August Foliage The Prudent Homemaker

The few tiny flowers to be had in the garden right now: Siam Basil flowers, Peppermint flowers, and Honeysuckle


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We sent three of our children to public school this past week for the first time, which was not at all frugal. Besides the hundreds in school supplies that are required (different from what we normally use and already had on hand, including classroom supplies of things like tissues and dry erase markers), I had to pay for their elective classes ($25 each), buy a backpack and three lunch boxes, buy new watches, buy earbuds with a microphone, and purchase shoes (they are not allowed to wear sandals at school).  There are yearbook fees($45 each), a health class fee ($15), media fees ($20 each), and field trips to pay for as well.

This certainly changes my financial needs and my schedule, and will definitely require some changes in planning lunch ahead of time.

As this was a totally last-minute decision, I wasn’t prepared for lunches, and I was so busy with extra school stuff that there wasn’t time to go to the store. I still managed to put together lunches using what I had on hand.

I cut a large Armenian cucumber from the garden and picked some cherry tomatoes from the garden as well. To go with them,  I made some ranch dressing dip with plain Greek yogurt, onion powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried parsley. This was enough for several days for those going to school as well as those of us who stay home (these cucumbers are huge). I sent almonds, dried fruit, and leftovers in lunches. I made cookies and macaroni and cheese for lunches as well. To make it easier, I made a large amount of homemade macaroni and cheese for part of our lunch at home one day, making enough for leftovers for lunches for everyone (including those at school) the next day.

When it gets colder, I’ll send soups, chili, and rice and beans, and leftovers, which are our normal lunches. I purchased two of these Thermos containers with folding spoons for that time; I already had some but this will make enough for those leaving along with my husband and oldest daughter, who already take leftovers in them for lunch. (My eldest daughter takes college classes online but goes with my husband to his office to work on them most days).

I also bought some of these reusable ice packs to keep lunches cold. Since I didn’t have any this week, we just sent ice in bags with the cold items.

I am researching bento boxes that will fit in their lunch boxes, which will mean we won’t need to use any plastic bags.

I picked pears from the garden. They ripen off the tree, so I’ll be able to use these in lunches next week.

My daughter had shared a bite of homemade bread at lunch one day at school and the girl she shared it with asked her if her mom owned a bakery! She brought another piece the next day to share with the girl. I thought this was a bit funny because it was a loaf that didn’t rise properly, as I pulled it from the oven a bit too soon on the first morning they went to school.

We made arrangements for the children to take the bus. It took a few days (and was tricky with children at two different schools starting at the same time) before they were approved to ride the bus. Having them take the bus will make it so that we can continue to be a one-car family, reduce wear and tear on the car, and not add to our gas needs.

I read three Hamish Macbeth e-books from the library.

My husband cut my hair.

One of my daughters is taking a beginning orchestra class. My mom had a violin that she had purchased for a framing example in her old store. My daughter is using that violin, so we don’t have to pay to rent one. 

I was able to purchase the backpack and lunch boxes on sale.

I took advantage of a spend $50 on household goods get $15 off sale to purchase the required tissues and paper towels for school, combining that with some borax and bleach for the house to reach the required $50 total (We will use some of the paper towels as well to drain fried potatoes).

The watches we purchased were inexpensive ones from Walmart ($7.99 and $15.99).

I collected leek seeds from the garden.

Hamish Three Months The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  1. Prayers for you Brandi! I sent my 6th grader off to public school today for the first time and it can be a lot. I hope your children have a wonderful year and make lots of friends!

  2. How progressive of you to send them to public school! Our children attend Charter school and are so well-rounded via there experiences both at home and at school. Thanks for the links to the thermos—just look amazing.

  3. A bit of advice. I’ve always found the last month of school is more expensive than enrollment and school supplies . The field trips, class parties, teacher gifts, special “bring a dollar for a snow cone, cupcake, bounce house, book sale … etc” days and sign ups for summer camps (some of which are “highly recommended” ie. not actually optional) all really add up! If you haven’t already bought extras of things like notebooks, filler paper and 3 ring binders watch out for clearance sales. Many times kids will need more of these things at Christmas time. Either they’ll run out or the new classes second semester will require things that weren’t on the start of school list. Good Luck with this new chapter! I send cupcakes/cookies etc in my kids lunches from time to time and kids will actually offer to buy them from my kids. I guess not all mamas bake! LOL

  4. Beautiful baby Brandy!! I can understand that sending 3 of your children off to school would be a big change and expense-I hope they enjoy it!

  5. I purchased 100 lb of chicken at $.39/lb. The cashier told me how smart I was to buy that much at that price! It will be great for hot chicken sandwiches and soup. Yum!

  6. Wow, you have a lot of life changes going on.
    All of these fit into most flat rectangular lunch boxes. They unfortunately don’t fit into the ones that are more square based and stand up with or without the zipper portion on the bottom.

    I have a few suggestions for bento boxes, if you’d like.
    these first ones are great for most things, they are on the cheaper side but hold up really well. The only downside is that you can’t have any saucy things in them or they may leak into other sections.

    These next ones are more expensive but, last through a lot of drops and dishwasher trips. The smaller sections can have yogurt or apple sauce added to them and they usually wont leak into other sections even if stored on its side while being carried or in a bag/locker.

    This last one is my favorite, but also the most expensive. I have very slowly grown my collection and only purchase with swagbucks GC’s. These ones are truly leakproof between each section and I have had some very runny things in the containers. The little tiny circle holder is great for homemade salad dressing (that I have to get out with a spoon because you can’t remove it to pour on the salad – my only caveat with these containers). They too last after being dropped on far too many occasions to remember and run through the dishwasher hundreds of times. These are also available on their website for the same price but have a few more options and a coupon code if you sign up with your email. In the “other” section, you can find just plane inserts and cases for a little bit cheaper which I have done as I don’t care about the designs. They also have several different sizes and insert options. The one I have linked is my personal favorite for its size and flexibility to include a sandwich or salad or use silicone muffin liners with a homemade lunchable.

  7. Phew, that IS a big change! I’ve been there, although not with as many children; when my son was in fourth grade, I sent him to public school for the first time after homeschooling full time. I was a little teary sending him off, and he was more than a little nervous, but he loved it. He absolutely thrived there and now in high school, he’s found his niche in choir and wants to become a choir director. I hope that your children’s experiences are as positive!

    On the money saving front, I finished cleaning out the basement! That will save SO much money as we now know where all my husband’s tools are (I collected them in one big bin; they had been scattered all over the place and he was constantly running out to replace things he couldn’t find, eek). I found two knitted gifts in my knitting things in the basement, finished them up, and added one to my Christmas gift stash. I didn’t have to purchase school supplies because we already had the folders, paper, notebooks, and pens and pencils that my son required.

    My son and I went to hear a local speaker at one of the area high schools, and we’ll go hear another this Wednesday. Our schools here put on fabulous programs with authors, parenting experts and psychologists, etc, to help with parenting challenges, motivation, exposure to literature, etc. We’re really lucky to live where we do, and I try to attend many of these events. I made two batches of muffins for my children’s breakfasts and packed my son’s lunches every day. I bought nothing at yard sales this week, mainly because I was feeling poorly and we stayed home instead. Despite that, it was a good week! We harvested a LOT of tomatoes this week, along with a small pumpkin, and we discovered yet another pumpkin growing out there. Those kind of surprises are always welcome!

    Have a great week, everyone! 🙂

  8. May I ask why you chose to send three of your kids to public school at this point in time? Although I’m sure it is been overwhelming trying to teach all of them at home I was just wanting to know if there was some factor that played into all of this. It is extremely expensive today to send your children to public school. When I was going to school there was no Community wipes or markers or pens it was you brought your own. I am shocked on how much it cost parents just for those things for their children. Then we have the teachers that I think go way overboard in things that they demand of their students like certain colored folders, pens, type of paper, etc. I am hoping all goes well with your kids in public school and it provides you with more time for yourself and to take care of your wonderful household.

  9. Wow, I’m so surprised to read that some of your children were attending school this year, Brandy! I’m curious what made you come to this decision? You seem to really love homeschooling your children. I agree, buying supplies last minute would be rather expensive. Had you had more time, you could have sewed lunch bags, watch more closely for sales on the things you needed and possibly found coupons to save you a bit of money. At least some of those supplies are reusable and will hopefully last more than 1 year. Anyways, I wish your children much success in their new school adventures!

    After a summer full of stifling heat with high humidity, we finally had a thunderstorm roll through that brought cooler, more seasonable temperatures this weekend. Whoohooo, fall it on it’s way!!!!! This week, our frugal accomplishments for our family included:
    *Meals made at home included BBQ hamburgers & hotdogs with homemade coleslaw, cheese & spinach ravioli with tomato sauce and coleslaw, tacos (meat only this time), hot chicken sandwiches with mixed veggies, and breaded chicken burgers/patties with corn on the cob.
    *My mom and I had an appointment booked close to dinner time, so opted to buy a rotisserie chicken dinner from the grocery store. The leftover carcass was frozen for making broth later.
    *I cooked up the bean sprouts left over from making fried rice on the weekend, to avoid them going bad. DD discovered she loves bean sprouts with soya sauce! I will happily buy more on occasion (they were just over $1 for a good sized bag) as they are a very healthy option for her to eat. If her love for them continues, I may try learning to sprout my own. I know from experience her love of certain foods can be short lived. There is no point in buying a bag of mung beans, only to have her turn around and refuse to eat bean sprouts!
    *Took DD with me to the bulk barn when I needed to pick up some pickling spice. I offered to buy her some healthy snacks of her choice as a treat. She picked out 4 different dried fruits to try (strawberries, apple rings, banana chips and mango). It was quite expensive, but worth it if I can get DD to eat more healthy options. This has been a problem this summer. We divided the dried fruit, mixed together, between 7 baggies and will be allowed 1 baggie as a treat per day. I think I might buy some dried fruit for stocking stuffers at Christmas!
    *Harvested dill heads from the garden, that had gone to seed. Collected the dill seeds in preparation for making dill pickles this coming week. Not sure if we will get much else from our garden, as the wildlife are feasting on pretty much everything at this point (the deer even eat the green tomatoes right off the vines).
    *Signed DD up for 3 free cooking classes through Autism Ontario. She will participate in 1 per month for September, October and November. I’m hoping she will try new foods and maybe find some healthy recipes she likes!
    *I made applesauce at work this week, from the small apples pick from the wild apple trees in the village. I brought maple syrup from home, to use to sweeten it (the 1st settlers would not have had access to cane sugar, but learned about maple syrup from the natives in the area). At the same time, I boiled the peels/cores in another pot, then strained the juice off and saved it to make apple jelly another day. What I thought would be an easy demo, turned into an all day event. It took me all morning to pick, peel and quarter enough small apples to make a half decent pot full. Several people commented that I should use an apple peeler, to which I reminded them 1st settlers would not have had those. I had help from several co-workers, who got my fire going, sharpened my extremely dull paring knife and fetched some soapy water for washing things up. Then it took me all afternoon to boil it down over an open fire. I finally gave up and left it as chunky applesauce. My co-workers said it was excellent applesauce. Really made me appreciate modern day kitchens, though!:p
    *The next time I worked, I attempted to make the apple jelly. Something went wrong, but ended up so right…I made caramel instead! Don’t know if I could do it again, but it sure tastes amazing! I’ve never been so happy with a mistake in all my life. I’m planning to using it to make caramel apples for all the staff, as an end of season treat. 😉
    *Free things I received through work this week: Popcorn, 2 ripe tomatoes, various treats made in village, and a totally unexpected 3 days off in a row.
    *I currently have 2 Visa credit cards, both with low limits. One of the cards had a credit on it (they owed me money), due to some returns, but ultimately I want to get rid of this card eventually (leaving it for now as the history of payments on that card helps my credit rating). The other I am trying to use just a little bit each month, then pay of the balance, to build up a credit payment history. Last month hubby went into the bank and asked them to pay of the balance on the one credit card. The bank made a mistake, and applied the payment to the credit card that had a credit on it already, thus I had a non-payment on the other card! When I received my Visa statement and noticed the amount they owed me increased on the card from before, I realized what happened and immediately called. They were able to transfer the entire credit owing from the one card to the other card and reverse the non-payment plus the interest that occurred because of their mistake. Bonus, the credit transferred covered everything I owed on the other card, plus I now have a small credit on that card, so we don’t have to do any payment this month!

    Looking forward to reading all your frugal success, downfalls and everything in between! Have a great week, everyone!

  10. I saved old wood to make a raised bed and tiny pots for seedlings. I usually return pots to Lowe’s for recycling. I went to a yard sale with a friend for the first time this summer, and I bought a beautiful large picture of Jesus and the woman at the well for $1. I was surprised to see it was from Home Interiors. I also got a pretty shirt with an attached loose sweater and a jacket for $1 each. I hate to wear coats. Then we went out to eat at Subway and used a coupon that was buy one, get one free. That was a treat since I don’t eat out much.

  11. Dear, Dear Brandy, I have been reading your blog for a couple of years and this is my first post. You have my total admiration. After reading this last post I was exhausted for you. You are amazing. And you have beautiful babies. I love reading all the posts and learning more about frugal living and meal prep. As old as I am, I always learn something.

  12. Your baby is beautiful, Brandy! And I hope the kids adjust well to being in public school.

    My accomplishments this week:

    • Used free tea and toiletries, washed ziplocks and used ½ dryer sheets and ran only full loads in the washer and dishwasher during off peak times.
    • Ate dinner in 5 times. Had roasted chicken with roasted potatoes; homemade turkey noodle soup; beef stir fry with some leftover roast beef I had frozen; pork chops with mushroom gravy and rice leftover from stir fry night and mashed potatoes that were in the freezer; and steak, baked potato and zucchini.
    • Brought our lunches to work every day except for 1, when Hubby had to get to work quickly. He used a coupon for a free entrée at Rubio’s that I won during the library’s summer reading program.
    • Worked 11 hours contract work.
    • Had a tea party with my daughter and niece. I used up some sweets I had in the freezer. I don’t eat sweets very often, so save what I get for these types of occasions. Also made the menu based on what I had in the freezer. We had chicken salad w/ grapes finger sandwiches and sliced turkey and cucumber finger sandwiches, blueberry scones, date nut mini muffins, fresh peaches and blueberry soup. I set the table with my best china and crystal and this simple food became a feast.
    • My boss took our group out to lunch one day.
    • I won a $10 gift certificate and $6 playing trivia.
    • Got a free snack bar from the Friday freebie, plus a free loaf of bread and a free package of sliced cheese from coupons the grocery store sent to me.
    • Saved onion and carrot peels and celery ends in the freezer for stock.
    • We are having a dinner party next week. I tried out a recipe that I want to make for that. 40 Clove Garlic Chicken. It is elegant, but very low in cost as the main ingredients are just chicken quarters, celery, onion and garlic cloves. It was delicious! I got the recipe here: Paid extra on the mortgage and knocked out 2 more months from the end. My CPA niece put together an amortization chart for us so every time we pay extra we can see how many months less we will have to pay at the end. It is very motivating!

    Have a wonderful week, everyone!

  13. Eating as much as we can from the garden. Shopping only good deals at the store on stock up items. I’ve also been dehydrating grapes to make raisins. All meals made at home. Using zucchini, homemade raisins and some apples from our tree to make fruit breads. Bacon purchased on sale and tomatoes from our garden made lots of blts. Shared veggies from the garden and took a lot of zucchini to the food bank. Made sure we used up all leftovers or fed them to the chickens for no food waste. Hubby used some leftover siding panels from my parents garage to construct a new roof for our chicken coop. Hung all laundry outside to dry. Bought pork shoulder roast on sale for 69 cents a pound. Boned it out and ground the meat, adding leftover bacon grease and spices to make sausage.

  14. What a huge amount of work to get lunches organized for everyone! What you sent with them sounds so delicious! Years ago, I had the best soup. It was a hot cucumber soup. I think it went something like this:

    Sweat and saute an onion (one or more) in a frying pan;
    add it to chicken stock;
    add some shredded chicken;
    add some grated potatoes;
    just before it is finished, add cucumber.
    add a bit of thickener like corn starch.
    Add seasoning.

    Sorry I don’t
    have exact quantities. I first tried it in a restaurant and they gave me the basic ingredients. Other things, like mushrooms, could be added. The soup I had had small chunks of cucumber (not grated). It was delicious. I don’t know how well it would travel in thermoses and think it would be better for a dinner soup but one could always try it to see how well it travels.

  15. Wow! That was a huge change for you with kids in public school!! And the expenses are difficult but I admire how well you handled everything. Also love the pictures that are posted.

    *We went on a quick family vacation last week to Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. We go every year and take our trailer. I brought all our food. We had Dutch Oven Chicken Enchiladas, Dutch Oven Mountain Man Breakfast, Hamburgers, pancakes & sausage, egg salad & tuna salad sandwiches. All the food/snacks were purchased on sale. But the majority was already in my food storage and freezer.

    *My husband and kids like to go tubing on the river. The place we stayed wanted to charge us $60 dollars for 1/2 day. My husband shopped around and was able to find a place that charge $5/hour for the tube/per person. It also included the shuttle run. They went for 2 hours.

    *My youngest started school the day after we got back. I used leftovers from the trip to make her lunch – tuna salad sandwiches, grapes, pretzels and cut up veggies from our veggie tray. I had purchased her school uniform very early in the summer to avoid having to pay higher prices later in the summer when things have disappeared quite quickly from the stores at the lower prices. One thing I did pay for were some binders that would help keep her organized better. I paid $16 for both. She has 5 classes each day in junior high on a A/B schedule. We tried combining everything into one trapper keeper but it was too heavy for her to carry and wasn’t organized for what she needed. I have to help this child not lose things and this system is proving to be much better for her to keep track of papers and homework.

    *Made all meals at home except for our date night. We used a gift card for that night out. We had a enchilada casserole made from leftover chicken and tortillas that weren’t used up on our trip, steaks, rice & watermelon (that wasn’t finished on our trip). My kids and I ate the other leftovers for lunch through the week.

    *Gave our dogs baths in our laundry sink.

    *Returned items that were no longer needed or didn’t fit and put the money in our account.

    *Continue to pick things from the garden.

    *Took banana bread from the freezer to gift to a friend who had surgery. Wrote her a note from my own stash of cards.

    *Our nights are finally starting to cool off. Turn the A/C off at night and run the fans with the windows open. It’s wonderful. Now if we could just get all the smoke out of the air.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful and frugal week. Thank you for the inspiration and ideas.

  16. Our oldest is going into 7th grade in public school and I will be homeschooling our 5 and 3 year Olds for the first time this fall. I am not getting a ciriculum. I’m a little nervous about this, I want to focus on learning about each state and base our word learning, etc off the state, state animal, state flower or tree for science.

    I remember hearing about a history program that was mostly reading aloud to the kids out of a big book, does anyone know what that is?

    Brandy, is this the first time you have sent your kids to public school or have you tried it before? School time is always a big change, our children are looking forward to it. Hopefully that joy of learning continues!

  17. For lunchboxes: you can also purchase or sew reusable snack and sandwich bags, and use small Mason jars 🙂
    The frugal accomplishment that is on my mind right now is working on handmade holiday gifts already. I am making soap, canning jam, knitting socks, and cross stitching. All things that I enjoy and I have many of the supplies on hand.

  18. Look at that face – so full of curiosity of his wonderful life ahead! The bread sharing comment made me chuckle as I have had similar situations.

    This week, I asked if I could stack coupons. The owner said that was the first time he heard of such a request and accepted. I’m glad I did as it saved a significant 10% off the total.

    We celebrated the last of the celebrations for my husbands birthday (due to schedules, and activities it was easiest to break up this noteworthy birthday). I made a simple lunch of Chicken Shawarma, fresh corn, watermelon and brownies for dessert. Everyone left well fed and with leftovers.

    I have been enjoying beans and rice tacos for lunch.
    Since leaving my job I have been stepping up online selling hustle and am thankful I have been able to cover a months worth of bills with that alone. My previous employer had held onto my paycheck for a few weeks – causing me to worry but remembering to take deep breaths.

    Due to the all the rain, my garden is rotting or dying off. So, I will purchase canning tomatoes at the end of this week to get soups and sauce made – for $8, I will get a pantry supply to hold us until next summer.

    Have a wonderful week everyone!

  19. You can feel free to not answer this – I know that education is a very private choice. As a fellow homeschooler who has considered public school, though, I am curious about the path that led to this decision. We are a one-car family too and our particular school district is not great, which is why I have avoided it so far. But I also see advantages in it . . . it’s just so hard to decide.

    I am sure that school supplies are expensive! Whenever I buy a few things each year for our own family it seems that families shopping there are so stressed – probably because of the long lists they have!

  20. What a cutie! 🙂

    Life is moving too fast this month to keep good track of everything! However, we hosted our first church get-together, and instead of the usual “everyone bring money and we’ll buy pizzas” dinner, I decided to have a taco bar, where everyone brought a topping or two. So much cheaper and less hassle! I got several compliments on the good idea.
    I’m expecting a delivery today of some short-dated food (from a Mennonite co-op of sorts) which includes 5# of shredded cheese for $10, roast beef for $2 a pound, and a 1/2 gallon of coconut milk for $1.
    My dehydrator is running around the clock, at the moment drying comfrey and elderberries. Garden harvest continues to be my all-consuming “hobby”–last week was pickled okra, relish, dill pickles. Today looks to be a good one for harvesting beets and freezing green peppers.

  21. First of all CONGRATULATIONS to the kids going to public school! They will love it I’m sure. And it is good to hear they’ve signed up for extracurriculars. That’s where all the fun is, right?? Also, you did a fantastic job on the babies picture. He’s gorgeous and growing well.

    This week has been hectic with back to school. It’s actually mid school year here as we begin in March. But nonetheless there was alot of running around making sure we had all the needed supplies. I’ve mostly stayed home because I haven’t started work again myself. However, we found a few ways to make our dollar stretch:
    *I hung up all the laundry to dry. Even bed sheets. This isn’t easy as we live in an apartment without a balcony.
    *I cooked beans and made a loaf of bread.
    *We ate most of our meals at home.
    *A client gave us a box of grapes.
    *A friend came to town on business and we went out and played Pokemon go. We also prepared water bottles.
    *I met a friend at Starbucks. I had a free cup of water instead of ordering coffee. I don’t like their coffee anyway and I was there for less than 5 minutes.
    *I crocheted a dishrag to practice stitches. There are a few mistakes but it works to clean.
    *I’m making a baby poncho with yarn friends gave to me.
    *I traded some unwanted lotion for a package of bread mix.
    *My son read two books about pancakes and so we made some together.
    *We went to a free splash pad one day with friends. We took snacks and water with us.
    *We went to a community pool as a family.
    *I organized a swap.
    *I saw in the recycling someone had thrown a couple boxes of crayons and some random kids’ toys. I decided to dumpster dive with my son and came home with an Ikea bag full of lego and lego type blocks, two life jackets, and some random things I’ll add to my prize bags. A google search told us that one of the sets sold for $40. Hopefully we can find the instructions and all the pieces are there. The life jackets will go to charity. The three boxes of crayons will be saved for future use. One box was brand new.
    *I had some wilty lettuce that I soaked in water and gave to the guinea pigs.
    *We spent many days on the playground with friends.
    *My son went to a movie with his aunt one day.

