Grocery Budgeting Tips/Easy Meal Ideas

Yesterdays post touched up on budgeting on a tight income; I wanted to continue that discussion a little bit more. If someone else out there is struggling like our family is I wanted to add some things you can do to cut back on groceries and some quick meals that will help you scrape by.

Budgeting & Making a Grocery List/Order

First up having a budget for your money is crucial to being able to know how much you are able to spend on anything you need to buy. You need to know how much each check is going to be then subtract any bills out of that amount that is owed for that check period. If you have a bill that won’t be due until the next check figure out if it can wait or not. Its basic stuff I know but sometimes people may not think about it this way and being able to get those bills taken care of should be a priority. In saying that you have to be able to find a balance between bills and lets say starvation if its to that point. If I needed to get food versus paying a bill I wouldn’t just ignore it, never ignore your bills that just makes them worse, instead I would try calling the place where that bill is owed and seeing if they can work with me on it. I would explain my situation. Asking for an extension on a lot of bills is allowed; unfortunately some people do not know this, I mean I didn’t until a year ago. Now some places may not work with you but there are still options out there that can help you out.
In the past my family and I have used both food stamps through the government and our local food pantry through our city to help out with food for our family; there is no shame in it so don’t allow anyone to make you feel any less. I do believe that there are people that abuse the system and don’t really need it and those people have just given everyone all together a bad rap for using government assistance. Stand strong keep your chin up it will get better. Those programs through the government are there to help you when you need it, if you can get approved that is. Now I will say this after having it in the past and not needing it for a very long time there was a time not too long ago my family needed some help once again and after applying we were approved for a ridiculous amount of $2.00 for a family of four for a month. My husband was out of work due to losing a job and I was working my full time during the school year and then a part time job during the summer. We were barely getting by; I am not ashamed to say we needed help. After unfortunately being turned away via food stamps, we turned to the food pantry in our area until we could make it work ourselves.

Once you have taken out for the bills (I would include daycare or any other expense that may not exactly be a bill in the bill pile), you can more than like start your grocery budget. Some people will separate food items from other items we factor them all together since it is an expense coming out of grocery. I start by making a hand written list (feel free to type on up), on this list I write down everything that we need to get; I also simultaneously go through my kitchen and the rest of my house to figure out what items I am currently low on or out of.
After it is all written out I go back through and figure out if what we may have which is low is enough to make it by or if we indeed need to restock. Some things like soaps, toilet paper, paper towels, & detergents; if we have enough to scrape by we will do so. Once that is out of the way I go back down through my list and figure out what is a necessity vs. something that isn’t really needed right away with food items. I try to put my food items at the top of the list because you can’t eat paper or soap products but still factor them in as important parts of our home.
When making a list depending on where and how I am going to be shopping I will look at that stores ads. Being able to compare what is on my list to what is currently on sale at that store is going to save us money. If there is an item that I don’t normally buy like a type of brand that is on sale cheaper than what I had planned to buy I will switch to the on sale item. Brand name items are usually just that, brand name, you are paying more for a specific brand when the store brand or off brand is just as good and a lot of the time much cheaper!
Always shop the store ads; if you are a coupon’er or if you want to save more money use your manufacturer coupons with your in store deals and store coupons. A lot of stores allow you to stack in store coupons and deals with manufacturer coupons to give you a better deal. Check out The Krazy Coupon Lady to learn about how to start couponing, as this is an entire post on its own. I have learned so much from this site then of course venturing out on my own as I learned.

By now you have your list together you have gone through it at least three times maybe more; double and triple checking you are within your budget for the money you have available to use this grocery trip. If you are using online shopping you have a total price pretty much set up as online prices are pretty much on point unless something is out of stock ect. You will have gone through your cart or list making sure you have the best deal possible. I will note that if you are going into the physical store you have an advantage of possibly finding bonus clearance items that may help give you some wiggle room for your grocery haul in the long run. Always check the clearance aisles! Depending on the time of year you are shopping you may also find that there are deals running just for a specific holiday or time of year so always keep your eyes peeled for those prices on items that will make a great stock up deal for the rest of the year if you are able to budget that into your shopping list. A lot of the time being able to buy in bulk can save you money in the long haul if the price is right.

Now its time to shop or submit that online order. There is something about putting a shopping list together that pinches as many pennies as possible. It gives you a sense of accomplishment as you are saving your family money. That money could be useful for savings, an emergency situation, or just any other item that is still in your budget after everything else has come out (like gas money). When budgeting to have an extra even $20 gives a bit of a cushion; you should aim for more of a cushion for an emergency situation but sometimes my family is down to that last dollar. The cushion got used for the emergency of not starving this week!

Simple Meals Ideas to Make it Through

Let’s pretend it is the end of your two week grocery haul you are low on supplies; or it may be the beginning of your two week haul and you want some ideas of stuff to stock up on to make simple meals. I will try my best to give some ideas for simple meals my family utilizes quite often to just make it through. You may or may not have the items or all of the items needed.

  • Mac N Cheese is a huge staple in our house; whether it is made from a box meal or scraped together from scratch. It is an easy meal to put together. If you want to venture out in this direction, I encourage you to get comfortable in your own kitchen. Check out this post on my Meal Time blog page for a quick made from scratch recipe guide on how to make your own Mac N Cheese. Once you have the dish made you may want to spice it up by adding some saute’d veggies or some sort of meat product to it.
  • Simple Fried Rice. I will type out a quick recipe Here.
  • Ramen Noodles. Ramen is one of the cheapest pastas that you can buy, it its probably the best as food goes but it is cheap. You can make it a variety of ways and it will feed your family on the cheap. You make as the directions tell you to, then you can add in all sorts of veggies & meats of your choice if you want to or even eat it plain.
  • Butter Noodles; it is pretty darn simple. Boil the noodles of your choice and drain. Saute the noodles in a skillet with melted butter, salt/pepper, & anything else you wish to add to you pasta dish.

