Thursday, February 26, 2009

Please say a Little Prayer for Dino

We are once again having issues with Dino's special ed pre-school. I am not ready to get into everything right now. We are going to take him to a university to test for anxiety issues both Mike and I feel he have. The school does not believe a preschooler can have anxiety and is still insisting he as an issue with his brain. They want to see his medical records with his MRI (the one the neurologist said was completely normal).

Please pray for guidance in determining treatment for Dino. I will post more later next week when I am not so emotional.

Thank you :)

Thrifty Thursday--The First Edition (Let's Talk Responsibility!)

Welcome to my very first Thrifty Thursday! It is time to reclaim our economic future and feel good about where we are going. I really hope we can share great ways to save money in the next coming weeks.

But let's be honest. All the best spending tips and amazing coupons in the world won't help our budget if we are not responsible.

The bible states all we have is given on loan by God. Are we using our finances in the best possible way? Are we taking the steps to protect our family's well-being and future? And most important how can we be more 'responsible' for our income?

My personal tip for the week is actually very simple. Tracking down every expense. Yes, getting a notebook and recording every single purchase/check/auto-pay. The idea for this comes from a man who started out pretty dang poor named John D. Rockefeller. Starting at a very young age, Rockefeller carried a little notebook with him everywhere he went and recorded every single purchase, no matter how small or large. He called it "Ledger A".

So my tip for everyone today is create your own "Ledger A". It can be on digital on your phone or on paper. Just make sure it is easy to take everywhere with you and permanent (so no, writing on your hand is not a good idea).

The beauty of "Ledger A" is discovered after a month or so. You can add up those little expenses and see just how little they really are (Starbucks fans--that includes you). "Ledger A" can also help create a more accurate budget for your family too. 

Oh and that poor little boy John who had a "Ledger A" grew up to be one of the richest men in history. Maybe "Ledger A" can help you reach your financial dreams too!

Now it's your turn. What keeps you responsible? Please leave a comment and a link to your blog if you plan to post on it. I am embarrassed to admit I cannot figure out Mister Linky without getting one of the plans and I would rather not do that. If anyone has a minute to help me on this, I'd appreciate ;)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Taxpayer's Clearing House

This video made me laugh and cry all at once.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Very First Menu Monday

I am jumping on the bandwagon and joining the many, many bloggers who share their weekly meal plan.

As I mentioned before, I am big on meal plans. Meal plans keep you from driving to the nearest take out spot and spending way too much money on not so good for you food. Now of course things happen and there are those times when you need to get the take-out but for the most part a meal plan will keep your kitchen organized.

I like to stick to at least one meatless meal, one vegan meal, one carb free meal, one easy grab meal and one pasta meal. In the perfect world, I would have nights for this (Meatless Monday, Fish Friday, etc.) but even I am not that 'together' ;)

I also like to take items from other nights and add them to other nights--like a whole chicken roast one night followed by chicken noodle soup a few nights later.

Anyway, before I bore you to pieces (sorry if I have already!), let me just show you what the very busy household is eating this week:

Monday: Homemade Pizza topped with grilled veggies and tossed salad

Tuesday: Lamb Stew (veggies in stew so a one-pot wonder!)

Wednesday: Wild Salmon sauteed with Kale 

Thursday: Tuscan Bean Soup (this is from an incredible soup base I use for a variety of soups--I will share the recipe next week in Thrifty Thursday) (includes leafy greens so another one-pot wonder!)

Friday:  Chicken Parmigiana with pasta and broccolinni  (sauce left-over from pizza night)

Saturday: Build your Own Sandwich Night on the panini press (I have a GNO so I will not cook!)

Sunday: Leftover lamb stew meat in pitas and small salad

**If you would like any of this recipes, please feel free to email me at

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Making the World A Little Bit Better

Remember when I said I wanted my blog to make a difference. That's kind of fallen by the wayside--illness, ice storms...the best intentions of mice and men.

