Simple Ways to be Ready for Emergencies

Simple Ways to be Ready for Emergencies

On July 2, 1997 a tornado decided to pass through my town.  Only one person died, and that was because he had a heart attack while trying to remove a tree from his lawn.  I remember huddling in the basement with my two cats and my dog.  I just about jumped out of my skin when the neighbor’s chimney blew off and smacked the side of my house.  Christ that was loud, and scary.  But what was worse was what happened after the storm.

My house was intact except for some ripped off siding thanks to being hit buy a chimney.  However, I had no electricity, hardly any food, no batteries for the two flashlights we had, no batteries for the small radio we had, and no candles.  I was up the creek with no paddle.

I will never be caught without batteries or candles again.  I have lots a flashlight including cheap basic ones for the boys to use.

I will never be caught without batteries or candles again. I have lots a flashlight including cheap basic ones for the boys to use.

I grabbed my keys and got in my car.  After I pulled out of the driveway I realized the street was blocked by fallen trees.  I literally drove over people’s lawns to try to get to the drug store!  Once I got to Rite Aid I went in, grabbed the items I thought I would need only to get to the register and have the cashier tell me that the power was down so they couldn’t ring up my stuff.  I showed them what I had and handed over $30, above the amount it cost but whatever, I needed the batteries and food.  I was glad I had gotten there so quickly because suddenly it seemed like everyone in town was making a run on Rite Aid for the exact same stuff I had just grabbed.

Back home I parked the car and heard a lovely hissing sound coming from my car.  I watched as my tire quickly went flat as a pancake!  I had picked up a nail.  We were without power for four miserable, unbelievably hot, sticky days!

The next time I was unprepared came when AJ was just a toddler.  It was the Great Blackout of August, 2003.  Being a mom had made me more cautious, as did the events of September 11th.   So I was good on important stuff like food, batteries, diapers, wipes, etc., but then came the big “GOTCHA” moment.  No water!  No power to the pumping stations meant no water to the houses.

Once I learned on my radio that we were not under attack by terrorists I once again headed to the store, with a toddler in tow, to buy lots and lots of bottled water.  At least this time there were no trees or four inch nails.  Three days later when the power returned we rejoiced, but I was wiser.  I had been caught short twice, and I hated it.

So now I have a stockpile.  I buy in bulk at Costco and also when I have some awesome coupons.  I have had relatives laugh at me and call me a hoarder, but a two  and a half ago I spent 4 months in a wheelchair because of multiple foot surgeries all at once.  My stockpile saw my family through that predicament.  My husband only had to run to the store on his way home from work to pick up fresh dairy, meats and produce.

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I am sure there are doomsday preppers out there who would look at my stockpile and laugh, but I am NOT preparing for the end of the world as we know it.  I am preparing for the next blackout, the next Hurricane Sandy, or the next Swine Flu virus.  I want to know that in the event of a real honest to god emergency my family is covered for a couple of weeks if not even a little longer.

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I am not going to list everything I have on hand.  You can get all the lists you want from a quick Google search.  A great starting point is here http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit.    Plus, you need to have what your family actually needs.  We don’t need diapers anymore, but I do have a month supply of all my RA medications put to the side.  Each time my drugs are refilled I use the old bottle and put the new bottle in storage so the ones in storage are always fresh.

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If you haven’t put together a small stockpile or a plan for emergencies you might want to start thinking about it.  Also, I didn’t acquire all this over night.  My stockpile took months to put together using a lot of coupons. Each week at the market try to buy three items for your stockpile.  It will grow faster than you think. DSC_2358

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PS- The best place to buy bottled water is Costco if you didn’t already know.  You get twice the bottles for the same price of every where else.  In fact I need to pick up a couple more cases now that I am looking at this picture!

~Tina

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How to Pack Healthy & EASY School Lunches

Easy Lunches

Very cute, but would totally unappreciated by my boys.

Very cute, but would totally unappreciated by my boys.

I love to look at all those adorable pictures of the world’s cutest school lunches on Pinterest. I mean, they are absolute works of art! It is almost a shame to eat them.

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Honestly, I just don’t have time to this.

Then I go into my kitchen and get real. Hello, I am a tired working mommy here. As much as I would love to send my kids to school with one of those precious Benito lunches the truth is I don’t have time for that. Not to mention I have boys. Boys don’t eat their food. They shovel it into their mouths in five bites or less and then race out the door to go to recess.

