It’s been 5 days

Five days since Loud has departed and let me tell you how wonderful these last 5 days have been. I’ve left my house with my family more in those 5 days than I have in 7 months. It has been wonderful to not constantly supervise one child, I’ve enjoyed my children as a whole, and I’m able to spend more time with my husband. We were also put back on the call list for potential placement. In any case, let me tell you about Sunday… our budgeting excecise. We all went to the Swap meet, Husband and I, all 7 of my kids, 2 of my kids friends, and my parents. Each child was given $10 for a game.

The game rules were as follows:

This is a QUANTITY over QUALITY exercise, very different from our usual quality over quantity teachings.

You cannot combine money with your partner, if you choose to shop with a partner.

You must barter at least once with a vendor or discuss a price reduction.

Bags of beans, a ream of paper, seeds, or other tiny items are not allowed. However, a box/bag/set of smaller items could be counted individually such as markers, doll shoes, or a socket set.

Food is permitted.

Free items are permitted and encouraged.

Children under the age of 12 had to have an adult to supervise.

He who has the most items wins everyone else’s loot.

This was a fun exercise! The kids were really thoughtful in their purchases. In fact we were surprised at the winning number of items; over 700 items. The older children had a better grasp of the ordeal and took it to the max! Some of the items purchased were baby tomatos, blackberries, decorative toothpicks with unicorns adorning the tops, Barbie dresses, polished rocks, pieces of candy, stickers, super glue, a bag of unknown electrical (?) parts, mouth pieces, and a pineapple.

The kids results were 700, 680, 350, 327, 280 189 and I can’t remember the other numbers, I believe the stopped counting when they heard the numbers above 500.

The downside? Now we have $90 worth of crap floating around the house. The winner was kind enough to give the younger girls a few trinkets they had purchased during the swap meet trip.

Also, we have a new placement arriving tonight. A 13 year old female not from our county, I haven’t met her yet but I’ve decided to call her Blink because she happened in a blink! Loud left us 5 days ago and now our adventure continues. I hope Loud feels loved and safe, while he isn’t here at our home I find myself thinking about him quite a bit.

A light, a shimmer, a spark

It’s been dark for 7 months, my family and I have made the ultimate sacrifice for a child in need. We have become prisoners in our home unable to leave the confines of our home due to Loud’s behaviors. When are able to get out of the house myself or Husband had to stay home to look after Loud. The only time I was away from him was during cheer competitions while he was in respite, it wasn’t REALLY respite it was purely out of necessity; my kids were committed to a sport and I had to meet the expectations so my girls could compete. My heart bleeds for this kid, he wants to behave better but he hasn’t got the skills to do so.

I’ve spent countless hours attempting to get Loud services and a solid mental health treatment. I’ve called, written emails, left voicemails, sought out peers who deal with difficult children and children with special needs, I’ve spent time communicating with his teacher and countless school officials, I’ve been at the police department seeking advice, I’ve attended trainings, I’ve asked everyone I know how they would approach Loud and his behaviors, I’ve read books, I’ve cried, and I’ve prayed. I have done everything in my power to help this little boy. It’s time. You have to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.

It’s difficult to come to terms with yourself, it’s difficult to attempt to see yourself as anything other than a failure. It’s also difficult to feel a sense of relief at the mere thought of of him being moved or disrupting placement. This is new. I’ve been happy to see placements go home, I’ve been happy not only for their reunification but also their lack of presence in my home. But I’ve not felt THIS way before. As I reread this paragraph I see a lot of ‘difficult’ and lots of ‘I’ statements. It hurts. The last 7 months Loud has simply been referred to as my ‘difficult’ placement. It’s painful yet true.

Shockingly, Loud’s case team has decided to make some abrupt changes. I feel relieved. I feel pleased. I feel like this little dark cloud that’s followed me is starting to clear up and I feel hope again. In fact, I feel excited and levels of happy that ceased to exist for several months. I don’t feel an ounce of sadness nor do I feel guilty. I am simply relieved of copious amounts of stress and feel like my family will be allowed to live again… no more walking on eggshells and no more mom guilt for telling the kids we can’t go somewhere or do something. No more excuses that just don’t make sense.

