Cheap Family Date Night

Let’s face it, it’s hard to feed a hungry family these days. It’s easy to feel like we don’t have enough money to take our families out to eat, but there are places we can go that offer free or extremely cheap kids nights. If you’re willing to go out on a school night (usually between Monday and Wednesday), you’ll find there are several places to choose from. Keep in mind that the days and prices offered by these places may vary from area to area. Here is what is available in my area (Fox Lake, WI):

Applebee’s (Beaver Dam):  Up to 2 kids eat for 99¢ Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Ponderosa (Beaver Dam):  Kids 10 and under eat for 99¢ every Tuesday between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. (one child qualifies for each adult entree that is purchased). Kids 2 and under eat free all day every day of the week.

Benvenuto’s (Beaver Dam): Kids eat FREE every Monday (up to $5.50 a meal) with the purchase of an adult entree.

Pizza Ranch (Waupun):  Kids eat FREE every Monday (with the purchase of an adult entree).


Don’t forget about free and cheap activities (depending on the season).

Rogers Cinema Beaver Dam: Sometimes they offer customer appreciation days. Usually you can get in by donating a canned food item. They’re not that great about advertising this, so you have to keep watch on their Facebook page.

Tower Lanes:  In the summer, you can sign your kids up for KidsBowlFree program.  Every week they will email you a coupon that allows your child to bowl free each day. They also offer discounted family programs too, so you can bowl too.

Crystal Lake Park: Crystal Lake is great. There is no lifeguard on duty, but there is a little free beach in the summer. They have some umbrellas and tables; also bathrooms, showers and changing rooms. Kids can go to Crystal Lake camp 5 days a week for under $100 a week. They do arts and crafts, swim, play games and take a field trip every Friday. The camp is open to residents and non-residents, but there is a price difference.

YMCA of Dodge County: They offer all sorts of inexpensive events. For example, right now they have a fall and winter Flick’n’Float. Non-members are just $3 each. Enjoy crafts and swimming with Santa December 4th. Members are free and non-members are $5 a family.

There are many things free and inexpensive for families. Make sure you keep watch of Facebook pages and check for future events on websites, so you know what’s going on. If you have anything to add about this area or your area, please leave it in the comments!

Thanks for reading!


Today is the first day of my new eating plan: The Ketogenic Diet (Keto for short). I ordered a “free” copy of ‘Bacon & Butter: The Ultimate Ketogenic Diet Cookbook” by Celby Richoux a few weeks ago.  (It’s not really free, because you pay s&h, but it’s still very cheap and worth it.)

There is a brief rundown of how the Keto Diet works and then it provides recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts.  After reading through the book, I also looked up more recipes and information and was pretty impressed. The diet seemed similar to the Paleo Diet, which I’ve tried out before and liked (I didn’t like the no legumes or dairy for the Paleo Diet).

As with many diets, there is some fasting involved.  I’m not sure when I want to do the fasting or if I want to mix it on days that it works better for me. I work 6 to 7 days a week from home (full-time+ hours) and I’m so busy during the day, I often don’t have a lot of time to put into eating healthy during the day. In fact, there are some days, I barely have time to put together a decent meal in the evening.

I’ve been planning this journey for a long time. Before summer hit, I’d been eating as healthy as I could and doing PiYo every day, but Friday. I loved it and was getting stronger. One thing I noticed is how great my posture was. I realized that I could stand for hours without feeling it. That was a big difference.  By June, 2017, my sleep issues had become too much to handle. I realized I was having sleep problems for a long time, but doctors tried many other things and I didn’t realize that the issue could be related to my health. I thought I was just staying up too late working and had too much stress in my life.

Although those two things happen to be true, I had an underlying issue going on that can actually be quite serious and may have been one of the reasons I was not able to lose very much weight before.  Throughout the past few years, I have always tried to eat healthy and exercised and did everything possible. I’d lose around 14 pounds (not enough to go down a pant size) and then plateau.

