A few updates from the Party of Five ... in no particular order ...
9 Rats. 32 Squirrels. That's the number of creatures our 'wildlife experts' trapped, killed, or otherwise removed from our property. (And if that doesn't gross you out - I don't know what will.) Now not ALL of the squirrels were in the attic - I think a good many were removed from the traps in the yard. But the rats came from the attic. All nine of them. (Can I get a resounding 'EW'?)
Multiple showings at the old homestead. Too many to keep track of. But zero offers. I'm starting to wonder if there's something really wrong with my house (other than said vermin) or if there's just a lot of proverbial tire-kicking going on in Columbia. The crazy thing is that we don't receive any negative comments from the realtors showing our home. We hear lots of things like 'great kitchen' or 'big backyard' or 'it feels like a home.' But no offers. Sigh. (I did come home the other day to our nanny telling me that the house smelled like gas when she walked in - and she discovered that one of the knobs on our gas stove was slightly ajar. The cleaning lady must have bumped when she was working on the stove, and thankfully the kids were on early release so it couldn't have been on for that long before Emma and the kids arrived. Although - that's one way to get rid of the house ... JUST KIDDING. Sort of.)
Speaking of Emma, our nanny - I triple-heart her. Did I tell you we had a nanny this year? Yeah - we have a nanny. She's amazing. A double finance/Chinese major at USC - super smart and bubbly and bright and fun and loving - and utterly dependable. She's made my life manageable this year, and I seriously don't think we could have functioned as well as we have without her. She picks up the kids from school, brings them home, feeds them snacks, oversees homework, plays games, referees the inevitable arguments, takes them around town for 'Fun Friday' activities - and the best part - drives them around to their respective activities. (I think I hear a chorus of angels singing hallelujah.) She's only with them for 2-3 hours a day - but because she is in our life - the children can do things like acting class, art class, baseball, and the mid-week children's programs at church without me screaming at them to hurry up and get in the car because I'm always late trying to run out of the office.
I'm finally getting a handle on mealtimes at home. Thank goodness. We'd slipped into a bad habit (from a health and financial perspective) of eating out nearly every night. I'd get home around 5:30, exhausted, with zero idea of what to cook - and it was so much easier to pack everyone in the car and go out. When the kids started asking me 'Mommy, where are we going tonight for dinner?' on a daily basis - I knew something had to change.
About the same time - I received an email from a good friend (hello Ashley) inquiring if I'd be interested in a meal-club of sorts. She and another good friend and I met to discuss - and we came up with a 'freezer' method where we each cook one meal a week in triplicate that can either be frozen for later use or reheated/cooked within a few days.
I was skeptical at first - and worried that freezer cooking meant we'd be exchanging cream-of-whatever casseroles. Boy was I wrong. We've had really yummy dinners ranging from chicken tenders in some sort of apricot sauce that you serve over rice, shepherd's pie, roasted lemon and herb chicken breasts, turkey parmesan meatloaf, oven roasted potatoes, roast pork tenderloin, and the list goes on and on. My downstairs freezer is stocked with a variety of meals that I simply defrost the night before and then cook when I get home from work or in the crockpot depending on the recipe. We each add in the side (like a vegetable or starch) on our own - because that's the easy part - and voila! Dinner is served!
I'm happy to report that with an exception of when Deonne was in town - we haven't eaten out ONCE. We've saved money, eaten healthier, and things are a lot more relaxed when I can hang out with the kids while dinner is in the oven and rice on the stove rather than scrambling around trying to prepare something from the start.
I'd recommend this to anyone - just make sure you have the freezer space to store the yummies you and your friends exchange. Or if you're not in a place where you can exchange - the method works on your own as well. I typically prepare three dinners at once (or nine meals) at one time - then store three and exchange six. Last Sunday it took me all of two hours to prepare everything for all nine meals and get them all packaged for the freezer. So even if I wasn't exchanging - I'd still do this if for no other reason than it makes things insanely easier during the week.
I have many other random things to blog about - but this post is getting really long - so I'll stop. For now.