My 4 Favorite Homemaking Hacks for 2018

I love Christmas break. Time off from spelling tests, chauffeur duties, graded papers, packing lunches, and best of all I’m not desperately rushing everyone to not be late…..oh how I love time off.

We always spend a few days at my parent’s house and a few days at Alan’s parents’ house, and it’s such a blessing to spend time with them and soak up the rest and good conversation.

With people you see on a daily basis, it can be easy to fall prey to simply talking about your shared problems and the annoying people you have to deal with. Ha! We all have them.

But when we get together with family at Christmas, we can re-focus on what matters and gain wisdom from others. We can always do that during the everyday too, of course, but I get the best ideas when I have some time and space to read and think!

Daniel and his favorite cousin at Christmas. They were born only a month apart.

I am reading 2 books and taking 1 online course that I’m gaining immensely from. One is on grocery budgeting and the other is on marriage. The course is about planning.

Alan even found an app for us to use for grocery shopping that has also been hugely helpful. I wanted to pass those along to y’all.

The Books

1.) How to Win the Grocery Game

I’m including an eBay link above for that one, which I do not make any money from. I just found the eBay price to be slightly better than Amazon.

This is an extremely practical book about saving money on grocery shopping. However, it was written in the 1970s and is extremely outdated. I’ve had to look for more modern ways to implement some of the strategies in this book, but it’s the strategies and the meal planning tips that make the book worth while…..if you can look past the insane price amounts on everything. You have to ignore those since this book is from the 70s!!

I’ll share with you a modern app I’ve used to help me do one thing from the book later in this post.

2.) Created to Be His Helpmeet

The above link is to the Amazon Kindle edition, but it is available in paperback on Amazon and other sellers as well. I do earn a small percentage when you buy through this link.

This book doesn’t even attempt political correctness with words like “hillbilly ugly” and “submit”. Ha! You have been warned.

But I’ve found it to be practical and helpful, a solid reminder. It has also helped me understand my husband better, as she divides men up into three groups: command types, visionaries, and steady men.

The book is about becoming a kinder, more helpful wife, and by doing that, you can’t help but improve your marriage, even if you’re married to the Grinch himself. I’m only 1/3 the way through it, but so far it has helped me to straight up be a nicer person at home with my husband.

I also love that it’s written by an older woman. She has walked through all the phases of life, and she’s sharing what she has learned.

Us with Alan’s side of the fam. Greg was MIA this year due to food poisoning. You were missed, Greg!

The App

As I mentioned above, I’ve found a more modern way to implement the grocery strategy, but it isn’t foolproof. I’m not sure if the database is leaving out all the goods from stores like Aldi and the Pig because they came up less frequently than I expected. Some work may still need to be done there.

But if you want an easy way to compare everyday prices at one store with sale prices from the circulars, this is an awesome app.

It’s called Basket.

You type in your grocery list. It gives you options for brands and lines them up by price. Try it out. You may end up spending hours on it like Alan and I have.

We put in our entire grocery list, and then we hit “compare prices”. It showed us that the cheapest way to get all our groceries at one store was to go to Walmart. However, the real issue was that Walmart was the only store that carried every item on our list.

To get the best savings, you can tell it to break it up into 2 stores. That gave us Walmart and Food Depot. In the list, it breaks down which items we should buy at Food Depot and which ones we should purchase at Walmart.

Wow, huh?

It was funny how it would switch stores as we put more groceries in!

However, Alan found that not all of the prices and sizes were available at Walmart, so checking your weekly circulars is still important.

I think this is a good tool, but it doesn’t truly replace searching through the weekly grocery ads.

 

Christmas morning

Chore Looping

Another exciting tip I got this Christmas is “chore looping,” which my sister-in-law, Amy, told me about.

For those of us who have trouble with other methods of keeping up with house cleaning schedules, chore looping is the way to go.

You make a list of tasks, like this:

  • Scrub hall bathroom.
  • Clean the kitchen.
  • Sweep and mop the floors.
  • Scrub master bath.

etc., etc. Add whatever rooms you have.

Then you work through it until you reach the end and start over, and it doesn’t have to be all in one day, all in one week, or even all in one month. You just work through the list as you are able.

Some tasks you have to write on your list more than once, like scrubbing that bathroom that all 4 boys use…bleh…

For Example:

  • Scrub hall bathroom.
  • Clean the kitchen.
  • Sweep and mop the floors.
  • Scrub master bath.
  • Vacuum.
  • Scrub hall bathroom.
  • Tidy up dining room.
  • Clean the kitchen.
  • Tidy up living room.
  • Dust the house.
  • Scrub hall bathroom….lol…again and again and again…

…And the list goes on until you’ve covered all the tasks you can think of.

Some days you do 3 or 4 of them. Other days you do 1 or none at all. It just depends on when you have the time!

If you do marathon clean, then you skip the repeats. I almost never marathon clean. Why? Because it’s exhausting, and I was always hoping I’d be affording a maid by now….lol

Daniel helping with the Men’s Pancake Breakfast at church

I’ll save my excitement of my new Brilliant Life Planner and accompanying online planning course for another day. I can’t wait to show it to you. In fact, I’m definitely going to do a Facebook Live all about this planner this week, on my Stories of Our Boys Facebook page.

