BAM Family

BAM Family

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Meng Menu


Saturday: Grilled Chicken, baked beans, salad
Sunday: Sandwiches, fruit, chips
Monday: Sloppy Joes, baked French fries, jello salad
Tuesday: BLTs, chips, carrot sticks and broccoli w/ ranch
Wednesday: Chicken stirfry with rice
Thursday: Grilled pork roast, roasted red potatoes, green beans w/ garlic butter
Friday: BBQ pork sandwiches, baked French fries, corn

My grocery shopping budget was under control this week. I spent $117--$8 under our $125 budget! YEA! And I saved over $30 with Kroger plus card savings and a few coupons. 

A friend posted on FB about whether the money I spend is all on food. About 90% of it is. I do all my shopping at Kroger (mostly). I occasionally go to the Dollar Store or Walmart for other things, but pretty rarely. I usually only go shopping once a week so I try to get everything I need--food, soaps, paper goods, etc--in one fell swoop. So, that $125 usually encompasses things like plastic wrap, foil, toilet paper, paper towels, pull-ups, laundry detergent etc. Of course, I don't buy these things every week. Last week I bought paper towels and foil. This week I bought dishwasher soap. Occasionally I go over budget when we run out of the big items all at once but I really try not too. 

I am always curious whether $125 is greater, lesser, or average to most families of our size. We rarely eat out (once a week, usually after Aaron's softball game, if at all. Aaron eats lunch from home every work day) and we hardly ever get snacks out (coffee, soft drinks, ice cream, etc) so I have to think about 21 meals for 4 people plus usually 2 snacks a day for the little people in the house. Whew! That is a lot of food! So, for me, $125 is pretty good. 

This week for lunches I bought sliced turkey lunch meat and a few cans of tuna. I already had cheese and PBJ stuff at home. I like leftovers for lunch. 

For a few special breakfasts, I bought a tube of cinnamon rolls and a packaged mix of blueberry muffins. I also got ingredients to make banana chocolate chip muffins, which will be good for breakfast or snacks. I bought a ton of cereal last week (Kroger had a great sale) and our usual eggs. Toast, yogurt and fruit are also part of the breakfast menu.

What are you planning this week? How do you save money and keep on a budget? Is a $125 budget a lot for your family or a number that you aspire to stay under? 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Job Chart for 3 year olds

I have been wanting to try a job chart with the boys for a while and I *think* they are finally ready. There are tons of free printable job charts online. I googled a little half-heartedly and didn't find anything I really liked (why do you have to "like" something on Facebook just to get a free printable? Oh, advertising...). I decided to make my own.
 These are my mad Excel skills at work (ha!). I basically drew lines to make boxes in Excel and then typed the boys' names at the top. Then PRINT!
Then my mad drawing skills came into play. This is where the online printable were not cutting it for me. A lot of them had prescribed jobs already written down; but I have specific jobs that I want the boys to work on.
From top to bottom:
Set table for dinner
Put dishes in the sink
Put dirty clothes in the laundry basket
Help Mommy Sweep (this is a brand new thing...we'll see if it works)
Brush teeth
Put toys away

Each time they do a chore, they get a small sticker to put in the box. There are seven boxes after the chore picture so, in theory, if they do them every day we can fill up the chart and get a treat in one week.
And the treat of choice is a trip to SWEET  FROG (our local frozen yogurt shop). The boys LOVE Sweet Frog and are pretty excited at the idea of filling up their charts so we can get some "ice cream" (though understanding this concept took several explanations).

Some of my reasoning is a little flawed on this chart. The boys take their dishes to the sink several times a day so there is the potential to fill up these boxes very quickly. Conversely, I don't sweep every day (though I probably should...hmm) so it might be more difficult to fill these squares up. I guess it's all about being flexible with the goal being, of course, to teach the boys responsibility and how to clean up after themselves.

