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Jan 31, 2011

Run your family like a business

Our family schedules a family meeting once per month. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss everything that pertains to our household including short and long-term goals, finances, as well as needs for each person. These meetings are a forum for each family member to voice their concerns on anything and everything. Each person takes a turn to speak on a particular section of our list. These things include: A recap of the last month, personal goals and family goals for the next month/next quarter, also if you need something (supplies, haircuts etc..). I am the note keeper for the meetings and I type up the "minutes" just as any business or committee would do. At the beginning of the next meeting each person will receive a copy of these minutes almost as a road map for that meeting. These meetings have really kept us on track as a family and is essential to our growth. Now don't get me wrong, there are some months that we have to cancel or reschedule a meeting and we really get thrown off. We do our best to catch back up and take it from there. We really try to run our family like a business so that we can teach our children the importance of communication within their family. I know that the girls get so disgusted and bored with it but at least they know they are a part of a caring family unit.

Do you have any type of family meeting in your household?
Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 28, 2011

Anniversary weekend | 17 years

I am so excited about celebrating my 17th Wedding Anniversary with my favorite husband in all of the land ♥

Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 27, 2011

The sting of food prices

Lately I have been feeling like I go to the grocery store and get some great deals yet I come home with nothing. I am a coupon user and a sale watcher but yet I feel like I am still not coming out on top. I did a little research and it turns out that the average family of 4 (although we are 5) spends about $500-$1,000 per month on groceries. The $500 side is for the thrifty families who use coupons and shop sales. This is all so crazy. I am sure most of you feel the same way. If you want to eat healthier you really have a lot of work to do. I love to have salad with meals but have you seen the cost of produce lately?? A bag of lettuce costs about $4 and you get mostly air! I have learned that my local grocery store marks down that kind of stuff according to expiration date. If I make a salad that day I often can get the same bag of lettuce for about $1-$1.50. I sat down yesterday for about 30 minutes clipping coupons according to a sales paper and once I did my shopping trip I got $110 of food items for about $70. Sadly I still feel like I got very little and I will still end up going to the store by Saturday. I almost wonder if ordering out a few days a week would work out to the same cost. Hmm. What about you, are you feeling the sting from the cost of food?
Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 25, 2011

Re-post | Things that have kept us in love

*Sorry, long post*

I often have people ask what has kept Dwayne and I together for so long and how can we still love each other? 20 years is not long for some of you veterans, but it is for those that could not fathom even 5 years. There are no secrets that will work for every marriage but I will share some things that have worked for us.

  • Respect each other. Hateful words or actions are not allowed in our relationship.
  • Communication is key. Dwayne and I have an agreement that we discuss things and if an agreement can't be met then is it a "No". Chances are we either agree or I get my way so it works out :)
  • Sense of humor is very important especially when your husband is part Bernie Mac meets Jay Leno (funny and lame at the same time). There is NEVER a shortage of laughter in the Ismail house. I also think it is important to know how to laugh at yourself. Everything does not have to be that serious!

  • Understanding and Forgiveness. This has to be one of the hardest things of all. Nobody is perfect and things happen. Almost anything can be worked out or worked on.

  • Appreciation is very important. Taking time to say "thank you" between a man and wife is something that should never be overlooked. I thank Dwayne all the time for providing for our family and never making me feel guilty about my choice to stay at home to raise our children. Dwayne thanks me for even the tiniest things that I don't even think matters. Everything from ironing a shirt, sweetening his coffee or telling him not to worry that everything will work out.

  • Encouragement is HUGE. We encourage each other to become even better. I love Dwayne so much because he never allows me to doubt myself or not give myself enough credit. It's a great boost for both sides!

  • Unconditional Love I even have to explain this one? I love Dwayne for the good, bad, sneaky, naughty, sincere, strong, arrogant, hardcore, sweet, smart and 'Dwayne' things that makes him who he is...The man I married and will eternally love.

Dwayne and I are from 2 totally backgrounds, worlds, planets, and everything in between, but there is this magic that can't be explained. We just mesh together well. If he is out and I am expecting him home I will stand by the window like a school girl and wait. Of course as soon as he drives up, I race to couch and when the door opens I will say "Oh, I didn't even hear you drive up". I think the fact that we have stayed the same people we have always been but have matured together it really keeps the bond going strong. We always have each other's back. If you have a 50/50 relationship, then you have a great chance at a lasting and loving relationship.


