18 Month Checkup

Frugal Boy had his 18 month checkup yesterday.


He is progressing just as a normal kid should with a height of 33.5″ (84%), weight 27lbs 6oz (87%), and an ever large melon of 9.75″ (98%, no wonder why he didn’t fit down the birth canal).

The last vaccination was given, a hepatitis shot.  The doctor said he is good to go on vaccines until he starts kindergarten.  Yay!

Shae gave him a quick buzz to rid the world of a mullet.  A bribe of graham crackers seemed to do the trick in getting him to sit still.


In a few years when Star Wars 9 comes out in theaters, we’ll probably have to go see it.  A certain little toddler has been watching the neighbor boys light saber fight for the past year and he thinks that he has what it takes to be a jedi or sith lord.


Frugal Book Club #8 – Zero Waste Home

This summer on our epic trip out west, we spent some time with my sister and her family.  She knows all about our frugal ways and thought we would enjoy a book she was looking to banish from her home.  Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson recalls her family’s personal journey to producing zero trash by using the 5 R’s (in order).




The most important ‘R’ of Johnson’s plan is to ‘refuse, refuse, refuse’.  If you can keep items from entering your house to begin with, the battle is already won.  As a parent, I have learned that for every one child, there is about 10x the amount of toys, clothing, and paraphernalia.  Once a kid outgrows something, it seems like every parent is looking to ship it out of the house, and who better to send it to than you, the parent with the younger child.  Saying “No thank you” is one of the easiest ways to limit the amount of waste your home generates.  Of course, if you truly need it, you can accept something.  Just think long and hard if little Timmy really needs a 6th pair of pants or toy #84.


Reducing the demand for certain products, Johnson harps on single use plastics (SUPs), will reduce their production and that helps to ultimately keep our landfills emptier.  When the cashier at the store asks if you’d like a bag, or throws your single item into a bag, first refuse, then reduce the demand of sups by using your own canvas tote.  While many plastics can be recycled, recycling still takes energy in the form of transportation and processing.  Also, some plastics are down cycled, meaning that they can only be recycled once in their lifetime.  Johnson recommends using metal and glass containers in lieu of plastic ones as those materials are longer lasting and have better recycling attributes.


This summer we have been doing quite a bit of reusing in the form of scavenging furniture and reselling it.  Just yesterday we picked up a nice drop down table that was destined for the landfill.  We’ll probably get 40-50 bucks for it. Most of the items that we resell require zero elbow grease beyond taking pictures of them and posting an ad online.

Another area closer to home that we have started to reuse is with cloth napkins.  Shae found a super clearance sale and picked up 16 napkins for a total of $1.50.  They look and feel more upscale than disposable paper napkins and are good for our pocket book and environment!



Recycling is the fourth ‘R’ and Johnson seemed to have a fairly negative view on recycling as a whole.  Personally, I love recycling.  Our municipality has a single stream program, meaning you just toss anything and everything that is recyclable into a 96 gallon bin and wheel it to the curb every other week for pickup.  Easy peasy!


You’ve refused what you could, reduced what you couldn’t refuse, reused and repurposed items in your house, and recycled but you still have some trash.  Anything that has trickled this far down stream in a zero waste home would be compostable.  Of course, I am not as dedicated as Mrs Johnson, so I still have some trash at the end of the day.  However, we were inspired by the book to start composting.  We asked around and did some research into the different styles of composting.  What we ended up settling on was a milk crate system.

IMG_7796Our system is based off this Instructable.  We bartered books (that we were going to get rid of anyway) for milk crates.  As a side note, please do not steal milk crates from the back of stores.  They are set out there for the truck to pick up and return to the dairy.  The rest of the material for our compost system we had lying around so it didn’t cost us anything extra to set this up.


Summer is Winding Down

Where has the time gone?  We have been very busy this summer with only one or two full weekends at home.  Otherwise we have been traveling and wrangling an ever more energetic Frugal Boy.

On Thursday of last week one of the two Aldi stores in town had a grand reopening.


The renovated store has a larger footprint and a wider selection of goods.  It will take some time to figure out where things are in the rearranged layout.

We’ve had some very hot and muggy August days.  Our garden did well for the first half of summer, but insects have decimated all of our second plantings of lettuce, spinach, and carrots.


On Saturday I made lamb ravioli for Shae’s birthday dinner.  My mother-in-law helped to speed things up.  A two pound lamb loin made about 35 large ravioli.  It only took about three ravioli to make a filling meal.  We fed six adults and had plenty of leftovers.  The total cost of ingredients was about $50, making it very economical, even for the specialty meat.


Frugal Boy got his first taste of corn on the cob courtesy of his grandparents.  I think he liked it, as we had to hide the box of un-shucked corn to keep him out of it.


And here is a picture of the birthday girl.

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On Sunday, Grandma put up the remainder of the corn they brought down while Grandpa played with Frugal Boy.  Here Grandma is imparting some wisdom to the youth.

IMG_7757I worked some more on our front porch.  I have been keeping track of receipts and will do a post with the total cost of that major renovation when I am done (sometime this year).

Frugal Boy and Grandpa enjoyed watching from the window.  Those two are thick as thieves.

IMG_7763A big thank you to all of Shae’s family for coming and helping out.  We had a fun weekend despite the heat.




International Man of Mystery

Today was a momentous day for Frugal Boy.  We submitted his passport application to the State Department.  In 4-6 weeks he will hopefully have a small booklet that lets him travel to almost every country on planet Earth.

Minors must submit their applications in person with both adults present.

The checklist of required materials for a first time applicant is:

  1. A DS-11 Passport Application Form
  2. A certified birth certificate (no photocopies or public notary stamps)
  3. Money ($105)
  4. Parent’s photo identification (driver’s license)
  5. Parental consent (we had to swear an oath and we both had to be there)
  6. 2″x2″ color photo meeting certain requirements

I found the easiest way to fill out the form was through the online wizard.  It presents simple and easy to understand prompts and then uses the information to fill in the more confusing DS-11 form.

We chose to take the photo ourselves.  The main requirements are:

  • White or Off white background
  • No other people in the background
  • Head sized to be between 1-1 3/8″
  • Centered
  • Face unobscured
  • Both ears visible
  • Eyes open
  • Crisp without blurring
  • Unaltered by photo editing software
  • Neutral expression

This proved to be no easy feat with a rambunctious toddler, but after 40 or so shots we had three that showed promise.  I collaged them together and had a single 4×6 printed off at the nearest 1 hour photo for a grand cost of 31¢.  Most places that advertise passport photos are in the $10-$30 range (one guess where the children friendly places fall on that scale).

photoosThe passport office was inside the post office.  The man wasn’t confident that the photo we chose would pass muster, but the worst that would happen would be a letter from the state department asking for a new one.  We wouldn’t have to go back and apply in person again (sorry Shae, I know how much you love the bureaucratic process).

I thought Shae and I were really on top of our game by getting a passport for our son at such a young age, but I was quickly put to shame when the Indian couple standing in line behind us showed off their 20 day old infant.  I guess when grandma is a continent away, passports take on an increased priority.

Now the really important question.  Where should we go?

More information about passports, specifically children’s passports, can be found on the state department’s website.

ps. please have all your forms and required materials ready to go when you show up at the office.

pps. you can also make appointments at the office to cut the line.  I wish I knew that beforehand!