The sleep specialist told me she had to do an overnight sleep study of me, but she was fairly sure I had sleep apnea. My father also has this, so it was not a complete surprise.  It took the entire summer for them to officially diagnose me (after waiting for the insurance to approve the sleep study, waiting 2 weeks to meet with the specialist after the sleep study and then once again waiting for insurance to approve a CPAP machine).  I finally got my machine about a month ago.  I’m still getting used to it and I knew I should not attempt to lose weight again until my sleeping was under control and I had more energy during the day. While I waited for the machine, I was sleeping 6 to 8 hours a night and then was so exhausted during the day that I would also have to take a 1 to 3 hour nap at some point. It was awful. I basically worked and slept.  My summer was lost.

I am feeling better now and although I still had to take naps the first couple of weeks, I am at the point where I don’t seem to need a nap anymore during the day. I do feel tired, but I’m able to push through it and my energy level is higher. I’ve become walking my dog on short walks twice a day (longer on weekends) and I’m getting more things done.

My plan is to re-start the 8 week PiYo program soon. Unfortunately, I’m in the process of having a plantar’s wart removed from the ball of my foot. It has pained me for years. My earliest memory of it was in 2011 when I was living and walking everywhere in Germany.  So I’ve had it a long time, which means it’s pretty deeply rooted. I’d had enough and went to see my family doctor. He tried to freeze it off, but that only caused pain and no change at all. I went to a podiatrist who started a new treatment every two weeks.  She applies some sort of acid treatment to it (painless during the treatment) and then puts a band-aid on it and wraps it.  I then can’t get it wet for 2 days.  After that, I must keep a band-aid on it at all times, changing it after showers, etc.  The area blisters and becomes quite painful within a couple of hours after the treatment.

It then stays painful for at least a couple of days, but sometimes for the entire 2 weeks. It will get less painful with time, but it still hurts quite a bit. I make a follow-up appointment for two weeks out before I leave each appointment. At the follow-up appointment, she delicately scraps out the dead skin (killed with the acid) with a scalpel and if there is any wart left, she re-does the treatment. This has been going on for about 8 weeks now; maybe longer. She did give me the option to “take a break” during the last treatment, but I opted not to, because it has pained me for a long time and I just want to get it over with. I don’t want to be dealing with this in the winter and I don’t want to give it a chance to spread.  This is not a sure treatment for getting rid of the virus.  This is the best they can do.  Where did I get it? Who knows. We lived all over the place (WI, OH, Egypt, Germany, and Ireland, plus visited the UK on a vacation). I could have picked it up anywhere.  No one else in my household has them or ever has had them.

That being said, any kind of exercise has been very difficult with my foot. There are days that it hurts, but I can walk relatively normal, and there are days that it is so painful, I have to limp around.  Walking my dog, taking my daughter to do fun things (like going to a botanical garden) and things like that has really been difficult, but I have been determined to take my life back and am a little bit impatient about it all. I want to take advantage of the beautiful fall weather in WI before snow and ice starts. By then, I will want to start taking advantage of my indoor exercise equipment.

As soon as my foot is better, I am going to start the PiYo again.  In addition to the exercise and the diet changes, I’ve been buying Garcinia Cambogia from Walgreen’s as often as possible (to try to build up a stock of it, because it can be expensive to buy it each week and I want to make sure that I have it and don’t have to start and then stop it). I have heard good things about this product and get 2 bottles at Walgreen’s for around $10 on sale, which seems to always go on.  You get 50 pills per bottle and you are supposed to take 3 pills 3 times a day.  At 9 pills a day, you will need to buy more after about 11 days.  The brand I bought is Nature’s Science.  We’ll see if it works.  Due to my heart issues, if it messes with that, I will have to stop taking it.

I also plan on re-starting my daily dose of It Works Greens. I took those all last winter and never got sick, even when my daughter, who currently sleeps in my bed, brought illness home from school.  I stopped taking it and ordering it over the summer and was lucky to never get sick.  I have two to three months worth of it left before I have to order again.

This morning I started my day with buttered coffee, which may sound weird, but it wasn’t so bad.  I actually kind of liked the buttery taste added. Buttered coffee is 1.5 cups of coffee, 2 tablespoons of organic unsalted butter, 1.5 tablespoons of coconut oil and I used 0 calorie sugar.

You can drink that in place of breakfast or in place of breakfast and lunch. This book I have suggests many different snacks, but other websites I’ve found say that any kind of snacking is not recommended.  This diet is based on eating a high fat, lower protein and low carb diet. The idea is to encourage your body to burn protein instead of carbohydrates.  People have good luck with this lifestyle and the great thing about it is that you can eat a lot of bacon, sausage and other high fat foods.

