer.

So I pulled some of the sausage (English style and Italian) and put it in my fridge a few days ago and am cooking them today. The Italian I put together with whole grain penne & sauce to bake and then I will top it with a bit of cheese when I reheat it. I had half of a loaf of bread so I made the french toast casserole that I tried over the winter break : My kids and my husband ate it so it's a keeper. That will be paired up with the honey (English style) sausages and fruit for brunch when they all wake up. I still had room in the oven, so I wanted a recipe that would cook at about the same temperature and use up some eggs, so I made a pan of Ghiadelli double chocolate brownies for my husband. He doesn't have to share, because there's still birthday cake left.

Brunch: french toast casserole, sausage, fruit, juice/milk

Dinner: Penne & sausage bake, garlic bread, salad for those who will eat it!

Time for all of my appliances to die?

I love, love, love my front loader washer -- except when it decides that it doesn't like a certain task like the wash cycle. Or the spin cycle. Or any combination thereof. Not being handy with fixing things, we went ahead and bought the extended warranties on our appliances. The washer would stop working, and we'd call for a repair. With no laundry in it, it would run fine. Now the warranty's out and I've been playing with the same load of laundry for a week. Not a good thing in my house.

The week before Christmas my microwave decided to just stop. When we bought it a few years back, I know that it only cost about $50 (we'd had to replace it because my oldest ds put a mini (individual sized) bag of popcorn in on the regular popcorn timer and we could not get the smell out). I didn't get the warranty because it didn't make any sense to pay what a new one would cost to get the coverage. We've done pretty well without it, but I did start to see that I was more likely to do a drive through run if I knew that I didn't have anything defrosted. With the 6 of us, 5 drive through runs will pay for a microwave.

I looked them up and checked some out at Wmart when I was picking up the stuff to make a Shadow the Hedgehog cake. We can't fit our glass dishes into the smallest ones, and I don't need a high end one because it's basically to speed up dinner prep for me/frozen diet meals or snacks for the kids. So for a couple of dollars (literally) more, I can get the stainless steel with a super easy to open door or save a few bucks and have the kids struggle with the door. Luckily, I just saw that Target has the one that I wanted (the Emerson stainless) on sale this week for $55.

My hardworking dishwasher has had a leak FOREVER. While it was under warranty, they came and checked it out and couldn't/didn't fix it. It's portable, so we just use a towel on the floor and move it back into place. I asked for it when I was pregnant with ds #2 and I'm so glad that I did. The NICU nurses noticed how chapped my hands were from scrubbing and boiling the medela parts and shared that the dishwasher could sterilize the stuff just fine! If it was good enough for the NICU, then it's good enough for me. But that was 10 years ago, so our radar is up for a replacement in the near future.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Goals for the year

It's a good time to look at my goals for the year. My most important one is to grow closer to Christ. It's been too easy for me to let some of my good habits slip as our family's life has changed over the past few years. My next goal is to be healthier for 2009 so that I can be there for my family. I'm also looking to continue my education through opportunities available to me through my work. I'm currently taking a course for Family Development Workers and then I want to enroll at Pitt. I had signed up for an informational session but it was canceled. My most frustrating area is home management. I had hoped for the opportunity to be at home for a year after my youngest went to school full time, but it just didn't seem to be wise at the time. Now that I know the rigors of working outside of the house and keeping everyone fed and clothed, I think that I could be much more effective at managing my time if I could be home. But God gave me just about the best job I could hope for in allowing me to still be there for my children and I believe that I just need to apply myself to get the other areas under control.

Updated to add: I just read a great post on getting started & making priorities at home. It's from Like Mother, Like Daughter and I'll include the link here:

Long weekend

Long weekend -- the kids had a day off Friday due to the severe weather and are off on Monday as well to honor Dr. King. I had to go in on Friday but am off on Monday with them. I'd hoped to get caught up on the laundry, but the washer went wonky again. It stops when it gets to the spin cycle. Every time we'd call the repairmen out, they'd check it with no laundry in it and say that there's nothing wrong with it. Guess I'll just pick out a week's worth of uniforms and work outfits and head to the laundromat. At least with the cold, the clothes won't sour as I take them home to put through the dryer.