There’s Been No Schedule Let Up.

Better late than never!

With soccer ending earlier this month, I had thought that our schedule would really free up.  This is largely true of the weekends.  But, there’s been no letup on the week days.  It’s as if the schools knew everyone was at soccer and filled in all the evenings as soon as it was done.

This week (first without soccer practices):

Monday – no public schools for professional day, preschool was in session;  no evening activity

Tuesday – three options for meetings to attend:  1st grade math night (chose this one) or a cyber security talk at the middle school

Wednesday – sleep talk regarding school start times

Thursday – no preschool for parent/teacher conferences; no evening activity

Friday – no middle school for parent/teacher conferences; no evening activity (I am glad I got my conferences schedules for this day vs the later December choices.)

Next week:

Monday – Little League baseball draft

Tuesday – what to do about Halloween meeting at the elementary school

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Wednesday – half day for everyone

Thursday – Thanksgiving

Friday – day after Thanksgiving holiday.

Then it will feel like December, but we really will have one more week of November.  But, winter baseball starts one evening per week.

With all that, all the kids will be in school for a full school day only 14 times this month.  The final day of November will be their fourth actual full week of school this year!



Last Week’s Accomplishments – Soccer is Done!

Yes, soccer season has come to an end, and not a moment too soon.  Actually, the last day of 1st grade soccer was cancelled because temperatures dropped here from roughly 70 to roughly 40 seemingly overnight.  Temperature at gametime last Saturday was forecast for 22° so they (wisely) cancelled K-2 soccer for that morning.  I shouldn’t complain though because we had a wonderfully warm and dry fall season.

  • The 4th and 6th grade soccer games did happen Saturday afternoon at roughly 35°.
  • Both Monday soccer practices happened in the rain.  Thursday practice was fine.  Friday practice was cancelled because it was so cold.
  • Math morning happened.
  • Two boys went on a school field trip.
  • Four boys went to swimming lessons.
  • We went to one birthday party.
  • The public schools had a four day weekend for Veteran’s Day.  Preschool was in session on Monday.
  • The older boys enjoyed seeing Thor: Ragnarok in the theater.
  • We watched Back to the Future at home on a cold, rainy Monday.
  • I organized the pantry.  Since I wrote that post, we’ve eaten 2 packages of plain oatmeal, the popcorn, and the open package of dates.  I figured prompt progress would be the most effective.
  • I changed all of the filters in the house.
  • I purchased a new glass to replace one the got broken.  Thankfully the store still carries the same pattern from many years ago.


Grocery Update & What We Ate – Week 45, 2017

I stayed under $200 again this week – $189.49 – with one two moderate and one small shopping runs.

On Monday, I spent $82.48 at Wegman’s.  This was primarily for milk (16 gallons for a total of $32.85).  Otherwise this was a stocking up run.  Apparently I forgot to take a picture of the other items.  But, they were:  18 pks of Mott’s cinnamon and original applesauce, one box of Wegman’s strawberry bars, salt, Montreal Chicken spice, and tortilla chips.


On Wednesday, I needed a shallot.  So, I made my monthly run to Shaw’s where I got a dozen pizza dough balls, a dozen pizza cheese packages, three boxes of oatmeal, and the shallot for $76.78.

Then we determined we were going to have meatball subs for dinner Saturday night (this ended up not happening) so I went to Wegman’s again.  I spent $30.23 on sub rolls, blueberry bars (which had been out of stock earlier in the week), flour, green beans (to go with chicken pot pie which also ended up getting pushed back), and clementines (because they’re really good once the wooden boxes appear, but not so much the rest of the year).


Unfortunately, this was my third attempt at buying diced pears.  They’re still out.  Ironically, a survey arrived from Wegman’s that afternoon asking specifically if there were chronic shortages of items I bought.  So, I was able to mention the pears and blueberry bars.

This was the last week of soccer so dinners are still pretty quick.  Plus we had some unexpected things come up that moved things around.  I’d like to say this coming week will be better, but it won’t.

