Inconvenient Truths

Today there were two news stories that caught my eyes and ears this morning. Both have to deal with inconvenient facts..

First was a shameful story I think for all Canadians. We are living our children in the dust. We were rated 12th out of 21th western countries in how we treat children. Too many of our children live in poverty. One in 4 has a child in just like mine.We live we below the poverty line and live off less then $1300 a month in Canada’s largest city. ” Compared with other industrialized countries, our children are suffering from unacceptable rates of poverty, obesity, mental illness and violence that have persisted or increased since Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991,” Unicef Canada President Nigel Fisher said in a statement. So what do we as Canadians think is important? Right now federally we are running at a surplus. Can not some of these funds go to what is really important: our children? I will give some concrete example of where we fall short:

1 in 4 families will at some point use a food bank

Wait times in Ontario to get a child diagnosed with a learning disability or ADHD run between 18 to 28 months( meanwhile they fall further behind on school work and it is often difficult for these children to get caught up).

Wait times to get OT assessment in the Toronto District School Board average one year.

To get a pscho ed assessment in the Toronto Board can take 2 years or more.

To access mental health programs for children in Toronto you wait over a year even after diagnosis. Roo has been on a wait list for such a program for 10 months now.

 Sports programs are offered for free to all who qualify for Toronto’s Welcome program but when people go to sign up classes are often already full, so there child goes without.

Educational Assistants and Special Needs Assistants are in short supply( in fact the Toronto board layed off lots of these this past year) and these are the people who help our kids get the education they deserve under the law.

As a mom who is cheaper than cheap I am always on the look out for ways I can save money so I can spend it making sure Roo is getting what she needs…that is why I became such a cheap mom. I supplement where I can, enter contests, volunteer etc..I try my best to give her a typical childhood but I know I am lacking in so many ways and if funds were there so much could be done to better increase her chances for success later on. I am fortunate though I know how to find ways of doing things that can help her be the best her, I feel for those who haven’t figured out the how to’s yet and there are so many of those.

Now as for the other story it is about going green so I will right the second half of this post tomorrow.

Christmas Tipp#12-So many charities come looking for money this time of year and there are so many places were we can put our giving dollars–can I recommend you live to help the poor locally in your community: here in To I recommend both the Salvation Army and Scott Mission for the amount of work they do to help the homeless as well as feed poor families..

Gratitude for today: I am thankful that I met with Roo’s teacher and found out behaviorally over all she is having the good beginnings I dreamed of and we now have a plan on how to work on some goals we set for her.

Menu Monday

Ogranizing Junkie is hosting another Menu Monday so here is mine for the week. It is going to be bit of a quiet week here so I can cook well. So here is what is planned for us this week

Monday-Backwards Night-breakfast for dinner(eggs,toast, bacon)($2.15)

Tuesday-Spaghetti Pie( we love this!), green salad($5.25)

Wednesday-Veggie Soup and Grilled Cheese($1.10)

Thursday-Turkey pieces, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn($7.10)

Friday-Left overs

Saturday-Using GC for Swiss Chalet that I got as a gift

Sunday- Asian porkchops, rice, carrots($2.05)

Coupons and savings for these meals where achieved by flyer shoping and using coupons from the Homebasics Mag and Save.ca, as well as trading on the Frugal Shopper site.

 Christmas Tip #11–Had to recount my tips yesterday and realized that I had 10 out there so here is number 11…Make this season about connections and not presents. Reach out and get caught up with those that you need to..How? Email, Im, Call, Write plan a get together..this is the season where contact is so very wanted.

Today I am thankful that I had lots more energy then yesterday…that wee bit of down time revived me for the week..so today I applied for 3 more jobs, washed the floors and got my grocery list ready for tomorrow.

Busy?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by everything that keeps you busy as you try to be that good frugal mom? Well this morning I am a tired mom with a cold. I think this week with the long list of tasks I gave myself I over did it..After all what did I really get done? Here is my list of tasks done:

  • Finished class lists for about 3/4 of my daughter’s school( school is 600+ students)
  • Reviewed Daughters IEP and test scores and work portfolio in attempt to be ready to meet daughters teacher.
  • cleaned out under stairs storage area
  • decluttered and purged Roo’s bedroom
  • applied for 8 jobs and interviewed for 2.
  • Made 3 Christmas gifts
  • read and reviewed book for First Look
  • scrapped 12 pages for Roo’s scrapbook
  • deep cleaned fridge and stove
  • reorganize coupons
  • attended one day conference on parent involvement
  • researched curriculum for grades  3 and 4 so I can supplement Roo at home
  • Babysat for a friend who really was in a pinch
  • Baked 3 dozen cookies
  • shop for one Christmas pres that I have to mail.