    Most pasta dishes are just so simple. You just need boiled pasta, Seasonings, & a Sauce of your choice. Most sauces like the cheese sauce I make in the recipe link above can be tweaked. I usually start off any sauce I am making the same way by making the roux (flour & melted butter (other oil) paste) then add in what I will use as a base from there. Perhaps some water & beef bouillon. I will sometimes cheat & just use beef gravy then thin it out to make a beef broth. You can also do a lot with rice. Get comfortable in your kitchen, it is okay to experiment if you have the resources. Cook more often from scratch/recipes or just cook period. You will become more comfortable in your kitchen over time. Learning to cook from kitchen staples is going to help pinch pennies & save money. Why buy something like pie crust or biscuit dough when you could make it your self! Flour, Sugar, Eggs, & Salt/Pepper can go a really long ways once you know how to utilize them to their full potential. It’s much easier to buy something that is pre-made but keep in mind it is also so much more expensive too.

How comfortable are you in the kitchen?
Do you have any tips or tricks?

Thank for reading. Drop a like below & follow this blog.


Feeding Three Hungry Boys

I’m hungry, is something I hear a lot in my house. In a house full boys, food is always at the top of their brains it feels like. I do my very best to make sure we have balanced meals that provide enough for everyone. We live on a rather tight budget so making each meal as filling as possible on the cheap is the way to go. Limiting mid day snacking is a must especially now! I am off work because its summer time as my job is during the school year and I could get a job but with two older boys and a 4 month old its cheaper if I don’t. Plus I don’t think daycare is something I am ready for by far with all of this virus stuff happening. We have to stretch that dollar the best that we can; its no time to be a food snob that’s for sure! If it fills your belly its good enough for us. After all I have two big boys and my husband to cook for; while the baby gets formula and that stuff ain’t cheap! It may not be cheap but it is important, probably one of the most important things we currently buy! Ringing in at the register at about $20.00 per can is how expensive. We figured up that it takes about 3 full cans of formula to get us through until the next check, hopefully. With $60 of our budget going to just baby formula then occasionally $25 more to diapers money is very tight at the moment as most of the rest goes to bills & gas money.
It puts so much stress on our shoulders as parents but its all worth it, for sure! I don’t know if my husband realizes how much stress it puts on me though. Sadly I feel like he doesn’t know how much planning goes into each and every item I put on our grocery list. I have to contemplate what is necessary and what is not; deciding if we can get something my boys ask for or not. That seems to be the hardest and then trying to make it work the best that you can sometimes still having to say no we can’t afford to get that. Since all of this virus stuff has happened we use our local aisles online shopping; which is where you fill in the grocery cart online then they shop for you. Your card doesn’t get charged until they have finished the shopping because of price variation. It makes it easier for me; because have any of you ever sent your husband to the store with your envisioned shopping list? Exactly! Each item that I put on that list will play a crucial role in our next couple of weeks or more depending on the item bought. It may provide many meals for us that we will need.

Yesterday I really felt like the world was against me as I had our lunch meal in the crock pot the night before but with a baby who wasn’t feeling the best on my hands that night then through the whole day yesterday; I forgot to take it out in time and it burnt up. I felt so heart broken because that was a protein meal for my whole family and I ruined it! I fortunately was able to salvage some parts of it so now it was going to be okay, right? Wrong, wouldn’t you know it was too good to be true because I got busy and distracted with the sick baby and then burnt it again. I felt so low. If you have ever counted on food, the meals you have planned out are important. I was and still am just so upset with myself. Some people would think; hey no big deal just make something else; that was protein for my family it was important; it cost money that we cannot afford to lose. Sure I did make something else but what I made was meant for today. Meat isn’t the cheapest right now and it’s getting more difficult to find some kinds of meat as well. My meal schedule is behind, well that is what it feels like. When I have planned so diligently perfecting each and every meal idea and sometimes just improvising at the last minute with whatever ingredients we have on hand. Just to make it to the next pay check; barely scraping by it feels like.
We are not poor people by any means, we are just currently going through these waves called life. Trying so hard to keep our heads above the water long enough to brace for the next one. Budgeting our money is what will help keep everything in order; food, gas, diapers, bills, and just maybe some extra for fun. Today has been a long awaited day; its pay day! I stayed up last night perfecting the grocery list; figuring out what we could get and what we couldn’t afford to get. This is a special week, the Fourth of July is Saturday but the most important day is Friday my husbands birthday. I worked very hard to make sure we could get a little extra this week for groceries; enough for a box of cake mix, some ice-cream, & maybe some smaller fireworks for the kids to enjoy! I am sure it will be a fun one, can’t wait!

Have any of you, my readers gone through similar experiences?
How did you manage? Any tips? (Comment below, if your brave enough to share.)

I hear about these places that have those discount grocery stores which have lower priced groceries and discounted items. We can only dream of a place like that around here; maybe someday. Where we live there’s a Dollar General, a Walmart, and two grocery stores Hyvee & Fareway. There is a food pantry for those who really need it. I don’t see us in this category anymore. We have been grateful for being able to use the pantry in the past but now everything is just a little more tight but doesn’t mean we require a food pantry now. I know that times are tough for a lot more people than just me and my family. I know that some way some how it’s all gonna work its way out in the end for us and hopefully for you too!

Are there any discount grocery stores where you live?
How do they compare to regular grocery stores?

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When Kids Feel Sick: Feel better in 5 Steps

After tending to a sick baby for most of the day and not getting the best sleep in the world I am just a little on the worn down side today. That is parenthood for you! Enjoy that freedom when your young and kid free, because once you cross that boundary your life will have officially changed. Your in new territory from then on out. And I wouldn’t trade it for nothing in the world. How my heart aches when I have a sick baby; even when they are not babies anymore. There is nothing like it; you just do the best that you can to make them feel the best they can. All of those extra snuggles sure are the best, for someday they won’t need you anymore. I wish I could trade places with them when they are feeling icky; but by doing some of these simple steps I always seem to make them feel just a little bit better!