Early: Eggs
Late: Homemade pizza


Early: Chicken nuggets, spinach salad
Late: Homemade pizza

Early: Pancakes
Late: Steak, hash browns, spinach salad

Early: Chicken nuggets, spinach salad
Late: Homemade pizza

Early: Macaroni & cheese, brocolli
Late: Out, impromptu soccer end of season dinner

Early: Chicken nuggets, green beans
Late: Out, dinner after a movie

Philadelphia 2017


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Continuing our adventures in Pennsylvania, we spent a day in downtown Philadelphia.  Once again it was raining, but we decided to endure the weather this time to catch some of the sights.  First, we stopped at the Independence Visitors Center to pick up tickets for Independence Hall.  As it worked out we were done with our other stops with too much of a gap to our tour time, so we didn’t end up using them.  But, you don’t know what times will be available until you get tickets.

Once we had our tickets, we went across the street to the US Mint.  This proved to be an excellent tour.  I have no photos since they’re not allowed inside, but I can give an overview.  First, there was next to no line, which was especially nice since it was raining.  There is a security screening, but its not to cumbersome.  The main viewing area is on the upper level.  This requires two escalators separated by a mezzanine displaying historical coins.  An elevator is available towards the back of the gift shop (as are bathrooms) that accesses both levels.

Once you get upstairs the path is quite prescribed, but wide enough for strollers or wheelchairs to pass.  There is plenty to see and read so that if you did look at everything it would take well over an hour.  Where you will want to spend most of your time is in the viewing gallery that occupies about half of the upper level.  This gives you an excellent view of the coin making machines and process.  It isn’t too loud and the windows are big enough that even small children can see.  The machines are labeled so you can get a feel for what is being produced during your visit.  We definitely recommend a visit the next time you are in Philadelphia.


Then we headed back across the plaza, in the rain, to the liberty bell.  Not sure this was worth the hassle.  First, you can see the bell through the glass from outside.  It is not as good a view, but one avoids the outdoor line and security.  We were here only 15 minutes or so, less time than the line took.  At this point we still had 1.5 hours to our Independence Hall tour slot and it was lunchtime.  After a quick look at the choices we decided to head across town to the Franklin Institute instead of waiting.

The Franklin Institute is an excellent, kid-friendly science museum that we have been to before.  But, we never seem to have enough time to see everything, so we had lots of new things to see on this visit.  First we had lunch.  They have an acceptable food court with plenty of choices for kids and adults.

The main downside to the Franklin Institute is that it is difficult with strollers.  Technically, everything is accessible.  But, the paths are not always clear and multiple times we ended up in the wrong elevator and therefore on the wrong floor.  On the plus side, because it has reciprocal benefits with The Museum of Science, Boston, our tickets were included with that membership.

Some of our favorite exhibits:

Your Brain, with its two story tall neural network climbing structure.  One of the best aspects of The Franklin Institute is the number of times gross motor for the kids is woven into the exhibits.  There’s plenty to read too, but all the activities really keep them engaged.

The Giant Heart, a walk through (not stroller accessible) heart model.

Sir Isaac’s Loft, with its physics experiments.

Sportszone, with many measurable aspects of sports, from running, to basketball, to surfing.

Space Command, where you can build a moon rover model.

And, The Train Factory, which gives you a better idea of just how huge trains are.

I can’t recommend The Franklin Institute highly enough.  One could easily spend an entire day there.

I think over our many visits to Philadelphia, the three places I would recommend anyone visit are The Franklin Institute, the US Mint, and The Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Fall 2017 Re-org: The Pantry

We have a nice large pantry in this house, and while it looks very full most items are constantly getting used and replaced.

But, it needed a cleanup and a bit of reorganization.  First, the granola bars and fruit cups were constantly falling over with the wire shelves.  So, I purchased one strip of foam shelf liner and moved all likely-to-fall items to that shelf.

