The Week in Review – Week 16, 2018

Soccer season is in full swing and baseball is just getting started.  As I’ve gone to these various fields, I feel a bit like an urban explorer finding long lost equipment.

It was vacation week so things were a bit more relaxed.  But we had two sick kiddos so we didn’t do much extra either.

So, in total, the kids had:

  • Two baseball practices
  • Three baseball games
  • Four soccer practices
  • Four soccer games
  • One birthday party
  • Haircuts for all the boys
  • Math morning for the 4th graders

I continue to make good progress towards my goals of decluttering 465 items and evaluating my clothing.  As of now I’m on track towards the 465 and halfway through the clothing (though for various reasons the second half should be faster).

As part of the 465 I sold a few more things.  The process has also made a real dent in my piles of previous years school papers.

I also finished the signup process for baseball camp this summer.  That pretty much takes care of our July & early August schedules.


Grocery Update & What We Ate – Week 16, 2018

It was a VERY light week.  And, yet we’re not eating out either.

On Tuesday, I spent $55.44 at Wegman’s.  Some of this is definitely vacation week supplies.  The ground beef will cover three meals, at some point.  I’m using a pound this week, and then I’ll freeze two two-pound chunks for future use.

On Wednesday, I spent $21.41 at Stop & Shop.  Chicken nuggets were on sale, making them a better deal than BJ’s.  Happily, Stop & Shop has started carrying our preferred pizza dough relatively reliably so I don’t have to make the extra trip to Shaw’s as often.  For better or worse, hot dogs are a staple of baseball/soccer season.


On Friday, I made a very small – $12.67 – visit to Stop & Shop, largely for bottled water which was on sale this week.  We don’t use a ton, but I do need to keep some around during warmer weather.


That brought me to $89.52 for the week!

The split meals are really starting to intrude on our lives.  I’m trying a new strategy this year of cooking some things that don’t have to be eaten right away so some nights we can eat the same thing even if we don’t eat at exactly the same time.  An example this week was the chicken pot pie.  The younger set doesn’t like the crust so I served their’s early without crust.  Meanwhile I put a second pie in the oven to cook the crust and three of us ate that about an hour later.

Lemon chicken, wild rice with mushrooms, spinach salad

Early: Chicken nuggets, brocolli
Late: Homemade pizza

Pot roast, mashed potatoes, carrots

Early: Chicken nuggets, green beans
Late: Stuffed peppers, egg bread

Early: Hot dogs, carrot sticks
Late: Homemade pizza

Chicken pot pie, green beans

Tacos, corn

Decluttering by the Day: April 2018, Days 7-12


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I’m still going strong in week 2, to the point where I’ve already thought about doing this again in June (the next 30 day month).  Obviously it would be nice to part with things quickly, as they become available, but that’s not always possible.  I have clothing that will be kept until the end of the season and then let go, school papers that will be kept until the end of the year, things that have to disappear quickly to escape the interest of the children, etc.

Day 7:


Donate: The five pairs of pants and one sports bra that are in excellent condition, just not right for me.

Fabric recycling: One sock had a hole.

Trash: I have nicer toy cars than this one from a party favor bag.

Day 8:


Gift: One child was invited to a twin birthday party so I used two toys that were in my “rainy day” stash instead of buying something.  They are entirely new in box and age appropriate.  I’ve had them for a long time and the time never seemed right to break them out so this was a better use.

Donate: The tank top no longer fits.

Fabric recycling: The jeans have a continuously failing closure and its been repaired at least three times so the material in that area is getting questionable.  The pillowcase has worn through.

Trash: Three old Hello Kitty Happy Meal Toys that nobody actually needs.

Day 9:


Sold: I sold one bicycle that we no longer need as we have four in this size and only one child at a time should ever fit.

Returned: I returned the small item in the bag to Lowes.

Fabric recycling:  I had a big pile going before starting this challenge.  So, I bundled all that up and called it one item.


Recycling: I found five magazines from 2017.

Day 10:


Donate: The camo pajama pants never quite fit correctly.

