Getting that grocery budget down.

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The grocery budget finally seems to be under control.  Our 20 points for getting it right (for us anyway):

 Budget at the beginning of the month before you are paid.  We do it a few days before salary comes in.
  1. The grocery budget then is divided over four weeks.
  2. We only major shop once a month.  It makes a huge difference not to be popping into the shop every week.  You waste less money on things you should not buy in the first place. This also means our poor baby is not getting PnP animal cards.
  3. Menu plan.  We menu plan and cook ahead so that there are good meals ready and waiting.  This avoids having to buy something you can cook quick, because most convenience meals tend to cost more. This also avoids the take away thing. (this is a post on its own)
  4. As an aside, we have budgeted two take away meals a month, or one sit down meal at a restaurant.  We make the most of it, and because it is limited, we carefully pick what we want to do. We prefer the take away, because then we make it a family movie night thing.
  5. We no longer sale shop (because we find that it actually wastes money more often than not.  I remember thinking that was nonsense, until we stopped doing it.
  6. Our grocery budget includes non food items like dish washing liquid and toiletries. It also includes the cat food.
  7. Yo do not have to buy everything at once. If there is something you want to buy that is not on the list, write it down for the next list.  Then the next time you will end up seeing if you really needed that, because the impulse is gone.
  8. Some things we do buy in bulk:  Meat, because it is cheaper like that.  We eat loads of game meat, because it just has so much less fat than any other red meat we have come across. So if we bulk buy the game meat, then that is the meat.  We normally don’t use it all up in one month.  With the menu planning it is so much easier to balance the meals, because you know what you are eating over a long period.  We ensure all portions have enough veggies. Also, because starch cannot be frozen, we eat less of it.  Not because we believe in Banting, but because it is icky defrosted. So if we did the bulk game this month, next month is will be chicken.
  9. We buy frozen veggies for cooking and only what fresh veggies are in season.  They just are much better quality and priced when you buy in season.  The same goes for fruit.
  10. We only buy fruit once a week, and then it is one or two at a time.  We only get as much as can be eaten in one week.  I eat about two or more portions of fruit a day and HB two, and Hubby we have to force feed. Fruit is a huge money waster.  You buy too much because it looks yummy in the store, and then it ends up going bad at home.
  11. We have an A4 white board and marker next to the fridge.  As soon as something is approaching finishing, we write it on the list. This is the only shopping list (other than the one menu planning weekend).  We stick by this list very strictly.  No deviations allowed.
  12. HB and Hubby get lunch at work and school, so I am the only one needing lunch everyday…I tend to eat leftovers.  HB’s snack box is standard and stays mostly the same: Yoghurt, biltong, cheese, crackers,fruit, sandwich..and it varies only slightly.  We buy all the snack stuff monthly as well. (Not yoghurt, and I do homemade yoghurt for myself)
  13. Breakfasts are also very standard in our house…oats or bread.  And then pancakes or eggs, etc over weekends.
  14. We make our own burger patties, meatballs and planning sausages as well.  We are not super healthy earth types, but it just tastes better when we make our own.  A burger and chips is a good substitute for when the take away craving hits.
  15. Like mentioned above, the biggest thing to reduce the grocery budget is the menu planning.  It so easily becomes a part of your life, that there is no other way.
  16. On a weekend, we will cook something that has starch in it…like a breyani or curry that include potatoes or something like that.
  17. DO not be afraid of leftovers, they are your friend.
  18. We have a deep freezer, so we are able to freeze ready made meals and buy meat ahead.
  19. You also have to make a hard decision, that you just cannot have some things.  Yes we can buy it, but it is not in the budget.  If we spend it all, there will be no money saved and nothing extra to the home loan.
This can only work if the whole family is committed to it.  You have to work at it together and make sure everyone is happy.  No one wants to feel like they cannot move an inch…so you need a tad bit of float in that budget to be human.

And again we see the teacher.