What do you do to help motivate your children toward greater responsibility?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Meng Menu

Sunday: Chicken quesadillas, Tortilla Chips and homemade salsa (salsa didn't turn out so well...I'm going to keep trying when some more of our tomatoes get ripe)

Monday: Hot dogs, Cheetos, Carrot sticks

Tuesday: Broccoli Cheese Soup, Herb and cheese biscuits (Aaron thinks it's too hot for soup but I was trying to be really frugal this week...so we'll see...)

Wednesday: Spinach cheese roll ups, Homemade French bread (I've been making this a lot. It is such a cheap and filling side and I love it left over too. French toast anyone?)

Thursday: Pan Seared chicken, Roasted Red potatoes, Green beans

Friday: Breakfast Bake (1/2 pound sausage), Toast (French bread), Apple Sauce

Saturday: Lasanga (1/2 pound sausage), Salad

So, before I went to the grocery store I was all pumped up that this was going to be a low grocery bill week. Sometimes it just doesn't seem to work out that way. A few extra things (splurges or forgotten essentials) made their way into the cart and my bill ended up OVER budget by $5. I did have to buy laundry detergent and drier sheets (I actually bought stuff to make homemade detergent....will post about this later...wow, I feel crunchy... :P) so that was included in my final tally. Still I felt so depressed when I went home. Seems silly that such a little thing can get me so down but I really try to keep our grocery bill low, especially this summer as we still have a few more months till I get a paycheck. Sigh. 

Better luck, planning, and food aisle self control next week. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Family Fun: Putt-putt and MORE!

It's Saturday! That means Family Fun day for the Mengs! This summer we have been trying to do a fun activity with the boys every Saturday morning. Last week we went canoeing for the first time and then went to Arby's for lunch. Sadly, I didn't take my camera with me. After being chastised by my sister, Chelsea, for "not taking enough pictures!!!" I duly took the camera with us today--I am so glad I did! We had a wonderful time and here are the pictures to prove it. 
 The boys love to play putt-putt and even had their ball colors picked out before we got there. 
Micah = green. Benji = Blue
(My favorite part of this video is when Micah says "Good job, Benj!" Love their encouragement of each other!)
Putt-putt is hilarious when you have three year olds. They love to whack the ball as hard as they can... 
 ...and then they run up to the ball, pick it up and put it right next to the hole and "tap it" in! HOLE! Actually Micah got a hole in one with one of his putts. :)
 Love my Meng men
 After putt-putt we rode the go-carts! WOOT! It was blazing hot (100 degrees at 11am)
 It was a perfect day to try out the bumper boats! We rode around, slammed into each other, and squirted water at each other and everyone else who was trying to cool off on this July morning.
Benji drove the boat with me (in fact, he kept saying "Let me do it!" The kid is itching to be 16 already!) We had such a fun morning but were really glad to get back into the AC (the slushies we got at DQ helped cool us off on the way home too). 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Brotherly love (?)

....or hate, I should say.

The majority of the time the boys are best buds. The love to be together, laugh together, play together and wrestle together. There are certain things, however, that really get on each others' nerves and then all violence breaks loose!

I am not sure what happened this  morning (I was in our office doing some printing) but all of a sudden I heard the TERRIBLE CRY. Every mother knows that cry. It means your child is really hurt and need mommy NOW! I ran to the living room and Micah was clutching his back saying over and over "He bit me!" Benji confirmed that a yes, he did bite. I was horrified when I looked at his back--not bleeding or anything but a nasty looking bite! I am not even sure how the bite was provoked, if at all! Benji spent some quality time crying in his room while I hugged Micah.

Rest of the morning = twin love and friendship

While I was making lunch I hear the TERRIBLE CRY again, this time from Benji! Just a moment before, both boys had been singing the Veggie Tales theme song at the top of their lungs. Apparently, Benji had been singing too loud and to solve that problem, Micah threw a plastic hanger at Benji's head. Benji's singing frequently annoys Micah but the hanger throwing was a first. Hopefully we won't have a repeat of that reaction.