Jan 23, 2011

Stuffed chicken breast recipe

I am posting this recipe per Tanyetta's request. I don't generally cook anything with by an organized recipe, I just sort of add stuff and see what happens. I purchased 3 pounds of bone-in and skin-on chicken breast on sale for 89 cents a pound. I don't really like chicken breast all that much but it was such a great deal that I decided to pick up a pack anyway. What I did was debone the chicken breast but leave the skin on. Next I took a sharp knife and butterflied the breast being certain not to cut all the way through. You should be able to open the breast and lay it out flat. I seasoned the chicken lightly with my favorite spices on the inside but only with a little cracked pepper and kosher salt on the outer part (where the skin is). The reason for that is I did not want my spices to burn when I seared my chicken on high heat. Next step was my filling. Although I wanted spinach, garlic, shallots and feta cheese I did not have those ingredients. I did have a half box of seasoned stuffing mix. I prepared it with a little minced onion, garlic and cilantro as well as some chicken stock. I then spread maybe two heaping tablespoons of the stuffing onto the inside of the chicken breast (skin side should be down). I then folded the breast over and stuck a couple toothpicks through the side to securely keep the breast closed. I heated some pure butter and a little canola oil in a large skillet on high heat. You could use olive oil but I don't always care for the flavor of it on everything. Once your oil and butter are really hot you want to place each chicken breast skin side down and sear for about 5-6 minutes until really brown and then flip them over carefully and brown the other side. I finally transferred them onto a baking pan and baked them on 390 degrees for about 15 minutes to finish the cooking process. I served them up with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans. I was not sure if my family would like it but they all asked me the same question: "When are you making this again?!" It was a thumbs up from my crew. The entire meal cost me about $7.50. Not bad for a frugal dinner huh?

Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 21, 2011

I know I can't be the only one

So, we are in potty training mode with Will. He has not shown signs of readiness although he does go pee pee in the potty when you tell him to. He still wets his diaper during a nap and saturates it at night. I stop giving him anything in liquid form by about 5:00 and he still soaks a diaper overnight. I swear the kid is a pee pee machine. He is not a big drinker either. So what do I do? Am I pushing potty training to early? I don't even think Will can comprehend when he needs to go to the potty. He turns 3 at the end of March and I feel like such a loser mom. Please tell me that someone else has gone through this. I try not to always go with the theory that boys are harder or take longer than girls but it is really looking that way. Help please...
Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 20, 2011

Some husbands really do listen to their wives

I know I crack jokes and give Dwayne a hard time most days so I decided to dedicate a post to say some nice things about him.
*I really hope he does not read this and let it go to his head*
My husband is a simple man. He does not require very much to be happy. I love that he does not care about sports (except fishing). I would take being married to a nerd any day over a sports fanatic. He takes the time to listen to me even when it comes across as nagging. Of course he makes sure he points it out to me when he does what I nagged about. Dwayne mentioned to me the other day that I should be really proud of myself. Of course I am wondering what on earth he is talking about. He tells me how he has been seeing the commercials and reading articles about the "Extreme Couponing" lifestyle. He said I should have been featured in a publication since I have been into couponing and signing up for freebies since before I was even married. He says that all the people who talked crap about me and thought I was wasting my time can eat their words. He thinks that this show came way late in the game. Then he tells me how proud he is of me for being so smart with my purchases and the fact that I am passing that wisdom on to our kids and it shows. That really made me feel good knowing that he notices all the little things I do. I think I will keep him for a little while longer :)
Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 18, 2011

I am facing facts

I was having a little conversation with the kids yesterday evening and the subject was me. The girls were making comments how young I look and how I am the youngest mom in their group. This is probably why I don't have any friends, I never seem to fit in. Then Chardie informs me that I will probably be one of the oldest moms when William becomes school age. I felt like I was hit in the gut. Wow, to say that I am 37 I really do not feel that way. I think I feel more like a mature 20-something. I can just see all the young mommies in the carpool line in their Hybrid cars and then there will be me in my old lady ride.