  22. Hope the kids all enjoy their new school! I homeschooled when my kids were younger and they’re all in public schools (and universities) now.

  23. I love the story of the lunch bread, and think it’s wonderful that little girl is learning about Moms who make bread. Our grandaughter spent a few days with us. We picked garden produce, shelled beans, took lots of walks, read, and did some sewing. Your bouquet is lovely, even with sparse pickings. We gave away tromboncino squash last week. Also tried to give away concord grapes and okra, but no takers. I took a green bean dish to share at a family reunion. Books were requested from the library, which I hope to pick up tomorrow. I look forward to reading everyone’s comments.

  24. Wow! Big changes at your house! If I’m not being nosy, were the 3 children you sent to public school your older ones? To me, that would seem like the most challenging to homeschool while also homeschooling the younger ones at the same time. But I marvel at how well you seem to have done to this point! I wouldn’t have had the dedication or organization to have homeschooled our 11!

    This week a dear friend that lives in a neighboring city that I met onl8ne in a pantry group and then in person two years ago, gifted me a big box (25 pounds?) of celery, 4-1/2 dozen ears of corn and 4 ten pound bags of potatoes! I am so excited! I chopped the celery up and filled my Excalibur dehydrator twice ! The big box dehydrated down to 2 half gallon mason jars that I vacuum sealed and put on my pantry shelf!

    The trimmings and toss away parts of the corn and celery went to my chickens (which they will convert into eggs for us!!) and our composter to use in the garden!
    The corn fit into 8 quart freezer bags and we will certainly enjoy that during the winter months!!
    We will enjoy some potatoes fresh, make frozen French fries with some and dehydrate diced potato chunks for use in our dry dinner mixes we make!
    What an awesome friend! I gave her a big bag of cheese rolls and 3 bags of bagels as a thank you! Her family has been enjoying those!
    Another online friend was looking for some fabric scraps with roses and so today she will be receiving a big priority mail box filled with scraps and a lot of yardage from my fabric stash! One of the nicest things about having an abundant food pantry and fabric stash is, besides using it to benefit my own family, I can share with others!
    I pulled out 5 pound boneless pork loin and slow cooked it in the crockpot to add BBQ sauce to for BBQ pulled pork sandwiches which we enjoyed for dinner and have had as lunches and leftovers!

    The scrappy bag that I made using a free online tutorial got modified and I made a couple different sizes than the original and a couple friends have now ordered 5 bags from me so that will be an unexpected little stream of money coming in this week! With that encouragement, I will make up more and list them on my Facebook business page for sale and see what happens!
    A friend who is DIY-ing at her house to prepare it for sale asked if anyone would cut her baseboards because her miter saw had died. We offered as friends to do it and she insisted on bringing dinner and dessert over to us as a thank you plus she gave us oak trim that we will use for another project!
    After this week, I am ready and would love to go back to a bartering society! It just leaves us with such good feelings!!
    This afternoon we meet with a financial analyst at work to see if we are prepared adequately to retire in May! I’ve done the worksheets and it looks quite do-able but I want no surprises when we make this change! Wish us luck!!
    Hope everyone else is having a frugal week!,

  25. I think your house has been a whirlwind this week! Go Brandy!! School starts so early there. We, too, have always looked at each child as an individual and done which ever schooling option seems to work best for them. I applaud you for doing that, even though changes can often be difficult. But, you will get into a routine. My youngest daughter will start the day after Labor Day. We took her down and did the “Taking Care of Business Day” at the new school and $138 later…she was all signed up and ready to start there. Wow! They absolutely will not bus her, we checked, but it is over a mile and a half to the new school, along a very busy road and she has to be in her seat by 7:30 am, which would cause her to be wandering around out there in the dark and rain once the days get shorter, so we will have to drive her each and every day. Twice.

    In the meanwhile, I am getting ready to do one last year of homeschool for my niece and am thinking about which things to order, etc. I told my sister I would just order what we needed and send her the bill, so that’s easy for me. I’ll keep the cost down, but money is not really an issue for them, so I’ll get what I need.

    We had a busy week because a family member was admitted to the hospital and we all took turns spending time down there with them. I stayed very frugal there, though, because I took my own food with me and the hospital was only about 10-15 minutes away from my house. Truly, I was more afraid to eat the hospital food because of my severe gluten sensitivity than anything else, but it turned out to save me a lot of money as other family members had to go off and eat at the hospital cafeteria and I just grabbed my food from my bag. The patient was discharged after several days, and will be just fine now. Whew!

    In the meanwhile, I had an enormous amount of produce to deal with, from my garden and from my sister’s garden and orchard. I sent my husband and youngest camping/rock collecting/fishing with one of my husband’s best friends and had a food preservation weekend. Here:

    Then, on Sunday, when I had fully planned to take a nap and relax, I checked the peaches that I had picked only the day before and a bunch of them were ready to can! Yikes!! They should have taken a couple of days at least to ripen fully, but it’s been pretty warm. I ended up working on them during the afternoon. It’s not what I had planned, but I was glad I had checked them. I sure didn’t want to lose them. I did the ones that absolutely had to be done, and the rest are still out there for tonight when I get home. (It’s my day to spend with the recovering patient–we are all taking turns over there for the next week at least).

    My husband covered almost all of the hours taking care of our nephew and niece this week, so the paycheck will be the same, despite the crisis. We did take an afternoon and take daughter and nephew over to the beach as promised, we just left later in the day. They dug in the sand and had a ball. Pictures are on my blog:

    It was a crazy week, but ended well. I am kind of hoping the next one will be a little quieter. I do have a lot of produce to deal with, but am gaining on the pile of boxes and buckets that are still sitting around here. I love this season of filling the cupboard and freezers.

    I did have to go shopping at last. In the past 5 weeks, I’ve spent about $150, but $60 was yesterday when I realized that I was out of so much and Rob and Patsy would be arriving home last night to an empty fridge:). I mean except peaches, peaches, peaches! And soup. Those are what I’ve been living on the last 3 days:). I got things like bread, milk, eggs, 2 chickens, etc. and can go for quite a while on what I got when I add in the garden produce.

  26. I’ve never heard of that before! I guess school has changed a lot since I was there. When I was a students electives were required each year but there was no set fee. However, you might have had to buy the equipment ie, musical instruments, sports shoes, art supplies, etc. I hope whatever they chose they like it for the year. 🙂
    I have a first grader and we skipped the after school extracurricular programs. We are already busy with martial arts, a tutor, piano lessons, and foreign language classes that we couldn’t manage anymore.

  27. Brandy, you may want to look into your school district’s free or reduced price lunch program. Several of the states we have lived in also offered free or reduced price breakfasts.
    Congratulations on making such a big decision!

  28. Such a beautiful picture of your baby! Sounds like you have had a stressful week – hang in there! Back to school time is hard enough when you’ve had the summer to plan for it. I hope the kids have a great year!

    We had a fairly frugal week. I split my grocery shopping into two trips this week – our Fred Meyer (local Kroger affiliate) has been doing an extensive (and annoying) remodel, and they sent me four coupons for $10 off a $40 purchase. I’ve mostly switched to Winco at this point, but I pulled up my digital coupons and made a list of just $40 worth of things that I needed at Fred Meyer and picked those up. Saved 46% with coupons on that shopping trip! Then I got the rest of the things I needed at Winco. It worked well and I’ll do that for the next few weeks until my coupons run out.

    Took my daughter shoe shopping for school. On Facebook, I was lamenting the difficulty of buying large women’s shoes for a 9-year-old (she wears an 11, so finding appropriate shoes in a style she’ll wear is next to impossible), and several friends immediately said they would look for hand-me-downs that would work for her. We did manage to find a pair of sneakers for half price at one store and a pair of boots that weren’t too expensive at another.

    We harvested a few cherry tomatoes from the garden. I have tons of tomatoes but they are taking their own sweet time ripening!

    We mainly ate at home, only got take-out once. I took leftovers for lunch most days and froze some others to eat in the future. My boss took the team out for lunch one day so I got a free meal.

    My nine-year-old is in the kitchen making herself some play-dough as I type this. 🙂

  29. WOW! Big changes for you and your family, Brandy. I hope the transition is going well and that the children are enjoying their new adventures at school. Your photo of Hamish is delightful – he’s growing so fast! Thanks for sharing.

    We currently send our children to a private school and are looking at charter school for high school (our children’s school only runs through middle school). I always laugh when people say that we need to be careful because high school is expensive – we’ve been paying tuition for school since the children were in preschool so by comparison it will feel very inexpensive! Elective classes cost something here too, though they used to be included in our taxes. Times change, I guess.

    Our school started charging a $2 fee at the beginning of the year for students to have access to a microwave at lunch. The key card activates the microwave (i.e. unlocks the key screen for use) and the money goes to replace the microwave when it needs that. I love being able to send leftovers for lunch!

    Here’s the link to our frugal happenings this past week:
    A couple of highlights: lots of garden produce including tomatoes and winter squash and a little update of things that happened this summer.

    Have a wonderful week everyone,

  30. Wow! What a big change for your kiddos! I agree about the crazy class fees for public school here. You lucked out on the yearbook cost though.. when our oldest was in high school, the “early bird” price was $75. She never wanted a yearbook, so we didn’t have to pay it. LOL

    It wasn’t a frugal week for us… unexpected vehicle repairs have us scrambling to cover costs a bit. I’m blessed to have a friend that is incredibly knowledgeable in repairing cars (and has a shop/garage with a vehicle lift) at his house, so he’s doing the work for us at no cost – other than parts. My husband’s motorcycle is also out of commission at the moment (he rides this most of the time because it costs less to use) so he’s been driving *my* minivan. I’ve been “homebound” since Saturday, and it’s been nice. LOL

    After my girls start their school lessons for the day, I’m going to do a detailed inventory of our pantry, food storage, fridges and freezers. I know my grocery/household supply budget has been out of control this summer. With the Christmas season (rapidly) approaching, I need to get a better handle on things.

  31. Public school here in our county charges no fees for electives, health, or media. I’m just astounded that that is required at your local schools. Wow. The kids here can wear sandals to school and don’t need watches or earbuds (although most have earbuds already — they seem to sprout out of every kid’s ears). High school and middle school do have a yearbook cost, and extra-curricular activities like team sports or cheerleading, can be very expensive. The seniors take a “senior trip”, usually to New York City, which is costly, but they do fundraisers to help parents out. Even so, only about a tenth of the class actually goes on the school trip. The long list of school supplies for every grade is always a killer, though. I’ll never forget the year my daughter and her classmates each had to bring a roll of toilet paper to school, to help the school supply the bathrooms the last 3 months of the year when funds ran out.

    That is a darling baby picture! He is such a cutie! What big eyes he has.

    I am still painting at my house, but the end of one painting project is in sight. I need to get paint matched for yet another painting project, soon. They seem to have all come at once.

    I’ve really been doing well on using leftovers. I hope this trend continues.

    I trimmed my bangs some more — I didn’t trim enough last time so I needed to do it again.

    I continue to use the free version of Every Dollar to track my budget.

    I continue to wait very impatiently for an end to the suffocating heat, bugs and humidity that is Florida summer.

  32. A couple other things I did to save money and be eco-friendly was to make my own beeswax wraps. I’ll link the tutorial that I used below. I just used whatever scraps of cotton that I had around the house and bought one small bag of beeswax pellets at michaels with a coupon. They work great. Just hand rinse in cold water to clean. To use, just roll in your hand for a minute and viola!

    I also made a bunch of reusable bags in different sizes. traditional sandwich size, the size of the store brand snack size and some half that size (so they’re a small square). I used the PUL cloth diaper material and bulk roll of zipper. The PUL can be expensive, but I found the cheapest way to buy it is at Joann’s with a coupon and in the 3pk, not by the yd.
    I just made my own pattern so I don’t have a link, but there are plenty on pinterest. I’ve had mine for 6 years now and they still look and work as though I just made them. I used pinking shears to cut the fabric and then just did a basic seam. They work great for things like cut up oranges. The only thing that hasn’t worked well for me is watermelon, all other melons have been fine. For snack things like crackers, they only stay fresh for the day so just a heads up.

    To clean I just turn them inside out and wash them by hand, then hand them up to dry. Usually every other week, I will throw them in the washer with my other kitchen towels including the dryer and they’re still fine.

  33. Having experienced all forms of schooling from private to public to homeschooling and even boarding school, I fully understand the scrambling involved with the transitions. Am saying prayers for new routines to be established quickly.

    Today my son and I start back east for the school year. This year’s goals are to pay off some debt. I am looking forward to recovering from the family economic depression that cost us so. We will visit my elderly parents on the way back.

    These past two weeks have been a blur, but here are our frugal accomplishments. We opened our home to a new friend for a week, and had one of my daughter’s friends from high school visit. This meant that I had to be quite inventive as we needed to stop buying groceries and start putting money away for our drive back. Accomplished!

    Because of construction next door, we now have wood drying to be split next summer. It is finally a relief to be preparing ahead. Having grown up in a farm, I am always looking at least 2 years ahead.

    I did not finish all of my summer list, so will be taking some mending, sewing and studying back with me. It was surprisingly much more time consuming to unpack and get this house in order. It was my priority and it is accomplished! This past week when I should have been a busy bee, I was not feeling well (better now) and was showing our guest around the National Parks. Free with a park pass. We waited to renew our pass till we needed to and have managed to get it through next summer as well!

    Frugality, we went out for a stargazing party my son planned. He has some serious telescopes and we enjoyed a free evening together.

    We have been mainly eating out of the freezer and cupboards. I will be looking through our stored food and will be bringing some of it back for this winter. I took advantage of some free food this summer and have a box of potatoes to take as well. I scooped up 4 unwanted eggplant and my husband will be slicing, frying and breading them for the freezer. We will eat them this Christmas. My husband was given a gift certificate (for helping a friend) to one of our favorite restaurants and we will save that for Christmas as well.

    We are celebrating our son’s birthday today (since we are all together) and I was able to buy him a number of used items to wrap. We are making homemade icecream in the icecream maker using free heavy cream. Yum!

    My new glasses broke. I was so sad as it took me a long time to save for them. My husband was able to fix them, and I will check on a warranty when I return next week. Otherwise, I’ll have to replace the frames for 200.00.

    We have watched many things on Netflix as it is my daughter’s account and we don’t have access at school either.

    Happy frugal-ing

  34. Your baby is so cute! And I’m impressed that you were able to send your kids off to school with so little prep time — that can be a lot of work!

    My week was pretty full too. I managed to get some frugal things done anyway.
    – I made Smashed Chickpea Salad, stuffed into mini croissants, along with some homegrown baby lettuce ( . This is an inexpensive source of vegetarian protein, and even my meat-loving DH ate it happily. Yay!
    – I cut swiss chard, baby lettuce, basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, mint, and oregano from my balcony garden. I posted a picture of my garden produce in the link above. I used some of the rosemary to make rosemary roasted potatoes, ate the lettuce in a salad, stir-fried the swiss chard, and fried up the green tomatoes. I dehydrated the basil, parsley, thyme, mint, oregano, and remaining rosemary, and added it to my pantry.
    – Using the BUNZ trading app, I traded some seasickness bracelets that my husband got me to help with morning sickness (but that didn’t work for me) plus some of the digital currency that the app uses, for a sealed bag of flaxseed meal. This will be perfect to make replacement ‘eggs’ when baking. I also traded a book I no longer wanted for a 6-pack of San Pellegrino limonata (perfect to help with my on-going morning sickness), and traded another book for a mascara. I will likely gift the mascara to a family friend.
    – I redeemed Swagbucks for a $10 gc to Starbucks.
    – My work had a dinner out and paid for everyone. I ended up not eating my main course (just ate the sides, as I also ate appetizers) and brought home the main course. The DH ate it for his dinner. Two dinners for the price of none!
    – I made the fried rice recipe that Rhonda posted about a few weeks ago. Delicious, plus it used up some frozen vegetables that I had.
    – I made a triple batch of laundry detergent.
    – I redeemed some Scene points (I had about half the amount needed, and the company sent me a temporary top-up as an incentive to use them) to send my husband to the movies for free. He likes to watch scary movies and I do not, so I told him to choose a scary movie that I would not like, as I’d rather be resting at home. Free movie and happy husband!
    – I cat-house-plant-sat for a friend and was paid in cash.
    – I used the Amazon giftcards from Swagbucks that I have been saving for many months, plus my cat-house-plant-sitting earnings, to buy a number of items that I had been wanting: a food slicer; a dress for my baby shower; some Barkeeper’s Friend polish, so that I can scrub things (pregnancy: it makes me want to both scrub all the things and rest, at the same time); a cookie cutter for my baby shower; charcoal toothpaste, and bentonite clay. I’m hoping the latter two items will heal/address some of the dental issues I’ve developed due to pregnancy. The latter two items will be frugal if they save me dental care down the road. I’m pleased that I found a way to get some ‘wants’ without impacting our day-to-day budget.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone, as always!

  35. I found the ice packs at Dollar Tree. I got 3 (only 1 in school this year)
    An idea for a nice hot lunch when it is cooler; I make a nice hot soup and drop a warm hot dog into the soup to keep it warm. I add a bun or bread and that is a sandwich and soup easy a can be. My grandson loves this.
    Your baby is very beautiful.

  36. Wow Brandi big changes! I wish your children well in school. Thank God you got the kids in the bus… it’s not an option for my children go to on the bus…the go to the school my sister in law works.
    I had 2 no spend days which is my new goal. It used to be 1 day a week no spend. I got some great deals at Kroger this week.

  37. Hello from the beautiful Appalachian mountains of Virginia! This past week I was able to can another 12 pints of green beans and 6 pints of salsa from the garden. We have more summer squash than I know what to do with, but I have shared and frozen as much as possible. I have dried parsley for the year. As I am newly retired, I was able to stay home most of the week saving gas. I used store coupons to get free 18 count eggs plus a few other items at a discount with sales and coupons. I have only spent $23 on groceries for the week. As a retired teacher of 38 years (both private and public schools) I know parents are asked for a lot of supplies. On average I would spend $1500 per year on supplies for my students. This was just markers, cleaning supplies, etc. The most I was ever allotted for supplies from a district was $150 for the year. Most years it was $100. Some years just $50 depending on the economy. From that money I would have to buy construction paper, markers, paint, glue, gluesticks, pencils, erasers, manipulatives, etc. It never went far enough so that is why I would spend the extra money of my own. I always wanted to provide my students with the best opportunities and experiences and supplies as I could to get the job done. I believe that is the philosophy of the majority of teachers out there. It is not uncommon to work 10-12 hours a day plus a day on the weekend. We do it for the kids. We do it for the future. Any teacher, whether homeschool, public or private, works hard and appreciates anything parents can contribute. Brandy, I hope your children enjoy the experience public school provides. Thanks for the uplifting and helpful posts. You make a true difference!

  38. I don’t post often, but as a former public school teacher, I would like to comment on the costs associated with public school. My husband and I graduated from expensive private academies and our parents really never recovered financially. We made the decision to enroll our daughters into the excellent public schools of our district, which are located in a very high income zip code. Our school district receives large financial infusions from local taxes to supplement the poor investment from the state. Parents don’t pay a lot of fees and teachers have the supplies/equipment/materials they need so they don’t spend their own money for their classrooms.
    However, I recently taught kindergarten in a high poverty district for several years where there was very little money/tax revenue from local cities. Parents rarely sent anything on the supply list and like all other teachers in the school, I spent a lot of my own meager salary on supplies. As the years have gone by, too many states have cut funding for public schools and shifted the costs both to parents in the way of fees and to teachers, who feel they must spend their own money. It is not a fair system, at least in my state.

  39. What a beautiful baby boy, Brandy!

    I have finally unpacked our medicine cabinet and personal care items. I told DH we weren’t spending a nickel on this stuff again until we use up everything we already have. I am not kidding…this will save us $100s.

    I used $1.75 in coupons at the grocery store for items we use all the time. I have not couponed for a couple of years, but I’m trying to justify my newspaper subscription, LOL. I cut a .75 coupon out of yesterday’s paper.

    I bought fabric for curtains for a room that doesn’t yet have curtains. I was able to use Jo-Ann’s coupons for everything I bought–60% off one item, 50% off another and 50% off all notions.

    I washed a pair of light blue suede slip-on shoes in the washing machine and they turned out great! They really weren’t wearable before, so I figured I wasn’t out anything if it didn’t work.

    I cooked extra rice the night we had shrimp Creole. We ate all of the shrimp out of the sauce (of course!) but DH had rice and sauce for lunch the next day. I used the leftovers for fried rice another night. This wasn’t so much a moneysaver as a timesaver, but that counts for something, too.

    We drink a lot of 100% grape juice. I always use 4 cans of water, instead of 3, because we think it tastes lighter and fresher. But one can of frozen juice concentrate gives us 60 ounces of juice vs. 48 ounces. Over time, it adds up.

    I gratefully received irises in two colors from a friend. The white ones were originally mine, LOL. And, while unpacking almost the last of our stuff, I came across a pair of shorts and a pair of capris that i’d forgotten about. Wish I’d unpacked that box back in June!

  40. I hope DD finds more foods she likes to eat!
    Of all the things I would do differently for my now-adult autistic son, teaching him to eat a variety of healthy foods tops the list. I could not know how patiently helping him as a child would be so important now, for his weight, his health, and his overall independence.

  41. We homeschooled [before it was popular or even accepted], public schooled and private schooled our two boys. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these systems. The advantage is they experienced different ways to learn knowledge. Eventually they learned to self educate themselves. Today they are both IT Developers. I am sure your children will find their path to knowledge as well.

  42. The “Ziploc Divided Container” (on Amazon) is our family’s favorite lunch “bento box.” We’ve tried all kinds of fancier ones but these are the cheapest, non-leak option we’ve found. And no small lids to lose! Each one has lasted about 3 years with dishwasher cleaning.