  • After getting a quick temp check; (this varies by age of the child) I decide whether they will need Tylenol or other fever reducing over the counter medicines. Sometimes they don’t have a fever and if they do it depends on what that temp is to consider going to the doctors. Luckily my little one today didn’t have a real high one as he had just gotten regular immunization shots yesterday so this is expected. I will continue to check the temp through out the day.
  • Next depending on the age; I will wet the hair of my older boys down with warm water so it does not shock their little bodies by using cold. The water being warm helps keep them from getting chills as well. Wetting the hair helps cool the rest of the body down without having to give them full body showers. If you have ever had a sick kid in a shower or bath and are running a temp they will not want to be in there no matter how warm it is. I have found that a good middle ground is just wetting the hair thoroughly. This method will cool them down but if they have a real high temp it will dry out quick so keep an eye on it. On days where the doctors offices are closed or its a weekend I will do this alongside medicine on my older boys to try and maintain a cooler temperature hoping to avoid the ER. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but most of the time it does!
  • Keeping them wrapped up is the next thing I do with everyone; I bundle those little guys up with a nice warm blanket and just hold them if they will let me. Usually they will because who doesn’t enjoy snuggling with their mom. I keep a very close eye on every one of my boys when they are sick; so no worries on if they are getting too hot. I wouldn’t try to break a fever in the baby just so we are on the same page if his gets too much for comfort away we will go to the doctors or ER. With my older boys I will try to break the fever.
  • Everyone in my household knows that water, Gatorade (or an equivalent), & soup are what you get when you are sick. The sickness special; to keep you hydrated through the day and to keep your tummy happy. Overdoing it on the heavy food or drinks are a huge no, no! We tend to stay away from dairy products even if its a cold due to all of that mucous that builds up. Kids don’t seem to be able to clear their heads the best either so clear broths are the way to go! Occasionally icy pops are good to have too especially if your throat is on the sore side and if ice-cream is all too tempting. We want to stray from the dairy as much as possible.
  • Relaxing is one of the best ways to help combat that sickness. Giving your body the rest it needs will do the most healing. When you sleep you regain energy and helps you get better even if you still feel sickly and weak. Seeing my boys at this low point is heart breaking; they should be playing and laughing. Instead are sick and lying around. It’s not fun for anyone but being able to give them the rest they need will help them get better quicker.

After going through these steps repeating them as needed throughout our day of being sick; they will start to come out of it. They will start laughing and playing; getting back to normal. Now sometimes we have to go to the doctors for that extra help if its real bad; but days like today where it wasn’t that bad just a low grade fever those days are welcomed. Those days are not that bad even if they are sick; days like today can be managed. I am thankful that today was a manageable sick day; it takes some of that stress off of a mama’s shoulders. I still worry, I still stress, & I will still keep that extra eye on him but it feels like a good day all in all. Now to just get back to sleeping all night; that may take some time! It will happen though, I just know it.

Thanks for taking the time to read. Drop a like below. I’ve got to get back to this parenting thing, but look for a new post soon!


Building Up Our Sons & Daughters

I have been on this journey of raising my boys for 6 years now; there have been good days and not so good days along the way. Each day is a new adventure! Raising a bunch of boys or any child can be a handful. I have had those days where I struggle; where I just break down! I wonder when I break down and my boys see me in that state, how are they feeling? I try my best to not break down in front of them because they don’t need to see me all sorts of ugly; I want them to see me at my best! This feeling of embarrassment for them to see me broken down is something I fear; as if it will shape them somehow in a way that they blame themselves or that they see themselves as a burden. Yes, they push me to my absolute limits at times but there is no way that it is their faults and there is no way that they are burdens. Its something that happens, getting upset and crying. They are boys! That is the design of a boy/girl to be rambunctious, hyper and wild, and do their best to push you! As parents we have to be pushed and challenged because it wasn’t ever meant to be easy. Every day, every adventure should bring about some challenges, something should be learned by you as parents and them as children. Arguing and having disagreements are some of these challenges. Being able to teach our children is what will shape them, so when they do things that they shouldn’t or when they are yelling and throwing a fit these are the teachable moments. These moments will one day shape them into respectable adults that hopefully have good morals. Teachable moments happen in all other ways too.
Letting them see the ugly those tears that seem to morph our upset faces into masks that make us something not pretty, something out of a horror movie. Crazy how our imaginations can grow, how our minds can trick us to think that the view looking into the person is different than the face that is being looked out of. Always striving to put on a brave face for our little ones to model after! When they see that coming unraveled we believe in our minds that some how it will change the way the see us! Isn’t that natural though, I am sure that I can type this with out having met most of you reading this and that statement would have been the truth for some of you, maybe all of you.

Building up our self esteem as parents and believing in our selves is important; and it is just as important for our children to feel that as well. I often worry that my boys will see me crying and all upset and think its their fault as I already mentioned but I also fear that they will see that as something that is wrong. That it is not okay to be upset or cry. I want them to know the opposite. It is good to get those rotten feelings out; that it is okay to scream, yell, & throw a tantrum at times. That I do expect that to happen. I want them to be able to express themselves. Nobody wants people to cry but when it does happen I want my boys to know that they should not feel shameful that they should not feel like it is wrong. Being able to reassure them is very important to me as a parent! Just like I need to be reassured that it will be okay as a mom when I get upset I want the same for my boys. I struggle as a parent; how can I say that I don’t want to teach them shame over being upset when I feel that way sometimes when I get upset? Isn’t it a double standard? I am only human, and am very far from perfect. I welcome those humans who are perfect to give the rest of us a lecture on how to be perfect in this life. Any takers…..? Silence is what you will get; although someone out their is gonna be full of hot air! I have to laugh here because this is so true; no body on this whole entire planet is perfect!
Even as an adult of 29 years I am still learning things each day. You should never be done learning because this world holds so much knowledge and wisdom. It would be silly to just learn it all and be done. I wonder how that would look; oh I’ve accomplished it all… Now what? How boring that would be if that were how it worked. The importance of building ourselves up is just as important as building our children up even if we don’t do it like the person next to us. After all we are not meant to do things just like everyone else.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

I think that this society that we live in can try its best to tell us how we are supposed to be living our lives. It puts pressure on how and what we do. What to buy, how to look, & how we view our lives. We cannot all be the same like mindless drone robots. We have to raise our kids up. Build them up from the start and everyone has a different beginning, a different start point. I worry about the future; living in this world today. What will it be like for my boys when they are growing up in it? How will it be when they have grown up and have their own families someday? Instilling good structure in their lives now, is important! There is still so much to teach them that is also important; but right now I am focused on going through this learning process of raising kids. Some days still feeling like a kid myself. It has this effect on me as a person; when I learn something really hard to grasp or in this case wrangle it can make me feel like breaking. When that future day comes to the present, that all of my boys are grown and when they start their own families! The things I have taught them now are going to play a huge part in their future relationships with their spouses & children of their own. I want them to be able to have emotions that they can then turn and share with loved ones, knowing it is okay! I hope that they can take what I have taught them and in turn teach the next person that they come across in their pathway in their own adventure. Parenting is a series of teachable moments that one day will be the stepping stones for our children to start their own pathways in their own lives!