It’s time to say goodbye. It’s time for a recharge.

We have spent the last week treating Loud to simple pleasures. Blue has made cupcakes in his favorite colors, I’ve let him choose dinner nightly, spent extra time with him, let him stay up passed bedtime, etc. I hope he remember the good times and I hope he knows we care about him. Wherever he goes, I hope he gets the therapuetic help he needs.

In other news, I’ve recently changed the age range of our foster license. I’m now in the 12-18 age range and females only. I’ve learned a lot about my family’s dynamic and where our niche lies in the many years of providing foster care for our community. We are successful with girls and we are not successful with boys… especially younger boys.

I’m currently attempting to learn Indonesian, if any of my readers have a friend or family member who is a fluent speaker or perhaps you know a resident of Indonesia please introduce us. Terima kasih!

Now, pictures from our recent cheer competition.

The Boychild spent the weekend with his best friend, it was much needed. His best friend has been dealt a crappy hand regarding life. His father died unexpectedly 2 years ago and he has been living with his step mother during his custody case, last week his bio mother took her own life. This kid is 11 years old, it’s heartbreaking. We are all anxiously awaiting closure.

Fin!

Inner turmoil

There’s always something. It seems like everything fell apart all at once. I’ve got 2 of my girls (Blue and Smiley <—- is that what I named my 13 year old placement? I can’t remember) in a Tuesday night intervention group at home that the girls lovingly call Talking Tuesdays. We pretty much have a personalized self help/enrichment meeting in our bedroom, it’s really been eye-opening and helpful when addressing behaviors. It forces the girls to be held accountable for said behaviors. It’s a self exploratory that’s guided by us, the parents!

My difficult placement continues to spiral out of control; there was a school threat and things have escalated quite dramatically. The child is becoming more and more volatile; school, home, and after care have all noted the concern, it is unsettling. Imagine being stuck in a current fight or flight status, how awful this poor boy must feel. My heart aches for him… I’m pushing harder than ever to have him placed in a therapuetic environment, he needs help. This boy is exhausting himself emotionally, I simply cannot imagine his inner turmoil. I, too, am emotionally drained and I’m done repairing things this child has destroyed. From holes in the walls, writing on walls, breaking dresser drawers, ripping a ceiling fan from ceiling, drawing with a permanent marker all over his bedding and bed frame, constant supervision is 100% necessary and my lack of supervision is to blame. This child is not a typical 8 year old boy, oh no. This sweet child has endured years of trauma, trauma overlooked by everyone that he trusted in his life. Again, my heart aches. I simply cannot imagine being in his shoes, why do parents neglect their children? How could anyone purposefully treat a child in a way that could damage them? This is the shitty side of foster care. Defeat.

I’m not a perfect mom. I’ve screwed up quite a bit during my years as a parent, I still screw up. No on really knows what they’re doing when it comes to parenting but if you truly care and are doing your absolute best; hats off to you! Educate yourself, ask for help, read books, YouTube, anything and everything could be used as a parenting tool. My favorite educational tool in regards to raising children is parents I admire, they’re always keen on giving their parenting tools to anyone who’s interested. Seeing as I’m struggling with half my gaggle of children it’s hard for me to hone in on better parenting techniques. It’s extremely difficult to parent anyone in my home when I’ve got a full time job with my difficult placement, I feel as if I’m unavailable to parent other children because I’ve exhausted myself on every level tending to the troublesome child.

I’m less of a mother.