  43. Hope it goes well for your kids at public school. You accomplished a lot in a short time.

    It was a frustrating week here. My doors were supposed to be installed on Thurs and Fri, and my new bathroom sink (to replace the one I cracked) was supposed to be put in on Thurs as well. I called early in the week about the doors to make sure they would be arriving on time. The person I spoke to said yes, definitely, they would be there. At 9am Thurs morning, I received a call where that same person told me my doors were unfortunately not ready yet (the supplier was still busy painting them and the necessary trim). As soon as I hung up, the sink guy arrived. He came in and took a look, and told me that he doesn’t install that kind of sink (undermount), because of liability problems. I had already paid for this service, and it was clearly written on the invoice. So he just left, and I still have a cracked sink. I called the company and they refunded what I had paid. Apparently someone new was handling the install order, and didn’t know about that policy.

    To say I was mad would be an understatement. Once I calmed down, I called around and got a couple (very expensive) quotes for the sink replacement. The next day, I called the door place back, and they said they would call me once the doors were done, and find us a place on the schedule. I requested a discount in the amount of income I lost because I took a day off for the install. They seemed amenable to that, and put a note in the file. She rep the procedure is to talk to her boss once the install is done, to settle up the total. So I will wait until then.

    The good news is that I managed to get my painting project done. The bedroom looks great and I am so thankful to have it completed, with everything back in its proper place.

    Frugal stuff:
    * I cooked at home all meals except two. My mom took me out to lunch one day. I used up leftovers in creative ways and put a few things in the freezer for easy work lunches.
    * In prepping for the door and trim install, I thoroughly cleaned the bathroom and the kitchen floor. So they were sparkling clean, and I enjoyed that.
    * As soon as I finished painting, I lent my ladder and painting supplies to my neighbor. He was thrilled he didn’t have to buy all this stuff new.
    * And I did all the normal stuff I do: washed ziplocs, made water kefir, enjoyed the view from our patio, used the internet for entertainment, read library books, etc.
    * The air quality here (Seattle area) has been really bad, so I didn’t spend as much time outdoors as I normally do. But I managed to amuse myself inside.

    I have a question about the comments posted. I come back a couple times during the week to read them, and they seem to jump around in a strange way. For example, early last week, there were two pages of comments. When I checked back later, a bunch of new comments had appeared, but they were mixed in between page one and the original page two (and these weren’t replies to other comments). I just wondered if anyone else had experienced this, or maybe my browser was doing something strange.

    Have a great week, everyone.

  44. Brandy, Your children will add so much to their schools. Their teachers will adore them and will appreciate their manners and work ethic. I am a school librarian in a public school, and have had many homeschoolers join my school. They thrive beautifully and have no trouble fitting in. I can’t think of one homeschooler who was led down the wrong path by others when they made the switch. I know that is a concern. Public school is an education in itself. Our kids were beautifully prepared academically for college and didn’t freak out when they went to college 1000 miles away. They had already been exposed to all types of people and situations. In public school, I think you learn a lot about who you are by seeing who you are not. It prepares you nicely for the real world.
    You would be surprised how much money teachers shell out each year for supplies. I buy sooo much Kleenex and so many containers of disinfecting wipes to clean my library books and tables, etc.. I also spend my own money buying books here and there for children who are going through a rough time. I would advise getting your children good crayons (not Rose Art which are like using a candle to color with) and good pencils (Dixon or Ticonderoga). Get quality and they won’t need to be replaced as often. You will enjoy hearing all the stories your children come home with!

  45. What a week you’ve had. There must have been some long hours thinking and talking about the decision, as well as getting ready. I am sure your children will enjoy the new classes that help them explore their interests. They have had a very solid grounding from you though, so they know how to learn, and they know how to work in a team, which will be important. It is a big adjustment to your schedule at home, though.

    This week was ruled getting my cat to the vet and by my internet going down for three days.

    I had a limited amount available to pay the vet, but got one set of blood-work done. Another look at the blood-work by a specialist will happen this week. I got enough results to have a sense of what the problems could be, which are fairly typical chronic conditions for a senior cat. The cat has new (and much more expensive) food, which seems to have settled his stomach, which was the problem as far as the cat knew! I am getting a 10% senior discount, which definitely helps in vet bills.

    To have money for the vet, I postponed paying the phone and internet bill. The internet service went off. I thought it was because the phone company limited my services because of the bill. When I found money for the phone/internet, it turned out to have been a technical issue. The wireless went off, which the system itself noticed and corrected to a miscellaneous alphanumeric user name and password, which was not the plain English ones the company had converted me to so I could recognize and remember them. As soon as I realized that, I remembered the codes were on the modem, and had the internet going again within a few seconds. Unfortunately, I lost three days of transcription work with the internet off, and thought for a while, I wouldn’t have it on again for another 10 days. This was very worrying, because it is the third week in a row that I haven’t been able to do more than a few dollars’ transcription work.

    I had an errand to do in the city. I debated taking the bus, because of the undiagnosed whistle the car is making. The timing wouldn’t work, so I took the car. I had a complicated plan for what I would do if it broke down at different spots on the journey. It made the whistling noise from kilometer 35 to 55. I stopped to pick up some coffee, and give the car a break. It did not start whistling again for the remaining 100 km into the city nor for the 155 km back. Not a very relaxing drive, but I was happy with the way it worked out.

    I finished paying off a very large bill. It won’t improve my monthly cash flow, but it is a big worry off my mind.

    Physically, I wasn’t feeling well. I had severe muscle cramps caused by taking ibuprofen for arthritis pain, so I’ve cut back on it, so I am feeling the arthritis much more. I need to do some research and talk to my doctor about some options. We also had very bad smoke from forest fires a few hundred kilometers away, which triggers allergy symptoms for me.

    I am hoping to get back into a normal routine this week.

  46. New adventures for everyone! Whatever your private reasons are, (and they are private reasons, especially as relates to individuals in your home), from being a reader for about a year, I have no doubt you are acting prudently for your family right now, as is the name of your blog.

    Is your charming baby’s name pronounced “HAY-mish” or “HAM-ish”? I have read it but never heard it spoken.

  47. Many changes going on it sounds like! I have been accompanying my son and grandson on their bts excursions over the past couple of weeks. It’s a lot! And yes, can be pricey for sure. Our public schools started back today.

    Does your children’s school(s) have a “free lunch” program? If they do, and you qualify, that could take a big load off right there. Both money and time wise. When mine were in school, many years ago, and I was a struggling single mom, they could go a bit early for breakfast as well.

    I will join the others in the curiosity of what led to the decision to have the children attend public school, if you don’t mind me/us asking? I guess it’s only natural that we would be interested. I have done it both ways and can see the value of each.

    I’ll keep y’all in my prayers for a smooth transition.

  48. What a gorgeous baby boy! You are a powerhouse of a mom. I don’t know how you manage to bake bread in the mornings before school along with packing lunches and home schooling the rest of the kids. My kids are also in the Clark County School District and it may be worth looking into signing up for the free lunch program. With such a large household you may very well qualify and it would free up some money and time. At the end of this year or next your orchestra student will probably be invited to go on a class trip to Disneyland or Universal Studios. That is running us about $300 per kid every year and the band teacher says it’s not optional since they need to perform all together. As far as school supplies go, I’ve since learned to wait to find out what they really need. I just buy a few basics and then the teachers tell them what they want specifically (like a yellow 1 inch binder instead of the 2 inch black one we purchased ect) To my past frustration one of two teachers always have a requirement like this and the stuff we bought from the list goes unused. One year I bought an $8 pack of highlighters because a purple highlighter was on the list and the only one I could find was in a multipack. Only to find out later that she only used the yellow one and only a few times.

    Sorry, I don’t really have any frugal accomplishments to share except that I picked three Armenian cucumbers and a few small Stupice tomatos. My pears are tiny still (Bartlett and Shinseiki) but they may not get big this year since I only just planted them last spring. I hope your kids like public school! If not look into the AAA Scholarship for a private school next year if you haven’t already done so.

  49. I know that was a tough decision to send your kiddos off to CCSD. Prayer’s for them and Mama for a great school year. Look at that sweet face, so precious!!

  50. I would do some research and see if the fees are actually required or “strongly encouraged”. I know here in BC, most are strongly encouraged but if you don’t want a yearbook, you don’t have to buy one…you can take woodworking, but without the fee, you get the basic wood, not the fancy kind. And, if it is truly a hardship, many schools and parent associations will reduce the costs. It has been my experience that my kids never used all the supplies that the teachers asked for. I got in the habit or sending the bare minimum, say of pencils, 2 or 3 and then sending more as my child needed them. That way the extra I paid for weren’t going to supply the entire class or lost in the shuffle.
    Good luck with your new routine!

  51. Such a busy and expensive week for you.
    We keep hoping to turn a corner, but as my husband asked last week… “Why is the house trying to kill us?” In the last week (1) a rodent tried to chew through a wall, (2) a breaker in the kitchen started tripping, (3) the washing machine spazzed and (4) The microwave’s 5 button no longer works and (5) we have a foundation issue (a cheap fix, but a nasty one as we’re on a pier foundation) and (6) the IRS says we owe another $2,000 in taxes..
    In a week. One week.
    And we still don’t have AC on the second floor.
    I have no idea how we’re going to come up with the money for all of this, and I’m trying to remain calm and attack each problem one at a time. I know God will provide a path, but I am still feeling quite overwhelmed right now.

  52. We did. A yearbook is not required (but my son is taking yearbook, so I know he will want one), but the $25 per elective class is required, and taking an elective is required. The $20 media fee is required. Every student is issued a Chromebook and they are required to do their schoolwork. Most classes do not get a book; for example, there is no math book or English book. If the computer is damaged, the parents are responsible to pay $300. The students must bring their computers fully charged every morning. Knowing there are 12,000 homeless students in our district, I can’t help but wonder how they will pay for these things and also how they are supposed to have their computers charged.

  53. Wow! So many changes and what a crazy, busy time for you and the children. I am always shocked when friends with children still in public school mention all the supplies they have to purchase now and yes, schools in wealthier areas do much better as parents can offer so much more. And then there’s the shoes, clothing, special activities, lunch boxes etc. it really is mind boggling. Good luck with this big change. The kids up here don’t go back to school until after Labour Day but the shops are packed!
    And Hamish is adorable – what big blue eyes!
    My week started out with a purchase of an IKEA metal shelving unit for my dining room – but – a friend was able to drive me, help with the loading and unloading, and transport it for me so no delivery costs. Even though I spent about $100 in the end it will save me money. It led to a lot of purging and cleaning as I moved items and furniture around but now I have easy access to appliances that were on a high shelf in my pantry and my kitchen is set up much more efficiently. I thought that I would have to purchase more storage items but after sending a ton of things to recycling and reorganizing others I found that I actually have storage boxes, bins and glass jars left over!
    A friend who lives in the same building is moving so I am going to take over her basement locker as she can walk straight in to hers but my locker is in a room that has to be accessed by stairs (building is on a slope) and since I have mobility issues this will make life easier. She is also giving me a bookcase that she is not taking with her so this will go into the locker (each locker is about 4 feet by 6 feet) and I will also repurpose an old TV stand that I was going to throw out – these will keep things off the floor and make them more accessible. As I swap things over I will continue to purge and those extra storage bins & boxes I’ve accumulated will come in handy.
    I found a few more items on sale to add to my pantry and non-food storage cupboards and used $40 worth of Loyalty points to pay for them. I put in extra hours at my PT job so that will help next month.
    I did 4 loads of laundry but only used the dryer for 1 – hung up the rest to dry.
    Made another trip to the library to pick up books I’d had on hold so there will be a lot more reading over the next few weeks. I really enjoyed both “Red Joan” and “The Gravity of Birds” and I’m now in the middle of “The Death of Mrs. Westaway” – also really good.
    Looking forward to all the comments.

  54. What a wonderful newsy post complete with that adorable picture of Hamish!
    I’m another one wondering about the seemingly sudden decision to send some of the children to public school, especially since you got two of them all the way through. You have such complete curriculum listed that I wonder how public school will compare. Bet you’ll still have to continue with any handwriting exercises.
    Two of my grandchildren were homeschooled and switched over at seventh grade and freshman. They loved it because of all the friends they made and the younger one was nearly crying when the first summer vacation rolled around. I just happened to be taking care of them when the younger one needed to learn advanced multiplication. I still remember the thrill I got from his reaction when I opened the door to such a magical trick.
    Hope everything goes smoothly for you all with this big change.

  55. I, also, am going to give my two pennies worth about the school system.
    Sending all of the items asked for is often hard financially when you have more than one child in school, BUT if you don’t send the items it falls to the teacher to buy (in our school) or for your child to “borrow” a pencil, paper, whatever he/she needs from another child.
    My grandson sharpens his pencils down to tiny stubs and some children still ask to borrow a pencil from him. He lends gladly because he knows some of these children come to school with nothing they need.
    I am all about being prudent, but let us remember to help those poor children that have little to nothing at school. It isn’t their fault they don’t have the basics.
    School is not inexpensive.
    Our school system is broken. The teachers and administrators do the best they can (I think) with what they have. More parents and grandparents (like me) should step up and help when they can.
    I have no saving stories this week as my second grandchild started school today.
    Gaby started school last week.
    Zayne started this morning.
    It feels like it is going to be a long school year. *laughing*
    Brandy, bless your heart, sending your babies to school is chaos…pure and simple.
    That little one of yours looks like the rest of your babies and is just gorgeous.
    Thank you for all you do.

  56. Yikes! I never heard of payment for electives. One would think that the Las Vegas school system would be quite wealthy with tax money from casinos.

  57. Have you tried applying for free or reduced school lunch? With your income and family size
    you would probably qualify.

  58. Praying for you guys as you make this transition. All change (both good and bad) is stressful – no matter what the reason and no matter how confident you feel about your decision. So I am praying for your peace and that everyone has a good school year.

  59. 12000 Homeless students?!! I can’t wrap my mind around this. All of us here on this site are so incredibly fortunate to have a home.

  60. Just wanted to say that I admire you. I too have had to evaluate and re-evaluate and make changes based not on what I thought life was going to be like, but the reality of what it is. I know you and Steve did not come about this decision lightly, and I also know it’s not without its emotions and questions.

    No matter what anyone else says, you are the parents that God has chosen for these children, and believe that you love them with all your heart and will do whatever you can to do the very best for them; no matter what that means for today.

    I think you’re amazing 🙂

  61. My only advice is to remember that school fees are not taxes or mortgages. Public schools should understand and meet you where your family is at. I had a friend say she was overwhelmed one year with fees, so she paid in small monthly installments over the school year, etc. etc. We are at a new school this year and it is the first year we have had to pay substantial fees. Teachers do not get paid enough and schools operate on very small budgets, so they need the help from families. At the same time, I wish it wasn’t necessary and families could start the year stress free.

    I am a very strong believer in public education and I hope your kids have a wonderful experience!

  62. Hello Brandy
    Even though I’m older than you and have been pinching pennies so long, I always learn and am encouraged by you.

    I’m sad so many people are requesting the reasons you chose public school. It is a decision for you and your husband and even though you have a public blog, you truly don’t have to share more than you want to.

  63. Good luck to your children as they begin their new adventure! As a former public school teacher and a parent of grown children, I am amazed at the cost of public education these days! My children went to public schools before the onslaught of fees and supply requirements. Also, it was before the rise of technology (late 70’s, 80’s, early 90’s). Typically, we were required to fill a small plastic supply box with items like pencils, a box of crayons, a protractor etc. We picked up a few spiral notebooks when they were dirt cheap, some folders, loose leaf paper etc. It was not a hardship. But my youngest sister ,who had children much later, faced mounting school fees each year, and she was in an affluent school district. It cost to play in the band, participate in a sport etc.

  64. Made my grandson’s Green Lantern birthday cake and homemade chicken tenders. Oh that gorgeous baby. I hope you are pleased with the public schools. I taught for 31 years and they really are what you make of them. To me they are the last vestige of our democracy. Anyone can go and do their work and make something of themselves. I help my daughter by packing lunches for her three and the hardest if figuring out what to pack. Their friends always marvel at homemade cookies I send.

  65. Your positive attitude during this time of big change for your family is so refreshing and inspirational! You are such a great mom.

  66. Back to school time for us last week also…I kept it to a bare minimum since we are still trying to replace my vehicle.

    Got 11yo a $10 haircut at jcp salon

    While at the mall, we got her a tshirt and 2 tank tops at old navy for $10, then another tshirt at jcp for $5.

    Got her 4 more shirts, 3 pairs of shorts, and pack of new underwear at Walmart for $43. Used $17 from my savings catcher, so only out $26.

    We decided to hold off on shoes, her tennis shoes and sandals were replaced only a couple months ago.

    The majority of her supplies were provided by the school. We only had to buy pencils, Clorox wipes (already had) and Kleenex (already had)

    Hubby wanted to eat at his favorite Chinese buffet so we went for lunch instead of dinner ($6 less per person)

    Rented a movie from redbox using a free rental code

    Purchased some little house on the prairie books for $8 on a fb bst site. I’ve been wanting to get the set for a long time so this gives me a good start for cheaper

    My mom sent over 4 cans of tomato soup

    Made another batch of jerky using deer meat gave to us last year

    Listed several things online but no takers yet. Hopefully I can earn some money towards the vehicle fund

  67. The Prime Minister of Canada is a former teacher; perhaps that explains why the Government of Canada has introduced a tax deduction for teachers for supplies that teachers have paid for by themselves. I don’t know the details but it isn’t fair for teachers to have to pay for their own supplies.

    I myself am appalled at how much school fees are now. My parents never had to pay for such fees in the public system.
    I suppose they might have had to pay a token fee for after school activities such as volleyball. Private lessons such as piano of course were paid or by my parents but there was never these pricey fees for public tree.

  68. Tina,

    I think the reason comments seem to jump around is that, in the meantime, people have posted replies which then change the order.

  69. Rhonda, I am always so impressed and humbled by how patient you are with your daughter who has autism. I lack the patience when it comes to dealing with a relative with autism and find it very difficult not to make my impatience visible. I find myself wondering if I am not indulging him too much, attributing behaviors to his diagnosis when really he is just being obnoxious. Then I am ashamed of myself. I find it helpful to read your entries. Your daughter is lucky.

  70. We all have different seasons in life and make the necessary adjustments that benefit everyone. Embrace the new season and everything will work out. We buy LL Bean backpacks & they are rugged enough to last several years. Kids today do not carry the heavy textbooks of prior years–so much is on the computer now. Lunch boxes last several years. Computer insurance is my biggest school expense at $40/yer for 3 of my children but at least they have access to their laptop year long.You can always sew snack bags. I often use the plastic boxes that deli meat comes in for snacks. I use sandwich boxes to not crush their sandwiches. Besides sandwiches or salads I send the kids baked goods, cut up veg/fruit, frozen gogurt & popcorn. Get the kids hand sanitizers for their bags–I’ve had enough kids checking out bacteria levels in different places at school for science class (yuck). It also helps since they will be exposed to more people so they will come in contact with a lot of colds/viruses. Initially, they may catch more things or carry the germs home.
    Keep a stock of earbuds, they tend to go thru a lot. Always a great stocking stuffer item. Consider applying for the lunch discount. My school often applies discounts for other school fees based on eligibility for school lunch discounts. My children have had discounts for A/P test charges, college application fees and discounts for dual credit (HS and College credit classes). Always worth checking out.
    Last week my oldest daughter came for a visit. Was a wonderful visit. I gave her some items that I could not use or had extra of. She saved money by getting her hair cut her instead of the city where she lives. Gave my husband a hair cut. One daughter & I both decluttered. This daughter also gave extra clothes with her sister.
    Continued to harvest stringbeans–ate one meal and froze 2-1 gallon bags. Harvested beets–ate beets for 1 meal and used greens in a soup for lunch later in the week. Continued to munch on Cucumbers.
    Were give a plate of sandwiches and a plate of desserts which were leftovers from a local function.
    Wen’t to my nephew’s birthday party. We had snacks, cake & icecream & the kids went swimming.
    My daughter received a pile of clothes from a friend when the friend decluttered.
    Have a great week everyone!

  71. We live in the 5th largest school district in the nation. My 13-year-old son helped pack school supplies as part of Project 150 for homeless students, so thankfully, he will be aware that there are those in his classes who are homeless.

  72. The first grade class requires the items for the class, not the student, so pencils and crayons are given out for the class. I don’t want suplies to come from the teacher’s pocket, so I sent things, but it is weird to not have them be responsible for their own pencils every day.

  73. I know my computer is old and doesn’t show color properly, but does Hamish have red hair? He is absolutely beautiful!!!! Thanks for sharing a photo of him! Best of luck to your three in their new school! I’m sure they’ll flourish and make you proud! After all, they were raised by you!!!! I know public school can cost a lot of money, but just remember you do not have to send in everything that is asked of you (it is very nice to do, but don’t put undo pressure on yourself) or buy everything they send home for fundraisers, pictures, etc. Your children will get the same education either way!!!!

  74. Thank you so much for your kind comment. It is definitely not easy and very emotional–especially this morning when the school nurse called this morning to tell me my six-year-old landed on her back on the playground after trying the monkey bars. My daughter was sobbing on the phone.

  75. Brandy, my best to you and your family as you navigate this transition. The first week of school is always a whirlwind for those of us who send our children to SOTH. Things do get easier as you develop a routine that works for your family.

  76. I had the same problem recently, for the opposite reason. I began homeschooling my children with very little time to prepare. The transition was expensive. Because we live in a rural, low income area, school expenses were minimal. Homeschooling can be done frugally, but it has cost, and having everyone home, eating three meals a day at home, as well as finding school materials, and now paying for speech therapy out of pocket, has all been adding up.
    I wish you, and all of us parents who are doing our best, good luck.

  77. Some of our items are for the class also, but we send about 50 pencils for each child because we know the classroom needs them. My daughter did have problems one year because she bought high-end plastic folders for Zayne and the teacher put them in the pile for the classroom.
    I think teaching is not for the faint of heart. Like you, I don’t want the teachers to use their own money to buy for the kids.
    I do wish that classrooms were more about learning responsibility for our own things. *sad chuckle* That seems to have fallen by the wayside.
    There are so many people that can’t afford (through hard times or bad decisions) proper things for their children at school. What the answer it…I don’t know.
    Wishing you a wonderful week.
    It must seem strange not having those babies in your house.

  78. My daughter also has weight issues, which is why I focus on trying to improve her eating habits. I am preparing for the possibility that she will require living off government disability, which is not a lot of money each month. So I am trying to teach her how to cook with inexpensive, but healthy food options before she is living on her own. As you know, it takes a long time to teach these concepts to Autistic kids. Just hope she gets there before she moves into her adult years!

  79. After 5 years of home schooling, I have sent my youngest 2 children to public school as well (6th and 7th grade.) My daughter called me this morning because she forgot something for a class and has to stay after school for an hour (it’s called 0 hour). She was so upset and started crying on the phone. This is a tough transition for all of us!

  80. Sorry, I’m not sure how the word “tree” got in my reply. It should have said “but there was never these pricey fees for public school”.