So that’s where I’m at now. I wanted to see how the coffee would affect me. I feel okay; no hunger at this point and it’s nearly 10 a.m., but I don’t like the taste of coffee in my mouth once I’m done and will likely be brushing my teeth each time I drink it.  I am also supposed to drink a gallon of water a day. This is double what my normal intake is.  I’m not looking forward to drinking more. Everyone says I will get used to it, but I have tried to do this before and will basically live in the bathroom if I do this, so we’ll see.

I go in this Thursday to have my foot looked at again. Keep your fingers crossed for me that this will be my final visit, but I won’t bet on it, because after a week and a half nearly, it still hurts.

The Issue:  I have a Samsung Note 5. I’ve had it for a year and have had it logged into my Yahoo email address for months. Last November it suddenly stopped logging in, telling me that I was using the wrong password. After months of failed attempts and password changes, I was very frustrated and had decided I would have to live without being able to login to my email through my phone.

Solving The Issue:  I did some research on it and others had the same issue. They were told to uninstall and reinstall the app, clear the cache and so forth, to no avail. I finally solved the problem and it was simple!

Step 1: Login to your Yahoo email from a regular browser.

Step 2:  Click the pull-down “Help” menu in the upper right-hand part of your screen and choose “Account Info”.  A new window will open.

Step 3:  Click on “Account Security” on the left-hand side of the screen. Please Note: It will ask you for your password again.

Step 4: Make sure that “Allow apps that use less secure sign in” is on.

Step 5: Try logging into your email through your phone. If you are 100% sure that you are using the right login info and this option had been previously turned to off, you should be able to login now.

That’s what worked for me. If you are having the same problem or issues on different phones or with different emails, feel free to post your solution in the comments!

“Mom, that girl is here again.”

That’s what I woke up to in the middle of the night.  My daughter, in a sleep state next to me, telling me that this girl is here with us.  I have never heard of this girl.  I don’t see a girl.  That doesn’t mean I don’t believe that there is a girl there.  I tell her to go to sleep anyway.  What can I do?  I’ve been plagued with nighttime visions my entire life.  It was only natural that my daughter would be the same way.  Over the years I have learned to block it, but how do you explain to a child that she has a gift–a gift that can scare her, could even hurt her.  Do you say, “Oh, by the way, dead people can communicate with us and they will.  Get used to it.  Learn to control it.”

Each person needs to learn to control it in their own way.  All I can do now is try to protect her….

Later that night…I wake up to something in the room again.  I have my hand on my daughter’s arm.  I hear myself demanding that they GO!  I know I’m yelling at them to go away.  The dogs only seem slightly disturbed.  They go through this with me…with us…frequently.

“Mom, mom, it’s okay.  Go back to sleep.”

“I’m awake.  Didn’t you tell me there was a girl here?”  Silence.

“No.  I don’t remember that.”

“Okay.  It’s okay.  Let’s go back to sleep.”

This is a typical night.  It happens maybe once a week–sometimes more often, sometimes less often, but it is a natural part of our life.  My daughter has insisted on sleeping with me for the past year.  I don’t argue.  I feel this constant need to protect her during the night.  Her “gift”, if you want to call it that, is getting stronger.  The only way I can protect her right now is to be there with her to ward off these spirits.  She’s not ready for it yet and they are not all good.

I’m feeling sick lately.  I suffer from heart conditions.  Classic symptoms of someone who can see and speak to dead people.  Someone who attracts them.  Someone who tries to ward them off.  Eventually, it will get to you.  Everything is fine with me.  My blood tests are normal, most things are normal with me.  So why do I feel extreme exhaustion?  Why are some days so difficult to get through?  Why do I never sleep well?  I can tell you why.  Because I need to stop suppressing.  I need to find my inner self again, so to speak.  Have you had similar experiences?  Comment about them.  I’d love to hear about it.

If you’ve read anything I posted in the past, you know that my weight actually weighs heavily on my mind.  Monday I started a new plan.  One thing I can say about the various plans I’ve participated in and created, is that I have learned a few things.