Talk about a painful realization. I’ve got less time to police Boychild’s homework, grades, and video game time. I’ve got less time to help with Honors English papers, ask about peer relationships, and recent accomplishments with Blue, Smiley, and Biscuit. I’ve been completely unavailable to my older, grown daughters who are living away from home. I’ve got less time bonding with my other placement who I’ve not written about in so long that I cannot remember her alias on my blog. I’ve got less time to read with Lemon and less time to wrestle with Bunny. I noticed last night as I had all of the kids leave the kitchen while preparing dinner, that used to be a time when we came together to cut vegetables and learn about nutrition. I had to ask them to leave as my difficult placement is my shadow and simply cannot operate within groups. My family is suffering without a mother. I am responsible for this. These reasons are precisely why I’m pushing for a therapuetic home for this young boy, I simply cannot give him what he needs and I’m no longer willing to sacrifice my family dynamic.

It’s not up to me where this child goes, the case team will find something on their time and that’s just fine. I simply need a light at the end of my tunnel, a simple ray of hope to keep me going. I’ve been in the dark for such a long time. Just because I’ve asked for a move doesn’t mean it’s going to be granted; however there is the option of my volunteering a disruption via my licensing agency. I’m not quite there… where I throw my hands into the air and quit, I’m pleased that the case team finally heard my words and is considering moving the child. That’s just enough for me right now and I’m choosing to make the best of it.

The problem isn’t the problem… your reaction is.

I’ve learned a lot during my 37 years on earth, but the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is about human reactions. I’ve learned that people want reactions in every aspect of life, whether it’s praise for a job well done or something critical that hurts a person. We have all done things for be particular reactions; hello human nature.

React or respond.

Reactions are quick, they’re developed in an instant. When you do or say something without thinking… you’re on auto pilot and your unconscious brain does the footwork. For some people it’s a defense mechanism; rest assured that most people regret reactions later. Responding is a slower process; instead of that quick clap back you tend to be more logical and you consider the other persons feelings in addition to putting yourself in their position.

I often struggle with my unconscious side during day to day interactions, I react. I run my mouth, I’m boisterous, uncouth, and generally unremorseful of the sometimes hurtful things I say. However, when it comes to parenting or conflict I’ve got the responding part in the bag. I don’t yell. Wait. I do yell but I don’t yell at people. I holler down the hall at the kids to stop fighting or playing ball in the house like any other parent. I’ve learned when you yell at someone they stop listening.

React = loss of power.

Respond = empowerment.

You can change. Train your brain! Get the education on your own time, you don’t need a training or class. You have Google… what a time to be alive! If you’d rather not read articles, watch YouTube videos, or pick up a book you can start by trying self help. Simple things to ask yourself to start the process are what would be a better response? Could I have been more compassionate? Why did I react that way?

Open bed!

With Tata’s departure that leaves us with an open bed. I spoke with my licensing worker about the potential adoptive placement and it was an open and shut case, she needed to stay in the city she is currently residing in. I’m beginning to feel like this adoption stuff is for the birds! While I have had a successful adoption via foster care, it took long time to become completed. I truly thought that finding an adoptable child would be easy; older children need homes. I have jumped through hoops, sent my homestudy to various agencies (over 20 times,) and made it quite clear to my team that adoption was my motive. I enjoy foster care and I LOVE when kids are reunified with their bio families, but we’d like to offer a permanent solution to a child.

Loud and Lovely’s case is a mess, I’m unsure where it will go. We’ve got different bio dad’s, accusations, missed visits, behaviors, no contact with other siblings, a nonexsistant case worker, and more excuses than I can deal with. Lovely is a good girl, a hard worker and she is eager to please. Her bio family has instilled in her that excuses make everything better. All things, both big and small, there is an excuse for. It drives me batty. ‘My mom was a teenager when she had me, that’s why she doesn’t know how to take care of us.’ or ‘My mom asked me lie to the case worker so they could just get out of our lives, she doesn’t know any better.’ My favorite so far, and by favorite I mean it’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard ‘I can’t go outside with everyone, I’m allergic to grass and I’ll get hives everywhere.’ GUYS! We live in the desert, there is no grass in the vicinity of my home… not for miles. Also, she isn’t allergic to anything according to her medical records.