  81. Just a word of caution so your kids don’t get in trouble – some schools do not allow kids to share/trade food items due to allergies. You might want to check on that to make sure it’s allowed.

  82. Yep, Autistic people can be naturally obnoxious. They don’t realize they are, but they are. What helps is to understand why they do the things they do. Usually it is a self preservation thing, not an “I like to annoy you” thing. It really does help you to be more patient when you understand their logical reasoning (which is very different than our logical reasoning) behind the behaviour. For instance, my teenage daughter HATES clothes shopping. Clothing is irritating and annoying to her touch sensory, so the idea of trying on a bunch of clothes is equivalent to us putting on extremely scratchy wool clothing and wearing it for hours in extreme heat. She will fight me on going every single time, complain loudly/rudely in the stores and beg me constantly to take her go home. It’s obnoxious…but I make her suffer through it about twice a year (school clothes and summer clothes), so I know about what size to get her and have an idea of what styles/colours she gravitates towards. After I know, often I finish up clothes shopping without her. I usually buy multiples of the same pants and pick out shirts I know she would like that are comfy. Because in reality, I’m not always so patient…she’s really good at wearing it thin and jumping up and down on my last nerve!:p

  83. I believe it’s two posts back, in Rhonda’s comment for the week. The title was something like best-ever fried rice. I really liked the seasoning! I personally doubled the amount of vegetables and put in two eggs as opposed to one.

  84. Wow! What a change for your family!

    This week I have canned more green beans, garlic jelly, Victorian BBQ sauce, ketchup, and pasta sauce. We have also continued to eat from the garden.

    We managed to keep our data usage down, saving us money. We also paid a bill online.

    My husband was in a wedding for a good friend this weekend, which was not frugal. But it was so worth it.

  85. Having spent 16 years packing lunches, a few tips- hot liquid items dont tend to travel well, especially with younger children. The thermos NEVER gets put back together correctly, which means the spoonful or two they dont eat ends up all over the lunch box. Casseroles, baked potatoes/sweet potatoes cut up do better. Try to avoid hot items and items needing to be kept colder (cheese, fruits) the same day- between the theros and the ice pack, everything ends up room temperature by lunch. When packing moist sandwich filings- egg/meat/tuna salad, it’s better to either pack the fillings and bread separate and let them assemble it (if old enough) or use 2 pieces on cheese between the filling and bread to keep the bread from getting soggy. Same with peanut butter and jelly- use PB on both pieces of bread with the jelly between. Wrapping sandwiches in wax paper also help avoid sogginess. Homemade pizza and bosco sticks which can be eaten cold are big hits. Mini muffins and cupcakes are easy to make and portion into bags for desserts, as are bar cookies and other bars. Pudding and jello travel well in plastic containers with tight fitting lids, and plastic spoons are worth the investment to avoid the silverware being thrown out. Pre packing lunches (except for sandwiches) the night before and keeping them in the fridge can make mornings much less hectic.

  86. Congratulations on getting everyone off to school in such short notice. I hope you all have a great school year.
    And I love the photo of Hamish.
    The fan motor in our freezer was going out. My husband ordered the part and replaced it himself.
    I mended a pair of capris. I sewed three Christmas gifts.
    I baked sandwich bread, French bread, and chocolate chip cookies.
    I harvested lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, mint, sage, green beans, zucchini, chard, radishes and a zucchini from the garden.
    There is a gala apple tree in the parking lot of J.C. Penny’s and I noticed the other day it was loaded down with apples. Sunday afternoon my husband and I went by there and picked what apples we could reach. Two years ago when we picked there the apples were beautiful. This year, squirrels had gotten into the tree and taken a bite out of almost every apple. We picked them anyway and when I got home I cut out any bitten or bad spots and made 7 pints of applesauce. We really like applesauce and eat a lot of it.
    I made a get well card for a friend.

  87. Wow, Brandy, you have had a busy week! Hopefully you can settle into a comfortable routine. And Hamish is absolutely adorable! He must be such a joy!

    We had a pretty quiet week here. We ate all meals and home and my husband took his lunch every day. I have been spending a bit more on groceries as I’m really trying hard to stockpile for the fall and winter when we will be busier and the weather can be more unpredictable. My son and I headed to the other end of town this morning to two resale stores and came back with $82 for our efforts. I immediately ordered some cases of tomatoes, tomato sauce and fruit cocktail. The rest of the money will go into savings.

    Hope everyone has a lovely week!

  88. Me too. I have nothing but admiration for you Brandy! Here in Australia, we do not have all this carry-on about school supplies. Yes there are lists, but they are not nearly so extensive or prescriptive. You ladies should all lead a revolt against it 🙂

  89. It’s strange though, because it’s not just replies to existing posts that show up in between, but a bunch of brand new entries not in response to another comment (=they are not indented).

  90. I’ve just been trying to do the typical things to be frugal. It’s been especially easy since I have been working 6 days a week, on average, ha ha.

    I imagine your children were pretty excited to “go” to school, yes? But I am sure your feelings have been mixed. However the choice came about I am willing to bet that it was well thought out, even if it were last minute. Best wishes to them on this endeavor. Though I know you have well prepared them.

  91. Hello Brandy and other frugal friends,
    I started a new job this week and have taken my lunch from leftovers. My daughter wanted a new lunch box and she picked up this one at Sam’s with a bento box in it: It was a good price and it comes with two built in freezer packs. I made lots of great meals this week with sale priced groceries. My husband built new shelves all the way across the laundry room for additional pantry items. I love it. He then decided the laundry room also needed painted. He used paint he picked up at a garage sale to complete it and shelves he had already. The only item purchased was two pieces of trim for less than 2 bucks!! yay!
    Now I can see all the items that I have and what is needed. Garden is producing great and the second planting of tomatoes have tons on them for later this season. Some meals consist of only what is growing. I love this! Have a great week!

  92. Oh, I can relate! First week of K4, my daughter tried to swing with no hands because someone told her to. She landed on her nose; it was faaaaaat. Worst part was that I had failed to give the school my cell phone number (this was back before it was quite as popular) and wasn’t home to get the call. Ooooh, I felt awful.

    But, she started her senior year today, so I guess she survived 😀

    And I fell off the monkey bars in third grade. I think it’s required. 😉

  93. Well said Brandy, when it comes to the children it’s you and your husband’s private decision regarding their education. We chose to send our sons to a fee paying school which is very different to our family and friends and we faced many, many questions and vocal misgivings! It’s been extremely difficult financially but our boys are thriving and thankfully this is the last year for our eldest and only 3 more years left for our youngest, we are nearly there!! Good luck with everything Brandy!! Xx

  94. Brandy, I totally agree with the above comments. You have all my admiration. You are an amazing person, mother, and wife. I myself find August/September so stressful, financially and otherwise, for our family. I am in awe of how you find solutions for the most challenging situations. I just love your blog; it inspires me weekly. For the record, I am a liberal Catholic working mother of two who lives in the Northeast; I am perhaps very different from you in some ways, but I share your unwavering commitment to family and to making life beautiful on a budget. I think you rock!!! And I’ll be thinking extra hard about you and your family as you make this transition, wishing you all the best.

  95. Hi Vivian. Here is the link to the recipe I used for fried rice: So far at least 3 people that post comments here have tried it and really enjoyed it. It’s very frugal, and vegetarian friendly (though leftover chicken or pork could easily be added). Also, you can add whatever veggies you want, so feel free to get creative with your favourites (like mushrooms, peppers, onions, bean sprouts, cabbage, spinach, squash, etc.).

    Here’s a bonus recipe link for BBQ chickpeas: Instead of using them in this salad, I made BBQ chickpea ranch wraps (BBQ chickpeas, cheese, ranch dressing and lettuce, spinach or whatever fresh green you want to use). I made these wraps for my co-workers for a potluck. Everyone raved about them…some even asked for the recipe! Super frugal and another tasty way to enjoy chickpeas!!!

  96. Oh, Brandy, I was one of those asking why, and I apologize, I truly didn’t stop to think
    what an intrusive question that is.

  97. Blessings to you and your family. Thank you for sharing as much as you do. Free school lunches are a good back-up, if one qualifies. Also there are programs for fee waivers for AP exams (based on income and family size), one just needs to ask.

    I have been house sitting. I haven’t driven much, so saved on gas. I brought fruit from our trees at home, that lasted me the 2 weeks. I’ve been farther from shopping, so not much extra spending. I’ve had lots of time to think and have figured out some things I want to do at home.

  98. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia 🙂 .

    What a big change in routine for you Brandy organising the children for school. I am sure they will be well adjusted with all the training and hard work you have done with educating them at home and with social adjustment too :). Glad you have been able to supply additional food from your gardens and your well stocked pantry too.

    We also made a huge adjustment in the way we do things in stocking our pantry and buying groceries and in the budget this month too. Our local grocery store has e-vouchers every 3 months where we can buy $240 e-vouchers for $200 saving us 16.66% on all our groceries. Looking at the budget most of our large bills come in at the end of the year which is a battle most of the time to juggle to pay them so we decided we would buy 6 e-vouchers to get us through to the end of the year reducing expenses we have to pay out later in the year. We then couple these e-vouchers with any 50% off weekly sales on groceries to get a total of 66.66% off groceries that we use that do come on special which really helps build up our food storage more and we can stretch out the vouchers and use them at the best times to save the most money.

    Our savings added up to $764.12 last week :).

    Here is what we accomplished and how we got ahead last week –

    Home organisation –
    – Deep cleaned the whole house from top to bottom ready for our rental inspection, due to dust storms because of the current drought here saving $200 + over hiring someone to do it for us.

    In the kitchen –
    – Made 2.736 kg of magic mix to make white sauces and chocolate puddings with saving $83.71 over purchasing premade white sauce in the supermarkets.
    – Made a 3 kg quadruple batch of magic mix chocolate pudding from our magic mix saving us $16.50 over purchasing it in the local supermarket. This fed our 2 guests and us for dinner and the both of us for 2 more days for dessert.

    Finances –
    – Banked more money into our saving for our home deposit bank account bringing us to 27.65% of the way there.
    – DH banked his tax return money into the house deposit account.

    Purchases –
    – Purchased 1 kg of organic Ceylon cinnamon powder on eBay for food storage saving $28.92 over buying it in the supermarket.
    – Bought 20 sets of sound deadening silicone ear plugs with cords on eBay saving $87.31 over purchasing them in the local hardware store.
    – Purchased 6 x $240 Woolworths supermarket e-vouchers on eBay for $200 each saving us $240 in grocery costs. As we need to use these we will couple this with any weekly specials we find for more savings.

    In the garden –
    – Picked 1.1 kg of cherry tomatoes and 2.165 kg of broccoli from the gardens saving $29.44 over purchasing in the supermarkets.
    – Separated out 239 g of rosemary picked and dried from the gardens saving $35.61 over purchasing it in the supermarkets.

    Hope everyone has a great week ahead.


  99. Hi Margie,

    Your reorganization sounds really excellent! I am impressed!

    When a friend (the guilty party who left boxes in the middle of the hall) dropped off with some fresh veggies, I decided to use the last meat I had in my freezer. It is a small portion of brisket of beef. I decided to use the new little gadget (fortunately not thrown away) to julienne the zucchini and some carrots and to make twice boiled beef. I had this dish 40 years ago in Salzburg (Tafelspitz) and loved it. So I saved an onion, browned the meat, and
    put water into the Dutch oven. I used to have 3 Dutch ovens but after the rampage of my kitchen (aka the friends who spread chaos in my life) I now only have 1 Dutch oven. I just had to laugh because I went to put the lid on the beef when I discovered that the remaining lid doesn’t fit. In other words, the person who gave my pots away gave the wrong lids away. I then went to find my potato peelers (I had 2, down to zero).

    In the meantime, I am watering like crazy. I am sure everything is desperate for water. I am really happy because I finally figured out what fitting I was missing for the back tap so am watering like crazy in the backyard, too. We had drought last summer and the spruce trees were really stressed. I will probably end up spending $200 on water but it is worth it to save the 60 year old trees. While in the backyard, I picked a couple of the gorgeous-looking apple crabs. They are soft in the middle (not crisp) but are beautifully red. It is a bumper crop so I will try to pick the ones on the lower branches tomorrow and invite my window washer over for the higher up apples on Wednesday when we are not supposed to have smoke.

    The smoke is still moderate today but it’s a big improvement. I still have asthma when I go outside but get back inside quickly.
    I am happy to get the hose going again as the grass is dying. My cyclamen (outside, perennials) are blooming, about a month early.

  100. I liked it much better as an elementary teacher when my students were required to be responsible for their own personal supplies. (I am now retired.) Each student (my own four children also) had a small plastic or cardboard supply box that held their pencils, crayons, protractor, eraser etc. I think this teaches children to keep track of their items and take care of them. I imagine if the supplies are gathered to use for the whole class, there must be parents who do not do their share and bring what is requested! And yes, today I would not like to see the teachers reach in their own pockets to make up the difference.

  101. Hi Brandy,
    What a gorgeous baby boy! There really is a strong family resemblance among your children. 🙂 Two of my children look so much like their father that people sometimes aren’t sure if I’m their mother! (They are blonde and blue eyed and I am dark.) And what a big change for you and your chicks! We did the same thing with one of our homeschooling children; he went to school in 6th grade and came home after 9th and is now homeschooling again. He needed it, I needed it, we all needed it, after nearly 15 years of homeschooling. Your children will do just fine and so will you and the hours will fly by and they’ll be home with you every afternoon. It *is* emotional, isn’t it?! But it’s okay!!! They’ll be great!! I told my friends I needed to breathe for a few hours a day for just a little while. They understood. That being said…it’s expensive!!! You are right!! Supplies, food, clothing, all of it. But we found ways, after the first year, to get around all of those things and didn’t spend more than we wanted to and we made the choice work for us.
    We’ve just gotten back from a large, extended family vacation which was expensive but could have been so much more so if we hadn’t all agreed ahead of time to cook every meal but one at home, take turns with the meal prep and dishes, and having fun at the beach house EVEN IN THREE DAYS OF RAIN rather than going out for fun. Still, I’m broke now! And we’ve just had a terribly expensive car repair which is just meh!
    However! There is good news. I’m harvesting lots of good food from the garden, not what I expected though so it’s kind of weird! No tomatoes but lots of zucchini, kale, chard, basil, parsley, beets, carrots, celery and other herbs. No delicata squash or brussels sprouts but lots of pumpkins on the vine and we harvested lots and lots of berries this year. My lettuce is done and the July planting was a fail (I think the seed was washed away in the epic rains we’ve been having) as is the arugula. I do have lots of kale still in the beds so I’m grateful for that. The grapes are coming in now as well.
    I’m trying to fill the pantry back up but I can’t quite get myself into canning mode this year. I’ve frozen lots of fruit and meat and seem to be buying things like tinned fish and dry milk and flour rather than making pickles and salsa and sauce. Of course having no tomatoes or cukes this year is probably why. 🙂 I’ll be visiting my Amish community soon and will get some of their tomatoes and cukes for canning. Maybe. LOL!
    I’ve just gone through my closet and cleaned out five bags of clothing for donation. Who needs five bags of clothing?! It felt a little obscene and your reminder to me of the homeless problem in this country was timely. One of my daughters volunteered at a shelter last year and it was a sobering and wonderful experience for her to realize how incredibly blessed we all are.
    Hang in there Brandy! It’s going to be A-okay!
    Have a good rest of your week everyone!

  102. It’s amazing how inexpensively school supplies can be if one looks ahead and keeps an eye on the sales. Places like Staples, Office Supply and Walgreens have fantastic sales of things for pennies on the dollar if you watch the ads, beginning about mid July. They will run rock bottom sale prices on 4-6 items each week. (crayons, glue sticks, spiral notebooks etc.) My granddaughter attends a private school, and I like to gift her teachers with a big bag of things I find in the summer. Seriously, the prices are amazing. Brandy, look for these sales again after Christmas and before school begins for the second semester.

  103. Rhonda, I appreciate your honest and truthful posts. Sugar cookie has so few issues but the ones she does have are doozies. On top of the ones she has, socialization is a huge issue. She has very few options to be friends with anyone now that she is out of school. Resources are almost nonexistent here. I try hard to promote her friendship with the young man she has known 10 years. He is on the the spectrum and I have to really work at it to take both of them out for time together. I constantly find myself reminding myself that these two adults in front of me must often be handled very gently. My favorites are the boys very inappropriate comments in public that he thinks no one else understands. Although a struggle at times, they are both my joy. The boy is a genius in so many areas. He reads a manual and never forgets it. He does all my household repairs. This week ,we are off to the movie theater with free movie tickets. I will patiently sit on a bench inside and read while I wait.

  104. The photograph of Hamish makes my heart so happy. I find myself missing the school shopping season. Backpacks and lunch boxes were my favorite part. Often we make changes in our lives for various reasons. I hope the children going to public school was a peaceful decision for you and your family. My boy is officially a soldier. I pray that the path he has chosen will serve him well. He received an extraordinary bonus and I am proud his lifetime of schooling benefited him on this path. I have supported or pushed my children to get the best education I could provide for them. I made many sacrifices along the way. He has requested items to be mailed to him. I was not expecting that request. I had a 10.00 Amazon credit, a 10.00 Google credit. A 10.00 walmart credit. A 22.00 Walgreen giftcard , a 25.00 Visa giftcard. I spent 8.00 cash. I took his list, price checked everything and ordered everything according to the best deal. I utilized free shipping and store pickup. I have ordered special military mailing boxes that include tape and labels from the USPS for no charge . College girl sent me 50.00 by Venmo to pay any postage and add anything else he might need. I hope he has very happy feet. I have driven 800 miles in and out of the city this week to help a extremely close friend who has a very serious problem. He has paid for all my gas. I filled up each time at home since gas here is easily 40 cents a gallon less than what is sells for in Atlanta. Each day, I spent $1.00 on a cold drink. Each receipt had a coupon for a free sandwich. Each day when I bought my drink, I used the coupon and received a sandwich. I did this every day. I continue to collect coca cola caps. This week, I had 200. I also rescued a nearly full bottle of Tide a construction worker tossed in the trash at the car wash. He tossed boots and a muddy tool belt. I am amazed at what they toss out. When he was washing that truck, he easily could have sprayed the tool belt too. All needs are met and my spending continues to be kept low. The boy changed bases so the trip to his graduation is 600 miles a way. I should have some savings in the utilities this next billing cycle and should be able to cover gas and a cheap hotel. My babies are always costing money !!!!! I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

  105. I skipped all of the previous comments, but I just wanted to say thank you for being so real and transparent. Plans do often change and sometimes we can be blindsided by the feeling of needing to change. I homeschool my 8 children but this year brought changes for us to. We had to move to a more structured (and expensive) curriculum. It was the only way we could manage to keep up with all that needs to be done and taught. Many blessings to you and your family in this time of transition. I know you are a great mama and that you love your children fiercely so I’m 100% sure you’ve made the right decision for your children for this time 🙂

  106. What a beautiful little guy.

    I’m sure I’m not the only one of your readers whose kids went to public school… we just don’t speak up as much about it as homeschoolers and specialty schoolers do, I think. Each of the options have their own plusses and minuses. Our daughters were already reading and counting by the time they started kindergarten, which helped a great deal. I continued to work with them, as did Husband, throughout. Because I traveled for my work sometimes (I teach and speak around the country), I did not have any hesitation about pulling them out of school for a few days, and taking them with me. I got flak for it occasionally, but figured that it was better for them to experience other areas and cultures — as long as their grades stayed up. And they did.
    There are great, dedicated teachers in public school, who believe in their students… just like charter schools and homeschooling parents. Then there are mediocre ones…and a few terrible ones. It’s just the way any part of life is. I suspect that socially, this will be a big step forward for your kids. They sound like they’re already getting involved!
    One way you can actually see how your kiddoes are doing — volunteer regularly, even if it’s only one day a month. (Bring your younger children with you. I always did this, providing crayons/paper for her to work quietly with, as I helped her sister and classmates.) I really think this is very important. It signals your connection with your kids — and will show you right away what you need to emphasize at home. (Sadly, it will also show what areas the teacher is deficient in. Hopefully, there won’t be any.)

    Frugalwise, this was a much better month, in part because of a big judging/appraising gig I just finished. Last month, Husband had both a ruptured appendix plus his gallbladder removed. Two emergency operations, medical bills like crazy (which we’ll pay off, a little at a time) and the remainder of bills for Daughter #2’s wedding in June, really kept things tight in July.
    We were given a large sack of zucchini, and I got a lot of fruit on sale. That helped, including putting some away for winter. We’ve been slowly clearing out the freezer food, which also is helping.
    Two trips to Goodwill netted several shirts for Husband (which he picked out himself), and an armload of shorts and tank tops (15 for $15). Some of these will be Christmas presents for Daughters. Both their birthdays were in early August, but I had been buying things on sale all year, so that hit wasn’t too bad.

    I LOVE reading your blog, Brandy, but feel a little sad that your promise to write more often hasn’t happened. I can’t blame you, though. You’ve obviously been dealing with several family situations instead! Your children can and will benefit from this experience — really. I speak, as a mom whose kids went from kindergarten – graduation in public school. It’s YOU and YOUR HUSBAND who make the difference in how they do with this.

  107. Times sure have changed. In elementary school, not a single thing was required aside from shots. Not even a pencil. In junior high and high school, just gym clothes was mandatory. And there were @ always extras in the phys ed office if you didn’t have them. We mostly brought what we wanted to use but anything needed to graduate was included. This was the 70’s in the Los Angeles unified. We only paid for extras like class rings, banquets, yearbooks, and such. I wonder what the money change was that created all the expense for parents. Based on what my teacher friends say, it’s not their pay!!

  108. Brandy, in Pennsylvania very few items have been requested. Our school district supplies most of the items. Electives are free, as is band. You would be surprised at the number of homeless children in schools. Our district helps them so much! Right now we have a young lady living with us who was adopted and mistreated. She was left to sleep on the streets. She is my daughter’s best friend, A really good innocent girl. She called me scared. We enrolled her in school and they consider her homeless. This opens up so many ways for them to be helped.

  109. I wonder if the fees have anything to do with the fact that Nevada doesn’t have a state income tax. My brother lives in a state with no sales tax and he has to pay similar school fees as well as an additional collection with property taxes.

  110. It always amazes me how so many people want to know why you chose to send your kids to a public school. You share your family and your life on this blog. You are more generous than most bloggers are. Your energy amazes me. After working 8 hrs I am beat. My kids have always gone to public schools. In our district we have no fees for anything school related even playing instrument. We send school supplies per the list and I will buy enough so in Jan after xmas break we can bring in another batch. In our district every child gets their own IPad from K-6 that stays at school. In middle and high school each student gets their own Mac book Pro and brings that home everynight. The days of text books are gone. At least both my girls know cursive and can sign their signature. My kids have thrived in school and all of their teachers have been beyond amazing. My DD 14 is top 5% of her class of 500. Her hard work continues to pay off and hopefully a large academic scholarship to a private christian college. She has had so many amazing oppurtunties that she would have never had if she were homeschooled. My girls have learned to deal with bullies, mean girls and how to handle about any situation they are confronted with. They are more resiliant and have fallen many times over mistakes made, but they must get up and keep going B/c that is how life is.