The first thing is that I am extremely busy in the daytime.  Although I don’t mind eating healthy, I find that I do not have time for the preparation some healthy snacks and meals require.  I also have very little time in the evenings to prep things ahead of time.  My solution is that I need to be on a diet plan that utilizes shakes during the day.

I had been on Isagenix and I really loved it, although after a while, I got really tired of the nasty shakes.  No, they never tasted good to me.  The chocolate was the best, but then I made the mistake of ordering vanilla.  I found there is absolutely no doctoring that can get rid of the gross oatmeal-type taste.

I have a few containers of Isa left and I may use them at some point, but I found Slimfast to be relatively inexpensive when compared to other plans.  The most expensive part of the plan are the 100 calorie snacks.  You can get around this by planning on your own 100 calorie snacks (up to three times a day), but then you’re not getting the extra protein and fiber necessarily.

It costs around $6 a week for me to drink my shakes.  This buys me one small can of chocolate Slimfast and provides 14 shakes (I have to drink them for breakfast and lunch).  I eat the 100 calorie snacks in between and make a healthy meal at night.

I managed to get my Bowflex M5 inside the house a couple of weeks ago.  Now I have no excuse to avoid exercise.  Also, snow is melting and temperatures are rising outside, which means I can do plenty of walking.

Since Monday, I have completed the 14-minute exercise program on my M5 that they advertise on TV every day.  Monday, I felt like I was going to die.  Today, I am packed full of energy, I feel relatively alert, I’m in pain and I feel almost euphorically happy.

Tonight I am making chicken for dinner.  No, I have no idea yet what I am doing with it.  I plan on using my Nuwave–another excellent thing to have during weight loss.  See, folks?  Losing weight is NOT cheap.  Even healthy food is NOT cheap.  It can be difficult in the winter when you have to deal with snow, ice and people not shovelling and salting their sidewalks. There is one place I can walk indoors for free here.  It is a 15 minute drive and they are only “open” Monday through Friday during my working hours.  So, not an option.  I don’t want a gym membership at this time (although, I am seriously thinking about doing a family YMCA membership, so I can swim and also use their other equipment–plus, for my 8-year-old daughter.

This new plan started, because I started to lose weight.  I was stuffing my face with what I wanted, not exercising, yet I lost 10 pounds?  My daughter then started selling Girl Scout cookies and I started eating tons of crap (i.e. cookies).  Still, did not gain the weight back.  So, I thought to myself that I better take advantage of whatever positive thing my body is doing right now and actually work on it.  I asked myself how much more I would have lost if I had simply paid attention to my eating and gotten some exercise.

Right now my plan is to use my M5 7 days a week and to strictly follow my Slimfast diet at least 6 days a week.  Sunday is my only day off each week (and that is only if I stay caught up on my work), so I may need a day of “doing what I want” so I don’t get bored of the plan.

Another plus to using Slimfast (for folks out there on public assistance–yes, you deserve to be healthy too!) is that the products are covered on the food card.  I do know people who are able to use their food cards to buy the Slimfast shakes (buy the can and take the time to mix it–you will save money!) and the snacks.

You only get 5 bags of snacks per box.  The snacks are the most expensive part coming in around $5 a box, or $1 per snack.  You need 2 to 3 snacks a day.  You are allowed 3.  I eat a snack in between my shakes and lunch shake and dinner.  After dinner, I generally do not feel like eating any more, but you do have the option of an additional snack, if needed.

At that rate, one box of snacks will only cover you for 1 to 2 days.  You do get 5 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein in each snack.  I forget how much you are getting in the shakes.  Fiber and protein are important for two reason.  They help you feel less hungry in between meals and also the fiber keeps everything “flowing” through your body.

In addition to Slimfast, I have purchased the biggest container of Metamucil, which provides up to 6 grams of fiber per drink.  I drink two of those a day–one in the morning and one at night after dinner.  There are other benefits other than fiber from drinking it.  The large container is a 1 to 2 month “supply”.  At $16, it’s not as expensive as you would think.

So, with my current plan of only needing 2 snacks a day, I need 14 snack bags–or 3 boxes at $5 a piece–that is $15 worth of snacks and $6 worth of Slimfast.  $21 a week for you to lose weight is not bad.  If you have a family in school and at work, you most likely only eat one meal a day with them.  Make it a healthy one.  I get around a lot of calories and fill myself up by eating a lot of meat.  Roasts (when on sale) are good–chicken, fish, etc.