Loud had made some huge improvements in the last couple of weeks, now we are back tracking. He has started acting out again, I took him out into the community as his behaviors were improving tremendously… big mistake. Mohave County Mama learned a damn lesson. I think I had moved too fast, he clearly needs more time to develop the skills that we are teaching him. In addition; mental health continues to be a joke. I’m getting nowhere. I’m anxious about Halloween, how in the heck am I going to manage Loud? I’ll be brainstorming.

I’m doing surprisingly well, amazing actually. I had a blip in the mental health department a few months ago, stayed objective, made some changes, and I am officially an Overcomer! In fact, I’ve never felt better emotionally… physically not so much. I’m sorta fat. One thing at a time, right?! I’ll get less fat next, I mean… what else have I got to do? I’m not working, so yeah. Well, I’ve been toying with the idea to head back to school.

Husband has been stressed out and that brings on the snoring, WTF man? I’m trying to get my fat girl sleep here. All that snoring leaves me a bit cranky and irritable BUT, hey, there are worse things in life than a snoring husband. For example, a rabid Chihuahua backing you into a fire pit full of cobras or panties full of porcupine quills during a 5k. See, I’m an optimist. Snoring is legit. My Fitbit says I’m not hitting my sleep target, that’s all I’m saying.

In closing I’d like to say that I’m very upset that I did not with the billion dollar Mega Millions. Total crap.

Adios, Tata!

Tata has left our home, she was moved in with her siblings out of our county. I was happy to see her go as she truly missed her siblings. I received a phone call yesterday informing me that her caseworker had changed AGAIN and that Tata would be picked up at 8am the following morning. Short notice… my favorite. 😯 I sent a bag of dirty laundry with her, I wanted to make sure she had all of her things. She came here with nothing and left with a large box and 2 duffle bags full of items. I’ll sure miss her, she was loud, obnoxious and constantly laughing. I hope one day she is reunited with her family!

The flawed system chapter 463

About 10 days ago I received a call from DCS alerting me that Tata would be leaving our home. I was very excited to hear the news; she was going to be moved to a new home with her siblings! I was also annoyed that they would move a child from foster home to foster home with a flick of the wrist. As it turns out when you’re part of an Indian tribe the rules are very different, standard state regulations and rules don’t mean squat.

A DCS caseworker picked up Tata, we packed the car with her items and send our goodbyes. They drive off and I packed up my car with the remaining kids and headed to lunch, we planned on watching the Jet Ski Finals after lunch. An hour and a half had gone by and the DCS caseworker called to tell me she was bringing Tata back. I was frazzled, I knew that Tata would be upset. Tata returned very confused and a little angry, while she didn’t necessarily want to leave our home but she was reassured that everything would be great and she would be with her siblings. She cried because she ‘knew’ that she couldn’t see her siblings and ‘everything in her life falls apart.’ We all did our best to sooth Tata… meanwhile another terrible thing happened. Loud and Lovely we’re to have a visit, they were picked up and got to the destination but bio mom was a no show. You guessed it, Loud, Lovely, and Tata all arrived at the same time and they were all upset. Excellent.

Oh, but it gets better. I had called my licensing worker and let him know that I’d have a bed open shortly after Tata left the house. During all the emotional termoil I had failed to recontact him and let him know that I did not have a bed open and fill him in in the recent happenings. A couple of days had gone by and he had called me, I let him know about the situation and reassured him that DCS would be picking her up sometime that week. He presented me with a possible adoptive placement and I said that it could work. Nothing solid but a loose entertainment of the idea, it wasn’t a rush situation. So, Tata is still here. No one had ever contacted me about picking her up as previously discussed. Radio silence. The 6th is when the picked her up and dropped her back off, today is the 20th. Excellent version 2.0.

On a positive note, Loud has truly improved! I am proud of him, we’ve got the tantrums under control for the most part and he is improving at school too! His listening skills are 70% better overall, he is regulating his emotions about 50% better, and this is no thanks to mental health services. I sought out help but services are a joke and I was at a complete loss. We worked out a reward system and a punishment system… it seems to be working extraordinary well.