  111. I really, really want to write more–but then my children were needing more time right after that and I have struggled to even get the laundry done and meals made. Since I do four loads a day six days a week, that made it even harder. I’ve had to put family first and the blog after. I hope everyone can understand. I will just keep doing all that I can. This last week I was up at 3 a.m. every day and getting to bed at 11 p.m. I was having a hard time even getting a chance to read everyone’s comments last week!

    I am hoping things get easier as this new routine gets more normal. I really hope I end up with more time to write.

  112. You may want to talk to your Dr about tumeric and curcumin supplements. My doctor recommended it for me and it’s worked wonders. It has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties.

  113. Hello,

    Best wishes as your children start their public school journey!
    Here is my frugal living for the week:
    – I attended a church conference for a children’s program that I run. It was paid for and we learned a lot about how to better work in our ministry. Also we had a free Chick Fil A Lunch.
    – I have been using up some of my produce from the garden that has come back after the hail. I have a few zucchini, swiss chard and some onions that we have been eating with oil and seasonings.
    – I have been working on some crochet Christmas gifts and some items to sell. I have been making Broncos hats and Colorado hats. I am going to try to sell them on Facebook and at a small shop.
    – I used a lot of coupons and rebate apps to get some snacks from the Dollar Tree for my kid’s lunches. This is on my Instagram account if anyone is interested. I use Fetch Rewards, Ibotta, and Checkout 51 a lot to get money back on purchases. Sometimes this makes for free items!
    – I signed up for many freebies which are on my blog at:
    – I have been to the Kroger Mega Event many times to get lots of freebies like Suave, Finish Tabs and Pads.
    I think that’s it for now!
    Take Care Everyone,

  114. Brandy,
    I’ve been a long time reader and you’ve taught me so many things that have helped my family in such profound ways. You deserve every ounce of privacy and appreciation we (your readers) possess. You are so open and honest with your readers, and I admire it greatly. Thank you for everything you do choose to share, and reminding us that our private lives at home are a priority. Thank you for your generosity, time, and dedication to your readers. You truly make a difference in people’s lives as you have in mine. I hope your children receive what they need and deserve in school.

  115. Thank you for your comment.

    Our middle school students are given a Chromebook that they have to take home every day.

    Not having schoobooks for math is very odd to me. If they don’t remember how to do the problems as explained in class, there is no example to refer back to. I took out my homeschool Algebra book to explain something to my child taking Algebra. I’m glad I had it, but I wonder if other parents have to Google every type of problem to help their children with their homework. Was this the case for your children’s math classes? If so, how did you help them if they couldn’t remember a new concept in math and had no example problems?

  116. If you need some meal ideas, please check my menus!

    I like to make large batches of soup and have them for a couple of days at a time. If I make soup while I am cooking breakfast (and the least expensive choice there is oatmeal, purchased in bulk) then it is ready at lunch time. I will also cook pots of beans for the following day, making enough to freeze for other meals too.

    Having several chore times helps us as well. We have them before and after every meal so that we can try to keep up with things and get the dishes done, the table wiped, and the floor swept.

    Best of luck with your new situation!

  117. I love the idea to make mini muffins and cupcakes. My children like them but they don’t want a huge one at lunch and it would be wasted. I have mini muffin pans. I will try making some of both to put in lunches; I think they will like that.

  118. When I was teaching I bought supplies for the kids too. Otherwise you just couldn’t conduct class. After my first year I had a box of supplies shared by the students. It took me that first year to realize how necessary it was to have supplies on hand. I loved teaching, but yes as a single mom on a teacher’s salary it was difficult. One year a local business gave the teachers a box of supplies. it was nice. It was nice to see my students not worry about where their pencil or paper would come from. I brought kleenexes regularly to school. I remember a year when we worried about having enough paper to make copies or conduct business. We even thought we would need to bring toilet paper. Luckily we did not run out. As a parent I remember wanting to cry when I found out all the fees involved to pay for my kids school classes. We did it though.

  119. I usually buy items at the back to school sales, but I don’t buy tissues, cleaning wipes, etc. I didn’t need more scissors for home but had to have some for the classroom (I am surprised that those need to be bought every year and they are not reused each year). Same with a specific pencil box; she can’t just take the one she uses at home. I had some things, like Crayola crayons, bought on a previous back to school sale, and glue sticks (but the school wanted 20!) I didn’t have binders or filler paper as my children do all of their work at home in composition books, as they prefer them. I bought enough filler paper for the year, I think, as most of their work is done on the Chromebooks that the school provides.

  120. Public school will be a wonderful learning experience. Best of luck to all of you as you go through all these changes! Too funny a girl thought you most own a bakery 🙂 very cute baby, by the way!!

  121. When I think of the homeless children. I feel so blessed and feel a bit guilty for whining about any of my problems. 12,000! That is a lot! I’m so glad to have a home and family around too. My heart goes out to those poor children.

  122. I noticed that, too. It doesn’t normally do that, so not sure what happened. I think Brandy has to approve a comment before it gets posted, but once she approves it, they are posted in the order that they were received in. Not sure if this is correct, but that is my guess.

  123. Brandy, you must put you and your family first. We will understand.
    If you don’t take care of yourself how can you take care of anyone else?
    You do what you have to do first…then do what you can.
    We will still be here. I know I’m not going anywhere. I learn too much here.
    Thank you again for all that you do.

  124. Great suggestions, thank you! I pack my husband’s lunch (the night before) and I’m always worried it is going to be soggy.

  125. You are amazing Brandy. I could never survive on that little sleep. Yet you accomplish so much. I hope you get more rest soon. I love your blog and upbeat attitude. I’m sure that everyone could understand that family is what comes first. ( And hopefully some sleep,)

  126. Beautiful picture of your baby Brandy. I hope the new routine becomes easier soon. My son played the violin in school. Started in the third grade. I told him he had to practice every day for 15 minutes. Then I would go and listen to him practice and clap for him. He loved it so much that soon he was practicing much, much longer. Truly enjoying his music. In high school he received 1’s at State every year and was invited to help represent our State in Europe. His Senior Year I let him go to 9 different countries and play his violin! I was such a proud Mama! He also played football. and did other sports. Anyway when you said you had one starting the violin it reminded me of my son.
    Frugal accomplishments. Started walking today. Free exercise. Watched the Chickens. Free entertainment. Played with grandchildren. Very entertaining. Read internet. Borrowed “i Can Only Imagine ” from Redox. It was an excellent movie. Worked with my Disabled son. Gardened. Ate most meals at home. Honestly, we ate out today. My husband took me to a restaurant that we went to on our second date together and reminisced how he had taken me to three restaurants that day! It was a lot of fun! I bought things too. Then we got married and started paying off the credit cards! Practical set in. We still have fun, frugal fun.
    Felt overwhelmed one day this week. Was coming home in the beating rain, when I asked God for help All of a sudden i noticed a couple of Flocks of birds fly into the sky. I thought, How beautiful. Then I felt calm. As I came home i started looking around and enjoying the greenery. Even the cornfield seemed beautiful to me. I love experiences like this. I hadn’t been sleeping well and that night I woke up and my sister had just sent me a video and song. Funny how that works.You can find it on Youtube it is,”My Prayer for You.” by Alissa Turner. i think it is beautiful.

  127. The elementary school gives free breakfast and lunch to every student, but the breakfast is only 2 hours before lunch. We are choosing to eat breakfast at home as a family and send lunches; the child in elementary doesn’t like to eat much, and this way I can be sure that she eats something healthy. It is good to see her choosing some healthy things and talking to me about how much she will eat so that I don’t send too much. She is a picky eater, but by sending her lunch, seeing what she likes, and encouraging her to make good choices, she wil get the nutrients she needs.

    I just read the nutrition guides for the meals at the schools today. They are about 1500 calories for lunch for the junior high and 1000 for elementary! The salt and fat content is also very high. I am okay with them getting lunch at school sometimes, but I am happy to keep sending them with lunch. They’ll get the same things they are used to having at home. My only difference is spending is he intial lunch boxes, cold packs, a couple of extra Thermos containers, and whatever bento boxes I choose. After that, things will be the same.

  128. Lea,

    The Thermos containers are great. My husband already takes his lunch in one of them. You put hot water in it and swirl it around. Then you add your hot food. Come lunchtime, your lunch is HOT. We have used our containers many times before, so getting a couple more will help the rest take hot meals. For those who don’t have a microwave option, these are awesome.

  129. Earbuds are required to use the Chromebook, and for my son’s geography class they have to have ones with a microphone in order to make an interactive Google map. It sounds like a good class! The teacher has been to 45 countries, which I think is fantastic for a geography teacher.

    Watches aren’t needed for school necessarily, but my children were in need of new watches and now they take the bus, so making sure they are on time is a priority.

    Everyone wears sandals here most all year-round, so no sandals was a surprise with our heat.
    They can’t carry a backpack between classes (so odd to me) but some of their classes allow them to have water in the class. It’s very different to me!

  130. Thank you so much for your prayers.

    Have you tried using Zenni Optical for glasses? A complete pair with frame and lenses can be as little as $12.95. Shipping is $4.95. If you have more specific needs lenses can run a bit more, but that’s what mine cost me. I go through Ebates too to get a little cash back on the purchase as well.

  131. It was SO weird having a list and having to find such specific things. Normally I just buy the few things we need. I only had purchased a few rulers and erasers for this year. My daughter’s school wanted the big pink erasers, which I never buy (I get the white Pentel ones). It was just different.

  132. I really appreciate the heads’ up. I already thought about teacher gifts for at least the first-grade teacher (flowers from the garden for the end of the year and maybe a couple of lemons from the tree for Christmas, as I understand a lot of teachers are leery of home-baked treats). I don’t know what we’ll do for the 13 middle school teachers.

    I bought extra filler paper while it was on sale.

    I don’t know how many field trips there are, but the first one is $5. I have a feeling others will be more costly.

  133. I really, really appreciate your reviews. Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. If I had had more time to plan, I would have bought different lunch boxes that were a bit larger. I am going to have to look for some smaller bento boxes as they are all too big, but I like hearing what you like and don’t like. I definitely want to be able to send sauces and dressings when we start having lettuce in the garden again.

  134. I should make some homemade playdough with my 8 and 10-year-olds. I have never had the children make it and they and my 2-year-old would love it. I am teaching these two daughters to cook more now with our school change and this would be fun for them.

  135. My son’s new school does not want the children to bring drinks into the classroom. I encourage him to hit the water fountain between classes because I don’t want him dehydrated! We were not allowed to walk him in on his first day even though he had his backpack, lunch box and two big bags of school supplies. You’re right, some things are just super different and don’t always make sense.

  136. The comments were my fault. The program shows me the newest comments first. I was super busy and I would log in and see 54 comments to moderate. I read every comment as I learn things from everyone’s comments all the time. I would read a couple and then get interrrupted and by the time I got back, there were 25 new ones and I hadn’t gotten through all of the previous ones. I was so busy last week that I was having a hard time getting enough time to get through the comments and it took me three days to get to some of the first ones.

    Also, I try to get as many comments up as possible when I get a few minutes to check them here and there, so often I publish the shorter comments first, as I can quickly read 5 comments and get them up instead of one long one. Sorry about that! I do read them all.

  137. Brandy,

    If you’re not familiar with Khan Academy, check it out. It provides resources for students, parents, and teachers. It’s an invaluable, free resource. Good luck with this. I remember the hours going through math books so I could explain and help.

  138. I really am amazed and impressed by how well you moderate the blog. With all your other responsibilities, it is amazing you can do this too. Not to worry about the order.

  139. Brandy – My suggestion is not to worry too much about teacher gifts. A simple, heartfelt note from you and/or your children would be wonderful and more than enough. If you have extra homemade jam, that’s another nice idea. A bottle of your homemade Italian dressing would be thoughtful. Another idea: Some years I did not give Christmas gifts, but gave end of the year gifts instead.
    P.S. – A school principal once told me that teachers will never say it, but they secretly hate gifts of mugs filled with candy because how many mugs does anyone need?

  140. I find the number 12,000 homeless students absolutely incredible. It makes me wonder why or how
    the students have become homeless. And yes, Tammy, we are blessed.

  141. My youngest just began college today, but over the years, I both homeschooled and sent my children to public schools at various times. I found advantages and disadvantages to both, but would simply go with what best fit our needs at the time. My oldest was homeschooled until high school and then attended public school, graduating a year early. My middle child was homeschooled until 3rd grade, attended public school through sixth, and then home schooled until graduation. My youngest attended public school until 6th grade and then was homeschooled the remainder. Different seasons in our lives called for different approaches. I loved homeschooling and it was great for my kids, but I was also grateful to a good local school system when it was the best fit for us.

  142. Wow! Jennifer, all I can say is take a deep breath and keep praying. It will sort itself out! Prayers for you! Ann

  143. Hang in there, Jennifer. One step at a time. Decide on your most pressing problem and address that first. Then the next, and so on. Take a deep breath and maybe more than one. You can do more than you think you can. I’m praying for you.

  144. Keep an eye out on the Pottery Barn kids site for nice lunch boxes for cheap. I wait until the previous style goes out of the catalogs toward winter and manage to find one of two styles for 5.00 or so. Great quality lunch boxes and for cheap definitely worth it. For lunch containers I go with the Rubbermaid containers with the stacking lids. I find they manage to keep most things from leaking (so long as the kid is on tight) are dishwasher safe, are microwavable and the containers and kids stack for easy storage. I’m not on space savers :),.

  145. Tammy, I am glad that when you were driving that you had a divinely inspired calm. Thank you for posting the song “My Prayer for You”. How truly beautiful! Sometimes when I felt overwhelmed my former boss would simply say “think of it like an elephant and just take one bite of it at a time”.

    I myself find it really calming to be out in nature. I used to be able to walk and it is such a pleasant journey, being mindful and watchful and appreciating all that is seen and heard. Ann

  146. When we first had our youngest move in, she was a foster child who got free lunches and breakfast. Since we had tried to do what each child needed as far as school went, it had been quite a while since any older ones had attended public. When they had, I never paid for school lunches as they were much more expensive than making lunches and we did not qualify for the free program at that time. I was surprised to find that breakfasts consisted of sugary items or deep fried ones, and weren’t very hearty. They were things like Rice Krispie treats, cinnamon rolls, French toast sticks, sugary muffins, and so on–things I would consider desserts. Lunches ended up being chicken nuggets, hamburgers with fries or tots, and other items that would be comprobable to something you would buy in a freezer case at the store and warm up. In the end, she ended up taking lunches lots of times as she usually didn’t enjoy the lunch choices. She was, and still is, picky. We qualify for free lunch now, with my husband’s job situation. I did sign her up, but am not sure what will happen–if she will even eat it or not. I suppose it will be a choice in case we are in a super hurry. From the menu they gave us, this school has a lot of choices, so she may find something she likes. One thing I did learn is that the student has to take the milk along with the lunch for it to be free. Just milk is not free, and you have to take the milk even if you throw it away right after you take it. Interesting.

  147. I wish I could! I looked into them; however I have an usual prescription that requires special lightweight lenses, a reading prescription and transition lenses. My mother has an degenerative eye disease that I am avoiding which necessitates transition lenses. Did I mention my vanity? I also like to have them look nice, and most of the cheaper styles just don’t. When I wore contacts more, I ordered the less expensive less attractive styles, but this time I saved and spent the extra hundred dollars.

  148. Brandy,
    I just want to add my little bit of encouragement to you.
    Sometimes no matter how hard a person works, no matter what a person gets done, there is just too much left over to do. Some things that you really want to do just don’t get done. I am speaking from experience as I have 8 children. You have 9 beautiful children who do need you now, and I love that you are choosing to put them first. 24 loads of laundry a week…just wow! Mind boggling. My kids are more spread out than yours, and I never had a baby–just older kids, so I never had that much to do at once. Cooking from scratch on a budget is very time consuming as well. But, it’s either pay cold, hard cash for convenience, or pay with your time, as you well know. Just picking up after a lot of children is a full-time job. (I know–you train them to pick up after themselves, but often, that can take longer than picking it up yourself–important, but time consuming!). There will be many, many years to blog. With the consistency that you have shown, the beautiful photos and writings, and the desire to help everyone with all your money-saving tips, I’m sure that anything and everything you have time to write will continue to be appreciated by myself and others. I completely respect how much time a large family takes, and how much time a blog takes. Still, I do feel that you enjoy blogging, and hope it continues to be a good outlet for you when you have time for it.

    I love that you are keeping your reasons to yourself. As I was just discussing today with my Mom, every single thing in my life is not on my blog. She is my most devoted reader, for sure, and I love that, and she doesn’t mind gently putting in her 2 cents worth once in a while. She was specifically talking about a situation that I did not choose to share publicly, and she was letting me know how happy she was that I had not. I’m a pretty open person, but even I have areas in my life and thoughts and feelings that are closed to others.

    I will certainly pray specifically that your family will make the change smoothly and safely, that you will find time to get some sleep and that your littles and your busy mind will allow you to sleep, and that the ones attending school will settle in quickly, while the ones at home will find contentment and learn well there.

  149. They should have books available online. I’m not sure what math program they are using, our district uses MyMath and there is a way to not only see the book but extra tutorials as well. It’s the same for the reading program that we use (journeys). You may want to contact the school and see if that is available. I’ve never heard of a program that didn’t have the book accessible:(

  150. First….your little boy is so very cute!
    Second…….We seem to live in two different worlds. Al the things you buy for school….do they wear uniforms at school where you live? (thats Australia in’t it?) They are not allowed to wear sandalls at school….and that they have to go by bus and that you have to buy books for school. I know that we pay more taxes in the Netherlands then in some country’s, but we don’t have to pay for school until they are 18 years old and then they get studentgrants/student finance and free travveling by bus. We pay a little for schooltrips etc. (65,- euro’s last year, that is also for cristmas bal and end of the year bal). I think 95% of the dutch kids go to public school, it’s normal and the adducation is good. Our kids cycle to school every day 24 km back and forth from the age of 13 and before that it was 8 km. It always suprises me when I read about al the things people have to pay for in other country’s (specially medical bills and stuff). I’m very greatfull to live in this so called welfare state, although the climat is not always nice (rains,wind, cold) but hey who cares about the weather if you don’t have any money to feed your familie. I wish you a lot of harvest from your garden, and a good income for your husband. I admire your creativity for feeding and taking care of your family.
    This is what I did to be frugal last week:
    – I accepted a lot of prunes from an old women from the garden complex to make jam, and I only had to make her some jam in exchange.
    – made tzarziki with the to much cucumbers from my garden.
    – got free dairy product by using an app.
    – and some more groceries for free through an app.
    – also harvested some more tomatoes from my garden, and basil, new sealand spinach and swiss chard and salat.
    I wish you all a lot of knowledge in how to keep your finances in controll.
    Tanja from the Netherlands

  151. Hello Brandy

    I am going to post a full comment later but just wanted to mention corbettmaths to you. Free website with videos showing you how to solve maths problems as well as free papers. I think it is British but assume maths is the same all over.

  152. Back at work after holidays (admittedly 4 weeks), and everyone wants to catch up, so I’ve spent way too much money on meals out of home. I’ve decided enough is enough and I’m only going to have one lunch and one dinner out a week.

    Having read all the comments on teachers shelling out to get class supplies, I’m a little bit outraged. That shouldn’t happen in a 1st world country. If there is a public funded education then it should be fully funded. Individuals shouldn’t be forced to make up the difference because they care.

    My new money saving initiative is regrowing onions, garlic, spring onions (shallots), and pineapple. I have these growing in water on my kitchen window sill. I’m hoping that that I’ll double the amount of produce I get for money spent.

    Hope everyone has a better frugalling effort next week.

  153. An inventory and reorganization of the pantry just went on my todo list this week as well. You make a really good point about getting a handle on things before upcoming expenses arrive which for me are always greater in the second half of the year. I think knowing what you have and where to find it is one of the best things you can do to stay within your budget.

  154. Dana, I think I will find out more details. The teacher didn’t mention a book at the open house. So far, they are supposed to remember how to do the problems just from taking notes! That is not easy and I know that would not have worked for me as student. He just puts the problems up on the overhead projector. The first few days the students just had to copy the problems down for their homework. I know the first third of math is usually a review, but interestingly enough, what they are doing now is found at the very END of our algebra book, and barely covered. I know different programs do things in diferent orders, but this was surprising (I have been using Saxon Math for homeschool, which is supposed to be the best). I never did this particular thing in any of my high school and university algebra classes.

  155. Teacher / Administrator here for a Title 1 district.

    Clark County is a Title 1 district. They cannot, by federal law, keep a child from participating in ANY regular school program (including electives) due to finances. They cannot require a fee to go to school.

    Fill out the school lunch form and then go to their title 1 coordinator (every school MUST have one) and apply to get the fees reduced or eliminated. There is Title 1(and other money) to cover school supplies – including clothes, glasses, dental care, cell phones, internet etc. for any student with a demonstrated need. Heck we’ve even managed to get people’s electricity bills paid.
    The title 1 coordinator and the guidance office at the school will have all of the forms, but you start the process by filling out the form for free and reduced lunch.

  156. Tanja, I live in the U.S.

    Many students do not take the bus, as a growing number of parents have chosen to drive their children to school and pick them up. Since we weren’t in the schedule for the bus for the first couple of days, I had to do that, and I am glad that we live far enough away that the bus is an option! You have to live a certain distance from the school in order to be able to take the bus. My daughter is the only one in her class who takes the bus.

    Right now it is very hot (42° C) and walking to and from the bus stop is quite hot as it is half a mile away. Once the temperature drops in October, however, it will be quite pleasant.

  157. Jennifer, is this the case for the whole district, or just individual Title 1 schools? I know that the elementary is a Title 1 school but not the middle school. I already filled out the form for lunch at the middle school (Not the elementary as everyone there gets free lunch). I will find out about this. Thank you SO much! Do you know if it covers field trips as well?

  158. As a former middle school teacher, I will say not to worry about buying/making gifts. Most kids don’t. BUT, what I really, really loved was a hand-written note of appreciation from a student (even when I knew their parents probably made them do it. I didn’t get many, but I would keep them in my desk and read them on bad days. So now I make my kids do the same – even for teachers they don’t like – there has to be something good you can say!

  159. For packing forks and spoons in lunches: I found that Wal-mart sells cheap stainless silverware in packs of four for about 88 cents. So that’s 22 cents each. Cheaper than plastic, but if they lose one it’s not the end of the world.