Anyway since then, things have been happening in our world. Not good things either. Really scary words are being uttered--job loss, inflation, recession, depression, nuclear arms in the Middle East, nuclear arms in Korea, and more. It is enough to make you want to bury your head under the covers and hope it all goes away. At least we've felt this way here.

So I have been trying to bring more and more troubles to God. I've been praying. I've been reminding myself and my husband God is bigger , so much bigger than any of this. There is nothing He cannot control. 

I have been praying for peace and recently I got some in the way of a blog post. My dear sweet blogger friend Amanda had a post about Paying it Forward. She was offering a little 'love gift' for her first three commenters if you made sure you did the same. Surprise--I won! (Thanks Amanda!) It made me think about the whole concept. About doing something and helping others. It brought me back to that post so long ago when I mentioned I wanted to help. And just like that I found peace.

I have found exactly what I want to do. I want to help others and encourage others to do the same. Because the economy is the most pressing item in everyone's mind, I'd like to start a new tradition here at Very Busy Mom with 4--a way to help and bring encouragement once a week. I am going to call it "Thrifty Thursday". Each Thursday I will focus on a way to stay fiscally strong and wise in these difficult times. I will have a different topic each week along with a Mr.Linky so we can all share our ideas. This week, our theme is 'responsibility'. Specifically--how to be responsible with the money you have now.

I am really excited and I hope you will join me this Thursday!

Now back to "Pay It Forward"! The first three people to comment on this post will receive a special package full of Lone Star Love sometime this year. The winners in turn will need to post their own "pay it forward" for their readers and then they will post and the general loving project will grow and grow!

So come on, I plan on sending very unique-to-Texas food items to my first three (and y'all know we have GOOD stuff down here!)!

Thank you so much for being a reader and I pray Thrifty Thursday will be a positive influence in your life!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

One of the Best Parts of Homeschool

It was a warm, sunny day. A really sunny day.

"Hey mommy--it is too sunny to sit in the house or even in the car!"

Spanky was right. So this mommy took a brief a stop from the very busy homeschooling day and surprised her four children with lunch al fresco. At a place that the healthy mommy almost never ever took the four children. This was the starter.

Note the lovely sliced jalepenos. Cheddar fries just aren't the same without 'em.

And so it was the perfect break from equations, chreias and spelling. And something I can do because I homeschool. It makes up for all those crazy, insane, about-to-bang-my-head-against-the-wall-because-the-kids-are-driving-me-crazy moments; not like we have many :)

Oh did I mention bacon bits came with the cheddar fries? Another must.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

WW-Someone loves my 1 lb Bulk Chocolate as Much as Me

(Yes, the photo is messed up but I think the smile makes up for the glare!)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

Life has not been 'normal' here since Thanksgiving.

We had Christmas, MLK weekend, ice storms, festivals and viruses. All one after the other. Our last 'normal' schedule was in November.

Until this week. This week it looks like everything will be back to normal with school, mom's day out and lessons. I am thrilled.

I am going to cherish this week for all its worth. Because next week includes another day off with parent teacher conferences. Followed quickly by spring break. End of year parties, festivals and papers. Then summer.

But as for this week. This week is my normal, the normal I almost never see.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Toddlers and Potties

Thursday was a fun, exciting day for this mommy and her children. Because of the sudden warm sunny days and children who grow like weeds, it was time for clothes shopping.

I took all four children to our outdoor shopping area right after school. Shopping for four (two of which are very picky girls) takes time and I did not want to waste a minute. They had snacks and drinks in the car to save time too.

Our first step was an all-girls store. 75 minutes and 8 outfits later, we were onto out next step. A fancier clothing store. Empty and pricey. But the clerk (like the clerks at the girls' store) were beyond sweet and understanding. Running from the back to the front, searching for the right size and the shirt Dino just had to have in his size. They were great. Sadly, nothing he liked was in his size.

And so we went to the next stop. Another empty store but this time both clerks stood behind the counter chatting away and did not want to bothered with a frazzled mother and her four children.

