Stay-at-Home Grandma

by Colleen


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My husband is retired and I quit my job 4 years and 2 months ago to stay at home with my newborn grandson. (Yes, we are raising him....have just begun adoption process). He is now four and a half years old. He is a high maintenance kid so he really needed a stay at home Mom. I'm it.

Here are some of the things we do to make ends meet on a single retirement income. I'm not old enough (quite) to draw my social security. Many of these things we've been doing all along, only now we have more time to do them, even with raising a child into the bargain.

We grow a garden, veggies and berries, rhubarb and crabapples. We live in Alaska so that's not always easy! I put up all the veggies and berries in the freezer or cold storage for root crops in a second refrigerator in the garage. I make jams and jellies from the berries and crabapples. Also freeze the crabapple juice concentrate for "pink juice" through the winter. We grow carrots, parsnips, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, peas, potatoes, Swiss chard, collards, kale and turnips. In our small greenhouse I grow tomatoes and cucumbers. The extra tomatoes I put up in canning jars or make into chili sauce and the cucumbers go into pickle relish and other pickles. We have a small herb garden too and we dry the herbs for cooking and tea. We live in the city and have a small yard so we make every inch count!

My husband likes to fish so we eat lots of trout and salmon. Some of the salmon I smoke and the rest I put up canned or frozen. The frozen fish lasts like fresh in Foodsaver sealer bags. (That was a good investment.)

We buy in bulk at Costco or on loss leader those items we can't produce for ourselves. We have two freezers for a total of 42 cu. ft of space. Between the home grown veggies and fish and bulk purchased items, I keep them full. Also have a large shelved pantry area in the garage for non-frozen items and paper products.

I sew most of my clothes and many of our little boy's things. I made quilts for several of the grandchildren for Christmas last year. In other years they have received other hand made items. All new babies on our gift giving list get handmade blankets or tiny garments. When we need new placemats or sofa pillows or curtains I make them...preferably out of sale priced fabrics. I buy when the fabric store has a sale and stock pile for the day when I need an item.

I hate to cut hair so we do purchase haircuts but we use a beauty school or cut-rate barber shop where haircuts run under $10.

Our four year old has been in a two morning a week preschool for the last two years but we chose an accredited cooperative one where Mom works there one day every other week and this keeps the tuition costs down. It also helps to have friends who have kids who are one size bigger and one size smaller than yours and share clothes and boots and coats, even good quality toys can be passed down. Sometimes they need a fresh coat of paint but they are as good as new.

I like to cook so we seldom eat out. I pack a lunch when activities will keep us away from home at lunch time. I also pack homemade snacks for the car on errand and shopping days to keep my four year old happy. Snacks are popcorn, carrot and celery sticks with peanut butter dip, oatmeal/raisin cookies (homemade of course), apple slices and sippy cups of "pink juice".

One night a week we have a "breakfast dinner" serving pancakes or waffles with eggs (but no meat). I also make a pot of veggie soup (no meat) at least one night a week and we have soup for lunches during the week. Served with fresh hot bread no one misses the meat. This really saves on the meat bill. Also Tuesday and Friday are fish night. There are LOTS of ways to fix trout and salmon! We don't get tired of it. So three nights a week we have meat. One night is beef and the other two nights are chicken and something else....different every week, pork or turkey or sometimes sausages or a hearty bean soup with diced ham. By simplifying our menu's I find I have more time and energy to do other things I want to do. I don't even have to think about what's for dinner tonight. If it's Tuesday I know it's fish!

When I cook a casserole or meat loaf, I always make two, one for dinner and one for the freezer. This saves time, money and energy, both the stoves and mine! Then when I'm having a really busy day, dinner is just a trip to the freezer and the microwave. Not to the fast food joint!

Needless to say I do all of our housework and laundry, DH washes windows, mows lawns and plows snow and tills garden plots. We have NO clothing that needs dry cleaning. If something is broken we fix it or trade labor with a friend who knows how if we don't. About the only thing we have to take out to be fixed is automotive repair when one of our vehicles need attention. Oh yes, I drive a 15 year old car and my husband drives a 1989 truck. We find the maintenance to be far cheaper than replacing a vehicle. They both run just fine and have no body rust. Good undercoating takes care of that with occasional touch ups.

We do occasionally take in a movie but we always go to an afternoon show and since we are both seniors even that is half price! For other entertainment we go for walks, work in our beautiful gardens, read, (DH) go fishing or tie flies, (me) quilt or sew or we play with this beautiful little boy! We are so blessed!

I guess you could say we live a simple life. The simpler the better. It is less expensive too.


"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money please send it to MyStory@stretcher.com

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