  160. Jo – thank you for mentioning EveryDollar! I’ve been looking for something to replace my clunky Excel budget spreadsheet and I keep forgetting to check out their free version. It’s exactly what I need!

  161. Ask your child’s teacher to post the ppt or notes in their google classroom (its free). That’s what teachers do in our school. Some even videotape their lectures so absent students can “attend” class.

  162. it usually will cover trips too. They get a special pot of money to do those things. As for the middle school, since you would qualify for assistance, they may be able to do the same for middle school (we do). Just ask.

  163. Since comments are moderated, I think it posts them in the order of the date/time stamps, regardless of when they are approved for posting.

  164. Based on the comments section, you have some eloquent and experienced readers. Have you ever considered accepting guest posts? Please take care of yourself so you can take care of your children. We’ll still be here when this season passes. Prayers that your children going to public school adjust to that change and that those children still homeschooling adjust to having the 3 gone.

  165. I hope you can get a good routine soon and get some rest. The main problem will be doing school with the homeschoolers all day then helping those who go to school with their homework all evening!! I had four children and we spent several hours in the evenings going over everything and doing special projects etc…

  166. Brandy, I hope things rapidly become settled in the new routine. It is difficult enough being a new mother without having to handle so many things all at once. I hope you get some much-needed sleep. If you need to take a break from the blog, we would, I am sure, all understand. First of all, take care of yourself. Secondly, even mothers need mothering. Perhaps a word with your husband that you need a bit of mothering and the older kids could give you an evening or two off just for some breather time. I hope all the red tape and paperwork involved in sending the kids off to public school will soon get sorted out. I really like Jennifer O.’s suggestions and hope they pan out for you! That will take some pressure off of you. Take care of yourself! Prayers for you for some good nights’ sleep!

  167. These are our favorites as well. You do have to make sure they fit in your lunch box/bag, but they are a great option. They’re almost bento-like, but extremely affordable. They’re technically disposable, but like Mary, we’ve had them last several years. I never put them in the dishwasher (don’t have one) and we never use them in the microwave. The 3 sections can be customized to hold a lot of food for bigger eaters. We love that they are leak-proof and just have one lid. The way the lid fits, food doesn’t spill into other sections. You used to be able to find them at Target, but I haven’t seen them there in a while.

  168. “School Outside The Home.” I made it up, I think. I’ve never seen it in print. People use “SAHM,” “WAHM,” “WOTH,” so I figured I’d try a new one!

  169. If you want some good ideas for making school lunch for your children, check the site of the ‘family fudge’ She is amazing. Her food looks so good. She shows you what she packed and then shows you what her children ate etc. It is a really nice youtube site.

  170. I wa just going to make the same suggestion – i.e.. Occasional Guest posts just to get you through this particular rough spot. Maybe people could write on a particular topic and then we could all comment as per usual? Maybe a series of topics: – crafting -Winter Recipes -Seasonal Decorating -Book Club. These sorts of posts could be “banked” and posted on a week when things are even busier than usual for you….. Please take care and get some rest.

  171. Heather, I agree so much! A note or card of appreciation is so nice. Another item a teacher appreciates is a book to add to their classroom library for free reading time. Brandy, I like the idea of giving her teacher the lemons. Since our church school has a large percentage of farming families and families that don’t farm but do garden there is always an excess of produce going around. What we do here is have a table by the staff lounge where the produce is left and folks can take what they can use. In spring people even leave flower and vegetable transplants.

    Sprinkle your gratitude throughout the year. If you feel it on your heart or mind that is a nudge, I believe, from God letting you know that maybe that teacher could use a little encouragement that day. Flowers are lovely, the notes with a teabag or too even. I was given 6 chocolate zucchini muffins 2 Wednesday nights ago by one of the children that came in for my reading club. They were hot out of the oven! My helper and I each had one then and I saved the other 4 to share the next morning with my other volunteers.

    My youngest daughter taught in a two room school last semester and her going away present from her class was a pet rabbit. Now obviously that is not for everyone but she really really liked the bunny that the family she was living with had and her kids thought this through and it was a very nice presentation from the families on the last day of school.

    We do not have a large staff as a public school might so just about everybody knows each other. Most likely even be a relative. Teachers teach more than one subject in the upper grades. We do have a staff appreciation luncheon about the beginning of May where the parents set up the fellowship hall and decorate it and serve a lunch they made to all the staff and volunteers. Other parents supervise the lunch hour for the students as this is where they normally would eat so they have them outside for a picnic, or if raining in the gym. It’s very nice.

  172. Wow! What a whirlwind week for your and your family. I hope that everyone adjusts to their new schedules and you are able to take a few deeps breaths.

    Like many readers, I am in the throes of harvesting from the garden. My neighbor gave me a five gallon bucket of pears. I still have canned pears from last year, so now I am dehydrating them, which I think will get more use. I put the second batch in today and the last one in a couple of days. I’ve also dehydrated two batches of raisins with more batches on the horizon. Recently I’ve frozen peaches, blueberries, chard, and will get to cauliflower and broccoli in the next day or two. This afternoon is dedicated to making freezer puttanesca sauce. I made one batch of sauerkraut and bottled it and have another batch fermenting. Also a full batch of pickle relish. I’ve done two batches of canned tomatoes and will get to spaghetti sauce next week when more tomatoes are ripe.

    I’ve been baking bread, scones, and a yummy chocolate zucchini bread. I’ll make more of it when I have more squash ripened. I also replenished oatmeal, sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter in my food storage.

    I’ve also been able to give squash and many bags of cherry tomatoes to neighbors who don’t have gardens.

    It’s time to do a pantry and freezer cleaning and inventory to know the goodness that is there for use in the next few months.

  173. Unfortunately personal spending by teachers seems to be more and more the norm, no matter where we live. I have a number of friends who are teachers and every year they spend hundreds!
    When I worked in a large office about twice a year i’d gather up binders, papers, file folders (certain colours would be used for a project and then the folder, which was as good as new, would be tossed into the recycling), golf pencils, pens left over from events, anything that might be useful and send them off to various schools to help out. And, we were encouraged, especially after Christmas to donate any leftover paper, ribbons, used cards and magazines etc. so that schools, nurseries and daycare centres could use them for craft projects – we would just leave them at the concierge desk in the main tower and they would arrange to send them off. And when my nieces and nephews were younger I always kept a big craft box for them using similar no longer wanted/needed items, promotional papers etc. and it meant that there was always something available to keep them occupied.
    Just wondered if any of you who work outside the home would have access to similar cast offs – and would your schools accept these items?

  174. It is very sobering to realize school systems in some states are, in effect, systematically denying economically diadvantaged youth the arts and even electives that could provide training for future employment and economic security. Surely, there is some kind of assistance for lower-income students? In Texas, there are no such fees. In fact, many high schools here sre beginning to “specialize” in certain fields of study, and students sre encouraged to pick a “major” by 10th grade. For too many students, school is the only place they are exposed to the arts, but it is totally free, except for costume, instrument, and uniform rentals.

  175. Brandy-
    What a beautiful photo of your baby! He is adorable!
    Blessings to you and your family as you navigate this new chapter in your life.

    Thank you to all of you for all of the frugal inspiration! I love saving money!

    *Used a Rewards coupons from Staples to do some color copies (saving my ink) and combined a $5 off $10 in school supplies with manuf. coupons to get 5 packs of Bic Xtra Fun pencils for $1.48 OOP (copies and pencils)
    * Ran errands in the same area to save gas.
    * Price matched items at Staples and Target
    * I used coupons/Cartwheel at Target and found some great clearance items for gifts
    * Used up leftovers by using as side dishes to lunches and dinners
    * Earned a $15 Amazon GC through Swagbucks
    * The following free magazines arrived in my mailbox this week(earned through RewardBee and Reward Survey); US, People, Traditional Home, Taste of Home, Wine Spectator, Glamour, Real Simple, Time.
    * I combined a sale and coupons on Go-gurts to get them for 77 cents a box (must buy 4) at Vons
    ** Shared extra coupons, magazines, stickers and ribbons with friends

  176. Kelly, I too liked the links. We have some bento type boxes that we use that aren’t perfect. My daughter and I pack our lunches everyday and I use one for my husband too. His is for his snacks for the day…I fill it with cheese and crackers, fruit, muffins, cookies, trail mix, etc. He basically snacks all morning, comes home for lunch and then snacks in the afternoon. Fortunately he can work it all off. I have a couple thermoses left from the kids school days where you freeze the lid and it keeps the contents cold.

  177. Brandy,
    I hope you get more sleep too. I had a baby that nursed every hour for awhile. I ended up putting him in bed with me and slept while he nursed. I remember being exhausted and then having to take care of my toddler who woke up earlier. But I only had two. When my kids got a bit older I had them help pack their own lunch. We also had them get their back packs together the night before and put them by the front door. And pick out their own clothes the night before. They also set an alarm clock to wake up on their own, at young ages. These were ideas that people gave me, because it is hard getting them ready for school, fed, and out the door. But the responsibilities are good for them. i think it is important to have them help as much as possible, because one person can’t do everything. Brandy, I hope you get more sleep. I wonder if there is a time you could nap during the day with the baby while the kids read in their rooms. An hour of extra sleep would help so much. I know, easier said than done. I’ll say prayers for you.

  178. Thank-you Ann. Being in nature is calming. “My Prayer for you” is beautiful. And thinking of problems one step at time is a good idea. Otherwise it is so overwhelming when there is an entire list of things to do. Sometimes I have to remind myself that the worries of today are sufficient for today and not worry about what could happen next.

  179. Kathy, you speak the truth! When I was teaching, I gratefully accepted classroom supplies, but personal gifts made me very uncomfortable. On the other hand I treasure to this day the notes of appreciation I received – to know that my efforts mattered and made a difference meant the world to me.

  180. It seems that many schools are going to Tablets and eliminating paper textbooks. Is there an online forum – Canvas, Blackboard and Moodle as wells the Google Classroom someone else mentioned are a few that come to mind, though there are certainly many more – that contain PDF files of notes, examples, and even links to online text or video? You, as the parent, would also be able to check grades, assignments and due dates, access forms digitally, etc. on that forum. I would find it extremely odd if that wasn’t how your district handles much of this (middle school and high school in particular).

    Since texts often cost upwards of $200 a copy for math and science texts, it makes sense financially for the district to get one tablet for the that cost per child rather than multiple texts per child at that cost. Having forms digitally means they don’t have to make copies which also saves thousands over the course of the year.

    Best wishes,

  181. I’ve said this before, buy Brandy, yours is my favorite blog ever. I wish you and your family all good things.

  182. I have to agree with what Heather and Athanasia said in their posts. Being a retired teacher of many grades, I loved getting the homemade stuff. I worked in low income schools and when the students brought me gifts, I was very appreciative of them since I knew their families financial situations. One Christmas, a couple of the Hispanic families gave me a basket of homemade tamales and sauces because we were reading a book about them and it struck a cord with the girls since I also told them that one of my grandma’s used to make them on Christmas eve for whoever came by to see her. I will never forget that!! Other times I have collected soooo many coffee cups and ornaments. I always gave some kind of homemade bread or cooking/baking DIY mixes for my DS teachers.
    My advise to you is to shop the back to school sales for glue, pencils/pens, paper, folders (for reports) since these are the things you will ALWAYS run out of. Plus items you will need when the nasty cold bugs start making the rounds.

  183. We actually have one of these but every time we’ve used it, it has vacuum sealed itself and we’ve had to let it cool down before we could open it at all! I wonder what I did wrong! 😀


  184. I usually gave gifts to the elementary school staff that worked with my daughter, as she can be a handful and deserved our appreciation. I didn’t give any gifts last year (grade 9), however, partly because it’s not expected in those grades and partly because they were not very understanding to my daughter’s disability, which I certainly was not appreciative of.

    Since many years I was gifting the teacher, her EA supports and her principal (all of which her always heavily involved with DD), and I didn’t always have a lot of money, I had to get creative sometimes. My favourite gift was when I sewed drawstring shoe bags for the staff. The principal was especially appreciative of this gift. She said she often had to go to meeting, where she wanted to wear nice shoes, but perferred to wear comfortable shoes the rest of the day. The pretty shoe bag was perfect for carrying her nice pair of shoe to the meeting. Another nice gift is homemade baked goods, like your homemade bread. Working people rarely have time or interest in baking such things and therefore appreciate them all the more when they receive such items as gifts!

  185. It’s been a long time since we’ve made it – we had a batch we made when she was two and it lasted for three years! I need to find a different recipe – I googled one in a hurry yesterday morning. It was very different than the ones I’m used to and it’s too sticky. She was using it while spending time at my office yesterday afternoon – fortunately I made her bring her art mat to put down on the table! I’m used to recipes that call for a cup of flour and a cup of salt, but they are often drying to hands (and she has sensitive skin). This one took far less salt and I wonder if that made the difference.

  186. Rhonda, can you put up deer netting around your garden? It is not cheap but it reusable for years. It comes in rolls probably 7 feet tall and attach it to metal stakes or wooden poles. Sometimes when animals and birds are eating at things like tomatoes and cucumbers they are actually thirsty because their sources of water are drying up or they can’t get to them. Even if you can only wall off your tomatoes.

  187. Just saw bottles of this in Costco today. If it’s sold in large bottles at Costco, it must be a popular treatment!

  188. That’s the worst. I had 7 all in public schools a handful of years ago (still have 5) and the assorted papers were ridiculous!

  189. Fall free school supply events are becoming more common where I am in the U.S. Midwest– donations are accepted and people can come pick them up, or donations are given directly to the elementary school for distribution there.
    There is also a weekend food backpack program, where backpacks of food are quietly available on Fridays for students to take home and return empty on Monday, because school meals (however unhealthy they sound!) might be the only consistent food available to them during the week.
    Teachers can deduct the costs of supplies they purchase off their income taxes where I am, but I am not sure if that is a state or a federal law In any case, the time involved in planning, choosing, shopping, and so forth, is never recovered. I have the feeling that the local parochial school is more open to donations of stuff such as Margie describes than the public schools are, though I am not sure if that is accurate.
    In a different educational direction, a local food bank drive asked for children’s books as well as food to distribute– I thought that was wonderful!

  190. Easiest way to use up a card where they owe you money is gas.Lets say they owe you an odd amount you just walk up to the cashier and say whatever odd amount is on the card like37.82 they punch it in and like magic you an get rid of the card when your ready no new balance to pay not even one cent

  191. Brandy- Your site has meant to much to me through the years. I learn a lot from you and always find inspiration from your site! Its one of my very favorites! When times are tough for me, I can always rely on your site to give me some ideas and I love that about it. Thank you for all of that, Brandy!

    Prayers for you and your family as you go through this transition. Such bravery as change is always hard on us humans!

    I am particularly identifying with you as your kids enter the public school system. My kids are grown and actually always attended public school but I still found it a little challenging at times. I even worked for the public school system for several years and even then found some things challenging about it. LOL. The most frustrating parts for me were always related to money.

    Parents are expected to just pay up for so many things in public schools. Some absolutely necessary but some also not so necessary (in my eyes).

    And after reading the comments above, I guess we are all expected to have an endless supply of internet service in our homes? What about the students who aren’t privilege to such a luxury? And no textbooks? Ugh! What if your child transposes a number writing down the problems or just didn’t “get” it in class? As if it’s not challenging enough to take algebra without also dealing with not having a textbook! Eek!

    I’m sure things will work themselves out and there are skills other students use that make the whole thing work. But, prayers of strength and resilience to all of you as you figure all of it out!

    Feel free to reach out to us, Brandy! Maybe we can help return the favors you have done us through the years. Please let us know if we can help with tips and timesavers that might help you with this new transition.

    Sending lots of prayers and strength your way. Try to find some time to rest. I’m imagining that you are completely exhausted physically and mentally with all of these changes.


  192. Even if you just leave a couple of sentences once a week on your frugal accomplishment everyone else will finish with their comments. I can’t believe you have had over 200 this week and it is only Tuesday. We understand what you are going through. You are feeding your family, a huge accomplishment, and keeping up with the laundry. Right now that is enough.

  193. Hi Brandy,

    I don’t know if you’ve said which kids are in school. I bought this bentgo box for one of my sons when he was going into kindergarten:

    I like the box because he only has to open 1 thing, but my son always complains that his lunchbox is too heavy (by the time I add an ice pack & the bentgo box).
    As you choose something, be sure to check the weight of the item (especially if it is for younger kids). A heavy lunchbox + lots of books can be too much for a child to carry.

    My kids actually seem to like these Rubbermaid Lunch Blox kits & they are much lighter & cheaper. They come with the ice & the boxes all lock together & on the ice too:

    Some kinds are very inexpensive add-on items if you are ordering $25 in other things. If you have a Kroger affiliate, they often clear them out at a great price when the school supplies start going on clearance too.

    Like others, I’d love to hear the story behind your big change. Good luck to all – I hope it’s a good change for all!

  194. I know they call them electives here but that only means that you choose for example between French and Spanish and German and between art or music or foods or clothing, shop, metals etc etc. They are real classes necessary for graduation in addition to the core classes. We did not pay for them though different classes may have different fees or cost associated with them. When a family fills out the financial aid disclosures at registration they may end up being exempt from (or get reduced) fees for lunches, and the class fees. The same with the athletic fees. I think it is an acceptable system…if you can afford the fees you pay them.

  195. Becky, my peaches ripened awfully fast too and I had to pack them all into the refrigerator to give me an extra day to get to them. Must be the weather.

  196. Homemade slime is fun also. Have not done that for years. I think it was just cornstarch and water and a little food coloring?

  197. Amen to that mama gets more homework in the beginning of school than student does
    A wet sponge placed in a freezer bag wors in a pinch for an ice pack

  198. Hi All;
    For the past 9 years I’ve been buying the 70 page theme books and pencils and pens at the school sales. I save these until October and then hand them out at Halloween. I started doing this and the kids LOVED it1 Our schools start early and by the end of October most kids needed a new “journal”. One mother that first year came back to my house to thank me as her son was diabetic and couldn’t enjoy most of his haul. This was something he could use!
    One year I had to pass giving these out and the looks of disappointment on the kids faces were heart wrenching.
    After Halloween any extras were given to my neighbor, a school vice-principal. Her school is one of the poorest in the state, NM, and was put to good use.

  199. The baby is so cute! I have done everything from private school, public school, and home (office) school…whatever works because each kid is different. Back then, I had my own private practice so I could “home” school at my office. My two oldest attended private school, then public school. My two youngest attended private school, public school, then home “office” school. My kids always wanted to eat the lunches the school served, and back then, it was not very expensive at all. Sometimes the schools even had free breakfasts for all. I do remember a funny story with my youngest two kids. They were 16 and 17 years old, and asked to stay home rather than go to the office for the day. I was usually pretty strict about it, but I agreed they could stay home that day if they did their lessons. I came home at lunch to check on them, and they were in the swimming pool. I asked them just what did they think they were doing, and the older one piped up “P.E.”….lol. Change is good, but difficult sometimes.

  200. I notice a lot of children don’t wear watches anymore as the cell phone gives them the time. In our private school some children do have cell phones in the high school, a few even in the middle school. But they have to keep them in their back pack and cannot remove them. They can carry backpacks around.

    I have not had anyone in the public high now for 4 years. Not sure of their rules anymore. We do in our church school have quite a restrictive dress code, in some peoples opinion. Girls need to wear dresses or skirt outfits and the length must be to the bottom of the knee cap or longer. Grade school girls wear shorts under their dresses due to playground play. Boys wear collared shirts. No logos other than the school’s are allowed on clothes, backpacks, notebooks etc. No cartoon characters, no sweatpants. No sleeveless tops for girls. Sandal type shoes are OK for girls when the weather deems appropriate but not flip flops. As we do have non church children that attend we allow minimal makeup and jewelry for those girls, as long as not distracting. Girls are requested to have their hair up in a bun or pulled back in a pony tail or braid. Our girls of course are used to having their hair up and covered, but it is not forced on the others.

    One of the items on our church school supply list is typing paper. Each student brings in one ream and the high schoolers 3. Also a tub by each student of disinfectant wipes. No trapper-keepers. I remember the public schools did not like those either. I think it was the velcro ripping sound maybe?

  201. Apply for free lunch even if the children never eat it. Later if they have a need for a reduced price for a supply or a field trip the first thing the district does is look if the child is on free or reduced lunch.

  202. My own children finished their schooling several years ago. With a grandson just starting kindergarten, I have been reading the comments with interest to learn more about how things have changed since I had to think about back to school time. While reading about the school lunch topic I was reminded of a well-done blog post I read on this subject. It is on the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog and can be found here: and also here:

    I wish for all of the children starting their school years a happy and successful year.

  203. Dollar Tree has very small containers 10 for $1. Both round and rectangular. Not leak proof but fine if they stay relatively flat. Nice size for raisins and nuts, small carrot sticks with dip at the bottom, a few grapes, etc.

  204. I lived in a very affluent district when mine went to high school we were required to purchase a very expensive ti 82 I think calculator Cost 85.00 each in the first few weeks of school both of my children’s calculators were stolen . I had to purchase again this time I made an appointment with the math teacher I had numbers etched into the backs of the new calculators I recorded the name of child and the number in a book gave her the book and she then made it required each student mark his or her calculator in the same way I did not replace calculators again.

  205. All my children preferred to bring lunches also when they were in the high school. I think it is much healthier even though we were eligible for reduced prices on the lunch with 5 children.

  206. Brandy,

    What a change for your children to attend public school. I trust the transition goes well for you!

    * We also used the $15 off $50 at Target–twice–to purchase paper goods for church. It wasn’t too frugal as far as how much money we spent, but it will last a while, and it was a better price than at Sam’s Club for the items.
    * My mom graciously shared tomatoes and green peppers from her garden with us.
    * We continued to keep the A/C off and even the fan thanks to our cooler temperatures.
    * We took walks for exercise and combined errands as much as possible.
    * My husband took lunch with him to work every day.
    * I baked our own bread at home in the bread machine.
    * We continued to air dry our clothes to keep them in better shape and to save money.

  207. I never post here, but I’m pretty proud that I opened a second no-fee checking account that I will use for all discretionary spending. I have one checking account that will be for fixed bills and savings and one for discretionary. I’m hoping by giving myself an allowance I can more easily track where I can save. Gas, groceries, and eating out will all be from my weekly allowance and once it is gone, there will be nothing until the next week. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

  208. Mmm, I remember the little milks we got in school. They were 2 cents a piece and they were white or chocolate. I always picked chocolate and shook it really hard til it was foamy. Was so cold. The boys would always buy two.

  209. While I didn’t add a comment here to ask what your decision was based on, I was very curious and kept reading to see if you had commented. I, like Shirley, didn’t realize the intrusion, and I apologize as well.

