June Events

Solar Oven Cooking- So Mike is getting pretty savvy with cooking in his solar oven.  I finally took pictures of the whole process to show how easy it is to use.  Basically you set it outside on a flat surface (or desert landscaping as in our case) facing the sun and set up the silver reflector thingies.  Those flaps are similar to flaps on a cardboard box so if you can open a box, you can set up a solar oven.  Wait a while and then go and check the temp on the thermostat that’s inside the solar oven.  When it’s hot (and it doesn’t take long) then use oven mitts to open the glass top lid and put your pot of food on the little swing inside the oven.  Go and check like every 1/2 hour to poke food and see if it’s done and also to rotate your oven since the sun moves and your box may be in the shade. 

We’ve done things backwards in that we’ve only cooked meats in our oven.  It’s sooooo juicy and delicious.  Even something as common as  a hotdog takes on a whole new flavor when cooked in the sun oven.  We think meat is much better tasting after cooking in our solar oven.  Most people start with bread or water to try out the oven.  Here’s some great recipesfor cooking with a solar oven.  Maybe we should have a BBQ without the grill and make hot dogs in our solar oven.

Joshy Milestones- We’re growing by leaps and bounds and walking!  Josh took his first steps at 15 months while Mike and Mikey were in St. George visiting Grandma. What was interesting is that he didn’t take 2 steps and fall down.  He walked across the family room from the tv to the couch and then preceded to walk from 1 piece of furniture to the next.  My sis-in-law the kid expert (or so we all believe) said that kids who hit milestones “later” tend to do better at them.  In this case, taking lots of steps before falling down and having hardly any time between learning to walk and then taking off and running.  Another biggy is that he is weaned. Freedom!!  Not too bad when all was said and done, but getting to that point sure seemed like forever.  He’s still pretty small (3rd percentile) and hasn’t hit the magic 20 lb mark yet so we’ll wait until his 18 month appt. to turn his carseat forward facing.  He doesn’t seem to mind facing backward since he can see and play with Mikey pretty well while we’re driving.

Staycation- One of the vendors Mike’s company uses had a customer appreciation event way in the middle of no where, seriously!  We packed up the car and headed north to Apex then west past Coyote Springs.  Discount Dumpsters is a family owned and operated business which has a ranch, landfill, man made lake, airplane runway, and animals all out there for family and friends to enjoy.  They had a BBQ, landfill tours, and lots of excitement in such an unusual setting.  We had a blast and would love to get to know these people better.

Being the house hunters we are, we couldn’t help ourselves being that close to Coyote Springs to go exploring. There’s just a golf course so far.

May in Review

Well May was a busy month.  So let’s get to the pictures to show off our events.  Well, my pics are scrambled and doing wierd things, so bear with me while I attempt to resolve the issue over the next few days… (Dear Husband, if you’re reading my blog please fix the pics).

Mother’s Day- we used our free Shark Reef tickets (mailed our taxes on April 15th at Mandalay Bay and received free tickets for doing so) and strolled around the exhibits.  Honestly, I’m glad we didn’t pay.  It lasted like a whole 15 minutes.  We had a blast just finally spending some quality family time together and the boys seemed to enjoy themselves.  We then went to try out a new restaurant using our restaurant.com gift certificate and had some pizza and pasta and fun finger foods.  And we finally got going with assembling more square foot garden boxes for the backyard.  Mikey calls them Olive Garden boxes.

CSN Graduation- Mike (hubs), Brian (brother), Valerie (friend from the old neighbor) + Dan (Val’s hubs) all graduated together.  So all the families and extended families sat next to eachother at the Thomas and Mack and squinted and strained to see each one.  Wait, let me rephrase that.  I have little kids who didn’t do so well sitting in the nosebleed section so we played by the concession stands with the stroller and conveniently watched the ceremonies on the tvs all around.  Afterwards we had a little party at the Institute bldg for all the grads.  Yay for college degrees.  I don’t think any of the grads feel much smarter though.  