The girls had the TLC show on called Four Weddings and started discussing their weddings. I was starting to feel sick. Weddings already? Trust me, I am very happy that they are looking forward to getting married but damn, it will be here before I know it! William turns 3 in March and I am still undecided if I will put him in public school or home school him. Why in the world am I feeling like my kids are going to be gone tomorrow? I guess time does go by way quicker when you are an "experienced" adult. I just know that I enjoy every second of every minute I have with my sweet family.
Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 17, 2011

Why I love to vacuum

About 3 months ago I was on the hunt for a vacuum cleaner that was going to perform well but not drain my bank account. I took about a month to research as well as get some input from other moms on what they recommended. Of course most people said the Dyson was the must-have and was worth every penny. I am so happy I did not go the Dyson route. Don't get me wrong, if I felt like spending $400-$500 I would have so gotten one. Instead I went with the Eureka AirSpeed. A couple of my blog moms friends helped me out since they actually got to try out both the Eureka and Dyson. I went up to Walmart and paid about $119. I noticed that they are on sale for $98.96 right now. I tell you what, this is the best vacuum I have ever used and it has exceeded my expectations in every way. The suction power is amazing and I really love the hand tools. It makes stair cleaning so much easier and the nozzle is longer than any vacuum I previously owned. I really love the super long power cord. Not having to stop every 2 minutes to plug up into another outlet is a big plus for me! It works really well on bare floors (hardwood, tile etc.) I really like the bottom release dust cup. It seems cleaner to me. I remember the first time I used my AirSpeed and I thought I would faint with all of the junk that collected in the dust cup. This vacuum is a great value and I am completely happy with this purchase. Apparently so happy I did this review on my own with no compensation at all. Dwayne is going to get me for this one!

If you are shopping around for a new vacuum I would recommend this one hands down!

Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 16, 2011

Beware of the "Repeater"

I am sure many of you are very familiar with the stage that your little ones went through with repeating everything they hear. I listen to William have imaginary telephone conversations and he starts of with hello and you hear him say numerous times "alright and okay". His most commonly used phrases are "oh gosh", "put on shoes and go to Walmop", "take off jacket", "mommy cook food", "mmm, yummy food". Recently we all went on a family car trip and we were having discussion about music and entertainment. Somehow we started talking about the Chris Brown song called Deuces and then about Gucci Mane. First Brie says "Deuces!" and Dwayne follows up by saying "Gucci!" and little Will decides to say "Guccis!" We all tried so hard not to laugh but we all broke down. We realized from that moment that Will is indeed listening to everything we say and we better watch out! We do not want to corrupt him. I have made it a point to only listen to NPR or one of his cd's in the car while we wait in the carpool line or drive around town.

What is the most outrageous or funniest thing your little one has said from overhearing someone in your family?
Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 13, 2011

Snow/Ice Day #4

So we have been home ALL week. The ice just did not want to let up and our school district is out this Friday and Monday of next week. This makes 10 days in a row out of school! My girls really wished they could have gone back. I think they were losing it by day 2. Thankfully the sun is shining and I suspect I will be hearing a non-stop dripping for most of the day. We plan to get out and do a little bargain shopping and get some fresh air. I don't mind being home most days but when you are confined and can't go anywhere then I get crazy. The part that makes no sense to me is how come I can't seem to get anything done? I do my usual everyday cooking and cleaning, but I really have not been utilizing my free time very well. I am not normally a big TV watcher but that seems to be all I have been doing. I have enjoyed sleeping in a little later though. I guess we will be back to business next Tuesday. The girls will be taking their mid-term/final exams that were originally scheduled for this week. They have been studying together so I feel they should do even better. Poor girls, they miss school and their friends. We will make the most out of the next 5 days.

Has anyone been stuck inside because of the winter weather? How are you holding up?
Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

William is very serious about mealtime and always wants to help. He was in the kitchen yelling out "I need nakkin" and he comes running around the corner over to his table with half the roll of paper towels. He's so helpful isn't he? :D
He loves sticking his tongue out!

Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 10, 2011

Snow day

School and most businesses were shut down today (and most likely tomorrow) for our city. I know we had snow in the forecast for an inch or two but we ended up with about 6 inches! On top of it we have freezing rain and sleet. Fun. Well I took advantage of the cold day in and baked and cooked up a storm. The girls will have additional time to study for mid-term exams. Dwayne just got plain lucky to get out of going to work.
It's not common to have to shovel snow but we did some of that to be sure that in the event of an emergency we would be able to get our relatively safely. I tell you what, shoveling is some back-breaking work!

Poor Milo is so not liking the snow at all! Dwayne had to walk him in order to get him to "go". He also hates wearing his winter sweater.

Dwayne was clearing our vehicles off and asked me to put these snowballs up in the freezer. I wonder what he plans to do with them?

