Thursday, August 19, 2010

Scheduling Annual Physicals

I just scheduled annual physicals for my kids. It seemed a good time to schedule them for several reasons:
  • They both have birthdays this month, so I thought about it.
  • I can use the information from my daughter's physical this fall to get her paperwork completed so that I can enroll her in kindergarten next March. A physical over this past summer would be too outdated, which is why I was waiting.
  • My son hasn't had a physical since I enrolled HIM in kindergarten a year and a half ago.
 Now that they are booked for November 3rd, which is 2 1/2 months from today, I have questions:
  • Is it normal to have to schedule an annual physical over 2 months in advance? I admit I was expecting about a 4-6 week lead time.
  • Is is possible to have a reminder system in place to prompt a parent to schedule physicals? We seem to get to the dentist every six months without a problem. Or would the additional appointment load become even more overwhelming for the practice?
  • How could I remind myself of the need to schedule appointment in an effective way? (Saying to myself randomly, 'Gee, I should schedule physicals for the kids,' may not be the most effective strategy.)
  • What Else? What else is slipping through the cracks because it hasn't randomly occurred to me at a time when I can follow through with the idea?
  • Am I the only person who has problems like this?
In other news, I've made steps forward in my own health care by setting an appointment with a specialist (three weeks ago) to see if my own health issues can be improved. My issue isn't serious or life threatening, but it does interfere with my life, and it wasn't resolved by the PCP I visited in May. My options were:
  • Make another appointment with the same PCP (whom I don't want to use as my PCP) and explain that my issue isn't resolved. Receive additional unsatisfactory care.
  • Find a new PCP to try out.
  • Go to a specialist who has helped someone else I know.
So I still don't have a PCP. Maybe I will continue the search after the school year starts back up. This summer the kids have been home the majority of the time, preventing much progress on anything productive, frankly. (I shouldn't blame them. I want to relax and have fun, too!)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Declutter Challenge July Update: Easing Back Into It

Something is better than nothing! I love looking at a nice pile of packages, ready to be shipped out the door. It's so satisfying!

I'm distinctly relieved to report that I made my sales goal for July. It wasn't an amazing month, but at least there are 6 fewer items in my home that have now been connected with others who have a use for them.

It wasn't until halfway through the month that I was able to focus on selling some items. I was getting ready to go out of town and didn't have a lot of time to work with, so I decided to do what has become easiest for me: selling on Ebay. To make things work with my schedule, I reduced my auctions to be 5 days long instead of the standard 7 days. I also started all 5 of my auctions at $.99 to attract as much interest as possible.

There seems to be a psychology to starting auctions at $.99 which makes items attract bids more than other items that have a higher starting price. People can't resist a great deal, apparently, and bid on the items, which increases the perceived demand for the item, or some such. At least I've noticed that my $.99 items get a lot of attention and sometimes sell for higher than identical items' Buy it Now prices. (Also, Ebay collects lower fees on $.99 auctions, so it's win-win unless the item isn't in demand and the item ends up selling for $.99!)

My total sales amount on Ebay (after shipping, fees, etc.) was $119.28. I also sold a book on (even easier than listing items on Ebay!) and made $6.05, bringing my total for July to $125.33!

All of my buyers paid promptly except for one, so I had to haul that package along to the beach while waiting for payment. I prepared the package and used the Wifi connection at the beach house to obtain the address--and the location of the nearest post office. It was a bit of a pain, but I'm glad I took the trouble to make the sales despite being crunched for time.

Maybe one of these days I will actually sell something on Craigslist. I haven't figured out the secret yet, but I hope to make some attempts in August.

August is Toy Purge Month in our household, due to upcoming birthdays. I don't know if I will actually get around to selling many of the toys, but I hope to get a good supply together to sell/donate/get out of my house this fall!

Another area I need to focus more on is recycling. I have various appliances and other random items that need a new home one way or another that I hope to get to in the coming weeks/months.

Visit The Finer Things in Life to fine more decluttering inspiration!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Amateur Gardening: A Harvest

My son and I explored in our vegetable garden yesterday and discovered some items that we could harvest!
Considering that we don't really know what we are doing and just seeing what happens as we go along, it was nice for the rabbits, ants, and other animals to leave a little food for us to use. In addition to the above, I saw a pumpkin, a melon, and a small zucchini growing. Exciting!

That big pile of basil leaves is going to be made up into some Basil Pesto as soon as I can get around to it. I should add that to my Freezer Cooking list. The kids ate the mini carrots already. They didn't get very big because the soil isn't the greatest. (Note to Self: more soil amendment next year!)

Freezer Cooking Experiment: Spinach

When cleaning out the refrigerators at the beach house last weekend, my SILs and I found a large quantity of fresh baby spinach leaves on the brink of expiration, and I 'inherited' them. I decided to do a Freezer Cooking experiment on them, because there is no way my husband and I would eat 20+ ounces of fresh spinach before it all went bad.