I proceeded to view the boys' clothing with Dino and wondered aloud if any of the orange shirts were in a size 4T? The conversation between the two clerks continued. Obviously it was an important conversation--much more important than the only customer in their store for the past ten minutes. Actually not a single customer came into the store for our entire visit.

I continued picking up some shirts and shorts and then looked down to see Dino do the infamous potty dance. I knew I had a very short window to find facilities for my son. I had to act fast.

With a smile on my face, I came up to the counter and asked if my son could use the restroom.

"There are restrooms at the book store at the opposite end of the shopping center," the clerk with short red hair did not smile and met my face with a glare.

"Oh please," I smiled. "He doesn't have great control and there is no way we can get there in time. He'll pee before we get there."

Not smiling, she said "We don't have restrooms here. None at all. You need to go to the book store."

"Ma'm, "I tried to remain pleasant. "I have worked in retail. I know you have a restroom in the store."

And it is true. I worked in a children's store and we had an employee restroom that we allowed our smallest customers to use because small children have very small impatient bladders. Since having my children, my kids have seen restrooms at Baby Gap, Gap Kids, Hanna Andersson, CrewCuts, Limited Too, Children's Placce among smaller kiddie boutiques. And never has a clerk ever said 'No' because they understand kids (good thing as they are kids' clothing stores).

"We don't have a PUBLIC restroom."

"But you do have a restroom."

She said nothing. If she said, yes we do but it is dangerous and things are a mess, I would seriously understand. Heck, if she had at least greeted us when we walked in the store or asked if we needed help, I might be a little understanding.

As it was, she was being nothing but unhelpful. So I got angry.

"OK. Let's hope for your sake, my son doesn't need to go because I would like to pick out some clothes without having to walk back and forth to the other end of the shopping center."

No response.

"Soooo (and this is my really mean side) if he can't wait, he's just going to end up having an accident and peeing on your floor."

"No," she reached over and snatched the clothing I was about to buy out of my hands. "We will hold these for you. You will take your children to the book store and then you can come back and buy your clothes." Yes, she was loud and no she was not smiling.

At this point I saw red. At this point I no longer was calm, cool and a lady. I became the very angry,  ignored, frustrated customer.

"No, I'm just going to let him pee on the floor, OK?"

She began to raise her voice louder, "You are rude. You are going to have him pee on our floor."

Now I realize I am dealing with a moron. No mom would ever tell her child to pee on a floor. She was heartless or had little experience with children and moms.

"OK," I try to be peaceful. "I think you are not understanding how it is for kids. Do you have kids?"

Looking at me straight in the face, still no smile,"Yes, yes I have a child."

And what do you say to a mother who treats another mother in desperate need like this?


I took the kids and we ran like crazy, dodging cars and shoppers to the book store. And Dino just made it :)

And for the first time in my life, I called the corporate store with my story and I emailed the corporation with my story. I am that angry. 

And I will never return to this store again. Their corporate office knows this very well now. Crewcuts, Hanna Andersson, GapKids, Children's Place and Limited Too is much better stuff anyway.

FYI for the executives at the store where the incidence occurred: After our potty break, we went to Children's Place for Dino's clothes and spent $134.00 Money your store just might have made if the clerk was human.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Time for Another Verybusymomwith4 Lecture-The Manners Edition

We went to a wedding last weekend. It was a beautiful wedding, beautiful bride, handsome groom, lovely flowers, well behaved children. 

Yes, you read that right. Well behaved children. The bride did something my friends and I never did. She invited children, all four of mine as a matter of fact. (In hindsight, I command her on doing the right thing, children make a wedding fun! Remember that, single readers.)

Mike was stuck at work so I decided I would take the four kids to the ceremony alone and meet him at the reception. It was in downtown so I tried to leave to be there at least 15 minutes before the start of the wedding.

"Why do we need to get there earlier?" Miley asked as fastened the buttons to last year's too small Easter dress (there was no time to shop due to illness).

"Because it would be very rude to walk in right before the bridal party and we might run into the bride and no one should see her until she walks down the aisle," I smiled straightening her back bow.