    Love your blog, and oh my, that baby picture is adorable! Thank you for your time and kindness on this blog.

  210. We don’t have any Kroger mega event going on here. Their new thing is NEW LOWER PRICES, but all they did was lower the prices back down to where they were before they bought out our store and raised them up.

  211. No worries — I didn’t mean to sound too harsh. You’ve obviously had many things on your plate.

    Life will calm down eventually… then you can perhaps write more. But your family needs you right now. We can wait.

  212. thank you, Athanasia… he is doing better. Which in his case means that he’s out puttering! (He is an engineer by inclination and training, and loves repairing/adapting things.)

    He gets tired quickly, but has the smarts to recognize that — then sit down and rest. He got a clean bill of health from Surgeon #2, who said that his gallbladder had not been working for some time. So whatever diet was agreeing with him, stomach-wise, that’s what he could continue.

  213. Brandy, I would suggest researching state laws on public education. I only recently found out that in my state that if a student cannot afford a PE uniform or one for extracurricular activities, the school is supposed to provide it! Same thing for school supplies. A lot of things schools are supposed to provide but try to avoid doing so as it eats into their budget so they hide these facts from parents.

  214. Such an adorable Hamish! So alert and cute!

    I think everyone in this tight-knit community is here to stay, even if you do fewer posts. Just reading everyone’s comments is a whole day’s work in itself for you. All with no remuneration. This shows your generosity and commitment.

    I have been going back and reading old posts and comments. I missed many good ideas due to brain saturation or being fixated on one great idea, at that time. Brandy, you are true to yourself and have not strayed from your core values and desire to help others through all these years.

    Thank you, Brandy, and try to get some rest for the next few months!

  215. Every recipe of yours I’ve made has been terrific; please share the macaroni and cheese recipe, as well as cookie recipes too. Thank you!

  216. Grace to you, Brandi. Lots of grace. I appreciate all that you do for the blog, and for this community that you have nursed, and nurtured. I remember the exhaustion of mothering young children, and trying to keep my head above water. My life is different from yours. I am 57, a recent widow ( is 2 years, recent? It sure feels that way), with 2 grown daughters and 1 grandchild. As I navigate this new normal,I am grateful to you for providing a place for me to grow, get ideas, and connect, not just with you, but with fellow readers, mothers, and human beings. God bless you and yours. And may you get some much need rest. Grace, Patricia from Florida

  217. Brandy I’m surprised by all the fees and material requirements for public school in LV. In my neck of the woods the property taxes are much higher but there is none of these extra fees or material requirements. I hope all turns out well and the children enjoy the experience.

    • made chicken stock in slow cooker
    • shopped Aldi near doctor’s appointment. Bought items for pantry stock up
    • side hustle of caring for neighbor’s house & mail while they are away for a year
    • bought 11 pounds of bananas at sale price of $0.39/pound
    • my son is getting his first apartment. We went through items that both my mother and I have been putting aside for him for the past few years. He is well stocked with eating utensils and towels!
    • made swag goal x 1
    • made risotto with arugula & tomatoes & gorgonzola, a large batch of salad dressing, and a goat cheese, olive, tomato pasta salad.

  218. Brandy, I don’t know exactly how this would work, but it’s an idea to build on. If your husband and older kids could prepare the next day’s lunch for everybody, but make things that could be put in packed lunches…the schoolies could pack their lunches that night, and the rest could eat the lunch the next day. This would eliminate a bloc of your time the next day when instead of prepping lunch, you might be able to take a nap with your two youngest (and any other children still taking naps). If you are sending cookies or cupcakes in the packed lunches, perhaps you could rotate “dessert duty” between your 4 oldest kids once a week. They could make a double batch of each thing–one batch for the family to eat and one batch for the schoolies’ packed lunches. Just a little tip from me to you: freeze the schoolies’ desserts so that they last the whole week. That’s the only way cookies ever made it to school on Thursday and Friday!

  219. We also are using an amortization chart – we just paid a large amount to our principal of our mortgage and hope to continue to be able to.

  220. I’m with Kathy. My kids are about Brandy’s age, but we never gave gifts. At least once a year, I would send the teacher a note thanking them for something. I was always at their schools, it seemed (I was a newspaper reporter covering education), and I got to know the teachers well. If they did something spectacular, I sent a copy of the note to their principal or director of special ed. Now that was a gift they LOVED.

  221. As a current elementary teacher, I can honestly share that I love the homemade notes/drawings the best. All of the ideas shared are awesome as well. When a gift is given from the heart, it is most appreciated, no matter the cost.

  222. My kids used Khan academy over the summer, it he boys said it helped explain sections they were confused on in school.

  223. HaMish is adorable!
    Hang in there Brandy, things will get easier. I was a working mom with a son in public school the entire time. I always felt the first month back to school was harder on me than the boy. You had to make sure all the extra stuff was ready the night before . And all the forms and letters to sign the first few weeks, crazy !!
    Thanks for all you do and praying you get more sleep.

  224. I think the theory is that if everyone has the same item (pencils for example), then no one will be singled out for no being able to afford them at all, not having fancy ones, etc. I worked at our local K-2nd school for the last three years and it is so sad what these little ones come with. We have a very high percentage of low-income families in our district, and the teachers do a ton out of pocket as well. I was there as an aide and was constantly bringing in things that I purchased to help the classroom. Thank you for being one of the families to help provide supplies even when it is a financial hardship. The real problem here lies with the system’s failure to help our schools, staff and students.

    I’m in shock that they require electives and also charge for them. I had never heard of that and it’s quite an eye opener! I hope your kiddos love their public school experience!

  225. Jennifer my daughter did that when she was six, but ended up breaking her arm. She found out the hard way you need to hold on when you are on a swing!

  226. I hope they are starting to settle in and that you get some rest Brandy.

    Our daughter is just weeks away from finishing
    high school and after 12 years of public schooling I’m starting to feel sad. Our son will be attending a senior Catholic vocational college next year for years 11 and 12 which seems the right place for him. We are fortunate here in New South Wales that public schooling is so affordable with lots of opportunities for children. Our daughter is attending a free workshop tomorrow run by Dress for Success and organised by her school which will help her write a resume, get some tips on applying for jobs and even give her an outfit suitable for interviews for her to take home ( she’s a bit picky so I don’t envy them this part)

  227. Law does say Free Appropriate Public Education ( FAPE). That includes everything in regular school hours, if I understand correctly. Schools do ask for money towards band, etc, but they can’t exclude a student who cannot pay. A quiet word with an administrator is all that’s needed. I know schools need the extra money so I always have tried to pay the extra fees. My husband is public school teacher. We live in an area of high poverty. He does not ask any student to bring anything.

  228. Oh yes, I forgot about the temperatures! That really is to hot. Imagine they had to cycle 24 km to school……It would be a dangerous venture every day, no option!!! Always something about the weather isn’t it.

  229. I sometimes have to search how to write difficult words. Long live google translate! As not many country’s in the world speak dutch we have to speak our languages. I speak german also, as I worked in Switserland for 1 1/2 year. English is an mandatory course at school.

  230. Microsoft’s PowerPoint, Athanasia … their presentation software. In Google classroom, it would be Slides

  231. I always had a problem keeping scissors in my classroom. I would begin each year with plenty; add a few more at Christmas break and still have only a few at the end of school.

  232. I bet you will feel relief that they are in school during the day after things settle a bit!
    It is great that you do what you feel is right at the moment for your family! Everyone should do the same.
    Must have been a huge work to dive into completely new “area”. Well done!

  233. The blog´s focus is on frugality. The reasons of kids learning one way or another, if it´s not frugal thing, are irrelevant.

  234. I can also attest to how good (the last link) these lunch boxes are. I know of a friend who has been using the same one with her children for 5+years now and they still look as good as new.

  235. We have several family that are teachers , they appreciate school supplies… they always have some student that lost their pen/pencil out of paper… gift cards to Walmart work also. You could give something to a different teacher with a note saying you felt they needed to appreciated now instead of the end of the year. My brother said the best gift he got at the end of the year was a grocery gift card, he is the one that pit stops for the milk and bread and doesn’t use his debit card for anything less than $10.

  236. Brandy, check with the schools , some have programs you might qualify for like for free or reduced lunches or even supplies. My one daughter doesn’t pay for field trips for her 4 kids due to her income.

    We had 2 in public school, and 1 home school when Daughter 3 moved back home to us and decided since she couldn’t go to the school her boyfriend was in that she wanted to home school.

  237. Brandy, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers during these changing and challenging times. I have read all the readers comments and recommendations. You are an amazing woman to have developed such an awesome following of online women who genuinely care about you and your family and who wish to lift you up during these difficult times. Take care.

  238. I teach college algebra and applied physics at a high school and I haven’t used a textbook in 10 years. Most of them are terrible. After reading their explanations even [b]I[/b] don’t know what to do usually!
    Other than English classes (which went to digital books this year) and foreign language, none of our classes use textbooks (and I teach at a top 100 school in the country).

  239. I’m the daughter of a very popular school librarian back in the day, and she was showered with an extraordinary number of gifts, all heartfelt and loved but some were more useful/appreciated than others. Homemade gifts like the shoe bags or gifts from the garden would be as loved; not discounting the note of appreciation, which would be treasured.

  240. It has certianly crossed my mond that I should look at some sort of netting for the garden. This was my first year putting in the raised garden beds, which were pricy. I’m thinking my next step will be to look into buying something like this. Do you have a suggestion of what to look for? I’m in Canada, otherwise I would ask where to find it.:p

  241. In this case, I was just holding on to that balance owed until I wanted to buy something from Amazon or a bigger ticket item (they owed me over $400 from Amazon returns). It was a Visa credit card, not a gift card. Now the balance owed is on the card I use more frequently (which I used for maybe 1 purchase each month, then payed off to build up credit rating), so it will get used probably in the next month or two.

  242. I wanted to share with you I read where a lady took a spunge wet it; put it in a zipper bag then froze it in a zipper bag. We are trying this. My mom when packing lunches use to put left over pop corn in our lunches we loved it.

  243. I love Hamish MacBeth mysteries! I found the BBC television series on DVD a couple of years ago at our local library sale–for $1.00. For lunch ideas, try watching She’s In Her Apron channel on YouTube, and Clutterbug channel also. I don’t make school lunches, but I get good ideas for making my husband’s work lunches.

  244. I remember doing this when I was in school. It was such a thrill to have my own box with my own supplies in them. I was wishing the other day for those type of cardboard boxes instead of plastic. And the smell… I still love that smell.

  245. That’s very interesting and actually very enlightening, Jennifer. I teach University-level science, including Physics, at one of the many colleges in the Twin Cities metro in MN and many of our students never access our online textbooks (we use Pearson’s Mastering Physics for some classes and Wiley Plus for others). That may explain why! It never occurred to me that schools were not using texts at all anymore – our school district and the neighboring districts all use etexts or paper texts.

    I’m very surprised that you find so many texts terrible – while some are, many others are wonderful!

    Thanks for giving me an insight!

  246. Sarah, I’ve had to make more expensive changes in our home-school also. Curriculum can be expensive and supplies for Biology are :o:o:o I thought that I was going to have to buy another computer, but I managed to upgrade the current one that I have. I may still end up getting a new one later.

  247. I am the queen (LOL) of night before prep. I have some hectic mornings and have to be in the car at 7a so necessity is the mother of invention!

    I frequently make peanut butter/jelly sandwiches (peanut butter on both slices of bread, with jelly in between) and freeze them (baggies can be washed/dried for reuse) so that I can grab one to pack in the morning. They are always thawed by lunch and this is much cheaper than those tiny little expensive uncrustables. I also used to freeze unbaked muffins. They can be placed in a preheating oven as I get in the shower for breakfast. Prebaked muffins freeze great also for packing! Love the idea of chicken/egg/tuna salad separate from the bread. It does always get soggy! Also, peanut butter/tortilla rollups are delicious and easy to pack. I need to try freezing them to see if they work the same because they would be super easy to make ahead.

    I once followed a site called and she has great tips for organizing and getting out the door. I use the “launch pad” system of putting everything in one place that needs to go out the door with me and/or my kids. Each kid has their own launch pad spot for the lunch box, backpack, any folders, etc.

    Brandy-not sure if you have baked no knead bread, but it might be a huge time saver. The texture is a little different but the bread is delicious and it isn’t nearly as time intensive as traditional baked bread. I use the 5 minute a day recipe for the master recipe and the dough keeps in the fridge for up to 10 days. Towards the end, I just make pizza with it or homemade hot pockets, but it is super cheap and tastes great! I make lots of frozen, homemade hotpockets (which I freeze) for packing lunches. I’ve even done PB&J hot pockets. Veges/cheese/leftover meats, all work well. Also have made frozen pizza cups using biscuit dough and filled with pizza items or filled with sloppy joe meat/beans, veges/cheese, taco meat. These all freeze well after baking and make great packed lunch options which are cheaper than buying loaves of bread/lunch meat options, but still pack quickly from freezer to lunchbox (heating a little if needed right before packing).

    Just a few more options for ya! Best wishes!

  248. I wanted to thank-you again for all you do to maintain this blog and community. You have certainly blessed me and, by all accounts, many other people.
    I, too, am lifting you up in prayer to see you through this time of change. I truly hope your family settles in quickly to your new routines. And the baby sleeps through the night!

  249. Rhonda, I am pretty sure it is just called deer netting so your local farm store probably has it. It is black and plastic, flexible. I googled and it looks like you do have Lowe’s and Home Depot in Ontario. So a store similar to that.

    I wonder if you could tack it along one long side of the raised bed then bend it over and tack to the other side. At the short ends put up a 4 foot or so stake, attach the top of the peak to that stake. Tack the long sides so that you can lift up one side or the other to access your bed. Chicken wire would work also but that gets pretty bent up with a lot of movement.

    Mother Earth News website often has many good ideas.

  250. Maxine, those are good ideas. I know Rhonda and I think gardenpat ?? make up batches and put in the freezer and fridge for “grab and go” lunch packing. It is not much more effort to double a recipe and some cookies can be baked in sheet pans so no need to do all the dropping or rolling of the dough. Then cut as bars.

  251. I never minded getting the mugs and candy! I just add the mug to my collection because when we have family gatherings or youth group get togethers I might need up to 50 mugs or more for coffee and tea or for hot chocolate. We don’t use throw aways.

  252. Actually why should we be strictly pro or con homeschooling or public schools? Why couldn´t some of the children in a family do one and others another? Just as it suits everyone individually. It is so neat and releasing!

  253. Sometimes even for very frugal people costs are not the key factor when making decisions.

    I actually believe that the author of this blog must have been on the edge to do this decision anyway. Let´s give her some room and try not to make her burdens heavier than these already are.

  254. Having covered lunch boxes, I will warn about the annoyance of schools who encourage kids to sell fund raiser items. They reward the ones who sell the most, and the stuff is usually overpriced and lacking in quality. I do not want to buy $3 worth of wrapping paper for $20 and often just send a contribution instead. If I were to do it again, I would just say no to such selling or at least limit it to Girl Scouts or one thing only. It is a royal pain and it happens way too often. The items are usually garbage to begin with. Forewarned is forearmed!

  255. It has to do with the order in which the comments are approved. Frankly, I’m amazed that Brandy has time to read comments (320 so far this week!) and approve them, despite raising her family, laundry, meals, a baby, a toddler, the rest of the kids, a husband, sending kids to school, homeschooling kids, gardening, community and church activities, publishing blog posts, and you know, getting the occasional hour of sleep. My hat is off to you, Brandy! And as other commenters have said, please put yourself and your family first — we all understand!

  256. I live in MS, child-free but I have friends whose children went to private school in lower grades but state law allowed them to still get free speech therapy at the local public school. The public school bus even picked them up at private school and transported them. Now that I think about it I’m not exactly sure if this was state law or just that particular county’s policy but it might be worth checking into. For some reason I was thinking the speech therapy was part of a federal program and maybe had to be accessible to all kids of certain age despite where they attended school.

  257. Hello PJGT, I also have reading, prescription transition lenses and break glasses frames often. It has been almost a year and I have had three frames. It seems that I initially paid about $200 for one regular pair and one prescription reading sunglass pair. Every time I break the hinge, they just give me new frames AND they are cute! So if you are near a Costco – this might be the way to go. They also have scratch resistant lenses at no extra cost which is delightful.

  258. That’s what we did. Each year we looked at each child and then decided what would be best for them. We have done private school, charter school, public school and homeschool. Each had good and bad. I am thankful that there are choices available. If a child is getting a good education, and is safe and happy, it doesn’t matter what type of school it is. Cheers to all you mamas! We are better together. And thank you, Brandy, for all of your work on the blog. It is my favorite, and I refer others to it quite often!

  259. My Daughter just spend $600 for the DC trip and that didn’t include his bfast and lunch or any spending money for something to bring home for himself. We always gave the kids $100 in small bills… A drink can cost $5

  260. This kind of surprises me..not the requirement of the Chromebook but that fact that you have to pay anything. My brother that is a principal has his Chromebooks paid for by Campbell labels , box tops and printer ink empties. He has done some cupcake sales to get enough.

  261. Try this play dough recipe. The Kool-aid makes it colored and scented. It won’t stain your hands. It’s very smooth, lasts forever and doesn’t need refrigeration. My grandson wants to make it every time he comes to my house (once a week)!

  262. Coloradomom, I am a retired public school special education teacher. We were required to provide services to students living in our district even if they were home schooled or attended parochial schools. I had several students over the years who came to me for assistance even though they did not attend the school. You might check to see if your child could still receive speech therapy from the public school. I’m sure it may vary from state to state, but might be worth checking.

  263. STOP BRANDY…that is not enough sleep and you will get sick…. take this time to just step back and work on a routine you can handle with the changes… we will still be here when you get the time..
    Prayers and calmness within a peace for you and yours

  264. I suggest looking up School Spirit Vending for your school to raise funds. Absolutely no work on the parents or teachers part to raise these funds. A sticker machine is placed in the school with a custom sticker for your school and other fun stickers. The kids bring their quarters to school and buy the stickers. I believe the school receives 25% from the profits. There are also franchise opportunities for anyone interested in a side business.

  265. My son attends a charter school also. One fee of $25 each year to register and that’s it! I don’t have to buy school supplies, pay for field trips or pack lunches. The school provides breakfast and lunch. I only have to buy his clothes and backpack. I love it. It’s a great school compared to our local schools and he does great there.

  266. I often wonder if teachers request so many things because they know not everyone will be able to do it. Then they have enough for everybody.

  267. Your son is beautiful. Good luck to you and your children. It will be an adjustment for a while. My youngest daughter brings lunch everyday as she has stomach issues. All of my containers came from thrift stores or yard sales. I have a very nice one that is for salads that came with an ice pack and a divided section for on top. I had some small containers that we have gotten with takeout so I always keep those even though they are intended for one use. She grazes throughout the day so she likes to have many different things. I have 2 Thermos containers that we share. I always put it in a separate carrier then her cold food because hot grapes are gross.

    We were away last week and had a very thrifty but fun vacation. We cooked all but 2 meals. We went to lunch out instead of dinner because it is cheaper. We did lots of the activities that were included at the time share. We brought most of the food from home from my pantry, freezers and garden. We did go to the store while away and bought some special treats. Everyone got to pick out their own pint of ice cream. It is much cheaper then going out for ice cream multiple times.

    My garden is going crazy which I am so thankful for. I need to make and can sauce this weekend. We are using as much as possible in our meals all week. The rest of my list is here:

  268. Brandy, what a big change for your family! When I pulled my sons out of public school and began homeschooling, I was amazed at how much money we saved. You will be able to keep the expenses to a minimum because you are wise.

    Some children thrive in public school and love the atmosphere. I have no doubt you have investigated the schools and have made the best decision. I wish them well.

    Thank you for sharing about it.


  269. Former teacher, totally agree! I still have and cherish those handwritten, heartfelt notes from both students, parents and families!

  270. Brandy, the baby is growing and so beautifully! Such a resemblance to the others!
    Wow, I didn’t expect to hear the school news when I opened up your blog! I’m probably as pro homeschooling as anyone that would read the blog but I’ve also been reading your blog for ten years probably and I’ve come to know you and know your wisdom for your family is amazing! So with that in mind, I don’t question your decision and I know your children will be a HUGE blessing to their school and with whomever they are in contact at their school. Hugs and prayers to you and peace if it is what you are needing. I’m so sorry for the costs and inconvenience! I read about the hours you are having to stay up at night/morning—I pray you all settle in a routine and you can get some sweet rest! The Lord continue to bless you and your family!

  271. Let me start by saying, teachers do not expect to receive gifts from our students, but at the same time we very much appreciate acts of generosity by our students. As an elementary school librarian, I work with all students on campus. I must say that the notes of appreciation and/or drawings from the students are very cherished. In fact, I received a drawing just today that I posted behind the circulation counter, and it will stay up the whole school year. Your idea of lemons is a great one; I imagine Las Vegas homes and gardens do not support too many lemon trees, making fresh lemons a real treat in and of itself. Fresh flowers are also such a special treat as well. You have such a great eye for garage sale bargains you may even stumble on a vase for one of your beautiful arrangements.

    I do not want this to sound ungrateful, but if I were to receive 700 anythings every year from all of our students my home would be very overwhelmed. Consumable items are really very appreciated. Just to name a few ideas: I’ve been given flowers to enjoy on my desk, a box of note cards, $5.00 Starbucks cards (my college son and niece clamor for these!), and I still remember the quart jar of shelled pecans with a pretty cloth lid cover I was given nearly 25 years ago (and the name of the student who gave it to me). I also remember an incredible surprise from a family of four daughters: each daughter helped to make breakfast for their teachers (one made blueberry muffins, one sausage balls, another a small container of fresh-cut fruit salad, and the youngest helped combine a small jar of spiced tea mix). It was all arranged on a paper plate with a pretty paper napkin and brought before the school day started. Another gift I’ve been given a few times recently is a package of Thanks-A-Lot Girl Scout cookies. Not only are they a tasty and consumable treat, they are a fundraiser and the purchase benefits that organization. The name of the cookies also fits the sentiment of the gift.

  272. French is mandatory in Canadian schools, but I still can’t speak it. I admire your ability to communicate in multiple languages. That is not easy for many of us!

  273. DEAR BLOG READERS–Brandy probably won’t tell us this, but next week let’s all try to keep our comments short and on-topic. Her explanation a few pages back of reading the short comments first leads me to suggest this…and, yes, I’ll refrain from telling you the story of my life when I post! I agree that I learn something new every day, but I do sometimes get bogged down in wordy posts, my own included.

  274. My go to teacher gift the last couple of years has been a $10 Amazon gift card at Christmas only to his homeroom teacher. That way they can buy whatever they need or want be it class related or personal. This year my son starts middle school and will have more teachers so I don’t think I will continue unless I give $5 cards instead.