This plus all the normal day to day stuff of being a solo flying parent. So this morning I am sipping ginger tea and trying to get a wee bit of energy. I have already vetoed our trip to the Santa Claus Parade though as I don’t think I could handle it with the how I am feeling. So do we as mom’s ever really over do it? and how do you stop yourself from overdoing it?

Christmas Tip#8: When you are getting busy this season remember to get some R and R time in too! We need down time!

Gratitude: Today I am thankful for a lil girl who loves to be a nurse!

The Grinch Who Loves Christmas

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Can you believe that a mere 42 days( yes that is 6 weeks from now) many of us will be done unwrapping presents? Melanie over at Don’t Try this is hosting a Holiday Carnival..Question up for grabs is this! What are you giving? and where will you shop?

I am the Grinch who loves Christmas! So you all know that I have $175 budgeted for Roo( and I am the only buyer–everyone sends cash.I then have to put names to the presents), right so here is how that is being spent. She will get 2 tops(one bright pink, one orange) from my local consignment store that were new with tags on for$6, black leggings$9, socks from Value Village(free because of the gift certificates won-buy the way at Christmas they have a great new tag section that lets you find stuff on the cheap. Her wow gift from Santa is a Barbie Mp3 player (49.99 at Walmart), it is interactive with their new website Barbie Girls (she is loving this site). She gets pjs every year$16.97 at Walmart( this year she is getting high school musical ones as we are going to see High School Musical on Ice). She also will get the Reindeer Webkinz. I will also hit Indigo   ( right now you can get a book for $1 for the next 3 days, but be quick cause they are limited and they have FREE shipping if you spend over $39)to pick up a great book, their outlet section is a favorite place of mine. She is also getting from me a keyboard that I found for $19.99 ( For me this and Roo is a great match because every time we go to church she seeks out a piano!). At Starbucks I found a great game for under $10, It is part of the Cranium family so that too will be under the tree. In her stocking are going to the High School Musical on Ice tickets that I won. So as you can see I am under budget and she is going to have a good time under the tree.

So do want to know what this Mom would love? Just in case you want to send me anything? Pajamas, socks, Turtles, and of course bling in the form of a lil pink computer that well right now I am trying to win. See that Dell link! If you are up here in Canada you can win one and a trip for the family too! Wouldn’t that make a great present under my tree!

Now My Christmas Tip for today from the Grinch who loves Christmas is this: All they need is this…a wow from Santa, something to read, something they need, and something to grow with. Children don’t need to see oddles of hard earned dollars under the tree for what will that teach them but greed.

Today I am thankful for a temp job even if it is only for today. I am babysitting and the $40 earned gets to go into my birthday fund…or maybe I will splurge on me in December and go and see Keith Urban in concert( he is coming back to Toronto).

World’s Largest Stocking and Tom Brown

World RecordPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketToday at the Sony Center on Front street, we took part in the making of the world’s largest Stocking! Roo and I went out and bought a couple of large unwrapped toys this morning(thanks alot GC’s). Then it was time to head down to the Sony Center. We got there at 11 and already there was a line! I think this speaks volumes to the generous hearts of Torontians. All the toys are headed to the Salvation Army to help families here in To have a better Christmas. When we got there, cookies and hot chocolate was offered up to all of us waiting our turn…Then it was a quick dash inside where Roo struck up a conversation with Tom Brown, yes the CTV weatherman. She ended up doing the lunch time weather with Tom and then they both had there picture taken. Then they both made a mad dash up the stairs to where they could both put toys in the 9o ft  stocking. Soon I had my daughter back and we stood in line for a quick pic gifted to us by the fine folks of Sony and then we headed up the stairs where Roo put our second gift in the stocking. She was so excited that she was on tv. It was funny because when we got home there was a message from my aunt saying she saw her on the news. It was great fun to be part of the action today and all for a very good cause and at 4 pm it was annouced that we had the record!

