I’m the Mom on Her Phone at Practice– Why I Don’t Regret It

I'm the mom on her phone at practice

It’s Monday night, and I arrive at gymnastics early.  I drag my enormous bag from the trunk of the car and head inside. My daughter doesn’t mind that she’s 30 minutes early, she loves to watch the competitive teams practice, but I’m here for another reason.  I’ve got to grab a table, or at least a chair, before the other parents get here.

I see the sneers and the eye rolls as I drag out my Macbook and 3″ thick paper planner.  I know what they are thinking, I’m guilty of the same thing.  How on earth can a good mom spend her time playing on the internet instead of watching her kid?  My case is a bit different than most.  This actually makes me a BETTER mom.  Not better than anyone else, but actually makes ME better.  I’m using this 90 minutes to work. I’m not scrolling Facebook. In fact, my Facebook feed is disabled.  I can only access my own sites and pages.  I’m not going to let my life slip away just so I can monitor the lives of others from afar.

I have to do this so that I CAN spend time with my kids.  I own multiple businesses, and I often have a lot of work to do or delegate.  I’m able to streamline this into the few blocks of time I get each week without my toddler.  He spends around 12 hours a week at daycare, and on gymnastics nights, my husband is able to meet us to get him so that I can have this uninterrupted time.

Even though I have a separate office at home, I’m still wracked with guilt for not doing the millions of things that need finished. You know, the dirty laundry, phone calls, dishes, clean laundry (which is much worse than the dirty), messes, and unlimited access to the refrigerator.

I am watching my daughter, it’s just over the top of my screen.  In fact, as I’ve been writing this, she is doing the funky chicken across the balance beam because she knows I see her while I’m typing.

There are several kids in her session, so she’s not practicing constantly.  She dresses in the brightest clothes you’ve ever seen, so it’s pretty easy for me to see when she’s moving.  I can stop what I’m doing to watch her latest trick and when she’s done, I go back to work.  This 90 minute block twice a week gives me time to plan and get my week on track, which makes me more efficient- which in frees up more of my time to spend with my kids.  Gymnastics are the only nights that I am able to wrap up my work from and enjoy the rest of the evening with my family.

My daughter is also very active in softball, volleyball,  basketball, and school clubs. Those activities are packed with non-stop action that I can’t always look away from, nor expose my computer to.

I don’t regret my decision at all.  I’m able to be with my children during summers, after school, school holidays, and never miss a single thing they do.  Not many parents have that opportunity, especially without financial worry.  I’m lucky.  Damn lucky.

 

Zaycon Fresh: The Best and CHEAPEST Way to Buy Fresh Meat

Zaycon

You’ve probably heard me sing the praises of Zaycon Fresh for years, but I realized that I’ve not updated the original post in a very long time.

Zaycon is a company that works directly with meat producers to bring customers prime cuts of fresh meat in bulk and skip the middle man.  This results in the freshest meat possible at a great price.

They offer events for many locations throughout the year.  All you have to do is sign up, look for an event in your area, and purchase the items you want.  Each event has a specific delivery date.  To pick up, all you have to do is visit the location.  It’s all set up as a drive thru, so you just need to roll down your window, show your receipt, and they load it for you.

When you purchase meat at the grocery store, it typically takes 21 days to get from the producer to the shelf.  With Zaycon, it seems to average 6-8 days.  The pack date is plainly stamped on the box.

We raise a lot of our own meat, but Zaycon is a close second.  Once you try it, you’ll definitely not want to go back to grocery store meats… especially the chicken!

I get asked a lot of questions about the Zaycon meats, so I thought it would be fun to do a Q&A to help answer them.  If I miss something, please comment or ask in our Facebook group.  I’ll do my best to answer!

Alicia, I’m really picky about meat.  How can I believe you that this is actually good?

Do you buy your meat in a grocery store?  If so, you probably aren’t that picky.  I worked in a butcher shop for several years and we farm.  I process almost all of our meat myself because most aren’t up to my standards.