Thanks for reading I hope I was able to teach you something and it was a good read. Drop a like below or follow me on social media in links below. Follow this blog if you enjoy reading what I write. Thanks again.


When You Feel Like Your Failing.

Photo by Ken Ozuna from Pexels

Some days I feel like a failure! When I feel like a failure I often wonder why I was chosen to raise these little lives and why I was chosen to be their mom. Don’t get me wrong I love my children and I have always wanted them, no changes there! I wouldn’t change anything about my life. It’s just that some days I feel like complete mush. That disgusting feeling of failure. It’s a dark feeling that sends you into another plane of existence. Some days I don’t even recognize myself. Energy-less, laziness, & paralyzed are what I feel. It happens from time to time just springing up out of the clear blue; the feelings of being helpless while still dragging myself through my day the best I can manage. Even though I feel like this I must keep in mind that I am depended on by three little boys. Whom cannot make it through this life without me. They have their dad, but some how I am the glue that keeps everything together; just a little better.
When my boys grow up I hope they understand that I tried my absolute best to raise them the best that I could as their mother. I hope that they know how hard I worked at making those ordinary days a little more magical and filled with wonder. Not all of those days are going to be great along the way through our journey together. No matter how hard I try to give them the stars; those days where I fall short are gonna happen! I want them to know that I did my best. When I look into those little eyes all 6 of those eyes I want them to see one of their heroes staring back, Mom! I hope to inspire them to never give up especially when they feel like they have failed!
Now don’t confuse these times in my life with the terrible danger that often lurks with feelings like these. I have never felt like such a failure to get to the point of self harm or anything of the sort! However some people do get to that point which is why it is so crucial to know the signs of depression because sometimes in a blink of an eye everything can change.
Depression is that word that people associate an almost ugly feeling with, like it should be kept in the dark! When it is the exact opposite. I believe that if depression were brought into the light and more people were educated to know the signs/symptoms of it they could change many lives! Feeling like a failure as a parent is part of parenting even if it doesn’t feel great. Depression isn’t just something that happens to parents; it happens to everyone. It can look very different from person to person, as we don’t all walk the same paths in our lives. Laziness, lack of energy, not eating, or feeling paralyzed are just some of the different faces of depression. Sometimes you don’t have any change at all. When I feel like a failure it may not be caused by anything that makes sense to anyone else except me; mental health is unique to the person it is effecting. Just like no one person is the same. Feeling depressed should not make you feel like an outsider among your peers or family, but some how it does. It’s gonna make you feel like your not good enough, like your a failure,or you may feel like your stupid & unlovable. The mind games that a person goes through are real!

What Are Some Things That Help With Depression?

It helps me to be able to talk my feelings out I enjoy being able to have someone to talk to and it makes me feel much better inside. Sometimes I have to force myself to snap out of the funk. It isn’t something that I can just flip on & off and it usually takes quite a bit of time to come out of it completely. The great news is, it can be done! I try my best to align myself with positive thoughts and feelings the best I can do. For each negative thought I combat it with multiple positive ones instead! Talking it out with another person is a great tool that anyone feeling this way should utilize! If your someone who has no friends or family you can strike up a conversation with a total stranger; some may not care to listen and that should not discourage you from continuing to try to talk to someone because there are a whole lot of people in this world. Some of them may surprise you; doesn’t hurt to ask if someone will listen. Talking to yourself just runs you around and round walking the same path and usually getting the same old answers back in return. When you are able to share your thoughts with another person they change that pathway from the same old stuff that clearly isn’t helping to new answers that just might be what you need to hear!
Talking with someone about your feelings is a great way to combat depressive feelings, but if I don’t have someone around to talk to besides children I find that another thing that helps is a healthy dose of sunshine, by going outdoors. Sitting outside in the fresh air even if its a cloudy day, watching my kids play and burn off that built up energy makes me smile! Breathing in air that has been recycled and being stuck indoors looking at a bunch of walls all day can really take a toll on a person. Confinement can cause lots of anxiety and sad feelings, so what better way to combat being stuck indoors than to break free outside! While you are out there might as well try moving around a little bit. Depending on your location and ability to move around that is. Try stretching out your arms and legs, maybe going for a walk in your yard to start things off if you are able to. Moving around & getting exercise has been proven to help you feel better; at least it tends to help me.

Even when you feel like you are failing, or you are not doing it right whatever that may be, please keep in mind that you are enough! Don’t let those feeling of being less than or not good enough overwhelm you and take over. There is always a way to combat those dark feelings. There is always someone to talk to even if you haven’t met them yet! If you are not going through or if you have never felt those kinds of feelings remember you can and just might be a light in someones darkened path! Keep an eye out and learn the signs. Talking about depression may just save someones life!
(I am not a medical professional)
You can talk to your doctor about any depressive thoughts or feelings you have even if they aren’t overwhelming.

What are Some Signs of Depression?

Depression does require a medical diagnosis, however knowing what to watch for may save someones life.

The persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that characterizes major depression can lead to a range of behavioral and physical symptoms. These may include changes in sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, daily behavior, or self-esteem. Depression can also be associated with thoughts of suicide. (as taken from The Mayo Clinic)

Are There Resources That Can Help Me or Someone Else?


* Talk to Your Doctor!
* Call 1-800-273-8255 To Talk to Someone!
* Chat With Someone Here!

Never be afraid to reach out to someone, anyone!

Thanks for reading. If you or someone you know is going through a depressing time use the resources above!


One. Two. Three!

1,2,3 push that is one of the last things I remember before my first son made his appearance into the world. He was my first preemie baby; one of three boys it was 2014, I was young-er. My husband and I had not met yet and I was now a single parent to a 4lb baby who would have to stay in the NICU for a whole month. A month is not a very long time in the NICU as I know others have had much longer stays and more medical issues than we ended up having. He was a quick birth after being induced for the first time due to my luck of having preeclampsia. Even though he was only 4 lbs 1 oz at birth he had no other huge medical problems just a slight bit of jaundice. It was a waiting game after that cleared up. He just needed to grow and learn how to eat without a feeding tube.