I hope you all had an absolutely fabulous Christmas and are as excited about the new year as I am! Actually, I’m pretty nervous about 2018. Moving…deep breaths…deep breaths…I’m going to need all the organization I can accomplish!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”    Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

 

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6 Ways to Save Your Marriage During Deployment

****This post is part of the series Real Army Wives on storiesofourboys.com. This series chronicles the story of our first deployment, back in 2003.****

Once Alan had been gone for 6 months, and we were finally able to communicate regularly, we found that we began to bicker–even from continents away. We were having newlywed problems, whether we were together or not.

Alan was anxious to move us forward towards our goals in the U.S., yet he was stuck in a combat zone, feeling powerless to affect change. He wanted me to go out and buy a $70,000 house. Plus, he thought I should move us in there by myself so we could start building equity……I was like, “Heck no, I won’t go..”

I wanted him to call more. He gave me the actual reasons he couldn’t.

I was disappointed that he hadn’t had a family member send me an anniversary gift.

Granted, my expectations were HIGH, and he was never one to sugar-coat a single thing…..so we had issues….

an Iraqi flag Alan sent me in a package

On October, 1, 2003, I wrote him out this list, half-joking, half-serious, to lay out all of my expectations and avoid further arguments…

» Read more

Real Army Wives: When Reality Smacks You in the Face

Real Army Wives: When Reality Smacks You in the Face****Disclaimer: Links on this site are affiliate links. April collects a small advertising fee when you purchase through links on this website.*****

We left Oklahoma full of excitement over finally being together as a married couple. We were ON OUR WAY! Things were looking up for us. Alan and I were finally picking out our first house. Okay, so we were only 21 and 23. Maybe we’d settle for an apartment or a nice townhouse, but either way, it was going to be OURS, TOGETHER!

Eeeeee!!!! Happy, happy! Joy, joy!

But there was this one problem holding back our complete happiness. Dark, foreboding figures loomed in the corners of my mind. They looked like naysayers to me.

“I hear 4th Infantry Division is deploying to Turkey. Going in from the North,” Alan’s buddies at Officer Basic Course, back in Oklahoma, said.

Thankfully, everything was all “probably”, “maybe”, and “talk of the possibility.” There were no actual set-in-stone facts yet. (You see, at that point, America had not set foot in Iraq as part of the War on Terrorism yet. We were still only fighting in Afghanistan.)

“Ah, no one knows anything for sure, ” I comforted myself. “I’m not believing any of these rumors until I hear them from Alan’s soon to be unit in Texas.”

I always held out hope. This was my turn to finally begin my happily ever after, and all these gloom and doom storm clouds hovering all around me were ignored to the best of my ability.

Gray skies were everywhere, but the sun could come out at any moment. Not a drop of rain had fallen yet. Not a single lightning bolt had actually flashed. They just threatened.

With that mindset, we packed up Alan’s white Blazer and my bright royal blue Grand Am, arguing about the best way to make it all fit, and headed south.

I don’t remember where we were. It was somewhere in the middle of nowhere, Texas. But neither Alan nor I have ever forgotten that day. I’ve never forgotten that punch-in-the-gut from out of nowhere feeling.

Since we were driving two separate cars, Alan didn’t even know what happened, but when he saw me pull over, he pulled over too.

Real Army Wives: When Reality Smacks You in the Face

Just like on 9/11, I heard it from my radio. It was somewhere around January 15, 2003. I was all singing at the top of my lungs, until the news came on.

That’s when the news man announced that it was officially released, just that day, that 4th ID did indeed have orders to deploy their division to the northern border of Iraq in preparation for invasion.

Just like that, I was Chicken Little, and my thunder clouds had all just dropped their rain at once. The lightning was everywhere. The thunder was louder than the news on my radio. The rain was so thick I couldn’t see in front of me.

My heart was broken. I was bawling my eyes out. How could this happen? Why did this have to be? Our happily ever after just kept slipping further and further away.

I’d finally gotten to spend a week with my husband, and even that week we’d traveled to all our family’s houses and then come back for him to go out to the field, so really we’d been married 5 MONTHS and still had not spent one regular week together in a home of our own.

There was nothing to say, and not a thing in the world anyone could do to help us.

So in that moment, I did the only sensible thing.

I pulled my car over, laid my head on my steering wheel, and I cried. Alan came over to my car, and I had to explain to him what I’d heard on the radio.

Alan probably wasn’t surprised. He was more connected to the military community, so he understood better that this was coming. Of course, he was not feeling the same way I was. Alan is an Army officer. This was his dream. He was only too willing to go over there and fight some war.

If I said one prayer of lamentation, I said a 1,000. Many petitions were made for Alan’s safety, for direction with my life, for guidance with my next step.

But that first day, I just cried. Bravery was for later. Alan hugged me and apologized and held me while I blubbered.

Reality had reached out and smacked me in the face, so it was time I looked her in the eye. I buckled under the weight of it all, with hours left to drive.

Alan and I dried up my face, hugged, and we drove on.

For last week’s chapter, click here. To start at the beginning of this series, go here.

 

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Educational Games for 2-8 Year Olds



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