I then put away all the multipacks I hadn’t even opened because I was waiting to reorganize the shelf.  Unfortunately they had mostly been building up on the floor.  I’d love to have reorganized the baking side, but I just didn’t see how to fit what we have in less space.  I think it will be an issue of eating through things (which is not a problem).

Finally, I went through and identified any items that won’t just get used up through everyday life.  Grouped by rough categories of planned use:


  • 1 jar of pesto, 1 package of sea salt, 1 package of sugar in the raw – These came in gift boxes.  We can use all of them, it just needs to be conscious planning.
  • 1 jar of clam juice – This was extra left over from the first time I tried a recipe.  This recipe has been requested again so I should make it and finish this off.  It would use up one of the boxes of puff pastry in the freezer (coming on that list) also.
  • 1 bag of marshmallows, 2.5 bags of graham crackers – Leftovers from summer s’mores.  Its going to be cold this weekend, but ideally we’ll make s’mores one more time.  That would use up the marshmallows and some of the graham crackers.  I need some of the graham crackers for a key lime pie at Thanksgiving.  After that we’ll have to see.  Neither will keep well until next summer.
  • 4 pecan pumpkin quick bread mixes – We like this.  I just need to remember to make them.
  • 1 bag of Cape Cod potato chips – I found these on sale at Target over the summer so they should be eaten soon.  I’ve been thinking of meatball subs to use up the provolone in the fridge and I think these would go nicely.
  • 2 single serve cups of pineapple tid-bits – I purchased a box of fruit cups that were half pineapple/half tropical fruit.  Tropical fruit flies, but nobody wants to eat pineapple unless I put it in pineapple upside down cake.  That will probably have to wait until after the holidays as there are so many fun holiday desserts to make.

I’ll eat them eventually:

  • 10 single serve packages of plain oatmeal – These are leftover from when I needed pregnancy snacks.  I need to finish them off, maybe some light lunches.
  • Dates, whole & chopped – I just need to remember they’re there.
  • 3 single serve brownie mixes – These came from a Friday Freebie coupon.  There were four in the box and I had one.  It was ok.  I will eventually eat the rest, but they’re not tasty enough to actually spend money on.

Kids snacks:

  • Ritz crackers, veggie straws, Ruffles potato chips – These are leftover summer pool snacks.  These are all open and therefore need to be eaten soon.  I will probably just send them to school as part of lunch/snack.
  • 6 pk chicken ramen – I bought these as snacks for the oldest.  I need to introduce them to him, but he hasn’t been snacking as much as one might think for his size/age.
  • Whole almonds, whole cashews – The boys used to snack on these, but they haven’t recently.  I cook with cashews occasionally so I’ll just need to plan to use these up.  Not sure yet what to do with the almonds.
  • Coconut oil, dried apple rings – I had planned to make granola with these, but haven’t.  Maybe I will actually get around to that.
  • 2 packages of plain, microwave popcorn – Sounds like a snack for the kids, maybe with a movie on a cold winter day (like the holiday tomorrow which is supposed to be awfully cold relative to recent weather).

Accomplishments – Halloween Week 2017

I showed some Halloween pictures in my October summary.  But, how about a few more!

  • The boys went to 4th grade math morning.
  • We had four soccer practices and three soccer games.
  • Only one had swimming lessons this week; most were cancelled for Halloween.
  • We enjoyed the Halloween parade at the elementary school.
  • Our oldest went to an indoor carting birthday party, which he quite enjoyed.
  • I had three parent / teacher conferences.
  • I signed up for Middle School parent / teacher conferences.
    • This presented many dilemmas, which hopefully I’ll figure out when I go so I can do this better next year.
      • First, you have to decide which teachers to speak with.  Our oldest helpfully said, “If I were you I would talk to all of them.”
      • There are seven (really more, but some only conference as a group) and conferences are 10 minutes each so this didn’t seem too bad.
      • But, then I realized that if a conference ended at 10:10 and another started at 10:10 I would have no travel time to get from one to the other.  So, I left gaps, but this means I’m there fore much of the day.  If everything really does run promptly, I’ll try to schedule nearby conferences in adjacent time slots next year.
      • Also, conferences are spread out over one full day plus five half days.  One teacher isn’t there on the full day of conferences.  I decided I couldn’t fit everyone in on the half day so I’m going to one stand-alone 10 minute conference.
    • I took the youngest to her first gym class – really just come play on all the mats, bouncy house, etc.  She’s not napping in the morning anymore so this seemed like a good once a week activity for the winter months.
    • I had everyone try on snow jackets and snow pants.  I’ll need to purchase two full sets and one person will move up to the next size, but we already have it.
      • We’ll need to try on boots, hats, and gloves this weekend.