It's Vegas Formal

It's Vegas Formal Gramps and Grams

The Future Mrs. – My little bro is finally getting married!  Oh my mother is rejoicing after 26 long years! We invited Heather’s parents over to our house to meet the family.  My grandpa from Washington was down for all the hoopla and our cousin Derrick made a surprise visit before his deployment to see Grandpa.  So we had a full house to share homemade Cafe Rio burritos and homemade ice cream.  We are a pet-free family and the pooches in the back were driving my dear husband crazy.  We had a great time visiting and the dogs didn’t scratch up or bust through the back windows so everything was okay!
The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple

 

Grandpa's Only Grandsons

Grandpa's Only Grandsons

 

Lola and Stitch

Lola and Stitch

 

Great Grandpa- spent 2 weeks with our family and really enjoyed seeing his only great grandsons.  He brought a toy tow truck that has officially been named Mater and he helped us a ton with projects in and around the house.  My grandpa is very handy and just always wants to be working on something.  He helped us run water lines through the garden boxes, make a shelf for Mike’s office, organized my garage, create a pantry in my coat closet, trimmed and tied our tree branches, and bought us patio chairs since ours blew over the wall and we never got them back.  This doesn’t even include the week we spent at my mom’s house and helping her with all her unfinished projects I get to inherit some day!  Thanks for all the help Grandpa.
Stocking the Coat Closet Pantry

Stocking the Coat Closet Pantry

 

 Resting During Garage Organization

Resting During Garage Organization

 

Go Fish Gwampa"

"Go Fish Gwampa"

 

The Gardener's Apprentice

The Gardener's Apprentice

"Yay for Gwampa"

"Yay for Gwampa"

Memorial Day- This is my favorite holiday for some crazy reason.  I remember going to a bunch of cemetaries with my grandma and she’d recite who was related to who and tell me a story about each one of the people and how they died.  Well now that she’s passed on it’s only my mom and I who go to the cemetaries.  Make that the cemetary.  We have our ritual of stopping to buy flowers and flags at the Richfield local WalMart and then heading to my grandpa and grandma’s grave.  We didn’t pay very close attention all those years to know who else was burried where.  I guess that’s a great reason to get started with geneology and figure out the other routes on my Memorial Day trek to decorate graves. 
 We then spend a week at my parents house and attempt to finish some sewing projects, take the boys to see the great outdoors, and help my mom with any projects she has going on for church or the city.  My grandpa V came up this time we helped my mom clean out her garage do some much needed yard work, and fix a few things.  All in all, a very enjoyable time with family.  Oh, and my dad took me for a ride on his new Harley- loved it!!!
Flags and Flowers

Flags and Flowers

 

My 1st Harley Ride with Dad

My 1st Harley Ride And the Dismount

 

I Prefer to Sit

I Prefer to Sit

Weeeeeee

Weeeeeee

Swing Time

Swing Time

Cutting the Green with Grandma

Cutting the Green with Grandma

Sharing Our Toys is Fun to Do

Sharing Our Toys is Fun to Do

Brotherly Love- I can’t believe how sweet and how mean these 2 boys can be to one another.  Luckily at Grandma and Grandpa N’s house this trip they were really good to each other.  I’m glad I caught these on camera, because some days I need the nice reminder that they can and do love eachother.  I am way too young to start getting gray hair, but these boys have brought it out in me, aughhh!
I Love My Brother

I Love My Brother

Tight Squeeze

Tight Squeeze

Cheese

Cheese

Deals for Dummies

So I ventured to Target this evening in hopes of finding another Leap Frog Tag Reading System for Josh and some other stuff and only got half of what was on my list.  I ended up buying 50 items and getting my $112 total down to $22.93!  I used 63 coupons!!  I think that’s a record!  I’d post a picture, but remember, the old laptop is out of service, the new laptop was returned for having a bad CD rom, and now my pc hard drive upstairs is going out too!

Here’s a little of how I work my coupon magic:

Tag Reading System on clearance for $29.99, but rang up $19.98 at check out.  I used a $10 off manufacturer coupon I printed off from their website AND a $5 off Target coupon for a Tag product.  This is called STACKING - when you use a manufacturer coupon + a store coupon for the same item. You can do this at grocery stores too!

Nextcare Bandaids (8 count) were on clearance for 68 cents.  I printed off  a bunch of $1.00 off coupons from their website that didn’t specify a size, so buy the smallest size to save the most amount of money (usually found in the travel/ trial sized section).  But Amanda, your coupon is more than the value of the product. This is called OVERAGE. That extra 22 cents went to pay down something else and make my overall bill lower.  Always make sure you have a FILLER- an item to make up the price difference.  I bought way more stuff than 22 cents worth so my overall total went down so I didn’t worry too much. Note: some stores will adjust down the price of the coupon to match the value of the item if the item is cheaper than the amount on the coupon. 

