Monday, July 7, 2008

Matthew's Birthday Weekend

As promised, some pics of Matthew's birthday weekend a few weeks ago. We started out on Friday when Daddy took the day off work so we could take the boys to the amusement park. They loved riding all the little rides - and Matthew got to ride for the very first time! (But we still got him in for free, since he didn't turn 2 until 2 days later! Score 1 for Mom and Dad, Amusement Park - 0. Don't worry, they'll get us back next year!)

Matthew seems to share Jonathan's fascination with the balls that hover in mid-air. Jonathan was obsessed with this last year and I think Matthew is not far behind. Actually, it's pretty cool. And the whole area is contained so that meant that Mom and Dad could have a moment of sanity (and a bathroom break) and not worry about them running off anywhere....

And here's Jonathan, looking out from "The Little Engine That Could" - part of Storybook Land" which, on paper sounds really cool for little kids, but in the flesh wasn't really "all that." We didn't spend much time there - once Jonathan remembered about the rides, we were off to the other side of the park!
The next day, Grandma, Poppy and Aunt Rachel came up for an overnight visit to celebrate the real birthday on Sunday. Jonathan loved having his grandmother and aunt around to read to him and play with him - he likes it when they come for what he calls a "sleepover".
And Matthew scored all kinds of cool presents. The kid digs balls. He's already catching and throwing like a champ. My poor house. So far all such activities have been relegated to the basement. But every once in awhile, another ball sneaks up the steps until I banish it again.
And Matthew also got this cool new road carpet....hmmmmm, why is JONATHAN playing on it? Because he'd already thrown Matthew off of it. Not a very nice older brother!
Time for cake. Yes, I made it. Yes, that's black granulated sugar making the road in the shape of a 2. Yes, it was a big mistake.
Because by the time JONATHAN blew out the candles, Matthew had already found his way into the sugar, making a huge, huge mess. And once the cake hit our mouths, everyone's mouth turned greenish-black for hours. Teeth, lips, gums, tongue. Even the dog. No more black sugar. Or dark purple, green, blue or anything else. It LOOKED good. It even tasted good.

But oh boy, what a mess!
Anyway, that was the birthday. All wrapped up now, of course. Since then, I gave most of the leftover cake to my friends' boys who came over to swim the next day....suckers! I warned them, but I think they thought it was cool.
In other news, we revised our "eating out" plan the other night. I'm not sure if I ever posted this since it was instituted before I started my blog, but shortly after Matthew was born, we made a decision to cut back, way back on eating out. Mostly because I quit work and we were looking for ways to cut some corners, financially speaking. So our plan was to limit our meals out to one breakfast, one lunch and one dinner per week. And for two solid years, this plan has worked great. We didn't count trips - if we were on the road, we didn't keep track. And sometimes we traded a breakfast for a lunch, etc... But for the most part, we followed our plan, and although I was now cooking at least 18 meals a week, it was okay. It worked.
But lately, we've noticed that we've been sneaking in a few more meals here and Mark would leave for work without a packed lunch, and I would take the kids to the mall and meet up with some friends and we'd all have pizza at the food court. Then Mark would walk up to the sub shop. Since we weren't eating together, we didn't count those meals. You see where this is going.
So we sat down the other night and, even though I'm working again, we decided that in the name of high-priced gas and other expenditures, we would cut back on eating out even more. Besides. Restaurant food is getting out of hand. Entirely too much food. Entirely too expensive (um, a few months ago, Ruby Tuesday charged me $3.19 for an ICED TEA. A plain one. Not one of those fancy fruity ones.) And ridiculously priced kids meals. Why on earth are the charging $4.99 for a grilled cheese and fries when I can make it at home for like 85 cents? If that? And in addition, eating out only 3 times a week over the past 2 years has helped me hone my cooking skills. Leftovers never go to waste anymore because we eat at home so much, and buying stuff in bulk, like boneless chicken breasts makes it so much cheaper in the long run.
So here's our plan. Whereas previously, we figured we were eating out anywhere from 12-15 times a month, now it's down to 11. If any of those 11 meals goes over $25-30 before tax and tip, it counts as two meals. And as further incentive, if we eat LESS than our allotted meals per month, MARK has to cook the make-up meals. HA! I'm loving that one. Because at this point, the only reason to go out is because I'm so busy I can't cook, or because I just need a break, thank you very much.
Yeah, it takes a little planning ahead, and a lot of time on my part, but in the end, I really think it's worth it. Restaurants are raising prices just like everyone else. And I just really hate to pay $5 for grilled cheese!


Ohighway said...

I like your eating plan. Unfortunately our family inhales far too many meals "out" with it's attendent large $$$ outlay, and questionable nutritional value. I'd actually given this some thought recently. Chalk up making "home cooked meals" as another reason for me to retire.

Ohighway said...

A couple more thoughts on this. Why do the restaurants charge $4.99 for a grilled cheese kids meal? Because they can! If people are willing to pay the price, then they just keep raising them until people AREN'T willing to pay that much anymore. (Which frankly puts the power right where it belongs, with us the consumers, and allows us to vote "enough is enough" and stop frequenting these places)

Also, I have a brother in law who owns a couple clubs/restaurants in the St. Louis area. According to him beverages, including alcoholic beverages, are nearly pure profit in comparison to the food itself. So that makes that $3.19 iced tea even more offensive in that it's SO unnecessary for it to cost that much.

Rebecca said...

Well, we could go to places like Bob Evan's - home of the $1.99 kids meal - but then they charge you for a drink.
Problem is, if we stop going, there are plenty more people to take our place. People line up for big, overfilled plates of mediocre food. And don't even get me started on buffets.
I can't tell you how many times I have been served a plate in a restaurant, and I looked down, did a mental calculation of the ingredients, and figured that I could make that same meal for a tiny fraction of what we were going to shell out at the end of the meal. It makes me sick. And the drinks...well. My husband told me that awhile back and now he mostly orders water to drink, just on principle.

Michelle B said...

Happy Birthday Matthew! My Owen turns 2 on the 14th! I am remembering now how close our due dates were. Our babies are 2 already! Where did the time go? As for your eating out plan...sounds like a plan! Eating out is pricey! And not that great for you most of the time. We try to limit our eating out also. sometimes it is so hard.

Ohighway said...

Yeah I gotta' admit that there's plenty of folks willing to mindlessly pony up the $$$ for the mediocre food. (If I ever get the courage I'll post a "People are Sheep" blog I have planned) But I still contend that at some point, IF IT GETS PAINFUL ENOUGH, that people reduce/stop their visits to the restaurant.

Of course, then there's the other side of the coin. Just today I read a small blurb in a freebie paper. Titled "Visit a restaurant-maybe spare a job". Basically bemoaning that increased costs overall are causing increased costs at restaurants, and that in turn is reducing patronage and thereby forcing some out of business. Perhaps that's true, but I still don't think I'm obliged to overpay for anything. OTOH, they did bring up a point I felt was valid. They mentioned one restaurant offering a
"recession buster" special, basically a meal containing -sane- portions of food at a reasonable price. I could buy into that one.

Rebecca said...

Oh come on - be brave! I can't wait to read "People Are Sheep!"

Ohighway said...

Be careful.....VERY careful ...what you ask for. I'm not even sure I'm gonna' do that post. Mostly cause I'm worried that it may degrade from social commentary to just plain grumbling and bitching. And the latter is something I promised myself I would try and avoid.