I wilted the spinach in a large saute pan with about 1.5 Tablespoons of butter. We ate some with the salmon we were having for dinner, and I froze the rest in two packages after straining out most of the liquid.

My plan is to defrost one of the packages for dinner later this week to see how it holds up to being frozen. (I'm thinking it should be fine since you can buy frozen spinach at the grocery store...)

If it holds up, I will have a new rescue strategy for spinach!

Fitness Goals Update: July

Despite being out of town for a total of 9 days in July, I managed to drag myself to aerobics class a total of 11 times, which works out to about every other day. It was 5 less that my goal to attend 16 classes and 'win' the flip-flop bag set. Supplies are still available, so maybe I will be able to win them just a bit late if I can go enough times this week. (Need to go 3 more times...)

Total Attended in July: 11 classes

Total for 2010 as of July 31st: 84 classes

I would really like to get ahead with my class count in August so that I have a bit more breathing room when things get really busy this fall. Things working in my favor:
  • August is a long month with 5 weekends if you count this past weekend.
  • We are NOT going out of town this month. (Whew! That's what hurts my totals the worst, I think)
  • I might make it to some morning classes as I have been waking up earlier and feeling restless. (Attending 7 AM aerobics class is a rare and amazing event for me.)
I have hopes that this will be a great fitness month for me, not only for the reasons above, but also because I have started Counting Calories for the first time in my life. Ever. I won't go so far as to call it a 'diet', more an Increased Awareness of portions. I'm currently using Daily Plate, which seems to be working well thus far (for the past 3 days). I'm hoping that this food record will help me to pinpoint what I need to eat in order to keep my energy levels consistently high, since that has been a problem for me occasionally.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Freezer Cooking Day: Pre-Party Version

We've just returned from vacation with some extra food, we are hosting a birthday party this weekend, and the freezer is looking empty. It's a good time to get some Freezer Cooking done!

The goals:
  • I brought home a large amount of fresh baby spinach leftover from our beach trip that I need to use ASAP before it goes bad.
  • I need to prepare for my son's birthday party to be held this Saturday.
  • I have a large quantity of chicken bones/carcasses to be made into Bone Soup
  • It would be nice (in addition to the necessities listed above) to marinate some meats and prepare some food for future meals, as August will be a busy month for us!
The Plan:
I may add to this list as I figure out what else would make sense to make. Find more freezer cooking plan inspiration here!

6 Years Old: The Birthday Party Menu Plan

Turning 5 years old last year. He has his ears plugged while we are singing 'Happy Birthday'

My son turns 6 years old in three days, and we are hosting a party this Saturday. Seeing as I've been lying on the beach for the past week, I'm feeling a little pressured to get everything together.

We I made the foolish mistake of throwing a large party for my son when he turned 3 years old. He has wanted the same party every year since! In a way this makes things easy, because I just do over each year what worked best the previous year, and my son actually likes the repetition. (He likes to know what to expect, particularly in intense situations.) The main challenge is balancing this party with my daughter's 4th birthday at the end of the month. Maybe next year I will combine their parties???

I'm trying my best to keep things the same from year to year without letting things get 'bigger'. Trust me, things are big enough already. In addition to same-age friends, we invite relatives, parents, and siblings. At this point (checking evite count) we're expecting over 20 people and I expect that number to increase to 40. It is a loose, unstructured party at which everyone runs around playing and jumping in the Moon Bounce (courtesy of Nana). This allows people to arrive/leave on their own family's schedule. Usually the kids come on the earlier side and the relatives come on the later side.

One thing that will make this year easier compared to last year is that I am NOT going to make a homemade pinata.

That is supposed to be The Death Star. This year I think we will go with a store-bought pinata instead.

Another thing that will help things go smoothly is that I will be serving basically the same menu as last year. Advantages of this menu include:
  • The Birthday Boy likes everything on the menu
  • The main items are easy to make ahead, freeze, and serve quickly the day of the party
  • Items are small portions appropriate for young kids, and easier to snack on/graze throughout the day
  • No Silverware Required!
The Menu Plan:
  • Mini Hamburgers (4 dozen) with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and condiments
  • Bean and Cheese Quesadillas (lots) with salsa and sour cream
  • Watermelon slices
  • Veggies and dip
  • Chips, hummus, and other snacking items
  • Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes (rather than a birthday cake): If some kids need to leave before we sing Happy Birthday, I can just hand them a cupcake!
Next I will put together my freezer cooking plan for this week; hopefully it will include some dinners as well as the food for the party.

Menu Plan Monday: August 2nd

I'm back from the beach, and back to cooking! While staying at the beach with 2 dozen of our closest relatives, we only had to cook dinner one night. Fortunately we brought home a few leftovers which I plan to integrate in this week's menu, as well as in a Freezer Cooking Plan.

I also need to prepare to host a birthday party on Saturday, and I hope the freezer is going to play a big role in those plans as well.
Find more meal planning inspiration at!