And hopefully there will be more love and less TERRIBLE CRYing this afternoon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

BAM Diaper Cover: An Experiment

I wish you all could see this diaper cover in person--it is seriously the cutest thing I have made in, well, maybe ever! It is so tiny!  
Here is a comparison between this little cover, to fit a newborn up to 10 lbs (maybe?) next to a 20-30 lb AIO diaper

The reason I wanted to experiment with making a cover is that I recommend covers to people. All-in-one diapers can be expensive (even mine, though at $16 they are at the bottom of the price range as far as All-in-one diapers go). Lots of families (including mine, when my boys were under 15 lbs) can't afford to buy AIOs when their babies are little. 
 Enter the diaper cover! A diaper cover is a waterproof shell that you use with an absorbent inner diaper of your choice. This is a prefold diaper folded in thirds (this is the system I used when my boys were tiny). A fitted diaper could also be used (a fitted looks like a regular AIO but without a waterproof layer)
 The BAM cover is made out of two layers of durable waterproof PUL for extra protection. The shiny inside layer wipes clean--if the prefold is only wet, the cover can be wiped dry and a new prefold can be used. See the genius of the cover? you only need a 3-4 covers per dozen diapers (such as prefolds or fitteds, which are much more economical than AIOs)
 The BAM cover has laundry tabs, just like BAM AIO, so that there will be no snags in the washer or dryer
 Here is the real clincher on how tiny this thing is--my model is my American Girl doll! Good ol' Molly!  Like I said, this cover was an experiment and would only fit a tiny newborn. I would normally sew on a strip of loop so that the tabs can double over but what baby would ever be that skinny? (ok, maybe a preemie, like my own kiddos...but any full term babe wouldn't need the double over tab)
 Like the BAM All-in-one, the cover has gusseted leg and back elastic that rolls in to keep  wetness and messes inside
The BAM Cover
(Thanks for modeling, Molly!)

I often encourage pregnant moms who are looking into cloth diapers for their babies to go with covers and prefold diapers at first or use a combination of prefolds/covers + AIOs.

Here is a breakdown of cost:
1 Dozen Chinese Prefolds (one of the best brands) = ~$24
4  BAM covers = $32 ($8 each)
Total = $56

I used a cover and prefold system when my kiddos were little because we were going through dozens of diapers a day. All-in-ones just weren't practical or affordable at this stage. When my boys got a little older and were going through fewer changes a day, we switched to a combination of prefold/covers and AIOs. 

Now, back to the "experiment" of this cover--I have never used this type of cover before (unlike the AIOs which I used on my own kids) so I don't know how it works or if it needs improvement. If you or someone you know would like to be a tester for me, I will make you one cover for FREE in your choice of size in exchange for an honest review of the diaper cover as well as improvements that could be made.

Interested? Email me: bmeng@liberty.edu

UPDATE: (Tuesday July 18 2011)
I currently have 5 testers! Thank you so much for your willingness to try out the BAM cover! I will blog about the reviews in a few weeks to let everyone know how the new cover works. 

Meng Menu

Sunday: Chicken Fajitas (with a pepper from our garden!)
Monday: Grilled Country Style pork ribs, baked beans, garden salad w/ homemade Ranch dressing
Tuesday: Bacon, eggs, biscuits, fruit
Wednesday: Pork chops, rice, green beans
Thursday:  Italian Chicken and Pasta, French bread (didn't have this last week)
Friday: Sloppy Joe's, oven fries, carrot sticks
Saturday: Who knows? I am out of ideas....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

BAM Diapers: New Colors!