Fabric recycling: All three pairs of pajama pants have large holes in the knees.  The three pillow covers are frayed at the corners.  And, yes, I do have new covers for those pillows, but I bought them months ago and just never let go of the old covers.

Trash: The two pairs of batting gloves have been replaced (first by the other and then by the current pair).  I inputted the balance of the gift card into Amazon so I no longer need the physical card.

Day 11:


I finally had a day when the kids were not home so I could get into my collection of things I had stashed from them.

Recycle: The bag and coupon are from this past Christmas.  The party hat is from I don’t know when.

Trash: I found five party favors that may or may not have come from the same party, one marble (we don’t need any), and two Chick-fil-A kids meal toys.

Day 12:


I had another day without the kids so I went back to the same stash.  Party favors generally aren’t large, but they definitely fit the definition of clutter!

Recycle: I found one party favor bag, an ad that was inside a toy that had been a Christmas present, and some fake party favor money.

Trash: The “balloon” had is from a doctor trying to entertain the littlest one during my appointment and I pulled out eight party favors.

Link to the start of the challenge: Days 1-6


The Week In Review – Week 15, 2018

It was a busy week last week with a mix of baseball and soccer activities.  It would have been even busier, though, if we hadn’t lost a few instances of both to the continued cold, wet weather.  Collectively we lost one soccer game, two baseball games, and one baseball practice.

Planned kids activities:

  • Four kids had their last indoor swimming lessons.
  • Two kids had Little League pictures taken.
  • The youngest went to her gym and gymnastics classes.  We’re done with gym classes for the season.
  • The oldest had three baseball practices and two baseball games.
  • Collectively we attended three soccer practices and one soccer game.
  • The first grader missed his soccer game in favor of a birthday party.
  • Our preschooler went to the circus with friends.
  • There was no math morning this week, but the was Before School Sports.

I’m continuing to delay fully putting away winter gear.  I did put away the winter boots and the snow shovels.  But, yesterday it was so cold at soccer that winter jackets, gloves, and hats did little to fend off the cold wind.  And, as crazy as it sounds, we were under a Winter Weather Advisory Sunday for sleet/freezing rain/snow.  We did not have snow, but there was just enough to be noticeable at the start of the Boston Marathon and just to the north they had a full coating of the white stuff.

Monday was so rainy that many Patriot’s Day events were cancelled.  We largely spent the day at home as a result.

With so much baseball (and to a lesser extent soccer), I’m getting less done.  But, I did:

  • Change the batteries in two of the thermostats because I noticed the low battery symbol.
  • Uploaded the Pampers app (since the online code entry is ending soon) and entered my backlog of codes.  Maybe with the app I won’t let the backlog build as much.  Logging into the computer always seemed a bit much for a single code – once every few months was fine.  Of course, maybe we’ll be done with diapers soon too!
  • Took my car in for an oil change.  Apparently Patriot’s Day is a great day to do this as the place was open but empty.

Grocery Update & What We Ate – Week 15, 2018

Despite a late week trip to BJ’s, I managed to stay almost on track.  With the low earlier part of the month there should be plenty of cushion to make it up.

On Monday I spent $49.44 at Stop & Shop, mostly for items on sale.  The juice was not on sale, but I used my raincheck from the sale a few weeks ago.


I spent $54.08 at Wegman’s on Wednesday.  This was largely a restocking trip and was intended as the only other stop of the week.  But …

… the bad weather on Sunday cancelled all the baseball.  So in anticipation of that we went back to Wegman’s on Friday for fish tacos ingredients.  I used that trip as an opportunity to grab some items for a few more nice dinners.  Our schedule has us busy at dinner most nights this coming week, but the weather might dictate otherwise.


On Sunday, we spent $158.38 at BJ’s bringing the total for the week to $331.08.

With all the activities come lots of split dinners.