Christmas Tip#7- Before in with the New, think recycle and get rid of the old. I have Roo clean out her toys boxes and we give her toys that she no long plays with to the local shelter here. As well I use this time of year to get rid of things that no longer fit. You have to have room for the new stuff right!

Today I am thankful for a fun day out with Roo that taught all the right stuff!

Works For Me Wednesday- Backwards Day

  Over at Rocks in my Dryer, she is hosting another great Backwards Day. What is a Backwards works for me Day you ask? It is when I get to ask you a question that I really want to know the answer to… so we all know I am cheaper than cheap right? We also if you are a reader of mine know that I am in the Christmas spirit early. What is you favorite cheap or frugal Christmas tip? I may feature your comments as Christmas comes closer and I feature a tip a day. I of course would give you the credit.

Christmas Tip#6..Start your Christmas Card List now. Getting it done know helps with mail time. Check your country for mailing deadlines. Some of these are fast approaching if you are mailing overseas. Also think outside the box when it comes to your list. Do you really have to mail 100 cards out? Can you maybe do a Christmas Email or Blog?? Think about it…

Today I am thankful the ability to move and feel. This morning I woke up sore and stiff and had to think at least I can feel my limbs and move them all on my own esteem.

Starting to Feel A Bit Like Christmas

Tis starting to feel a bit like Christmas. Yes all the store are quickly getting to into Christmas gear, and you truly know the season is at hand when The Bay on Yonge St reveals its Christmas window, they are a site and a tradition here in To.

Well here at Castle a La Cheap Mom we too are getting into the spirit so much so that guess what we broke out this weekend. The Christmas decorations.We went through the box, checked it once, checked it twice, and then began can I say this out loud — to decorate! Last year because we were tree less till just a few days before the holiday I really didn’t get to enjoy the season. So this year I am starting early! But then again I really love the season..

We are using an artificial tree, and have all the decorations we will need for the season minus a table cloth( can you figure out where I will be looking for one this week?).

Christmas Tip #4– When getting out your Christmas decorations why not try and save some green and use LED lights. We switched to these last years and for pennies our tree was well lite while not wasting much electricity…So be good on your pocket book and go green.

Today I am thankful for a daughter who loves Christmas as much as I do! Decorating with her after a hard morning of school work. (She finished her Emperor Scorpion project this morning) was so much fun. We laughed and giggled and remembered where and when each ornament came into our home. It truly was a great afternoon of fun.  

November Has Blo In

Well November has come in with a roar! There is much to do for this cheap mom. Today begins National Blog Posting Month and I am participating so expect to see a post every day this month..

And I even have two themes for the month: Frugal Christmas tips and Gratitude. Since I am a thankful mom who is cheaper than cheap you will get to read the best of both. I may even sprinkle in some of Roo’s antidotes( when you are solo parenting a child with special needs you never know where life might take you).

So on to Christmas Tip#3:

If you already haven’t figure out your holiday budget..there is nothing worse then going in debt to show some love…so plan ahead.

Here is my holiday budget:

Christmas Baking: $20

Gifts for Roo:$175 ( $100 of this amount comes from her dad and gram who send cash and I buy gifts from them)

Gift for Mom:$25

Gifts for others: $30

Christmas Meal:$40

Total:$265

Roo and I are busy planning what we are making this year and I am sure than will come up in a tip to come.

When the fall comes it really does get you in a thankful mood as the holidays come along. Today I am thankful that I am a mom. It is the best job in the whole world. I love the fringe benefits of mommyhood the hugs and cuddles.

Well time to go pack up the candy that is still out…

Menu Monday

Menu planning monday

I love Menu Monday that the one and only organizing junkie hosts every Monday and have decided it is one way to help me organize my weeks oh so much better. Menu planning is so important.  If you are visiting her today you even get to welcome her to WordPress!

So what am I cooking this week?  I am a use the flyers kind of gal and what can I buy on the cheap that is still going to give me and Roo a healthy week.

Monday- MacNCheese Tuna Casserole. ( cost$2.30)

We make ours with good ol Kraft Dinner( I loathe the generic mac and cheeses so I buy it for $.49 on sale), tuna( also on sale for $.49), can of peas( again were on sale$.88) and cheese( the blocks were on sale for $4.99). This will be served with a side of salad.