I know people from the states that are used to snow are laughing at the Southerners right now. Our cities are just not properly equipped for these rare weather occurrences. How about you, did you get any snow or ice?

Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 8, 2011

Purex Complete Crystals Softener | Giveaway {closed}

Winner is #26 s8r8l33

I recently became a Purex Insider and was very excited to receive a nifty little welcome package. Purex has come out with a revolutionary new way to soften your garments with the brand new Purex Complete Crystals Softener. This is not your regular fabric softener, it is in a crystal form. The first thing you notice when you open the bottle is the burst of scent! I think I was a little nervous at first about it being over-scented. I decided to give it a whirl and try it out to see what it would be like. The thing that made this softener different from any brand I have tried is that you put it directly into your washer at the beginning of the wash cycle. I was skeptical about the crystals dissolving completely but they did with no problem. The true test was once my garments went through the dry cycle. They came out fresh, soft and lightly scented (far from the initial strong scent I noticed). I really love the fact that you add it in with the wash since you don't have to worry about it later in the wash or even about adding a dryer sheet. Also you will not have the risk of staining from liquid type fabric softeners.

Purex Complete Crystals Softeners are safe for
all laundry and will not harm, wear down or discolor your fabrics like oil-based softeners.
Safe for all fabrics, including baby clothes, athletic wear, towels, and whites. Unlike other
softeners, Crystals WILL:
• Preserve the flame retardant benefits of your children’s clothes
• Retain your athletic wear’s wicking ability which draws sweat away from your body
• Maintain your towels’ built-in ability to absorb water
• Keep your white clothing from yellowing and graying vs. using traditional softeners
The product won’t harm your clothes and is safe and convenient for the entire family!

Purex provided me with a coupon for a FREE full-size product that I would love to share with one lucky reader. Just let me know if you are a Purex user and if so what products have you tried? Or let me know which scent you would choose of you win the coupon.

If you would like to increase your chance of winning you are welcome to gain additional entries once completing the first one
~ You can "like" Momfiles and Purex on Facebook
~Follow Momfiles and Purex on Twitter
~ Tweet this giveaway (once daily) and leave a link to your Tweet:
I entered to win a coupon for a FREE full-size bottle of @Purex Complete Crystals Softener @momfiles #giveaway
~ Share this giveaway on Facebook and be sure to mention Momfiles

Giveaway is open to US Residents only and will end at 9:00 PM EST on January 20, 2011. Winner will be chosen via and will be notified by email.

I am a Purex Insider and all information and product samples were provided by Purex to me for my review and honest opinions.

Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 7, 2011

Our big boy

Our little guy is really growing up. He will be 3 in March and has come a long way since he turned two. Gone are the days of the terrible two's ~thank goodness! He is now a very independent and intelligent little guy. He is saying "please" and "thank you" without being prompted. He helps to prepare things for meal time and bath time as well as clean up after himself (most times). We are very pleased with his extensive vocabulary and his usage of Spanish words. The boy loves Dora and Diego. He also shows compassion for others and loves to initiate hugs. It's really sweet and makes me happy that he has a kind heart. Will is also learning responsibility with taking care of our dog Milo. He feeds him, gives him treats, plays with him and also loves to let him outside throughout the day. He is pretty well behaved and listens a lot better these days. We are really proud of him.

Surprised to see what is in his hand?

Will has this new evening ritual where he gets bathed and dressed for bed and tells me "I go bed". He then pulls down the covers on MY bed and lays back. Then he asks me to "Put the light" (turn off the light). Once I turn it off he tells me "Thanks". He thinks he's a man. I always have to tell him "Excuse me boy, I already have a husband". From there he watches a little Nick Jr and he is out for the next 11-12 hours. Daddy carries him to his own bed and puts him down for the night. I think often how happy I am that I no longer sweat the small stuff because before long all of our kids will grow up. We are fully enjoying every minute of every day :)
Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 6, 2011

Why I refuse to give my kids everything

I was talking to an old friend a couple days ago and the first thing she asks me was how our holiday was. Next question she asks is if the kids got a lot of stuff for Christmas. I told her no. She was puzzled and could not understand why. I told her that I refuse to stress myself out to buy a bunch of things for my kids just for them to have a lot to open on Christmas. I explained that there is indeed life after Christmas. She then goes on and on about all the fancy gifts her young child got as well as how much she and her family members got. Big freakin' deal. Can I afford to buy a bunch of things for my kids? YES. I just won't because these same kids will eventually be adults and will eventually get married and have their own kids. I will not do a disservice to my kids by giving them everything they want. I had plenty as a child and when I was on the streets at 17 (by choice) I did not know how to survive. I was clueless and broken. I had to learn to grow up very fast. I also had to learn that things would not be given to me, I had to make a living. I suffered greatly--walking to where I had to get to, learning to catch the bus, being approached by pimps and strip club promoters, not eating some days because I could not afford it, not having many clothes besides the 3 outfits I left home with. The spoiled girl who grew up like a princess in her designer duds got a rude awakening called "real life". Real life kicked my ass hard.