I need quick. I need easy. I prefer organic when I can get it. So what is a tired mom to do? Well it starts with a trip to Costco! The greatest big box store in the world has made it so easy to buy healthy ,and even organic, foods in bulk that I can just toss into a lunch box and forget about it.DSC_2308

Organic milk boxes, nitrate free deli turkey and sliced chicken, Brownberry multigrain bread, organic strawberry jam, low fat high protein Greek yogart, and even small treats.  Costco has it all.  We also love to buy their bananas, big containers of blue berries, raspberries, and grapes.  One exception to the organic rule is my Jif peanut butter.  I love peanut butter, but I can’t stand the “natural” or organic peanut butters because they are practically drowning in the separated oil.

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The containers all snap together, even the ice pack.

I also fell in love with these BPA free containers from Rubbermaid.  The sizes are perfect, the sandwich container is big enough to accommodate the larger sized Brownberry bread, and the built in ice pack totally rocks.

There were $2 coupons for them in this past Sunday’s newspaper, plus Target has them on sale this week for $3 off.  Even if you don’t have the Sunday coupons there are $1 peelies attached to the packaging.

Rubbermaid LunchBlox review

There are high value coupons inside which makes these containers almost free when you budget in the savings, the sale price at Target, and use a coupon.

As you can see I stocked up on them so I’ll have plenty for the new school year!

So once you have your containers and you made your run to Costco, what goes in the lunch box?

I try to cover the four food groups and make sure their is plenty of protein, complex carbs, and nutrition for growing minds.

DSC_2314I am very blessed that both of my boys are allergy free.  So I have an organic milk box.  The picture shows Horizon, but my boys also love the Kirkland Organic Chocolate Milk Boxes from Costco.  I only buy organic and hormone free milk.  I truly believe all the hormones in dairy products are the reason children are entering puberty earlier and earlier.

If your child is allergic to milk then use juice boxes or soy or almond milk.

Because this is a lunch for a first grader, there is half a sandwich which has turkey, sharp cheddar, and spinach leaves.  My boys are not big veggie fans so I compensate with a double fruit serving, fresh blueberries and an Apple Go Go Squeeze.  Finally, a little crunch comes from a Cheeze-It 100 Calorie pack.

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The lunch bag is from Pottery Barn Kids. I love their backpacks and lunch boxes. I especially love that the lunch boxes clip onto the back packs!

The only part of this yummy lunch I actually had to make myself was the sandwich, which is the way I like it!  To keep everything cool I slide the ice pack into the zippered netting on the lid and close it up!  Done, done and done.  I pack 15 school lunches a week, ten for my boys and five for me.  I’m not going to apologize for cutting corners by using prepackaged healthy options!

I also have a small thermos for each of us so I can let the boys take hot soup, chili, stew, spaghetti or whatever leftovers we have from the previous nights dinner.  I cook in double batches frequently.  I have to use a thermos because my children do not have access to a microwave at school.  I don’t know of any schools around here that allow the kids to use microwaves but I have seen lots of articles in Parenting and Parents lately to say to do just that.

Here is a list of really great products from Costco:

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My little guy with his big boy backpack and his matching lunch box.

Brownberry Oatnut Bread
Jif Peanut Butter
Kirkland Organic Strawberry Spread
Nutri-Grain Bars
Kirkland Almonds
Kirkland Organic Milk Boxes
GoGo Squeeze Applesauce
Pepperidge Goldfish Crackers
Honey Maid Graham Crackers
Ritz Crackers & Cheese
Annie’s Fruit Snacks
Yoplait Go-Gurt
Fruyo Greek Yogart
Nature Valley Granola Bars
Kraft String Cheese
Nature Valley Sweet & Salty
Quaker Chewy Granola Bars
100 Calories Snack Packs
Kirkland Organic Tortilla Chips
Tree Top Fruit Snacks
Stretch Island Fruit Strips
Snyder’s Pretzels

I hope this list is helpful.  So often we feel under pressure to do everything bigger and better until it is ridiculously over the top!  At the end of the day kids need to eat nutricious food, appropriate sized portions, and it needs to be a little bit fun.  So don’t feel guilty if your child’s lunch box isn’t Pinterest picture worthy.  If you have more suggestions please add them in the Comments below!

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