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This morning we had another meeting with the class teacher to discuss HB.  This time it seems he had an episode of note, that I even had a call from the school principal about it.  I am not sure what else we are supposed to do.  He is seeing a speech therapist, he is seeing the psychologist, and we never have these incidents at home.

I was frank with the teacher, that we do not experience these things at home, so I am not sure what to do.   We cannot punish or guide behavior we are not experiencing ourselves.  The same of the classwork…at home he can read and write and count, but apparently he does not do it in class.  In class he does not want to do the work and sometimes out right refuses to do anything.
I am not making it up.  We have all the workbooks  and worksheets and counting tiles and flashcards…we sit every evening after dinner and go through the things they need to know.  I make up word problems, write up the maths problems and he does it all, without resistance, and he knows what he is doing, so why is this not working in class?  I feel like it is almost futile.  This is not a naughty child.  He is not worse than any other child I know.  I just don’t know what to do anymore.
I do not want him to come home and have to face punishment because he did not do his work at school. I do not want him to feel that all we do is punish.  I wish there was some way to find out what is going on in his head. There must be some reason that he is doing the things that he is doing.  What is going on in class that he refuses to co-operate, when I know he knows the work.  I  know he can count because I have sat and listened to him count to 120, without any problems…and the teacher tells me he cannot count.  He can count backwards from 10, he can count in twos up to 20.  He can recognise all the phonics and he can read three and four letter words.  He can read a three word sentence.  I can tell him a word problems and he can give me the correct answer. He can do a 100 piece puzzle and he has done five different puzzles in the last two months, but at school he cannot do a 48 piece puzzle.
I can tell him a word or show him a picture and he can spell it out for me.  He writes and cuts and colours and sticks and all this means ZILCH….because for whatever reason he cannot do it in class.  Cannot, will not, I don’t know.
I want to beat me chest and stamp my feet and pull out my hair and cry.  He is not yet six years old and will only be six half way through September.  He is my baby and will someone just give him a chance, PLEASE.

Playdates…what to do.

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I am a bit of a helicopter mother, I know.  So this is tough for me. This morning one of the Mom’s asked if HB could come over for a playdate next Friday.  She said she would take him home from school to her place and I can fetch him from their house.

I said, sounds fine, we can talk about it and work out the details.  And then I rushed off to my car to get to work.  I do not have time at drop offs for chats.  We exchanged phone numbers a while ago and I know her for about two years now…but only as a school gate Mom.
We have met both parents…but HB has never been on a playdate without me.  OK we only do playdates with my friend and  we visit while the kids visit. And even with her, I have never left him alone, but I would not think l twice about letting him go with her, because we share the same parenting styles and I trust her and the hubby fully.
So I am feeling a little anxious about letting him go home with someone else.
We know there are crazies out there.  However, I am also afraid of being too protective and stunting HB’s social life. The  parents seem fine.  I know she asked without it crossing her mind, assuming I was fine with it.  They are not South African, and perhaps do not have the same frame of reference of crazies that we have.
Also, HB does need to socialise more so this is good….but…
I do have a full day job, so I cannot be there to take HB to the playdate as it is too early for me.
What would you do?  Say no to the playdate, because after work is too late for the kids to be on a playdate? And I am not available at two to take HB to the playdate.
Say yes, and trust her because the family of four seem perfectly normal and sane?
Is almost 6 old enough?

The weekend.

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This weekend was lovely.  It was busy busy busy on Saturday morning….getting cars serviced, library stops, shopping and all the admin of our lives. But it was fine.  We were together.