It was one of the scariest periods of my life because not only was I now in charge of another life that little life was so tiny! I felt like I was going to do something that was wrong. Of course I knew that he was mine-my son but at the same time all the nurses were constantly taking care of him in and out of his room round the clock just felt so overwhelming at times! Its like your on a different planet which makes the NICU a place that takes some getting used to. So yeah its ok to feel out of your element! Before I knew it I grabbed the bull by the horns and little by little I put that fear away. At 4 lbs he had IV’s sticking out of his tiny body with cords and tubes hanging off of him at every direction. When you have your first baby you don’t expect to have to push a call light just to hold that baby. It’s like asking for permission to hold your own kid. It makes you feel out of your element, to the point that it just changes you. Yeah normally when you have a child everything is different but this is something more it gives you a whole new perspective that some people never have to experience so they could only imagine what it feels like but never actually know.

After a month which felt like a whole lifetime we were able to go home I had still been living at home with my amazing parents who helped me through everything. I am very thankful for everything they did at that time in my life and all that they continue to do. Mason my first boy was now 5 lbs almost 6 lbs and ready to leave the hospital. This was a day that I looked forward to for so long but when it finally arrived I kind of didn’t want to leave. I thought to myself how could things get any scarier? It almost has to happen that way that feeling of the unknown as something to fear because how can you ever over come it if it doesn’t pose some kind of challenge to you whether it is fear or whatever else. There we were the new normal learning the in’s and out’s of our new mother son relationship getting to know each other bonding over that next year. If you were to ask me did it ever feel less scary? like did that fear ever go away? I would have to give you an honest answer; no it never goes away not then and not now! It’s not that it is constantly hanging over my head forcing me into a cowardly stance, it is more like I know its there. Knowing it is there allows me to be more cautious with everything, I am careful to not let that fearfulness overpower me. When fear overpowers you is when it wins, it gets a hold on you and won’t let you go. Time went on.
When he was almost two years of age our mother son duo changed adding in that missing piece to our puzzle; to someone looking into my life from the outside it would appear that I tend to do things a bit backwards but I think it’s just how I do things. Everyone is different. We got married some time later, then as you’d expect welcomed our next little guy into our lives.

Now two out of three of my births which in case you just had to know were all natural yeah i’m a real trooper. Anyways two of the three were babies born around the same gestational age of 34 weeks. My second was not one of them. I love all of my children the same but after going through my first being born early I was relieved that my next one didn’t want to make a real early arrival. Mr. Oliver came at about 38 weeks, my doctors must not have very high hopes for me having good sized babies because once again they were worried I was gonna have another large baby, because on top of the preeclampsia with my first born they were also worried I would give birth to a real chunky baby. Every part of me is thankful they were very wrong! He was 6 lbs and some change. No real trouble with him either just another perfect boy. I now was mother to two little boys, who would have each other for the rest of their lives. Instant best friends! Things were less scarier the second time around for me at least because I had experienced the thick of it and was just ready for any kind of storm. My husband however was not…I am just glad he didn’t pass out during all the bloody parts I guess keeping his eyes focused on filming the whole thing kept him distracted. And I still to this day have no idea what kind of person wants to film a birth especially since it wasn’t our camera. Maybe I should feel something about that but if it saved him from spending the birth passed out on the floor I think I can let that slide!

With both my first and second I did epidurals which since they were both quick births and they were messed up during the epidural process I felt most of everything but still ended up numb in the end after it all. With my third baby I decided to go with out an epidural. You would think I was making this up but of course baby number three would be my longest birthing time ever and sure enough just when I thought that wasn’t enough the pain came and hit me way harder than my first two babies ever did! I know I had options, it was just after already having two births prior with epidurals I wanted to do one without all of that junk. It was odd as the first 5 hrs wasn’t too terribly bad. Then those contractions hit me and hard, I was about 7 cm dilated when suddenly it got ten times worse. That doctor swore to me I had another 20-30 minutes time before it would be time according to where I was dilated to. She’s then also said that if I wanted an epidural I could still do that. She sugar coated those words of deceit. I took the bait. In the next 5 or 10 minutes time my next boy made his way into this world. The pain switched from fender bender real quick to train wreck. I went from 7 to the whole 10 in like 5 minutes time! Into the world my last little boy made his way and then the pain subsided he was at 34 weeks gestational age, another planned induction due to the impending doom of preeclampsia. He wasn’t near as tiny as his oldest brother weighing in at 5 lbs 6 oz I believe but he would have to stay in the hospital for a month and a half due to Leo being born with more medical issues. He had difficulty figuring out how to breath so he had to be reminded by being hooked up to CPAP for about 2 weeks, it forces air into the lungs. Then he was on an IV for a couple weeks as well and then his bilirubin levels were off which is what causes jaundice he spent a few weeks under the UV light inside his incubator until those levels got to a comfortable range. A lot of these things are normal for premature babies I just had not had the experience with them being a NICU mom in the past. He had a feeding tube from just after birth up until a couple weeks before being allowed to go home. That was one of the scariest things that I experienced with both of my NICU babies because if it gets pulled out especially while its dispensing food in their tummies it can cause aspiration and then they have a real bad time over it when that happens. Leo didn’t pull his out but maybe once compared to his brother who was a pro. Still it is terrifying.

Leo has had a lot of re-flux issues since his birth, so he has to stay at an incline when laying down, but other than that it hasn’t been too bad. The older he gets the better his re-flux spells of spitting up choking and holding his breath then trying to recover from it all get less and less terrifying. He still spits up from time to time though, especially now that he is on formula completely. Leo stayed in the NICU for a month and a half after his birth and before that I had been hospitalized on bed rest due to high blood pressure for a month.

He will not remember our stay but I sure will; it was during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the nation and the world. It was one of the most terrifying times of being in a hospital. Things went from happy to dreary really quickly that’s for sure. Then on top of things one of the main places that people with confirmed cases at the time were being sent to the facility across from where my son was in the hospital. Imagine having to willingly go into a hospital everyday when a pandemic is just lurking around the corner! I didn’t have access to any face coverings besides my shirt & no gloves. I opened doors with napkins or pressed the automatic button with my shoe then quickly wiped that shoe off like it had the plague; I used what little hand sanitizers I had sparingly and then used the hospitals when I was there to save my own for a later time since I sure wasn’t going to go to no store. I washed my hands to the point where they were so dried out and I could have used some hand lotion to help them heal. However it was highly advised not to go to the stores at all by the hospital. I rode that pandemic train through the thick of it; they put security check points at all entrances when things started picking up in cases. It finally got to a point where only employees and pediatric parents were allowed to enter the entire hospital. You talk about crazy! It was one VIP experience I would rather not attend in the future! After so long there it feels like it was a dream at times but now that we are home everyone is so thankful we are not still there!