My total purchase was over $50 so the first coupon I used was a store coupon for $5 off a $50 dollar purchase.  Use these kinds of money off coupons first since your total is at its highest, then use your other coupons.  If you do it in reverse, then your total will be too low and you won’t get that free extra $5.00 off your purchase.  Make the free money work for you!

Here’s a list of what I bought:

Tag Reading System, 2 Aveeno baby washes, 2 Johnson and Johnson Buddy Wash Soap Bars, 3 Johnson and Johnson lotions/ baby washes, 6 paper towel rolls, 3 single toilet papers, 3 deodorants, 8 boxes of Kudos granola bars, 8 boxes of Pop tarts, 2 boxes of Kelloggs Yogos fruit snacks, 8 Nextcare bandaids, 4 packs of Bic pens, 1 box of Kotex pantyliners.

The free stuff I get (usually health and beauty items in the travel sizes) are great for overnight trips and also for storing in my backpack  that’s a 72 hour kit.  If there was ever an emergency I want to grab and go with my shampoo and stuff.  That’s a post for another time. Just think Hurricane Katrina!  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a bag to grab that already has your necessities in case you have to flee immediately?

Also, I’m always donating food to people and food drives and things like that.  Buying 8 boxes of Pop Tarts may seem excessive, but when 1 box cost me way less than $1.00 then I don’t feel so bad giving them away.  I also am a proponent of food storage.  There’s nothing more irritating to me than going to my cupboard and being out of an item.  (I did have to run to Smith’s twice last night for this very reason).  So, when things go on sale, I use coupons on top of these sales and stock up!  Think Hurricane Katrina again.  Stranded in your house with help no where close.  If you’ve got some comfort foods and regular everyday foods stocked up, you could easily survive a disaster.  Oh yeah, and non food items are important too!  Let’s not get stuck without toilet paper, diapers, wipes, or trashbags! 

Well there’s some info to let you think about. Any questions?  And just a heads up that Smith’s is having their caselot sales the 2nd week in September, yay!

Mikey’s Oatmeal Coupon

Mikey just brought me a creation made with legos.  What a happy moment- he told me it was a spinning coupon machine and that I should pull the $1 off coupon from it.  “It’s a $1.00 off oatmeal coupon to use to help Daddy’s shingles go away!” he proudly exclaimed.

“And here comes a $1.00 off yogurt coupon.  And here’s an automatic tickle machine coupon coming too!”

What a proud mom I am.  My kiddo pretends to shop with coupons and won’t buy if it’s expensive or he doesn’t have a coupon.  And when his imagination and legos combine he creates me my own coupon generator for products I like.  Sounds like a keeper to me, the kiddo and the coupon machine =o)

Wish Me Luck

Tomorrow I go and take my technician’s test to get a ham radio license!  Hubby’s been taking the free 3 hour classes that ran for 6 weeks and thought it would be a grand idea to have me take the test too!  Do you hear the excitement in my blogging voice? NO? Well there is none, but sometimes you just have to do something nice for someone else, because it will make their day. So I’m doing it all for my dear hubby, because I love him.  And hey, we’ll both have some experience when it comes to emergency communication in times of disaster.  Feel free to call us emergency preparedness geeks =o)

 I’ve had a week to study 300 questions and I’ve honestly only studied 1/2 of what I’m supposed to.  I’ve been taking online practice exams and I have been passing them the past few nights so I’m not too worried.  I will admit 1 thing that’s cool: once I pass the test and become an official “ham” then I have permission to transmit and talk to astronauts at the space station!  I don’t even know if there are astronauts on the space station right now, but the idea sure sounds cool to talk to them! 

I guess before I get all my hopes up, and those of dear hubby, I should get back to studying and pray for miracles tomorrow.  I’m relying on my great memorization skills like associations, linking, pneumonic devices, and acronyms.  I’ve got some pretty creative ways of keeping my test questions and their correct multiple choice answer selections all organized.  It makes sense to me and that’s all that matters.  Come 1 pm tomorrow I can throw it all out and erase it from my memory.  So here’s to becoming an amateur radio operator!

Update: I passed and only missed 3 questions, yay!  I think I’ll apply to get a vanity call sign with x’s and o’s to celebrate.

Free Food ($10 value)

Schwans has a nice promo going on right now for new customers.  Check out the link to get a FREE $10 in food!  I got us a pizza, but since there was no tax after I ordered I wish I would have picked a $9.99 item. Oh well!  FREE dinner for a night is wonderful so thanks Schwans!   Let me know what you get!

http://www.schwans.com/promos/freefood/freeFoodProgram.aspx?offer=MG