The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Waste not, want not

A confession. When I found out I was pregnant a year ago, I cried. I cried a lot. It was just not good timing, in so many ways. Life had just been getting easier, and I knew that having a baby was not something we were ready for. And we weren't.

But God wanted Tiana to exist... and she is a blessing. I am so very blessed  to be her mother, and to have my perfect little family of four, even though this new addition to our family has definitely meant some changes in our lifestyle. In many ways, it has been a much needed wake-up call.

I did my best to scramble all year long to get as ready as possible. I saved all my bonuses and income from side jobs, so there would be money for maternity leave (I don't get paid disability). I researched day cares and found the best one that would meet our needs for the cheapest price. I tried to mentally prepare myself for what was to come, but, I knew it would be like this- when paying for day care for two children is eating up every spare penny and any unexpected costs have the potential to just ruin us for a few weeks or months.

And it has come. This week, in fact. Some unexpected costs have eaten up the savings much quicker than I thought and we are "scraping the bottom of the barrel." I withdrew the last of the savings account on Friday. It was a sobering feeling to have the safety net gone.

If anything, it has shown me how much we wasted before. I have become VERY good at using everything to its full potential. It used to be that if there was nothing I really wanted for lunch in the house, I'd just run through a drive-thru, but today that was just not an option. Marc gets paid on the 20th, but since that was Sunday, he got paid today. It is a bank holiday. This means waiting one day extra to deposit/cash the check. I have our finances so precisely budgeted right now that an extra day was kind of a problem, particularly with the road trip we took to the family reunion this past weekend. So, today, I am making do. I had a bowl of rice crispies for lunch. I thought they were too old, but I checked the expiration date and lo and behold... still good.

Angel Food has been an AMAZING blessing during this time in our lives. It is a nationwide nonprofit food co-op where they buy food in bulk at ultra low prices and break it down into smaller packages to sell. The box we buy is $31. It comes once a month, and this box has lasted us literally the whole month for dinner. It has required some supplementing, but not much. We eat dinner at home about 4-5 nights per week, so I imagine if we ate at home all 7 nights it would maybe be a bit harder to stretch it that far, but it could be done.  Let me tell you, it feels really good to fill the freezer completely full when that box comes. It is a feeling of security during a time when I am feeling very insecure.

Eating like this has involved a changed perspective and some creativity on my part though. I am a somewhat picky eater, but I have forced myself to use every single thing that came in the box. It just involves thinking outside of the box to cook things in a way that I will want to eat them. This week is the last week from the box we bought in January and I have been trying really hard to come up with things to make from what is left.  I've basically got half a pound of sweet Italian sausage, 1.5lbs of meatballs, 2 chicken breasts, a few chicken tenders, some frozen waffle fries, and a lot of frozen veggies. I was trying to figure out dinner tonight without much supplementing, and I came up with meatball soup. I only had to buy an onion and a couple of boxes of broth. A HUGE batch of soup is now slow cooking on my counter, and it is going to be delicious. Plus... it will last for days. :-)

As hard as the past few months have been, and more so, as hard as the next few months are going to be, I am grateful for what the change has opened my eyes to- being less wasteful and saving more when things are good.


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  3. To start with, I'd say, I am amazed by the patience you hold, your kids are really lucky to have you, btw i love the name Tiana.

    Your optimism is very inspiring and i'd pray to the Almighty to spare you of the hardships in life. GOd bless you :)