I am currently offering two new colors for BAM diapers: Aqua Blue and Butter Yellow. 
 These beautiful pastels are perfect for your baby boy or baby girl. 
 Like what you see? Send me an email bmeng@liberty.edu to place your order
The two standard sizes I sew are 10-20 lbs and 20-30 lbs.
$16 per diaper

(larger (30+) or smaller (newborn-10lbs) diaper sizes are available upon request)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fool-proof Homemade French Bread

I know saying this bread is fool-proof is a pretty big guarantee but I have NOT had success making bread in the past (flat, dense, icky loaves of wasted time) but I have made this bread several times and it has turned out absolutely delicious every time!

It takes a few hours (mostly rising time) but is is worth it. If you work during the week, save it for a weekend cooking spree. I love it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is that good.

(BTW, I found this recipe online but as my computer battery was about to die, I copied it down by hand. Now I have no idea where I got the recipe. Plus this has a bit of my personal tweaks)

Ingredients
2 cups warm water (don't freak out about the temp. I just use water from the tap, warm enough that I would be comfortable washing dishes in it--not too hot)
1 tbs Yeast
2 tbs Sugar (add more if you like a little sweetness in the background)
1 tbs melted butter
2 tsp salt (don't skimp on the salt. You really need this much to flavor the bread)
5-5.5 cups all purpose flour

Make it:
1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast with sugar in warm water and let it sit for 10 minutes. Unload your dishwasher while you wait. Or scrape your children's booster seats with a putty knife. Or some other task you have been avoiding.

2. Add salt, butter, and three cups of flour. Combine with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes (you can use a mixer if you want, but mine is broken and you might as well not have to drag it out. The spoon works fine). The dough will be very sticky!

3. Stir in 2 cups of flour as well as you can. Now the dough will be very floury. Don't worry about this.

4. Dump the whole mess out on your (clean!) kitchen counter and glance at the clock. Then kneed that baby for 10 minutes. This is also a good time to wear a cute apron and channel your inner domestic goddess. Work in all the extra flour from the bowl and when the dough starts to get sticky again, sprinkle with some more flour. Repeat. At first, 10 minutes seems like a LONG time but just think--you are getting an awesome arm workout and then you get to eat carbs afterwards. WIN WIN! At the end of those 10 (100,000,000,000) minutes, the dough should be very elastic and smooth.

5. Spray a large clean bowl with cooking spray and plop your dough in. Then turn it so it gets oiled on all sides. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for an hour, or until doubled in size.

6. Punch dough down (pretty much my favorite part!) and divide in half. I like to use the serrated bread knife to do this.

7. Shape each half into a rectangle and roll flat with a rolling pin. Then roll up the dough from the long side into a french loaf type lookin'....loaf. Pinch the edges closed and place the seam on the bottom. Also roll the ends under so they are nice and even.

8. Place on a greased cookie sheet (not air bake). I have to turn my loaves diagonally so they fit. (You can also sprinkle your cookie sheet with cornmeal before you put the loaves on but I have never had any and the bread turns out fine without it).

9. Cut diagonal gashes on the top of each loaf. A lot or a few. It's up to you. Just don't cut too deep! Again, I use my bread knife to do this but kitchen sheers would work well too.

10. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled again. Yeah, it does take a while to get the bread. Hang in there! It is worth it!

11. Bake at 375 for about  30 minutes (check after 25). It should be nice and golden brown.

12. If you like really crispy crust (my husband does NOT!), spray lightly with water while baking. On the other hand, if you like a soft, chewy crust spread melted butter over the top as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Yum! I am making some this afternoon. If I start at 3pm I can have the bread rising by 3:30pm. 3:30-4:30 to rise. Then form the loaves, rise from 4:45-5:30ish. Bake for 30 minutes. On the table by 6pm!!

As with all homemade bread, it goes bad sooner than store bought. I have had great success with freezing a loaf (I used a leftover bread bag from the store) and eating it later in the week or month.