Early: Chicken nuggets, grapes
Late: Homemade pizza

Lasagna, spinach salad

Early: Macaroni & cheese, brocolli
Late: Welsh rarebit

Early: Hot dogs, applesauce
Late: Tuna noodle casserole

Early: Chicken nuggets, carrot sticks
Late: OUT

Early: Pancakes
Late: Homemade pizza

Fish tacos

Changes at Disney Since We Were Last There


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Prior to this trip, we were last in Walt Disney World in October 2015.  Obviously there have been some big changes – Frozen Ever After, Pandora, etc. – that I’ll cover in individual blog posts, but there have also been some minor changes that are worth noting.  Both are positive.

First, the bus depots at the parks have been expanded.  This seems to mean that buses are less often shared between resorts.  (It was an observation.  Nobody could actually tell me this with certainty.)  What it certainly means is that the buses are less crowded.  Only once did I not get on the first bus that arrived and that was because I had sleeping children with me and we would have had to stand.  I opted to wait so we could have the first choice of seats.  Frankly, very few of the buses we were on had anyone standing, except by choice.

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The second big change worth mentioning is to the Rider Swap option.  For those who are not aware, Rider Swap enables a party to split in two for a ride so that an adult can stay with the non-riding small children, but not have to wait in the full line twice.  It used to be that at the entrance you were offered a paper card that entitled three riders (the waiting adult + two companions) onto the ride later in the day.  You still get that paper card eventually, and it still allows three riders, but it is a bit different.  And, we goofed it up the first time so here goes.

Instead of getting the paper card at the entrance (FastPass+ or regular line), you will be given a lanyard.  The party entering the ride keeps the lanyard and turns it in to the second attendant (normally where the FastPass+ line meets the regular line) exchanging it for the paper card.  At this point they are deep in the bowels of the ride.  They go on the ride.  After they exit they give the card to the waiting adult who then goes through the FastPass+ line.  I suspect they may have had an issue with folks collecting Rider Swap cards so they could go through the FastPass+ line, but not actually choosing to go on the ride that first time through the regular line.  They are still super nice about giving them out, the waiting party just has to be visible to the attendants at the entrance – you don’t necessarily need to fight all the way there with your stroller and/or small children.


I had been warned that if you had fast passes initially all members would need to scan theirs to get a rider swap, but that was not the case on our trip.  So, if you have small children you can still get an extra ride from time to time if you get there are the beginning of the fast pass window so that a second group can get in during the same fast pass window.  The paper cards themselves are now dated to expire any time from the same day to a week plus out.  I don’t know if that varies by ride/park or if it is somewhat random based on when you ask vs when they last happened to run the cards for that ride, because the paper cards are ride specific.

Once you figure it out (do not leave the lanyard with the waiting party!), its a perfectly fine system.  And, if it prevents some folks from gaming the system to get in more rides (thereby choking up the FastPass+ lines), I’m all for it.

Decluttering by the Day: April 2018, Days 1-6


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I decided to take Spring Cleaning more literally this year and actually clean out, vs clean up.  A friend had read Marie Kondo’s book and was aiming to put her ideas into practice.  I don’t know that much about her method, but from what little I do know I didn’t think it would work for me, right now, with many small kids.  Too much gathering and looking at large collections of items over many months; not enough quick decisions and hiding formerly treasured items!

So, I’m going for cleaning out the number of items of the date, for each day in April.  Since April has 30 days, I decided to break this up into 5 posts, each with 6 days.  The goal here is to move 465 (the sum of the days in April) out of our house before the end of the month by any means: trash, recycling, donating, selling, gifting, etc.

So far, I’m off to a good start.  Admittedly, the beginning is the easy part – low numbers and probably low hanging fruit to grab and move along.  You’ll see a bunch of fabric recycling.  There are bins and each of the schools which get money from the organization for each pound that goes in.

Since I decided to start this when I wrote my goals for the month on Tuesday, April 3, I actually started with 6 (1+2+3) items.

Days 1-3:


Trash: The little “laser” guns no longer work.  The artillery piece is broken.  I finally (two years later) broke the new insurance card out of its plastic card and put it with the other insurance cards; the rest of the plastic card is trash.

Recycle: The birthday card is months old.

Donate: The shirt is in excellent condition.  It just never fit me properly.