Miley's eyes widened at the word, rude. Her fascination with manners is growing rather large for a ten year old. And suddenly Miley was in the biggest hurry of everyone as she raced about the house getting the boys' jackets and helping to shine their shoes. She muttered to all her siblings, 'we cannot be late'.

On the way there, Miley, in between comments about time, reminded me to turn off my cell phone before we walked in the church because nothing is more rude than a cell phone going off during a wedding.

We got the church (time to spare thank you very much) and waited in the hall for an usher. The poor usher looked shock as he saw a lone mommy with 4 small children.

"Groom's side. As close to the back as possible, "I whispered and offered my arm.

Oddly, he just walked in front and Miley's mouth dropped open.

"Mommy, he didn't take your arm. That is so rude!"

I gave Miley a quick be quiet glance and we sat, in the far back.

All of my children stood up for the bride and then in the midst of the trumpet solo of the Trumpet Fanfare, "dontcha wish ya girlfriend was hot like me, dontcha wish ya girlfriend was hot like me'. 

Yep. A cell phone. Two rows in front of us. Miley turned and shot the offending party an icy glare. The lady smiled and turned off the phone. Miley continued to glare. I guided her face to look up to the alter. 

The wedding went perfect.

But as we walked out to the car, Miley continued to harp about the cell phone.

"What was she thinking? How could she not know? Why didn't anyone say anything?"

"Miley, "I began gearing up for the lecture. "Do you know why we have manners?"

"Yes. To do the right thing."

"Right, but the reason  we do the right thing is to make everyone comfortable. Manners are kind of guide book for how we treat each other in society. It helps us know how to act when we are in social settings and it makes everyone at ease. Manners are to make everyone happy and feel welcomed."

"So why did she have her cell phone on?"

"True. That was not polite but the most rude thing you can ever do is point out a person's lack of manners in public because that does not make anyone comfortable. Do you think it would have made the situation better or worse if someone told her off?"


"And manners are not a competition. You don't run around talking about how well versed you are in etiquette and social grace. That's tackier than a cell phone going off at a wedding in my opinion."

"I don't brag, " she paused. "So you don't correct manners in public?"

"No. If you are close to the person like her  friend, you pull her  aside at an appropriate time and suggest an alternative behavior. And if you are the person's mom, you can be more blunt."

"Like you."

"Yes, like me."

She nodded and we got in the car. And I was really proud of how well my kids did in the 50 minute service. Well, except for during the vows when I looked down and saw Spanky flossing his teeth with the floss he got out of my purse. 

That wasn't appropriate.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Looking At the Bright Side--The House of Sick Edition

It started with Sarah. She was sick. And not just a little sick. The poor thing had a fever for three days. Then a few days later, Dino got a fever and cough. 

Sarah got better and I woke up achy and with a fever. Now usually I hop in a tub and rest but not on this day. It was Sarah's festival and school and I was helping to run it. I had to be there. Mike stayed home with Dino and I took Sarah to her festival. I made sure to keep my hands washed and kept a distance from everyone there. It turned out at least half the moms there felt like I did.

I came home and  crashed, watching Noggin with Dino and Spanky, hoping I could get the girls from school soon because to be honest I needed Miley. I will admit when I am sick, I tend to rely on my oldest to help with basic chores like fixing a simple meal (peanut butter and jelly), changing a diaper and emptying a dishwasher. She is a lifesaver when I am sick.

So I go to pick up the girls and notice Miley is wearing her coat in the 74 degree sun. Uh-oh. She gets the car and tells me her head is burning but she is shaking all over but didn't want to leave school because she wanted to give her family tree speech. Now usually I would give a lecture on how she needed to get home if she felt sick but seeing as I did the very same thing that morning, I said nothing.

I brought the girls home, brought in the sleeping boys (they usually fall asleep in car line) and inspected Miley. She was in worse shape then me. Sarah got out big blankets and we all slept on the couch for a few hours.

The next morning was when the real fun began. Dino wanted hot tea for his throat. Sarah wanted sausage, Spanky wanted juice and both Miley and I wanted to stay in bed all day. Seriously the thought of standing up for more than 20 seconds was out of the question. Both Miley and I were dizzy, shaky, a regular mess. 