Also on the cards was getting a new set of worksheets done for HB.  Lol, the guy at the printing store even asked if I was a teacher.  I am determined to help my child if I can.
I have been working on being gentle with my baby, because he is my baby. The worksheets are great, because for the days I do not have the patience to be nice, he can quietly do a worksheet. The nice thing is that they are like games, not worksheets.
Sunday we enjoyed a lazy lunch/afternoon at one of local dams.  The picnic was lovely, and we really had to drag HB home. He is such a nature child.  He loves being outside and it is a pity we do not do it more often.
Honeybear loves the library and I still need to get him to understand that there is a limit on the number of books we are allowed to take out.  I am so happy he loves the library as much as I do.  I have, unfortunately, finished my two library books over the weekend.
Honeybear needs more confidence.  I am trying to help him.  He often will not try something because he is too afraid to get it wrong.  Telling him is OK to make mistakes does not work.  I try to push him a little so he can see that he can do it too.
I get him to read words after we have a read a book.  This way he can see that he can do it too.  I have also taken to leaving him alone with his work, so that he has to try it alone. It feels like that whole “let your child cry it out” sleep training. I tried the cry it out once, Hubby and I were so traumatised, we never tried it again. We try to let HB lead the way.  I tell myself it is a development thing, just like learning to walk.  You can help and guide, but you cannot force.
He is back in his own room again.  For how long, I do not know.  He keeps ending up back in our bed, and to be honest, I prefer him in our bed.  I worry less.  Hubby has accepted that I will walk between our rooms during the night, because I am nuts like that.
Honeybear is getting better with the reading thing…whether this is translating to the classroom, I try not to worry about.  We have already made that decision to let the process of the psychologist take its course and time. I am concerned with keeping my child nurtured.
Telkom is driving me nuts, but they it periodically, so nothing new there. Overcharges on our account, I am not prepared to pay.  Apparently I signed up for a new contract…they must produce this contract, because I certainly have not.
Back to work.

Live nice.

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Yesterday I had a huge Mummy fail.  I still feel so bad about it.  I know we all do it and I will do it again….

I have been emotional about everything.  I don’t know why.  Perhaps it is starting the pill after having a break for a month or I am going nuts or ….whatever, but I have been all over the place.  Yesterday I was feeling a little frazzled and figured a good 45 minutes exercise would help.  So this was the plan in my mind.
However, when I fetched HB from school he was wet. I asked him what happened and he said that he went to the toilet and he wet his pants because he could not get them off fast enough.  So I explained this was fine, but he needs to tell his teacher and I showed him the spare clothes in his bag.  I told him these things happen but number one is perhaps go to the toilet before he gets desperate and then if he gets wet, there are spare clothes in his bag, and he can ask his teacher for help to change.  Pretoria is freezing cold at the moment and wet jeans cannot be good.
He has only wet himself once before and that was also the same situation, where he waited too long to go to the toilet.
By the time we get home, I had to wash and change him immediately because it is freezing cold.  So no time for either one of us to have a break, like we usually do.  We usually take 20 minutes for ourselves before we need to do anything, when we get home.  HB also gets a snack to get him to dinner time.
I was tired, he was tired, and I just ranted at the poor child.  I did not shout, but I ranted at him enough to make him cry.  It was horrible.  I was a horrible mother who just made her little child cry because things were going on that had nothing to do with him, but he happened to be there.  I am the adult…and adults should know better.  Adults do not do that to children.  Adults do not make children cry over stupid stuff.  Wetting your pants when you are not even six years old is stupid stuff.  You grow out of it.  What set the rant off was when I found he had not cleaned up properly after going to the toilet because he was in too much of a hurry to get back to play.  He is a child and kids do this.  Not adults and adults should not lose control like that. Yes I did not shout or smack but I did make him feel bad enough that he cried.  And toilet accidents is a definite thing you do not make kids feel bad about.  I know this, but I did it anyway.
Yes we made up and cuddled and got over it because he is a sweet child and forgives me.  I explained mama did a bad thing today and we do not do that to each other.
I have made excuses for myself, but still, we do not do that.
I spent a good part of the evening crying and feeling like a failure.  I still feel like a failed mother. I know I am good most of the time, but it is episodes like yesterday that stick in the mind and you realise that when the times get tough, you fall apart.
Learn from me ladies, we have to be nice to our children, not just take care of them.  We have to be nice to these precious little bodies, because being nice and good to them is more important than packing the correct lunch box or educational crafts or pretty clothes.
Being nice and living nice and good will ensure that when you are the end of your string, there will be reserve string waiting to help you get by.