I checked today and so far am not down any weight.  I know you are supposed to wait until at least one to two weeks has gone by.  I will keep you all updated on this.

Are you on your own weight loss journey?  Please feel free to comment and share your tips here.

TIP:  I read somewhere that coconut oil is good for “boob sweat”–that’s what it said!  Lately, when I “sweat”, my skin itches like crazy!  I started putting a small amount of coconut oil in the areas that sweat and itch and so far, no itch.  Try it and let me know if it works for you.

Catching Up

It’s been a long, long time since I have posted on here.  Believe me when I tell you that I have thought about it.  I have been busy.  We’re coming to the end of 2015 and I’m hardly better off than when we were coming to the end of 2014.

To catch readers up, in July of 2014 we were told we had to leave Ireland.  We decided to return to the US.  We went back to our home state of WI, where we had family, friends and most importantly, our things!

At first we stayed in a lake cottage, but that was only temporary.  By October, we needed to find a permanent place fast.  Eventually I found an apartment owner that was looking for someone to move into a 2 bedroom apartment, rent-free, to manage two buildings.

It seemed like a fit.  The apartments allowed our large breed dog and although I found both the bathroom and kitchen (two of the most important areas in a home) to be downright hideous, I was assured that those areas would be updated after we moved in.

Not only did that never happen, but the apartment manager became a complete nightmare.  I’ll talk more on that later in other posts (hopefully).

By September, 2015, we were moving out and the apartment owner had decided to sue us and attempted to get a judge to issue an eviction on our records.  She was unable to get the eviction, but did manage to get a judgement against us.

Living in that apartment became a nightmare.  Our daughter is permanently affected by it.  Even though we are moved out into a single family home, away from having close neighbors or evil landlords, she is still affected in ways I am only beginning to understand.  Some people think we are exaggerating, but they didn’t have to deal with what we dealt with and they’re not in our home to see what our daughter goes through constantly.

So that’s where we’re at for now.  We’re working too much and we have too little money to do what we want.  No one wanted to return to WI and no one is happy that we’re still stuck here.  As of now, the future is looking grim.

One of my goals that I’m working on is to be able to dedicate just 15 minutes a day to writing fiction.  So far, the idea has been in my mind, but I haven’t been able to do it.  Another goal is to finish the construction on the home we are in.  There is so much to do!  Finally, as always, I am trying to lose weight.

Check back for more stories about what has happened since we returned, as well as other odds and ends that I feel like talking about.

It had been a long time since I had a use for macros, but recently I found myself working on some transcription files that really needed them.  Because of the formatting required and the number of participants, not using macros was really slowing me down.  I looked up directions on various websites and no matter how closely I followed them, nothing worked.  Finally, I figured out how simple it was on my own.  Since I had so much trouble finding clear instructions, I thought I’d share in case there is anyone else out there confused.

In the 2010 version of Word, you’ll need to record your macro.  Start by clicking on the “Developer” tab at the top of Word.  You’ll see your macro options on the left-hand side.

Click “Record Macro” in the options. A box will come up. You can name the macro if you want, or leave it (it will automatically be named Macro 1, 2, 3 etc.). I wanted a keyboard macro, so I chose the “keyboard”.

A new box will open and you will be able to label your short key. You’ll need to use something like Ctrl and a letter or number. For example, I’m using Control W here. You can enter this command into the box by actually typing it out (hitting the control button and letter sequence at the same time). Then click the “Assign” button.

Once you’ve done this, close the box will close and you’ll be back to your normal document. This is where it got confusing for me. If you look at the top of your screen, you’ll see that you’re actually recording a macro now. That means that whatever you type will record in the command you gave it. For example, if I am using a macro to insert a name all in caps to identify a speaker, I would now allow Word to record this by typing out: BETH:

Once you are done typing out what you want y our command to do, you’ll need to hit the “Stop Recording” option in the upper left. Now test your macro by hitting the key sequence in your document.

If you want this macro to be document specific, you’ll need to choose the name of your document in the pull-down menu button under “Store macros in” in the first box that pops up after you choose “Record Macro”.