Is this hormone free?  The chicken breasts look very large.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually illegal for any chicken producer to administer growth hormones.  There are several types of chickens that are bred to grow to a large size very quickly.

How hard is this to process?

It’s only going to be as hard as you make it.  Because most items arrive fresh, you can package and freeze them with no worries.

When I process chicken, I typically halve the breasts (they are a butterfly cut), then I filet each one to thin it.  This speeds up thawing.  There’s occasionally a piece that needs a bit of trimming.  If I have extra time, I will slice strips for fajitas and dice some for quick stir fry, jambalaya, soups, etc.  It takes me about 30 minutes per case to process and package it into freezer bags.

The bacon is very easy to pull out pieces and bag separately.

The sausage links are frozen, and they fit perfectly into a quart bag.  Because they are flash frozen, you can also freeze the entire box if you have room and just pull out what you need.

To process the ground beef, I simply slice burgers off of the roll, place on a cookie sheet between layers of parchment paper, and freeze.  I usually make up a batch of meatloaves or meatballs, because that is hard to do with meat that’s been frozen.  To freeze batches of ground beef for tacos, soups, casseroles, etc., I cut a roll into 10 equal pieces (that’s 1 lb hunks), place into a quart freezer bag, and flatten.  They store easily in the freezer and take up little space.

Some people prefer to make up freezer meals, marinate the meats, etc.  This will drastically increase the time you spend processing, but will speed up dinner time in the future!

What happens if I don’t have time to process it the day I receive it?

I mentioned above how much faster it gets to you than the grocery store.  The driver picks it up at the producer just before he starts delivering.  I actually kept a chicken breast in the refrigerator the last time I bought to see how long it took to ‘go bad’.  It was 13 days before it started even smelling like grocery store meat.  You know, that icky ‘it smells like meat’ smell.  It took 16 days before it was at the point that I wouldn’t consider cooking it.

Most of the meats have a ‘use by’ date stamped on the box.  The ground beef I picked up on August 13th says to use or freeze by the 25th.  That gives me plenty of time to decide how I want to freeze it.  It also gives me almost two weeks to enjoy the fresh, never frozen meat!

I just can’t bring myself to buy meat from a truck.

You do realize that this is the same type of truck that delivers your meat to a grocery store to sit in their cooler for weeks, right?

How’s the ground beef?

I was finally able to coordinate a beef delivery last week, and to say that I’m thrilled with it is an understatement.  This is 93/7 ground beef, which means that there should be a fat content of 7%.  The most inexpensive cut you see in the grocery store is 73/27, which means that there should be a 27% content.

I actually bought a package of inexpensive ground beef at $3.99 to compare with.  The Zaycon beef was $3.99/lb, but I bought it with a coupon code that dropped the price to $3.59.  I drained over 40% of the weight off of the store bough beef.  That meant a pound of meat ended up weighing 9.6 oz once it was done cooking.  Then I cooked the Zaycon beef.  I drained ZERO!  Maybe a couple of drops, but it wasn’t enough to make much of a difference.  I ended up with just under a pound of cooked meat.

What does this mean?  That the store bought meat with a lesser taste actually cost me $5.60 per pound of cooked meat, while the Zaycon cost me $3.59 and tasted so much better.

I also decided to make up some identical burger patties.  I cooked one and left one raw to compare the size when the first one was cooked to well done.  Both still weighed almost exactly the same, but the shape was off a bit where the cooked burger plumped up. Here’s the difference:

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How can I store this to make it last the longest?

Some people love to use their Food Saver to process theirs, but honestly, I’d rather not use mine.  It’s expensive, time consuming, and a hassle.  Because there are events for each cut at least twice a year, I can plan my orders to keep from having a large excess that’s frozen for a long period of time.