Tuesday-Crispy Salsa Chicken( I have adjusted a recipe from Kraft-It was in there 5 meals on bag section), rice, corn

They say to use chicken breasts, here we use pieces($2.50). as well we don’t use a pouch ( I bought a canister of the Shake n bake spices on sale, put some in a baggie and I get the same result($.25), as well for the salsa I use the store brand which I find is just as good)($1.00).

Wednesday-Frozen pizza and salad and candy!( pizzas were on for $3.99)

Thursday-Meatless Meal-Frogs in a Hole, tomato slices(cost$2.00)

Frogs in a Hole is a dish that my grandmother made for me growing up and is now a favorite of Roos, and we do breakfast for dinner about once a week.

Friday-*eating out*

We are going to the Women’s Show downtown on Friday as Roo has the day off school. So after a day of browsing and having fun we will be using the $40 in Gift certificates I won recently for Gerrad Pizza-they make great pasta dishes too.

Saturday-Hot-dogs and French-fries, veggie($3)

Saturdays are the day for an easy meal, and if we don’t do this one we will do leftovers.

Sunday-Roast Chicken($5), potatoes, carrots and onions.

I cook this on low heat while at church so when we eat home we can have an early dinner.

So how is that a week of healthy dinners for about $30. Now go visit Laura and see what everyone else is cooking.

New or Used that is the Question

 

NewVsUsed

New vs Used that is the question? I have been thinking about this especially when it comes to how I shop.Do I buy new out of habit or brand allegiance could I change this and save money.  There are certain things that I buy that have to be a certain brand even if they cost more.  When it comes to these goods, I think it is because I am a smart or should I say, the wise consumer. Now most of what I buy is used.

When it comes to clothing, I buy used mostly. I love the feel of a pair of well-worn jeans. Now who likes to break in a new pair? I went shopping this week at Value Village and used one of the $35 GCs that I won last week at stocked up on a few wants: one was a beautiful silk red blouse($4.99) that will look great over my basic black dress( also a VV find for $7) for the holidays. I love like this and I cant tell you how many compliments I have gotten on my brown leather bag that I got for $3.99. Yes I know by buying clothes second hand you have to bring them home and wash immediately etc., and you don’t have the latest trendy items, but I am a classic vintage gal, so it works well for me.

When it comes to furniture, I buy used, and you can always find great deals either on Kijiji or Craigslist. There is not a new piece in my apartment. Now this means my apartment is a variety of looks but that again is ok with me, but I guess if you are trying to achieve a certain look then you might buy new. As for colors in my apartment, I use throws and pillows to bring things together.

When it comes to electronics unless it has been gifted to me( i.e., my current tv I buy new). My computer was a great deal when I bought it two years ago ( for $349). I got the last one Staples had when they were clearing out stock for me it has more then served me well. My MP3 player was a gift with a purchase I made.

For my music needs, I don’t buy CDs anymore if there is a song I like I can usually get it for free?  I enter and win enough downloads from contests through the year. I have not paid for music in over a year thanks to Rip to Win and the other contests that have netted me 56 downloads in the last six months. If you like music, don’t buy CDs download them it is so much cheaper!

Now if my location ever changed( living in the heart of Toronto allows me to be a walker and TTC user) and I had to buy a car, I would buy used. A car loses much of its value as you drive off the lot.

When it comes to groceries, this is where I skimp a lot without losing quality. Dominion here has the fresh or free policy which nets me about $30 a month in free quality groceries simply by checking expiry dates. I also coupon collect. Save.ca is great for coupons and then there are coupons that line the store aisles.  There are certain foods where the store brand simply will not do. We buy real Kraft dinner and Campbell’s soups only. They are the main stays of our lunches. For cookies, I bake or go to the factory outlet for them. I spend about $200 a month for the both of us and that includes cleaning and bathroom stuff too.

Now when it comes to toys here is where you have to be careful. Our kids come first right! I buy new mostly–mostly at Walmart or Toys R US when on sale. We have bought some toys second hand ( like Roo’s kitchen), a Barbie dollhouse, and the like. We have bought games second hand at garage sales after checking to ensure all the pieces are there. As for books we love second hand and make great use of the library.

So does my use of second hand make me cheaper then cheap? I think it makes me a great consumer and a money smart mom.