Lemon and Bunny received the Principles Honor Roll. Biscuit didn’t get in to NHS. Boychild is a pain in my ass and he has a girlfriend. Blue is attempting to gain employment. Flower is doing college kid stuff and Pretty is… Pretty.

I’ve been getting a lot done since I’ve not been working, it’s pretty cool. I have NO laundry in my entire house and everyone’s bedding has been washed. Holla! I’ve organized, trashed clutter, and helped Husband with things too. Next week I plan on getting the baseboards, the ceiling fans, and replacing air filters. I no longer need a housekeeper since I’m free which is both good and bad at the same time. 😋

Boychild bought a blazer, he is loving it! Why does he need a blazer… I don’t know.

A little of this a little of that

The cheer season has been going full speed ahead, Biscuit is on two teams (she is filling in on a third team as well) and Blue, Bunny, and Lemon are each on one team. I’m forever thankful for my friends who help drop off my oldest girl after late practices; they’re the real MVP.

Football has started for Boychild and Bunny.

Tata, Lovely, and Loud have been participating in various activities when time permits. I’m still working on getting visits and mental health lined up, after that is squared away I can get them into something more scheduled.

Loud continues to have emotional outbursts resulting in calls/requests to pick him from school, clubs, and extracurricular activities.

Boychild had some difficulties at school a few weeks ago and is no longer involved in Student Council. Fistfighting is frowned upon when you’re representing your school. He is involved in Foreign Language Club and a kindness/anti-bullying club; he is currently making bookmarks with words of affirmation.

Bunny had some issues earlier this week as well, she wrote something naughty on a table with a special blacklight marker. She spent the remainder of her evening doing community service (cleaning various parts of the facility where the crime took place.)

Between the vandalism, tantrums, and fighting there are good things to report as well. Everyone has been doing splendidly on their chores and keeping their personal space clean (except me, pfft.) Everyone is doing fairly well in school, I have decided to take a break in regards to teaching (OMG, my mental health loves me for that one,) and I’ve managed to get a nice routine in play with all the younger kids in the household. Also, I have been seeing Husband more and that is a real treat. For a while I felt like I had only seen him in passing and that was not a good feeling; I’m fixing all of the wonky parts of my life right now. Self care is the poo, y’all.

I have been to multiple job interviews and I’m not sure working is in my cards right now; I may take a hiatus.

WELL…

Unless, I can get the ‘perfect’ job, working for a non profit regarding youth with an excellent benefits package. I’m dreaming! The job market in my area is minuscule and then add in my criteria and that pretty much returns a big fat ‘0.’

I went to a foster care support meeting this week, it was nice. I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere, it seems like the foster families that I meet are the polar opposite of myself. The families that I met were fostering the younger age range 0-2, kinship aged 2-4, and one family who had 8-13 in their home currently. Obviously, anyone within earshot that hears me say I’ve got 8 kids automatically dies a little on the inside. Their minds are filled with instant pandemonium. Foster parents see it WAY worse, they understand the fortitude of foster children. Foster parents have experienced a plethora of behaviors, both good and bad, and when they hear about how many kids are in the home they tend to freeze. You can see it in their eyes; they’re judging. They don’t do it to be jerks, no no. They start by thinking ‘great, they’re in it for the money,’ it is a natural thing to do. (I’m not offended because I know why I provide foster care, I’ve got nothing to prove to anyone.) Then, after that fleeting thought… it moves towards insanity. Foster peers think we are out of our damn minds. Shortly after those two processed thoughts are hashed through, the real deal moves to their frontal lobe and they get those big dumb heart eyes. In any case, it was nice to vent with other peers and get an inside look of what other people in my position go through. I’m unsure of what Im supposed to gain from these meetings but ideally I hope to find some friends, supports, and respite care.

And, last but not least… I need to take the boys to get haircuts. Ah, the life of me. Glamorous. Don’t be jealous.