The weather here is feeling more fall-like.  We had a very warm September and October with next to no rain.  This past week we got a few colder days (seasonable, though they feel cold after the prolonged warm) and some light rain.  I would prefer an occasional downpour instead of a lot of mist, but some moisture is nice for the plants.  It looks like we’ll be in this slightly cooler, slightly wetter pattern for a while now.

October 2017 Grocery Review


A bit late in the day, but here we go.

First, the past week’s shopping.  It was a bit more than usual because of a trip to BJs.  I spent $231.78 there and food definitely dominated this trip.

While I was out I also stopped at Target for some post Halloween shopping.  This, plus two more juices and another box of cereal, came to $49.27.  I didn’t buy any other Halloween items on sale.


On Thursday, I went to Stop & Shop as I wanted to get there before that week’s sales finished.  I spent $45.79 on mostly sale items.


Then on Saturday I went back to Stop & Shop for some dinner items and this week sales.  I spent $42.52, bringing me to $369.36 for the week (including BJs).

Now for the monthly totals, which won’t actually include any of the above since it all occurred in November.  In many ways it was an excellent month, though we did eat out a bit more than usual because the kitchen sink was missing for a while.  But, not nearly so much as to make up the difference.

October TOTAL: $862.69

  • Stop & Shop: $142.88
  • Wegman’s: $211.92
  • BJs: $328.43
  • Other: $179.46
    • Local: $83.44
    • Star Market: $96.02
    • Trader Joe’s: $0
    • Target: $0
    • Other: $0

The menu wasn’t too exciting.  We’re coming to the end of the fall sports season so hopefully we can get some more interesting meals going shortly.

Early: Eggs
Late: Homemade pizza

Spaghetti & meatballs


Early: Macaroni & cheese, carrot sticks
Late: Tuna noodle casserole

Early: Chicken nuggets, broccoli
Late: Homemade pizza

Hot dogs & sausages, pasta salad, chips, veggie plate

Pork chops with oniony mashed potatoes & gravy, spinach salad, apple pie


Sesame Place – 2017 Review


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We spent a week in Philadelphia this past August.  Over the next few Fridays I’ll review where we went.   Here’s the link to the review of our last visit.  So, some of the places we had been before and some were new.

Unlike our previous visit, we did no shows this time.  We didn’t even watch the parade.  We did have standard two-day passes.  The second day isn’t really necessary, but we spent two low stress days vs trying to cram it all in.  As before, we ate lunch at Captain Ernie’s Bistro.  This was the first time we had been in August.  The weather wasn’t too hot (which it certainly could have been) and the place seemed less crowded then when be had been before in June.

The older boys spent almost all their time on the water slides.  The Count’s Splash Castle was the hands down favorite.  This was reasonably popular with the younger ones too.  Though, this time we gave the older ones a bit more freedom to move between the rides even if we weren’t necessarily with them.


Everyone who was tall enough (this included the four year old) loved the Vapor Trail roller coaster.  Cookie’s Monster Land area was also popular, especially among the younger set.  Oscar’s Rotten Rusty Rockets was by far the favorite with the Honker Dinger Derby and Monster Mix-Up coming in next.

Newly available to us was Abby’s Magic Queue.  This allows you priority boarding at most of the dry rides throughout the park.  Frankly, we didn’t see much use for us.  It usually saved one cycle of the ride, but none of these rides are very long.  I have seen reviews online where people report saving 30 minutes, but this definitely was not the case when we were there.  Now, if it could be used on the water rides that would have been a different story.  Those lines have always been much longer when we’ve visited.