Day 4:


Trash: The power cord is very frayed, though technically still working.

Fabric Recycling:  The sheet (upper left) has a giant hole in the middle.  The buckle on the overalls came apart.  If you look closely you can see a small metal piece.  I think that could be glued back in, but these are baby overalls and I would not want a baby to chew on the buckle and have this piece come off again.  The yellow shirt has a hole in it.

Day 5:


Trash: Two pieces of a stand for a toy we no longer have.  A broken watch.  A cord for a toy that no longer works.

Recycle: The box the Christmas cards came in was only holding stamps and address labels.  Those can go elsewhere so the box gets recycled.

Sold: I sold the Pack ‘N’ Play Sport.  It’s great for summer so this was the right time of year to find a buyer.

Day 6:


Trash/Recycle: I found six abandoned Valentine’s / Birthday party gift bags.  I sorted the contents into trash (white bag in the picture below) vs recycling and admit to keeping a few things.  We’ll use the pencils and stickers. The stuffed animals are NWT so I’m not sure where they’ll go yet (so they’re not being counted here) as we don’t need them.


The Week in Review – Week 14, 2018

This was supposed to be the first week of soccer season, but we lost much of that to rain and snow (yes, snow in April).  Middle school baseball tryouts have also been significantly affected because of the weather.


  • Two middle school baseball practices happened.  Two got rain/snowed out.
  • One travel baseball practice happened along with their first two games of the season.
  • The elementary kids had an extra half day for parent-teacher conferences.  Mine was last week so we just had the afternoon off.
  • The appropriate people attended math morning (2), swimming lessons (4), Before School Sports (2), and gym class (1).
  • We did get in a total of three soccer practices and one game.  Two games and one practice were lost.
  • On Friday evening we went to the preschool’s Ice Cream Social where the kids had ice cream for dinner and watched a clown show.  The clown is funny because he’s been doing the same show for the nine years we’ve been going.  Yet, the older kids are still trying to figure out some of the tricks.
  • Our first grader attended a birthday party.

I even got some things done:

  • I sold two items for a total of $115.  They go towards my getting rid of the number of items of the day goal.
  • I fixed two books that had been somewhat torn by our two year-old.
  • I signed three kids up for a summer camp they really wanted.  I’m trying to reduce the scheduled activities this summer as we all felt we were running all over last summer.
  • Despite that last comment, I signed the middle four up for the swimming lessons that are included as part of the pool membership.
  • I signed the oldest five up for the bus next year.
  • I went to an annual doctor appointment.
  • I stayed on track with my spring cleaning goal!  (Of course, the beginning of the month is the easiest.)

Grocery Update & What We Ate – Week 14, 2018

After a very high week, we’re back to a relatively light spending one.  I’d prefer this level out, but overall monthly spending has been ok.

I spent $63.09 at Stop & Shop on Monday.  This would have been higher, but they were out of juice.  Dole fruit cups were on sale.  I only had a manufacturer’s coupon for two so I was hoping that the register would spit out a coupon for more – which it did!

So, I went back to Stop & Shop on Thursday to catch the end of the sale.  Still no juice, but I got a rain check.  I got three packs of fruit cups this time because that was the number on the second coupon.  I spent $21.18, including the post-Easter sale candy.


Finally, I spent $74.82 at Wegman’s on Friday.  I wanted to make sure we had enough milk to get through the weekend.  I also took the time to grab a few items that I won’t necessarily use right away, but that we usually have on hand and need restocking.

That brought me to $159.19 for the week.

You can see the transition to spring sports (only soccer is really underway right now) in the menu.

Early: Chicken nuggets, green beans
Late: Homemade pizza

Spaghetti & meatballs, spinach salad

Steak, baked potatoes, Brussels sprouts

Early: Hot dogs, carrot sticks
Late: Chinese take-out

Early: Chicken nuggets, broccoli
Late: Homemade pizza

Spaghetti & meatballs, spinach salad

Chili, cornbread

Walt Disney World 2018 – New to Me Rides


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Readers will know that we have been to Walt Disney World before.  But, I have often been pregnant, and always with small children, so there are a number of rides I have never been on.  While we still had children not big/old enough to go on all of the rides, I was not pregnant so I took the opportunity to go on both some of my favorites I have not been on recently (eg. Big Thunder Mountain) and many I had never been on.