  275. Brandy,
    I do hope you’re getting some sleep! School is always an adjustment. When I was teaching, I always tried to give the children whose moms were new moms a little extra attention … I knew their mamas were doing their best! On a whole different bent … I have been intrigued by the Armenian cucumbers you’re growing. Tonight, when I was at the farmer’s market, one of the vendors had a big box. Since I’ve never had one and you’ve talked so much about them, I ended up buying one. I wanted to get some cucumbers anyway. It’s huge! The farmer was so nice and encouraged me to just put some salt on it, then added lime juice, and finally suggested chili powder. Tomorrow, I’m going to try it. We’re certainly going to be eating a lot of it as there’s just my husband and myself.
    We’ve had our own personal crisis this past week, which has been very hard. We’re grateful and devastated all at the same time. It’s reminded me that we never really know what’s going on with someone when we see them in a store or in the community. And, we don’t really have to know. Instead, perhaps it’s best to simply pause and think maybe that person has something going on we don’t know about and be okay with it. I’m hopeful that’s the real meaning of grace.
    I’m hoping things settle into a routine for all of you soon.

  276. Brandy,

    I have just remembered one of the best things I ever did for my children…sent bright colorful notes in their lunchboxes. Because they took so long to create, I kept the notes in their lunchboxes for about a week. I always expected them to be tossed, but they never were. Now I am told by my 20 year olds how much they loved their notes and how their classmates wished their mothers would send in little notes as well.


  277. Great job Brandi. I know it had to be a hard decision, but don’t let anyone judge you for doing what is best for YOUR family. I am sure the three kids attending will thrive in school. We don’t share the same lifestyle as your family at all, but you and your husband are amazing parents.

  278. Marcia, I agree with you. The fundraisers always killed me for costs and there were a lot of them. So when I was on parent coucil, I suggested, then ran a fundraiser that was seed packets (flower and veggie heritage seeds). In stead of giving the “top sellers” the prize of more seeds, we decided to donate them to the school, to use in their gardens at the school. I really liked it, because it was environmentally friendly, the heritage seeds were a great investment to offset the cost (which really wasn’t that expensive in comparison to some of the stuff we were asked to buy), and the school received seeds that the children could plant in the school gardens!

  279. We paid our mortgage off in three years after seeing an amortization chart of how much interest we would be paying over 30 years! Granted we had a small mortgage to start with ($65,000) but it really inspired us to buckle down and throw all of our overtime and bonus money on the mortgage. Not having a mortgage was a huge blessing last year because my husband was unemployed/underemployed for 8 months.

  280. Hi Brandy,
    I read your post today about starting your website 10 years ago. In 2010 I found your website it was the biggest blessing of my year! I had 2 kids 1 and under. I was now a stay at home mom on an income that never added up on paper. I felt so alone and lost because no one I knew in person I could talk to…. their answer was for me to go back to work. No did not/will not do that. Your site was breath of fresh air and made me realize I was not alone. The #1 thing I learned from your site is limited funds does not equal “victim” mentality. Do joyfully what you can with what you can. Praying for your strength as you deal with lack of sleep.

  281. Laura it is an absolutely great start!! I have always used “budgets” and it has worked well for me (now 76). I encourage you to try to track your total spending by writing each purchase (every single one) in a daily notebook …. if you can make yourself do this for two months it becomes a habit, andyou will be amazed where your money may be going. best of luck, ann lee s.

    don’t you just love the new photo of Hamish?

  282. What services are available depends on the laws of the state in which you live. In my state, schools do not have to provide special services to homeschoolers.

  283. I remember them too! Like you I would shake mine – cold, foamy milk, yum! A local dairy supplied all the schools in our area, and the dairy (amazingly) is still in business – to this day I will go out of my way to buy milk from them, because it’s local and fresh, but also nostalgic. 🙂

  284. Today, Thursday, my Kroger had sandwich boxes with the icepack inside, marked down to$2 They were originally $7. You may want to see if your Kroger affiliate has marked down their back to school lunch things.

  285. Picked up six boxes of free range chicken broth for half off from clearance shelf.

    Also from the mark-down shelf I got another box of tea, this lemon flavored for half off. Tea of some sort is my usual summer beverage so I like keeping plenty on hand. As I do with coffee, I add just half or less to the original tea bags and brew a second gallon. Sometimes I make sun tea.

    Picked up what appeared to have been used only once, then donated. It is an old-fashioned reel mower for the cost of having my front yard cut just once. Now I can do it myself and get exercise at the same time. I can also avoid lopping the tops off native flowers that I’ve purposely placed.

    Sliced half-price mushrooms and shishito peppers from my yard. Tossed with salt and olive oil to roast in solar oven. The result will make a tasty and nutritious filling for omelets or topping for grain bowls.

    Picked leaves from late seeded dandelions in backyard to serve as greens on sandwiches. These are still tender and not bitter as they haven’t bloomed.

    I need a t-shirt with logo to wear when I speak as a representative of my group. I choose to not spend $10 -$25 for such. DD with degree in fine arts is starting a screen-printing business. Joann’s had 3 t-shirts for $10. She’ll print for me for free. Maybe we’ll sell more to my group.

    Picked a large bunch of chard and cooked it for the week. It will serve primarily as topping for grain bowls and filling for omelets.

  286. Brandy, You are an inspiration to me. I am very thankful to have you share your wisdom each week and always look forward to new posts. I pray that God will bless you mightily for your giving spirit. Your children are amazinly blessed to have you as a mother.

  287. I send a joke in my daughter’s lunch every day – she started keeping them about halfway through Kindergarten (she’s going into fourth grade this year) and now has a big box of them!

  288. Hi Brandy, when I was in high school or middle school, I preferred snacks lunches for school and real meal lunches for home, so I would take fruit or sliced veggies from the garden (no dip), a slice of bread with cheese or salami, yogurt with grapenuts ( homemade is easy to make), homemade granola bars, ….. The reason why is that, I used lunch as an opportunity to do homework, meet with clubs, extra practice for whatever sessions, in essence I was always on the run, and I found a thermos and ice packs too bulky for my already heavy AP textbook filled back pack. Why don’t you wait and play it by ear to see what you are really going to need? Also watches, why? Save the money for the graphing calculator and other expensive extras. Also I had to pay for my own expensive extras with my babysitting money,…. it made me take care of and appreciate it more. In fact, I paid for all the extras…..hmmm. Just a thought.

  289. Carolina,

    They have already had two weeks of school, so we have been packing lunches. Taking water is a necessity; it is 108 here and the bus stop is a half mile away. It is so hot that the teachers permit water bottles in class. The ice packs are thin and light and prevent their food from getting too hot so that they don’t get food poisoning.
    They need new watches to help them make sure they are not late to catch the bus (they already missed taking it home from school twice).
    They do not carry textbooks; the school does not use them, as they give every child a computer to take home. They only have to carry a 1-inch 3-ring binder in addition to their small Chromebook. I already have a graphing calculator from my eldest that my 8th-grader is using at school. My 7th grader gets to use one in class and I have another at home should she need it for homework that my 10th-grader uses for math.
    They cannot do those things at lunch that you did. Lunch is only 25 minutes long, and they are not permitted to be in the classrooms. They are only allowed in the cafeteria and then outside, so if they need to use the bathroom, they MUST do it before they eat. Then all of the students line up behind a gate and when the bell rings they are allowed back inside.

  290. Good luck to you and your children with this amazing change! I’m hoping that all of you experience a smooth transition and that you get some much-needed rest.

  291. Heidi, the same here. There are plenty of stuff the backpack campaigns, 3 of which I can think of are the Boys and Girls Club, the Salvation Army and the local newspaper. They fill the Friday food backpacks here also.

  292. Cassandra: I worked with adoptive families for years and remember one instance when the family returned an 11 year old child after 10 years being her parents, telling me (in front of her, so I can only guess what they said to her at home) that she was “not smart enough to fit into our family.” Honestly, I have never known what blinding rage was before that; I wanted to slap that mother into another state. An adoptive family is as financially responsible as a birth family and it was a happy day for me when the Guardian ad Litem and I prevailed in court and the family had to pay over $800 a month of support for the child they abandoned, until she was re-adopted by a wonderful elderly couple a few years later. Still makes my blood boil to think of it. Anyway, years and years later, the girl, now an adult, found me (and I had my married last name and a different job by then) just to thank me for finding her parents who were so good to her and taught her what a family and love meant. They helped her get through college, a masters and a PhD, both of them dying shortly after. Makes you believe they were kept alive for a reason, to make sure that “not smart enough for our family” girl realized she was indeed smart enough. Kudos to you for helping that friend of your daughter.

  293. Well, Brandy, I don’t know about how public school will be for your kids, but I think the school will be better for having such grounded, focused and talented kids attending there this year! You should be teaching parenting classes!

  294. Speaking of lunches, I bought one box of these containers from Sam’s Club two years ago and I still have so many of them. I’ve even shared them with friends and family. They are the best containers, just like the ones you would get in a deli, and are completely leak proof. I often bring soups with me for my lunches and have never had one leak on me yet. The initial expense may be quite high at $33.58, but you get 240 containers with lids and that works out to 14¢ each.

  295. Your baby is beautiful! I know that in a few weeks this new routine will feel more comfortable for everyone. I used to love it when my mom packed cheese and crackers in my lunch (cheese separate from crackers). A bagel with cream cheese was a favorite as well. Fondly remember helping her make sandwiches the night before for my siblings’ and my lunch the next day. I’ll be praying for you & your family!

  296. I can’t get to a store because of the smoke which is at very high risk levels so I phoned the store and told them and asked if I could buy the sales items anyway as the sale is over today. They gave me a rain cheque over the phone and hopefully, I can pick up the things tomorrow. I will have saved about $30.00 and will have half a year’s supply of egg-free pasta.

  297. Or one of your older children could do a guest post. Winter could do a sewing post or one of your older sons could do a project they did. Just some ideas.
    Hope you get some sleep soon. If I lived closer I would happily come over and let you take naps. A friend has triplets and it was hard the first five years with no sleep.

  298. Talk to the teacher before you do that. They don’t always like snacks shared. The teacher will love you when she needs things baked for parties.

  299. I KNOW!!!! My husband was surprised. I was so frustrated from last year’s failed attempts that I just planted an entire packet of seeds (that I got free) in a foot and a half long flower trench. And…it grew! Veryyyyyyyy slowly. Recently I transplanted some to a larger space once I had grown and harvested some other plant, and the transplants grew to a respectable if still small size. So I ate them! Then I think the remaining slightly cramped lettuce got sunburnt or so, as they all developed freckle-like brownness on them, and I didn’t eat them. Back into the earth they went, to provide extra nutrition when I replanted my blueberry bush in a larger planter. I still have no idea why the lettuce grew this year and not last. But hey, I grew lettuce!

  300. I greatly enjoyed listening and watching Chris Botti’s concert on PBS. A few years ago, I had the absolute privilege and joy of seeing him in a live concert here. It was incredible1. So glad I could watch him and his band on PBS for free.

  301. I sent a note everyday while they were in elementary school. Some days it was good luck on your spelling test, some times it was a picture, some times it was a heart that said I love you. Occasionally I would get Hubby to write one or grandma or grandpa. They always got a kick out of it. When my son was born I was paranoid that hubby would forget so I kept bugging him while I was in the hospital. I had written notes out from her new baby brother or sister depending on which one we had. Hubby remembered and even stuck a picture of her and her brother in.

  302. Maxine, it never occurred to me that any of our posts were a burden to Brandy. I figured if anyone else didn’t like the posts they just wouldn’t read them. Perhaps make their own comment and move on. I love reading all the things people share, and after a year, love the relationships I have developed away from this blog. I just never realized they weren’t welcome since everyone has shared this way since I started reading this blog. I guess I missed something.

  303. We have a water canal a very short distance from where we live (maybe 5 minute walk through the unused field behind our house). If the deer were thirsty, there’s plenty of places to get water. We have doe’s in the area who have twin fawns nearly every year. I think the mom’s bring their babies to feed in our garden, because it’s safe and easy access.

  304. If any are in high school, you might want to double-check the menu. Our local public schools offer salad bars and such as another option to the normal hot food.

  305. If you have return address labels you can stick those on papers instead of constantly filling out that info. I know I get a lot of those types of labels for free as promotions or donation requests.

  306. Another tip — for next year. Office supply stores like Staples will often waive their item limits for teachers (limit 5 or whatever). Since you are still a homeschool teacher, you count and can get that discount for far more items. For example they might have a limit of 5 folders at .10 for regular people but 30 for teachers. Grab the extra and save them or spread the love!

  307. As a teacher we have a limited supply list for our grade level. However, on the request of specific colors…I teach elementary and it is SO much easier to say to them “please pull out your red reading notebook” than it is to have them looking through their notebooks to figure out which is labeled for what subject. Anything that isn’t brought in or donated I have to purchase. We get no money to purchase needed supplies… and tissues, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes are not supplied.

  308. I agree with you Lillianna – but to be fair to Maxine I’m assuming that she’s asking for briefer comments for a week or so as Brandy moderates all comments before they are allowed to show and she seems to need a bit of a break at the moment. I also love reading all the responses – perhaps Brandy could mention something at the end of a blog if she would like us to be briefer one week? I guess it’s the one real problem with being such a popular blog.

  309. Hi Brandy,

    I worked at a Joanne Store for a decade. The company policy at the time was to give homeschool teachers the teacher discount. You may want to ask the manager and have a copy what your file with the state with you. If they still offer the teacher discount, you may get it too.

  310. Brandy, please know that when I asked you to share why your children were going to public school it was only out of curiosity since you are so transparent about so many other aspects of your home life. I was never blessed with children. When I was young I wanted a family just like yours. Lots of kids, a loving husband, the ability to stay home and take care of those children and be a homemaker. My life did not end up like that at all. I so enjoy reading your blog each week. I dare say that I dream about what a wonderful life you have had and continue to have with your remarkable family and skills. As someone who worked night shift for years, please be very careful to get enough rest. I too use to “function”on 4 hours of sleep or less a day. It caught up with me and I suffer to this day because of it. I am convinced that some of the health problems that I have now are directed related to the fact that I did not care for myself and thought I could “do it all” with such little rest. Please take care. We would all suffer if we did not have your wonderful blog to read and glean from each other. May the Lord bless you and help you along this road that you are on at this point in time.

  311. Brandy reads every comment, long or short, in order to moderate each. Beyond doing this, she has only 24 hours each day to plan and cook 3 large meals, 2 healthy snacks, can foods, garden, do laundry, homeschool many children, take care of her pre-schooler, nurse her baby on a 24 hour shift, shop for groceries and other family needs, be a wife, be there for her children, take care of emergencies, and so many other things I’m not even aware of, and get a good night’s sleep.

    I would like to take good care of Brandy so she won’t get burnt out.

  312. Excellent points and all important things to consider when making such decisions. Obviously it depends on your location but you are spot on when you state “there is no way to supervise kids that are gone all day”. It’s truly a matter of trust and each parent will need to do thorough research and make informed decisions based on their findings. So happy you and your family are thriving after taking control of your situation.

  313. When we took a family trip to Canada (Ontario and Quebec). Ontario we noticed had signs bilingual in English and French, but Quebec did not. When we would try to speak with folks in stores or ask for directions or anything in Quebec many seemed not to want to speak English. So we just started speaking German every time and every time they would then switch to English. A lot of people are bilingual but it is not always going to be the language of the country one is visiting.

  314. You are right about that!! Quebec is FRENCH, and highly proud of it. They do not like to speak English, and there have been attempts to make French the official language there. The United States should be ashamed of how few languages are offered to their public school students, and that they are offered so LATE. When I attended you couldn’t start a second language until high school. My granddaughter started in middle school but even that is late. I studied French, Greek, and Spanish but am only mildly adept in French. My nephew’s children were on language #5 by age 10–a much better start.

  315. This is where I got the idea for some of my raised garden beds. PVC is relatively cheap as is “chicken wire” (actually this time of year, many frustrated gardeners list their fencing/supplies on Craigslist, often for free). Hinging them would still give you access but the fencing would keep the buggers out of your plants. I have used it on both square and rectangular – I don’t have a deer problem and used the pvc piping as a base for a trellis for my cukes and cherry tomatoes.

  316. I missed reading this until today and, even though the topic seems well covered, I want to add my two-cents worth.

    I’m a retired college professor and the most wonderful gift(s) I ever received was a “thank you” note from a student; they went into my “atta girl” file so that I re-read them when I was having a tough day.

    As for “explaining” family decisions, don’t. Sharing prudent housekeeping skills is the purpose of your blog; explaining your decisions isn’t. I admire deeply your commitment to having a beautiful life focused on quality of life and not materialism. I enjoy the absolute delight you have in your gardens and your sharing it. Your reasons for life decisions are your own. I am perpetually amazed at how entitled people become when they read a blog. Another blog I read had a post that people were actually asking the writer if her breasts were real… Geez…

    Please keep sharing your tips and joy for life! I look forward to reading your thoughts and I am sure others do, too!

    Prayers for your lovely family… I had four children…. and don’t know how you manage to keep your sanity (and energy!)! LOL

  317. My DH is a middle school teacher, and he most certainly does not get gifts from every student! We have a friend who has each of her children choose one “favorite” teacher whom they give a gift too. Of course, it’s not advertised that they’re the current “favorite” but it cuts down on the number of gifts. As the wife of a teacher, I will agree that homemade food gifts generally aren’t the favorite. But, most teachers don’t need another coffee cup, apple decoration, or fancy pen either. Truly, even though they may seem impersonal, gift cards are the most appreciated. Most teachers make just a fraction of what they should be making. The extra treat of a gift card is always welcome and appreciated. Hope your children have a great year!

  318. There are a few homeschooling programs that are based on a read aloud philosophy. I’ve used ‘Sonlight’ ( can use library books instead buying. They have a great catalogue! ) and ‘Ambleside Online ( free). There are others as well. Try searching Charlotte Mason homeschool for more ideas about reading ‘living’ books instead of, or in addition to text books. Best wishes :).


  319. Having been away last week, I missed this post, and I’m not going to read all of the comments (since you mentioned in this week’s post that not all of the comments were kind). I will say this: you do what you need to do for your family! I homeschooled both of my boys from kindergarten through 12th grade, but I also had homeschooling friends who worked it however was best for their families. Some started homeschooling after a few years of public schooling, and then went back to public schooling for high school. Some homeschooled independently for one child and chose a homeschool charter for another. Some homeschooled through middle school and then chose site-based charter schools for high school. I love each of these families and I would never judge them for making the decisions that they needed to for their families. We saw families go through divorce, illness, and job loss, and each time they would reassess and recalibrate their plans. Of eight super close homeschooling families that met regularly for many years, I was the only one who homeschooled through high school, but that is what worked for my family and was what my boys wanted. I only have one other close homeschooling friend (who moved to another state) who homeschooled all the way through. My point is that it doesn’t have to be either/or, and that you are a good mom for making things work for your family!

    As for expenses, there’s no point in my bemoaning that this is something that you have to do, because it is the reality of our times. It may be that people never had to take a box of classroom supplies in on the first day of school when we were children, but these days people do. You are so frugal and resilient that you will make the finances work!

  320. I just have to give a comment, I usually just read, and find your site fascinating and interesting.
    I live in Sweden, work as a teacher, grade 6-9, in math and science. Perhaps our taxes are high in a way. But we don’t have to pay more than about $30 to visit the doctor as an adult, kids are free of charge. My son had a bad appendix, and the operation was free.

    The to school. Swedish public schools are free. In my town the pupils are not allowed to pay for anything at all.
    The politicians say: It is not fair for different families do not have a equal lot of money!
    Therefore the lunch is also free of charge… And it 2 different dishes a day, for example – lasagna with different vegetables or chili sin carne.
    All books, croombooks, pens, costs nothing at al. Not even trips give pupils a fee.
    I think our kids (and their parents ) are spoild.

  321. Brandy,
    I have long admired how you so patiently manage all your precious kids. I had 4 at the most(1 lives with her bio-dad and goes to college) and felt overwhelmed at times with just 4.

    As a Christian, I am so glad that you are doing what is best for you family versus feeling pressure that you need to home school. I support you in either decision(as much as a internet reader can that is).

    I know I will be in the minority, but I am grateful to buy school supplies. I am grateful to have loving teachings that take care of my sweet kids during the day over the years. I don’t want those teaching to be stressed at all about this detail. I now buy schools supplies in July(when they seem to be the lowest price) and buy extra to send to school. I buy most of the items at Walmart with some items I know will be the cheapest at the Dollar store(Klenex, antibacterial wipes). I also pack all the lunches for my 2 teenagers and my 9 year old(who eats like a teenager). Lunches are $2.75 each per meal, and all three of my kids could eat at least 3 of those meals for one lunch. We can make lunches for less that 50 cents/day per kid. We also have those exact thermos, we have used them for 2 years and the still look brand new. We have used plastic in the past(BPA free of course) that did not last that long.

    The other thing I do is make your lemon poppy seed muffins as bread. I then pack slices for a snack. I also do this with Chocolate muffin recipe I have. The kids love both of them.

    Again, thank you for all you do! I think of you when I am making your black bean burgers or buying the #10 cans of tomato sauce.

  322. In place of ice packs, other food items can be frozen and used instead. For example, juice boxes, water bottles, yogurt tubes, grapes, etc. The juice boxes and bottled water might sweat, so wrap them in a napkin. This makes the lunch lighter in weight as well.

  323. So sad but so true. I friend taught for our local inner city schools. She had to buy her own paper. That meant every test,handout,etc,had to come from paper she supplied. It was crazy! Every time Staples had a rebate offer for a whole case of paper, I got one for her.

  324. I volunteer with our free summer lunch program. We have a big box of books that we encourage the children to take. I love that so many bring them back the following week and tell us how much they loved it and can’t wait to get another one. We also have a local dentist that donates little bags of dental care items…toothpaste, brush, floss, and how-to-brush-correctly pamphlets.

  325. San Diego has a huge homeless problem also. We live in a rural area 35 minuets away from downtown. Our little town is seeing more and more homeless too. Rent is very expensive here, so if you have a financial hiccup it is very easy for people to get behind and can’t catch up. A lot of the homeless in the city is Alcohol and drug induced. We have a lot of programs for them. Many don’t want to get off the street. I feel especially bad for the children they really don’t have a choice in the matter. It is very very sad.

  326. Late to the party, here, but we’ve been very happy with the Rubbermaid Lunchblox plastic containers. Ours get used 4 days a week and have been for 3 years and are still going strong.

  327. I have used the Ziplock divided containers for lunch for my twins for many years! Love them. Hand washing has helped extend their use. They disappeared from my Target awhile back but just picked up a new set @ Target this week

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