Even when I got married and we had the girls we still struggled. We had no help from anyone, it was just us. We did not have our own home, no car and Dwayne would work 2-3 jobs at a time so we could buy diapers and eat. We did whatever we had to for our family. We persevered and eventually were in a position to buy a home and really get established. It was a hard road but we have all that we need and then some. My kids don't have an iPod touch but never complain about their $30 mp3 player. They actually laugh at their friends who brag about their brand name stuff and what they paid. One of Brie's friends got some UGG boots for $150. Brie was bragging about her Aeropostale boots that were on sale for $25 and the fact that she was able to get 2 pairs. You see, my kids know the value of the dollar. They know how to spend smart as well as save. They both got a large amount of cash from Dwayne's parents for Christmas to buy whatever they wanted for themselves. The first thing they said to each grandparent was "Are you sure? This is so much money!" I took the girls shopping and they were very selective about what they were willing to spend on. They hit the clearance racks and got a ton of stuff at deep discounts. As a matter of fact they both still have a big bulk of that money left over. I can only hope that they will always be this smart and pass it on to their own children. I am very passionate about raising well-rounded children who know how to make decisions. I want to be able to let them go out into the world and know that they will do just fine. Real talk people.

Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

William in a laundry basket~ He said "Help! I stuck"

Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 4, 2011

New Braces!

Finally, Brie got her braces! She has had them on for about 4 days now and is doing really well. I think the key is to not let other people's 'stories' influence you too much and make it a negative experience. I think it was way easier than we expected but we have a long 3 years and some oral surgery to go. She is already planning the colors of the little bands for the next 3 months and seems to like having them. I am impressed with all of the extra time she is taking to keep her braces and teeth extra clean. Thankfully she has accepted the fact that she has to give up a few of her favorite snacks and foods. She is still able to eat fairly well so let's hope it stays this way!

I will try to post a photo each month to show the progress her teeth will make.
Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 3, 2011

The last jacket this child will ever get

Back in early November Dwayne and I ordered a Letterman's jacket for Chardie since she has expressed numerous times that she really wanted one. She has already lettered twice so we finally broke down and let her get it. As we made the order and picked out the patches, I asked the salesperson what the turnaround time was. He said roughly 6-8 weeks since it was the holidays time. He said that it would be closer to 8 weeks. You should have seen the look on my child's face. I think she was thinking more like 1 week. So for 7 weeks I had to listen to her complain and whine about how her jacket was taking forever. With all I went through having to listen to an impatient teenager I told her that this would be the last jacket she would get for the rest of her high school career. I also informed her that she better wear it all the time since we spent $200 on it. You see, my child is one of those girls that will love something and finally have it and decide that it is not quite her style.

Well the jacket came in on New Year's eve and she has almost not taken it off since then! She is so happy with it. We ordered a size small short since she is a little munchkin. She could not wait to go to school today to show it off. After all, she will be the only girl at her school that has one.

She loves the HUGE volleyball patch with her number on it. It is way bigger than we were expecting actually.
She wanted the embroidered letters for the back instead of the chenille. She is my classic baby.

Of course she has her full first name. She goes by "Char" at school but I think she wanted her full formal name since she is once again my classic baby. I am glad she finally got it so I don't have to hear about it anymore. Oh the things you do for your kids....

Shelly, Mom Files

Jan 1, 2011

In "the lab" with dad

Please excuse the low quality photo but I just had to snap this one. You see Dwayne has a mini studio set up downstairs in his man room and William has been watching his daddy closely. It is not unusual to see Will talking into his Carmex tube or anything else that he can use as a pretend microphone. He saw his dad practicing a speech and Will said to Dwayne "Arriba!" and he goes straight for the mic and chats away. It is so funny when you play his voice back on the computer. His face lights up at the sound of his own voice.

Shelly, Mom Files
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