While we like Sesame Place, and if we lived closer we would go more often, its probably time for us to branch out.  With the kids’ ages, we expect this to be our last trip unless the youngest develops a strong Sesame Street connection.

Accomplishments – October 2017

This is getting posted a little late, but I consider it an accomplishment that I’m getting it out today at all.

In October we:

  • Sports
    • Went to a total of seven soccer events (practices or games) per week.  I believe two didn’t happen due to a coach’s illness and rain.  The weather has been wonderful overall.
    • Fall baseball clinics finished.  We had three this month.
    • Weekly swimming lessons continued for the middle four.
  • School
    • Started 4th grade math mornings.  These will continue weekly throughout the school year.
    • Attended 4th grade math night.  This is a once a year activity.
    • I took the younger two apple picking with the preschool class.
    • I went to Back to School Night for the Middle School and Preschool.  I don’t think many people can say that!
    • I went to three school-related meetings.
  • Family
    • The kids went to a total of three birthday parties.
    • We went to one play date.
    • The boys and I had haircuts.
    • We all got flu shots.
    • I went to an annual rummage sale.  I particularly like this one because it is on weekdays, vs the typical Saturday.  I think I did pretty well for $30!
  • Halloween
    • We went for the hay maze and potato cannons.
    • We carved pumpkins.
    • The kids went trick or treating.

As with September, I didn’t get through all my goals, but I feel I made good progress.

  • Clean the house.  This means everything – under/behind furniture, all surfaces, inside the furniture/cabinets themselves, unfinished areas, etc.  My plan is to start at the top and work my way down.  Realistically, at halfway through the month this will probably only get part way done.  I still didn’t get this all done.  But, I’ve finished all the bathrooms and two bedrooms.  So, not the order I had proposed but I’m about halfway there.
  • Get everyone a haircut.
  • Update the boys’ bank accounts.  These have been running on paper notes since we moved.
  • Inventory the freezers and plan to use up anything that’s been there for a while.  This is largely in anticipation of holiday meat sales.  Not done.
  • Get back on track with four blog posts per week.  Didn’t quite make four.  I did get back up to three from (often) one.  So, good progress.

Here are goals for November.  Fall sports finish up mid-month, which I hope will free up our schedule significantly:

  • Finish cleaning the house.  This means everything – under/behind furniture, all surfaces, inside the furniture/cabinets themselves, unfinished areas, etc.  My plan is to start at the top and work my way down.  This is halfway done already.  I expect to finish everything (except maybe the basement and garage).
  • Inventory the freezers and plan to use up anything that’s been there for a while.  This is largely in anticipation of holiday meat sales.  Inventory the pantry for things that need to be used up / seasonal items / items that go on sale seasonally.
  • Get back on track with four blog posts per week.
  • Order and send Christmas cards.

Grocery Update & What We Ate – Week 43, 2017


A small total grocery bill this week of $125.38!

On Monday I made what I hoped was my only trip to Wegman’s, spending $60.67, including some infrequent purchases.

On Wednesday I made a smaller trip to Stop & Shop, spending $33.61.  The milk is the only thing that wasn’t on sale.


That was supposed to be it.  But, Wednesday night I realized that I was out of whole wheat bread, which is the only kind one of the boys will eat.  So, I spent $19.79 at Wegman’s on Thursday.  I also got enough milk (3 – not pictured) to get through the weekend and well into next week.


Finally, I did a quick produce run over the weekend when we decided to have shepard’s pie but were short potatoes and green beans (standard side for us).


Early: Macaroni & cheese, broccoli
Late: Homemade pizza

Chinese take-out


Early: Chicken nuggets, broccoli
Late: Homemade pizza

Spaghetti & meatballs

Kids: Macaroni & cheese, bananas/applesauce
Adults: Out

Shepard’s pie, green beans, oatmeal bread