Enjoy! Don't fear! you too can make fool-proof bread!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The T-Shirt Swaddler

Though there are no babies in my home or near future, I have so many friends who are pregnant right now! And many of them are giving birth this month! For this project, I was inspired by a link my friend Amy posted on her FB wall--the Swaddle Me Wrap. This idea is so cute! I actually never had one (I bought receiving blankets like they were going out of style) but I think that they are an awesome idea. So awesome in fact, that I thought to myself, "I want to make one of those." 

I like to reuse fabrics as much as possible and I had this pile of t-shirts from Goodwill that have been sitting in my living room for MONTHS! With the built in "wings" (sleeves), I thought a t-shirt would be the perfect base for this project. (my first attempt failed miserably so this is "Take 2." I think it turned out a lot better though there are still kinks to work out. This definitely isn't the prettiest thing I have ever made). 
Since I have no babies (my kiddos are 3.5 years old), I dug out good ol' Molly from the basement. She is a little small to stand in for a newborn (only 18 inches) but she was the best I could do. Plus she was the perfect model and slept for the entire photo shoot. :)
Place your baby in the swaddler pocket (it has a little elastic to help it keep its shape). 
 Tuck one of the wings over
 Tuck the other one over and secure the velcro around the back
This swaddler would work for a newborn to infant (Molly's feet were 4-5 inches from the bottom of the pocket)
 I used a long piece of loop so that the swaddler is slightly adjustable as far as how tight you could wrap your baby
A close up of the pocket

I really like the idea of this project but I am not sure if it is 
"Awesome--I want one!" 
or 
"Nice try but stupid and ugly." 

Mommas--give me some feedback! Do you think this would work for a baby? Or should I scrap this idea? 

Meng Menu


Here's my menu plan for the week. I am going shopping this morning and am planning on a LOW grocery bill week. Summer is a lean time for us (I don't get a paycheck) so I am trying to do all I can to reduce our weekly food bills. 

Monday: Asian Pork Loin, rice, green beans (Thanks Tara for posting this recipe! I can't wait to try it out!)
Tuesday: Chicken Ceaser Salad, homemade French bread (will post this recipe later in the week! It is delish!)
Wednesday: BLTs (with tomatoes from our porch-garden!), chips, fruit
Thursday: Grilled Pork loin, garlic mashed potatoes, California blend veggies
Friday: Italian Chicken and Pasta, French bread, salad
Saturday: Pancakes, bacon, fruit salad
Sunday: ???

What are YOU making for your family for dinner this week? 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pin Rest: A fast and easy project

I saw the idea for this cute little sewing machine pin cushion a few weeks ago on a blog I follow (I would give credit for it but she had linked it from another blog which was linked to pinterest so I don't know how to find it again. But I just wanted to let everyone know that this was a COPY, not my original idea).
 I've been doing a lot of sewing lately (I sold 3 BAM Diapers today and have another dozen I am working on right now) and my tomato pin cushion ends up rolling on the floor more often than I would like. This little tie-on pin rest is the perfect solution! 
It took me all of 15 minutes to make and the best part was that I was able to use all scraps--the fabric was from a twofer dress I made, the ribbon from some old curtains, and even the stuffing was scraps from the diapers!  It ties right on the machine for easy pin give and take while the machine is purring. 
Sweet little bow in back 

It's nice to make some fun, practical projects for myself every now and then! :) 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Meng Menu


Sorry for the menu hiatus. Life is finally getting back to normal--Thank God! The boys are fully recovered during the day but are still having night terrors. Sigh. Hopefully this too shall pass soon. Their post-op appointment is this Wednesday. 

Monday (4th of July!): Grilled Steak, (leftover) loaded mashed potatoes, watermelon
Tuesday: Baked chicken, Rice w/ broccoli and cheese
Wednesday: Marinated shrimp, cheese grits, California blend veggies
Thursday: Hamburgers, cheetos, watermelon
Friday: Pan chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn
Saturday: Gift card to Applebees
Sunday: Waffles, sausage, orange Julius 

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