I still have not made it onto Splash Mountain or the Kali River Rapids.  I prefer water rides when it is very warm.  It was nice, but not super warm, and because we cannot all go on those rides together my going on them means it takes a big chunk of the day.  So, I passed in favor of other things.

The Pandora rides were new for all of us.  I wrote about them in my Pandora post.  To summarize our feedback on the rides:

  • Na’vi River Journey is a good ride and I appreciate that it is family friendly.  But, I’m not sure it is worth a fast pass for us.  When we were there the lines were running around an hour, so the fast pass was nice to have.  But, as the years go by hopefully these will go down.
  • Avatar Flights of Passage is a fabulous ride, maybe the best at Disney currently, and well worth a fast pass.  Lines were over four hours and as long as six when we were there.  Again, hopefully these will go down as the years go by, but right now you are getting serious bang for your buck using a fast pass here.

Staying in Animal Kingdom, I was also able to go on Everest and Dinosaur for the first times.

  • Everest is great – as real a roller coaster as you can get at Disney.  Because there are only two to a seat anyway, its a good ride to use the single rider option if your group is all tall enough to ride alone (ours was not).  I am definitely looking forward to riding this one again.
  • I quite enjoyed Dinosaur.  However, it is not for everyone.  First warning: the height limit is very low but that does not take the “scare factor” into account.  I would not recommend this ride for young children even if they meet the height limit, elementary age is a good starting point.  Second, it does rock you around quite a bit, but not in a classic roller coaster or motion sickness inducing way.  It’s more like Star Tours, but on a track.  I was hoping to go on this again before we left, but it didn’t make the cut.

There were two new to us rides in Epcot, both relative new to everyone and therefore having long lines.

  • We all loved Frozen Ever After.  As a family we agreed it was better than the Na’vi River Journey, and we have seen neither Frozen nor Avatar.  We did have fast passes, but we were able to get on two additional times because the line was quite short.  So, this may or may not be on your fast pass list, depending on the interests of your party.  I would use a fast pass if you have a true Frozen fan (you can always go extra times if the line is short) or if you are looking for a great ride for the entire family to enjoy together.
  • We also enjoyed the new Soarin’.  Everyone went, including the five year old.  If your child meets the height limit, take them.  You can grab a fast pass, or just walk for it first thing in the morning.  Because it has relatively high capacity it takes some time for the lines to build.  We walked for it no problem with a stroller.  It is not as spectacular as Avatar Flights of Passage, but that also means it does not present problems for people who might get motion-sick.  The ride refresh made it feel new and more interesting as we had seen the previous version more than once.

There were two new-to-me rides in Hollywood Studios; the older kids had been on both before.

  • I loved the Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster.  I enjoyed the music and I appreciated that the dark made it feel less like you were just being knocked around like a typical roller coaster.  In fact, those who get mild motion sickness should consider this one.  It has a similar feel to Space Mountain.  I’d go on this one repeatedly, if possible.
  • On the other hand, while I’m glad I went on the Tower of Terror once, I don’t need to go again.  It was fine, but not really fun, in my opinion.  If I was part of a big group, I would join them.  But, I’m not using a fast pass or otherwise pushing my group to go.

The only new-to-me ride I went on in the Magic Kingdom was the Dwarf Mine Train.  It was fun, a sort of tamed down version of Big Thunder Mountain.  I also appreciated the theme-ing, which was well executed throughout.  The lines were still quite long for a ride that has been out for a number of years so you may want to use a fast pass here.  If you get in for Extra Magic hours, you might be able to walk for it, but expect it to fill quickly and stay full all day.

I’m glad I had the chance to go on so many new rides.  While I don’t feel the need to go on Tower of Terror again, I did appreciate all of the rides and understand why they are crowd favorites.