Mike did what he could to help but had appointments all day. He promised to stop in Whole Foods for some soup and was off. And then  the 8 year old and the toddler had the run of the home. 

I will admit I was impressed Spanky knew to get a bowl and pour cereal in the bowl, even if some did get on the floor. I was thrilled little Sarah was able to fix some peanut butter toast and honey. And I have a great love of Verizon thanks to on demand pay movies. Honestly, purchasing a new movie right away from home is the coolest thing ever and a way to keep the kids near me.

At the end of the day, Mike came home to what looked like a nuclear fall-out. Boxes of raisons littered the floor, granola crunched under every step one took, banana peels seemed to be everywhere but the trash. But we were OK. We survived.

On Saturday, Miley was fully recovered. I felt somewhat better and Dino no longer had fever. We pulled ourselves together for a wedding. (Post coming on this later :) ) We danced, laughed and lived again, without coughs or stuffed noses.

We came home and picked up Spanky to change him out of his suit. He was warm. I was up all night with Spanky. Perfect way to end this house of sick with a explanation point.

Oh but the bright side. Not only did we survive and learn we can work together no matter what obstacles are thrown in our face, the dress I wore to wedding was lose. It's a smaller size and it was lose. Seems the nasty virus diet of living off nothing but soup and tea helped me get rid of those pesky holiday pounds. Superficial? Yeah, it is. But after my week and even last night with Spanky, I'm going to look for anything to celebrate.

Wishing you a very healthy day! (Eat that vitamin C!)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Must get sleep

Whoever said if you have three kids, you may as well four because there's no difference, clearly only had three children.

I love all four of my children and would not trade my life for the world;  but kids,  is too hard to ask to try and plan illnesses, festivals, parties and friendship drama on my planner so that I can have a break every once in a while and be occasionally prepared. 

Your mommy is worn out.

I am praying that tonight is the night I get to sleep more than four hours in a row. It's not too much to ask, is it?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Veggies When Out of Sight are Out of Mind (and rotting)

Now that everyone is making detailed meal menus, complete shopping lists and coming home to the organized kitchen, it's time for a new tip. Putting Away the Groceries.

Yes, putting away the groceries.  I know you all have areas clearly labeled and marked for the different items so what else is there to do? Is there a certain hand to use? Make sure you unload the cold first? No (but seriously, put up the eggs and chicken!), I'd like to show you a way to get your kids to eat their veggies simply by putting away the groceries my way.

When you get home, fill up your sink with water. Now add the apples, grapes, oranges (because when you slice into that orange, you are adding whatever was on the skin into the fruit), berries or any other ready to eat fruit. Place paper towels by the sink. While unloading cold items (except ready to eat veggies), let the fruit sit in the water and then clean off all the fruit with a damp paper towel. Let dry.

Drain sink, clean off and add new water. Now take the veggies you can eat plain like celery, carrots, cucumber and peppers. Give them a quick dunk and then slice off the parts you can't eat (bonus idea--save these scraps in a plastic bag for a veggie stock base). Do not cut them into bite pieces, yet. Place veggies back in sink. Unload the rest of the groceries.

Take out veggies, giving a quick check to make sure all is clean. Chop the veggies into ready eat size (ie cucumber slices, pepper slices). Make sure they are dry and place in labeled baggies or clear containers with the date (do not forget the date, please). Place the containers/bags at kiddo eye level in the refrigerator--usually the first shelf.

Now for the fruits that should be nice and dry at this point. If you have a produce drawer, clear it out and place paper towels (or even newspaper--the ink is safe on food) on the bottom. Label the drawer, 'washed' and place the fruit inside. 

And you are done. 

When the kids get home from school or are hungry, direct them to the ready to eat fruit and veggies. You won't have to get off the computer to wash or cut anything!

The added bonus here is that the produce is right in eye sight and not hidden behind a bunch of other items. it will be eaten and not turn into some crazy scientist experiment.