I usually just package mine in Glad brand freezer bags.  They don’t break down as badly as the others over time.  I prefer the quart, which will hold two large chicken breasts, 4 breast fillets, sausage links, and 2 lbs of ground beef.  They are the perfect serving sizes for my big eaters.

Can I share with a friend?  A 40 lb box of chicken seems like so much!

Of course, but I’ll warn against it. Each box is divided inside so that you can easily distribute.  One of the biggest complaints I get is that someone ordered one box to split and loved it so much that they couldn’t stomach buying meat at the store to get through until the next event.  20 lbs of chicken might last a couple a few weeks, but it doesn’t go very far for families.

Can I order at the last minute?

Even though they give a ‘last day to order’, almost all of the items sell out long before that date.  They can only fit so much on a truck!  Get your orders in early to avoid missing out completely.  Trust me- I speak from experience.


We sometimes buy meat at the store to supplement if we run out of Zaycon, because obviously we can’t grow it all- and not near at these prices.  In recent weeks, almost every package I’ve bought has went bad within 2 days of purchase, and long before the ‘use by’ date.  I’ve doubled up on my Zaycon orders this fall to prevent me from throwing out any food.

CLICK HERE TO SEE EVENTS IN YOUR AREA

Become a Blogger in 7 Days Online Workshop Begins on June 14th!

Screenshot 2015-04-27 09.10.01

Have you always wanted to start a blog or website, but weren’t quite sure how? Maybe you’ve looked at online tutorials and found them too overwhelming to even start? It’s time to quit looking and start creating! The Become a Blogger in 7 Days online workshop will get your site up and running in as little as a week. That’s right- a WEEK!

Become a Blogger in 7 Days is geared towards absolute beginners. The written lessons are packed with screenshots and will walk you through each step of creating your site. Unlike other beginner classes, Become a Blogger in 7 Days will teach you how to set up your site to leave room for maximum growth and monetization.

In addition to the written lessons, you’ll receive access to an exclusive Facebook group for 30 days. Why just 30 days? I’ve learned over the years that there are two things that will push you to succeed: time and money. If you take a free class, do you place as much emphasis on it? Of course not. The same goes with time. By creating the limits, you’ll work much faster and put more of an effort into it.

The Facebook group is a place for you to ask questions, receive assistance, talk out any issues you may have, and receive support from people going through the exact same thing that you are.

So, what are we going to cover in Become a Blogger in 7 Days? Everything you need to know to get your site up and running. This class is based on setting up a self-hosted WordPress blog, and we’ll also go over how to use it to create a static website. The lessons include:

  • Assessing Your Expectations
  • Basic Terminology
  • Choosing Your Domain Name
  • Purchasing Hosting
  • Setting Up Your Site
  • Creating Your Header
  • Installing Plugins
  • Creating Menus
  • Customizing Your Site

Each lesson has a short assignment that will help you grow your site and prepare for the next lesson.

What you’ll need to get started:

  • A computer and internet access (you won’t be able to do this from a tablet or phone)
  • At least an hour a day to devote to each lesson
  • In addition to the class registration fee, you will have to pay for one year of hosting and your domain name (around $72).

This class will run from May 4th-10th and is limited to just 25 students! If you cannot complete every lesson that week, don’t worry. The Facebook group will remain open until June 4th and you’ll have access to all of the lessons and information until then.  You can also elect to purchase an optional 60 day membership to the group so that you have a place to ask your questions.

When you register, please make sure and enter the name you use on Facebook, along with the email address you use to log in.  This will allow me to invite you to the group where you’ll receive all of your lessons.  You will receive a response within 24-48 hours of registering.  If you have any trouble with registration, please email me at alicia@thesensiblefamily.com.  

Register

Legoland Discovery Center KC Discount Coupon

While you’re planning your Kansas City trip, make sure to allow time to visit Legoland.  It’s perfect for kids ranging in age from 3-10, but all Lego lovers will enjoy it.  We plan on taking a trip this summer and will post a full review afterwards.  I’ve also got a $3 discount coupon for you guys!