Thank you for reading! Drop a like in the comments below; follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest! If you have any questions send me a message on my contact page I will try my best to answer the best I can! Look around the site & don’t forget to come back tomorrow!


Cleaning Up: Tips and Tricks for Toy Clutter

After 6 years of parenting my fellas you would think that I have had a break through in the organizing department, I am in fact still wrangling this bull. Its a constant uphill battle to firstly keep the things in the places I put them for longer than a day; secondly keeping the said container in tact long enough to get some use out of it. I don’t know if any of you have a boy or more than one at that but they are not typically the most organized and tend to make a bit of a mess of things. Some how your hard work that work you spent so long on organizing & perfecting because by nature you want things to look nice and that shouldn’t be an unrealistic goal to say the least; its just that some how little boys can take it apart faster than a blink of the eye. They don’t see hard work they see oh what fun has mom made for me today! It’s more of a challenge or obstacle standing in the way of whatever goal their little minds have set.

Do you have any tips for organizing little boys/kids rooms?

(while keeping your sanity intact)

Yes, even though what I have done is always trial and error the older they get. For instance what works for one kid may not work for the other and what works for them at certain ages more than likely will change as they get older. I will note that I have currently just given up on keeping their clothes in the same room that they sleep in. Why? Well its messy and chaotic and it seems that no matter where or how I organize my little mommy heart out they sweep through like a huge storm then instantly you can’t tell what was worked so very hard on. Like it didn’t take 2-3 hours to make it all nice.
While clothes are a huge failure on my part; toys are a whole other beautiful ballgame! Toy organization is just as chaotic as clothing storage and organization. There is just as much junk that gets piled up and it may take the cake in clutter win of the week. Toys are either big and bulky or little sharks lying in wait to cut the most sensitive part of your foot, that part which you don’t really have a clue exists until you step on that small little thing. There is a big misconception in our parenting midst which is that legos’ are not the only small toy to wreak havoc on our poor shoe-less feet; this is the punch line to every tv commercial ever created ” but wait there’s more”!
You get the gist.

How do you make that ugly toy mess disappear even for a hot second?

  • One way is to allow each child to pick up to 5 toys out to play with for what ever timeline you have decided; (per day, week, or even month) What will this do? Well besides the 5 that has been chosen this includes little small cars too, all the others will be stashed away in a secret location your children will not find. Then after the time period set as mentioned above will bring forth the ability for your children to swap out those 5 toys for 5 new ones for the next period of time. If you have more than one kid this number of 5 could decrease depending on whether they will be allowed to play with each others toys and the fact that more kids the more 5 is multiplied so maybe set a lower number per kid. It would be the child equivalent of a fun surprise like getting a gift. They more than likely do not have every toy memorized so it would be new to them after a while if done for a little longer than a week. It will be something fun that they can look forward to and your sanity will be spared at least for a while because there will be less clutter hanging around!
  • Now if your kids are on the younger side a good organization tool for toys and books is to put them up off of the ground or maybe in a specific room that is kept up on organizing. And then you would simply just exchange the toys as you get new ones out or down to be played with allowing them to stay organized treating it like checking a book out. This would also be a great tool to help them understand picking up after their-selves and could help them enjoy a clutter free life style someday.
  • Try color coding containers for the types of toys that go into them. You can buy color coded bins at the dollar tree or just about any store like it. You would make it almost like a game for the younger ones. And to really up the ante make it into a reward system with stickers for the younger ones & maybe something like extra TV or gaming time for bigger kids. The idea is to get them into the habit of picking up after themselves and once that routine is formed they will more than likely continue to do it. A little fun fact about little kids they love stickers. They are like kid gold. They can be used in so many different scenarios. Its the bigger kids you will really have to sway with a bigger treat and you get to decide what that is. When labeling try putting pictures of what goes into each on each container for younger kids. They are usually visual learners.
  • This next tip isn’t organizing for your home more organizing to get rid of or donate to just simply de-clutter. It isn’t just about getting rid of extra toys it can also be a way to teach about giving and being selfless. Kids love to help with just about anything. They want to make you proud of them and to be reassured it makes them feel good inside. Asking them to give up some of their toys or simply telling them that is the plan will give them an assignment if you will to help you out the best that they can do. So grab a box or more and gather up the toys sorting out the ones with a lot more life left in them and trash. I think it is obvious not to give away trashy or broken toys. Then ask the child or children simple questions like do you play with this one? Or even give them a number of toys that they are allowed to keep each and the rest goes into the box. Now keep in mind that the more children you have that number may need to decrease to keep one of the goals of de-cluttering in sight. The other part to this donation thing is to explain that by giving up something that they once loved and played with, they are giving someone else the chance to play with them. You will want to keep it simple for the younger crowd as they tend to have shorter attention spans. Make it fun. For instance tell them they are giving someone else a gift. Now I wouldn’t have them give up precious keepsakes unless that’s your thing of course…

I have spilled the beans on how to keep the mess at bay even if its just for a little while. You now have the ideas that will give your feet a well needed vacation from all of that pain and who knows you just might sleep better too!

If you have any tips/tricks in this department that you would like to share leave a comment below. As always thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next post!


Loud and Proud!