It’s almost that time again…

October is Fall Break, that means a trip is usually in order. We go to Knott’s Berry Farm and the ocean every year during fall break time and this year it may be a little different. Loud is still experiencing behavorial difficulties and I simply cannot take him into the community without any outbursts. The variables are insane; today he was tantruming because he couldn’t make a paper box until tomorrow at school as scheduled, another time while playing a game in the car involving yellow cars and calling out ‘Juicy Fruit!’ because another child called it out first, and again when when he attempted to lift the couch for unknown reasons and was unable to do so. Those were just three examples, I assure you that there were at least five more outbursts since dinner. It has been exhausting to say the least. I understand that he has experienced trauma, I understand that he is unable to regulate his emotions, I’m concerned that there may be something more than the standard ‘I’m in foster care and my life has turned upside down, I don’t know how to deal with it’ type of thing going on. I’m reluctant to say that he needs a higher level of care because he is a sweet boy who tells me he loves me and he shows me that he wants to please me by doing other things that are helpful. I need to stay objective, when I let my feelings justify behaviors I can sometimes make the wrong call. Foster care is hard.

What do I do? Do I cancel our yearly trip to accommodate one child or do I find respite for just him? There is a piece of me that cannot fathom sending him to respite because I NEVER use respite, I strongly feel that my placements are a part of my family and no one gets left behind. And only sending one of my placements and not the other two, it feels wrong. On the other hand… do I penalize my other placements (who have never been to the beach or Knott’s Berry Farm) and my family who anticipates this trip every year? I am torn. I don’t know what to do and I’ve got only a week or so to decide, help?

Tata and Lovely joined a fishing camp and reported catching fish! Both girls are adjusting well and have had minimal issues. They both reported that they’d like to try gymnastics but I’ve got to sort out therapy and family visits before I can add anything else to their agenda. Tata has had a few emotional nights as she misses her siblings, rightfully so. Lovely has been opening up quite a bit about her personal life among other things but only while we prepare dinner together, she never initiates anything regarding her case or family life otherwise.

Blue has a boyfriend. I’m dealing with it much better than Husband, haha! I want to share with you my epic mom-fail today. Blue had been asking be for over a week to get her posterboard so she could make a sign for her boyfriend as he is a football player and I guess that’s what girlfriends do to support them and it had slipped my mind time after time. I suck. Today was game day, I still hadn’t gotten a posterboard. On the way to drop my older girls off at school I made sure to get his jersey number, the correct spelling of hisname, and an idea to focus the sign on. I went to work and I found a posterboard in the supply closer, I decided that I would complete the sign for her as an act of redemption because she had cheer practice today and right after she planned to go to the game.

Nicely done, mom! Your kid is going to be psyched because you’ve got the sign complete; glitter and color coordinated. NAILED IT! I was running a few minutes behind when I picked the girls up but I decided that she would be overjoyed that she had a sign afterall. Blue gets into the car and I proudly hold up the sign and she lights up! She loves it! But… I put the number 17 on the board instead of 7, her boyfriends number is 7. *insert profanity here* I dropped Blue off at cheer practice and did the ugly cry as soon as I got home. I was on top and quickly fell to rock bottom. After my ugly cry session I started the brainstorming session…white duct tape was the answer. Long story short, we got the tape and doctored it up and eventhough I wasn’t able to get her to the game on time (not because of the sign fiasco) she happily bounced out of car with the sign an hour late.

Speaking of late, I wasn’t able to get everyone where they needed to go, I missed my class, and I fed my kids Lunchables for dinner. Life is peachy!

Feeding a family of 10 on a budget.

(Many foster children are picky eaters only because they’ve only had boxed prepared foods such as Top Ramen, boxed mac n cheese, corn dogs, frozen dinners, etc and getting they to eat some of the things we prepare is often difficult. When we get new placement we try to incorporate some comfort type foods into our meal plans.)