Explore LEGOLAND Discovery Center Kansas City, the ultimate indoor playground for kids ages 3-10 who are the biggest fans of LEGO! LEGOLAND Discovery Center Kansas City is one of Kansas City’s best attractions for kids! Reach out and touch the stars in our 4D cinema, build the fastest car in Build & Test, save the princess at Kingdom Quest Laser Ride, or have the ultimate LEGO birthday party. Plan your family visit and jump into the biggest box of LEGO bricks!

Have you been to Legoland?  Do you have any tips for us?

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR COUPON

Visit SEA LIFE Aquarium in Kansas City and Save $5 Per Admission

SeaLife Aquarium

The Kansas City area offers some great family friendly attractions.  One of those attractions that my family will be visiting this summer is the SEA LIFE Aquarium.  I’ll be doing a full review after our visit, but if you’d like to make arrangements for your family to visit, I’ve got a $5 admission coupon for you!  

SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium will transport you into the amazing underwater world. Come nose to nose with sharks and prepare for astonishingly close views of everything from humble starfish and seahorses to graceful rays. To get any closer you’d have to get wet! Are you a Shark lover or Seahorse fanatic? Perhaps it’s the graceful rays or the clever Octopus that you love the most. Maybe you simply can’t decide! Here at SEA LIFE Kansas City you can make up your mind and see them all – from the curious and the rescued to the rare and the enigmatic. And you’ll be able to get closer to them than ever before.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE AND GET YOUR COUPON

Fun at Copper Mountain + Save up to $20 on Summer Activity Pass

Searching for vacation destinations can be tricky when you have a toddler and teenagers.  Copper Mountain in Colorado Springs has made it onto our list to visit this summer!  They offer plenty of activities in the village that will keep everyone occupied.

In addition to the beautiful scenery and close proximity to local attractions, Copper Mountain also offers activity passes for the following:

  • Bungee
  • Go-kart
  • Zip-line
  • Mini golf
  • Hydro bike
  • Bike haul
  • Diggler
  • Scenic chair
  • Bumper boats
  • Climbing wall

They are currently offering my readers a coupon to save $10 on a Summer Activity Day Pass or $20 on a Season Pass ($49-$109).  Click here to get the coupon.

Save $3 at All 8 Ripley’s Attractions in Gatlinburg- Perfect for Your Smoky Mountain Road Trip

We’ve been gathering suggestions for some summer trips, and the Smoky Mountains was one of the most suggested ones!

Gatlinburg has many attractions, but I had no idea that there were EIGHT different Ripley’s attractions there.  My kids are going to love visiting them all when we schedule our trip.

Experience eight unique attractions including Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, our 85,000 sq ft Aquarium of the Smokies, a 5D Moving Theater, our bone-chilling Haunted Adventure, the mind-bending Marvelous Mirror Maze, and our two fully themed mini-golf courses!

They’ve extended a $3 discount on all adult admission tickets ($2 on each child’s ticket) when you order online and use the coupon code: USFAMILYGUIDE

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE RIPLEY’S ATTRACTIONS

Incredible Pizza: Buffet Only $.99 with $15 Game Card Purchase

tile_incrediblepizza-stl-tileIncredible Pizza has a great new printable coupon for a $.99 buffet with a $15 game card purchase.

Fun, Food and Family America’s Incredible Pizza Company is the place to find it all! Incredible Pizza Company delivers high energy and a quality experience for the entire family. After enjoying our freshly homemade buffet; enter our world famous Fair Grounds and play over 100 arcade and carnival style games. Race to the finish line while driving our go karts, get lost in a friendly game of laser tag, get a hole-in-one while playing glow golf, and spin away on the bumper cars and more! So whether you’re 6 or 60, enter our fairgrounds and have an incredible time while making memories that will last a lifetime!

CLICK HERE TO PRINT YOURS