By now you have read my first post where you learned my story well the basic layout of it anyways. Main story plots would have included a twist in your fairy tale ending where the prince and princess just didn’t hit it off quite so right; Next that princess lady would have to fight nail and tooth to overcome her worst nightmares and then would have to learn each lesson intertwined within the thick of it; Overcoming the enemy of depression and fear of failure by putting on her Whole Armor; Setting out on an adventure to fill in the missing pieces; Finding her King and beginning a new life. Sounds like it should be the end of a story in a story book right. I mean just about all of the points of a good story were hit. This story is far from over I have three boys, let me repeat that three boys to raise! That is three mouths to feed, three heads to wash and scrub the dirt off of when they do what boys do, and so much more that three little boys will do! Raising them will require a lot of effort and a lot of time they will also need to be taught everything a boy needs to know and not just basic knowledge, but right and wrong, fun, how to be silly, how to be kind, knowing its ok to cry and be upset, how to learn from their mistakes, and a whole lot of other life lessons. I hope to be able to Sow all of these things into my sons like planting a seed into the ground and helping it grow through all of its trials. Like that plant kids\people in general go through trials in life. As a mother to my boys I wish to instill good things with in them to help them grow strong just like the seed that is planted into the ground. If you give that seed the right amount of water, sunshine, & nourishment it will grow stronger than ever! However if you don’t do any of those things that plant if the seed gets washed out and never grows or it does grow but is weak and wilty it wont ever get to experience that growth that strength.

Come along with me on this journey this adventure of raising strong boys. I am not a professional by any means but if you like what you read doesn’t that say it all. As a writer I will do my best to keep it interesting for my readers and not only put out these big long books all typed up and what feels like pages and pages long but share different content that I hope is interesting and fun as well. My boys being little opens up a world of possibilities now for when they grow older they will probably lose interest in little projects and fun things you can really only do with the little guys!

Anyone who has a boy or boys can tell you they are loud; and when they are not loud they are more than likely doing something they should not be doing. Boys, while they are not gonna save your hearing or your voice for that matter they wouldn’t be well boys if they weren’t loud balls of energy. That’s what makes them unique! I swear if I didn’t honestly spend part of my day yelling at one of them or sending one of them to time out something would be wrong. Its normal. I guarantee that as a parent you have felt like you are doing it wrong at some point; you may wonder am I yelling too much? or am I not yelling enough? I know that I have felt that more than twice definitely more. I have done my fare share of yelling at them for fighting or doing something they should not have done.

As their mom I feel like my husband can just swoop right in and they listen most of the time because he’s a man and there is some connection that they can almost sense. Which makes the whole getting them to listen to me feel just that much more impossible; but in reality its not. I mean I am their boss too and one way or another they will respect me they will learn it. It may seem like as a mom you are being too hard on your precious little angels because you carried them for a period of time before birthing them. That motherly instinct is natural to feel but trust me they are like wolves at times and little pups at other times. They will eat you alive if you don’t get some sort of reign over them; i know how that sounds that word reign. It is essential that you draw a fine line of being the parent and them being the child or you will regret it in the long run. Being the parent doesn’t make you the enemy and its not intended to make you the enemy it makes you their boss the person they can trust and look up to as well as learn from. You can have a good relationship with your kids that still allows for lots of fun and great times even if you let them know that your the boss so don’t even for a minute believe that it is impossible. Those adorable little faces will thank you one day not letting them get away with so much.

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

Don’t you ever just get to the point where you can’t handle anymore? Just like any normal mom of any child I get to my breaking point. Lots of times I find myself hiding from them either they are fighting with each other, yelling & screaming for the fun of it, or throwing a tantrum. Yes I do realize it seems counter productive to hide from your children but your sanity will thank you later. Sometimes us moms just have to regroup just take the time to stop, take a deep breath or five, find a calm happy place with in somewhere, to think because can you really think reasonably with screaming and yelling going on? If this isn’t helping it is ok to ask for help. Because isn’t that what we teach them that they need to use their coping skills. The taking a deep breath or more; counting to 5 or higher; take a break somewhere quiet; giving your self a pep talk or talking positive to yourself; and also asking for help. I have worked on coping skills for so long with my boys I pretty much know them by heart for myself!

Once you have had that time to lets call it regrouping there with those zombie like children trying to reach under that door you are hiding behind or once you have called for some back up some part of your mom self is gonna feel relief maybe not right away but eventually what ever the situation those sweet little guys will suddenly morph back to their normal selves. They will turn back to adorable pups; what makes me an expert? well not expert exactly but usually in my experience and boy have I experienced it, things just settle down. I have yelled and screamed said things I did not mean because I was almost to my breaking point and that stress sure was high. The point when your brain goes to autopilot in a sense like it can’t keep up with your mouth; I am sure we have all experienced something like that if not that. One of the most important things even though it may sound counter productive is being able to admit when you were in the wrong by just saying your sorry to your kids but at the same time backing it up with for example:”Hey bud mommy is sorry that she got so mad and that she said some things that she did not mean, however saying that does not mean you did not do anything wrong” You would then explain why you had gotten upset in the first place and it may not be that you were even yelling out of anger it could also be that they were just playing too rough and it was super loud. If that’s the case you may say something along the lines of explaining to said kid why you were irritated, ect.

Reassurance that everything is going to be okay and comforting your boys/kids is very important; it lets them know that you still love them and that you still care. Kids take things so literally at times and this can effect their way of thinking then reacting to situations in the future. If you were to think of yourself as a child and how you would feel all upset thinking mommy/daddy is so angry at me you would see that its very simple to go from they are angry to they must not like me anymore, to maybe they don’t want me anymore… I know that none of it is true but that is how their little brains work through those kinds of feelings. By reassuring them you should stop those feeling from twisting and churning in those little minds in the first place. I am not an expert in the field its just stuff well more observations I have taken note of involving my own older boys.

You have also got to be able to forgive yourself because at times where you are hiding from them for whatever reason you may start to feel guilt for well hiding or maybe you have yelled at them. You need to be able to forgive yourself because letting it fester inside isn’t gonna do anyone any good at all! Something that has already happened is just that it is in the past and it can not be changed. It needs to be let go of somehow. You may not have this issue; either way here’s something that is also important, are you listening? Okay here it is; there is two sides to this; firstly if you are/have experienced this let it go yes but don’t feel ashamed for the way you feel and never apologize to some outsider looking in at you making you feel any less than you are because your perfectly fine! Secondly if you have never felt those feelings that is real great just be humble and kind to others who may not share that same feeling. That person you are secretly judging is walking a much different path than you are; they may be going through hell they may not be but I assure you its different than what your going through. Now I am not a feminist and have never really liked that mentality to an extent, however I do agree with the mentality that we as women need to build each other up and I don’t just want include women in this men too. We need to as parents support one another and build each other up; throw less judgement out there and more kindness & love.