Step one: make friends with your grocery butcher. I’m get a phone call or text when bonless skinless thighs go on sale for .47lb or red meat for .99lb, they usually set aside 40-80lbs for me.

Step two: do not meal plan. Yes. I said it. Meal planning is for people who have extra time and I simply don’t. I work full time and I mom full time…quality time with my family is more important than planning a damn meal. You’ve got to be able to plan dinner on the fly. I typically have things in mind when I’m grocery shopping; it truly depends what’s on sale. Also, I always plan to make one childs favorite meal a week and I’ll buy the items needed even if they’re not on sale.

Step three: you’d better have a ton of spices and staples at home. Milk, cheese, heavy whipping cream, butter, bread, boxed pasta, and garlic are critical.

Step four: have a backup plan for the days you had to rush out and forget to fill the crockpot. Breakfast for dinner is always a quick oops dinner or ‘Snacky Dinner’ is one of my backups. A Snacky Dinner is pretty much fend for yourself; leftovers, cereal, mac’n’cheese, ramen, salad, sandwiches, etc. This isn’t a mom fail, it isn’t a defeat. It’s real life and you made sure the kids were fed.

Step five: cook in bulk if you have free time. Every now and again Husband and I will prepare food together on his day off, seal it up, and freeze it. This usually means grilling chicken, making spaghetti sauce, boiling bone in chicken to make stock and chicken enchiladas, preparing lasagna, etc. Having these things on hand also makes dinner easy if you forgot to pull something out of the deep freeze in the morning or forgot about dinner in general. It’s not ideal but whatever.

Step six: buy produce every few days. Yes, I don’t have a lot of time to meal plan but I always do my best to have fresh fruits and veggies in the house. Gimmie that fresh stuff! If apples are on sale the kids snack on apples or bake a pie, if strawberries are on sale they’re a breakfast or a dessert topping, bananas are usually a grab and go breakfast. Also, we like to have salad every night with dinner. I don’t necessarily like the bagged stuff as it’s expensive and poorly portioned for a large family. We have a local store in town called Food City, lovingly called Food Shitty because their produce is super cheap on Wednesday’s. We eat about 40-60lbs of fruit and vegetables a week.

Step seven: fuck meatloaf, that’s nasty.

Step eight: always have the peanut butter and flour at home, whipping up peanut butter cookies or pound cake by scratch is extremely easy and who can resist a tasty impromptu dessert?!

Step nine: don’t be afraid to start up the grill, having bratwurst or hot dogs for dinner isn’t my favorite but it is quick and easy. You can make potato or macaroni salad in a jiffy.

Step ten: remember that it’s not about the food served; it is about the quality time spent preparing a meal with your family and conversations at the dinner table.

I spend around $100 per person a month. This allows me to buy each child a ‘treat’ each week when I go to the store, it also allows for Pizza Hut every other week, and weekly treat money for school (snow cones and whatever the PTSO is pushing.) USE COUPONS. Stack them, get paid to grocery shop. Go to Kmart for shampoos and conditioners, use their ShopMyWay rewards. Most of the time I get toiletries and such for 65% off. Pay attention to sales. I use Amazon Subscribe and Save for dog/cat food, multivitamins, cat litter, toilet paper and laundry goods. You can lock in prices at Amazon when you subscribe. The deals are out there, take the time to find them. Buy in bulk. (My husband sometimes fusses because I buy 10 12 packs of Cottonell toilet paper because they are $2.99 a package and we have ‘no where’ to put it.) Also, hit up the .99 Cents Only store or Dollar Tree. Those places have a lot of cool stuff and Dollar Tree accepts coupons! Cha-ching!

I spend time finding the deals on household items and food because it gives me a high, I feel good saving money. It also allows me to pocket grocery money to put towards travel and vacation expenses! The more I save the more we can go places and do things. And in case you haven’t noticed…we go a lot of places and do a lot of things. I cut corners everywhere and use my resources. My husband does not, he goes to every store and pays retail. Talk about frustrating!