When I am Sowing lessons in my boys hearts and minds; especially when they are loud and when yelling is at it limits and you think it cannot get better as you believe this is the point of no return I want them to learn something from it. And who knows I may also take some new learned knowledge with me too!


Once upon an Adventure…

My boy mom adventure started about 6 years ago when I as a single parent welcomed my oldest into the world. My partner had since vanished into a cloud of thick smoke like one of those parlor tricks done by cheap magicians. He was still around but could care less even if it were for one of his own, but enough about that. This isn’t his story even though he has had some major roles in kicking off my Adventure of Raising my Boys. Let me start this off right…

Once upon a time in rural town Iowa lived a fare lady she had fallen in love with a prince who did not love her back and that was ok because she was worth far more than what the prince could ever provide for her. She ended the relationship in hopes for one day finding her King, however she soon found that she was with child. The young prince did what any arrogant young lad would do in this situation he abandoned the lady, treating her as just another face along with their young child. The lady was very distraught over being abandoned and being forced to then become a single parent to her first born son. She would hope and pray each night for a future possibly with a king, a man who would want to be a loving father and spouse.

While she waited for that someday wish of finding a king she raised her first born son as a single mother, doing the best she could with help from her parents along the way. The lady did struggle with hardship of working, paying rent, supplying the needs for her child, and sometimes just getting by the best she could. It wasn’t always easy to do but she somehow managed. At times through that first year of her child’s life the lady hit a low point battling depression like the fowl beast it is. She felt as if she wasn’t worth the time & often wondered what she had done to that selfish arrogant prince for him to run away the way he had done. Was she not pretty enough, not smart enough, it surely had to be her as the child couldn’t have possibly done anything wrong. She constantly worried. Her mind was over run by these things. (Often times that’s how it takes over a person with their thoughts.)

Even though that first year was a hard battle the lady eventually overcame it, she learned to tuck in her dress and armor up. She put on the Whole Armor & fought to the death of her depression. Her self worth rose up instead; she gained her confidence back (which is a much needed attribute in the life of any mommy) she felt that she could do anything again. During that first year she had been battling a lot in her mind sure, but she also had to battle all the up’s & down’s that every single parent experiences during that first year of their child’s life and maybe even a little more. Growing up the lady as most young ladies dream about their future had always thought someday she would have a little lady of her own one day, well because she didn’t know about boy things of course! So to say the least the lady was ill prepared to learn all the things a boy mom has to learn especially on her own. By the time that first year was at an end she felt so proud to be able to wrangle the little guy successfully through diaper changes that didn’t leave her drenched in pee (this one took some time), boogers became a normal day to day adventure as there were just too many to keep track of, her ear drums had even recovered from all the loud boy noises as a loud day was a normal day, she had even graduated to doctor mom as she knew how to fix boo boos with the fiercest kisses and germs that made her little prince feel icky were no match for her anymore. Being an accomplished woman was good but an accomplished mother even better.

Still there was something missing in their lives; so with a brave face the lady put on her Whole Armor and set out on a quest to fill that void. Now love is one of those things that can be hard to find when you are looking for it but it can easily find you when your not looking at all, its tricky that way. This woman went to the top of the tallest mountains and across the largest oceans fighting off wild beasts with her wits; setting snare traps for those sneaky ones nipping at her heals with a swift silent motion they were flung up into daylight for all to see the ugly with in. Brave and fearless she became a warrior in the sight of her son. Only the best would do for him; no one would ever abandon us again so to fill that empty void the King she was looking for had to be perfect! Not just any King would do, he had to pass a rigorous series of tests and trials to win her over. The lady had standards and a set of values that needed to be respected.

As a little girl the lady was brought up to love the Lord to love God and all that he created in the world. She knew the Lord all her life sometimes stubbornly would try to do things her way but always found a way back to God. When she became a mother that love for Jesus just grew it grew in that little child; she saw a light in him and found a way back to something she had missed. The lady was bound and determined to keep this light in her life from there on out the best that she could. And so during all of her battles and tribulations throughout that first year that light started to grow it started out as a spark that caught fire and burned brighter each day. She was able to put on the Whole Armor and fight back. She had worked so hard to get to that point and nothing was gonna take that away not even a King. She was weary not to be dazzled by the shiny exterior of things in her life as those things those loopholes could cause her to stumble in her journey to a better life.

Then one day out of the blue the lady met a great King he was kind and polite. He was not arrogant instead showed favor on his people. He put the needs of others before his own; he was a brave warrior, an avid player of games, there was a Domino effect of good things about the King he was just a bit shy. He was not one to flaunt what he had to all who could see. There was no need to dazzle the audience; he just wanted to be taken as he was. And that is when the lady knew he was the one. They immediately fell in love; it was meant to be, over the course of much courting the kind King fell more and more in love with the lady and her little prince. The lady took things very slow as her little prince took priority and the King needed not only have love for her but her child as well in a fatherly way. It was very important to her.

Soon it was time to be married and not soon after the three of them welcomed a new addition to their little family. Another boy. He was just as a boy as his brother; they have since fought and quarreled as all siblings do naturally. They have become best friends even though they fight. They do all things boys do. And sometimes they make up new things that you didn’t even know little boys could do. You never know what kind of Adventures you will be setting out on from day to day as they are always a surprise. And those kinds of Adventures are truly the best.
The two little princes gave a new life to both the King and his new Queen; they found their youth again not that they were even the least bit old but more youth was found. It must have been some magical youth elixir because they have just welcomed a new little prince making them now a family of five! Oh the Adventures they will go on with those three little guys.
And they lived Happily…….Ever…..

Wait a minute this story has just begun; After all this is just the first post to my new blog Sowing Sons. Welcome to this new Adventure. Hope you didn’t fall off way up there somewhere. I hope this wasn’t too long of a story but I had to fill you in a little bit. If you just skipped to the end that’s ok too. I mean isn’t that what we all do at some point read the first page, cover, & end of book to figure out what it is really about less work that way!

Hello My name is Jenifer Smalley Author of this Blog post owner of this site hope to hear from you all somewhere I have an email sign up if I put this site together correctly; you just sign up to receive emails of my new blog posts when posted. If not someone should let me know via email at: just copy and paste that one to you email. I will respond as soon as I can, being a mom of three little boys is crazy sometimes! Thank you for stopping in and reading along; please feel free to share this post with your friends, family, co-workers, ect. Don’t be shy come back anytime!