Mama Says... That's Just Wrong
Sunday, December 31, 2006
Soapbox Alert!

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended that every pregnant woman have their baby fetal product tested for Down's Syndrome.

They cite the advent of more accurate, less invasive testing measures. Previously, the alpha-feto protein test was used (requires a blood draw); if the markers indicated, a more invasive, possibly miscarriage inducing amniocentesis was ordered to actually confirm results.

I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing; as the article points out, many Down's babies need special care, and this can prepare the family and doctors. What I object to is the assumption that mothers with a Down's Syndrome baby would automatically consider abortion - read the editorial slant in the ninth paragraph:
It's not just a question of whether to continue the pregnancy. Prenatal diagnosis also is important for those who wouldn't consider abortion, because babies with Down syndrome can need specialized care at delivery that affects hospital selection, he added.
The reason, everybody knows, to have the test to begin with is for pregnancy termination. It is not stated in the article; it is already a foregone conclusion that the journalist assumes women would have the test done, now in the first trimester, in order to have a more convenient, less invasive first term abortion if "needed". The fact that it could help babies who are actually allowed to live is just an extra bonus.

We certainly do live in a culture of death, when the murder of children is assumed and the benefits of testing for those babies still welcomed by the fringe for whom abortion is never an option is an afterthought.

How sad that Americans are so quick to kill happy, obedient, joyful and quite possibly the most law abiding future citizens, because their minds work differently and they might need extra care?

Tags: Prolife, Mama Says, Special Needs
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/31/2006 02:51:00 PM | Permalink | |
New blog
Please welcome a new addition to my blogroll,
Starry Sky Ranch.

A Catholic mom of 9 (I'm such an amateur!) who homeschools, homesteads, and uses Montessori too.
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/31/2006 02:10:00 PM | Permalink | |
Capitalism = Vote with Your Dollars
Saturday, December 30, 2006
I get the Planned Parenthood newsletter, and this just came in:

In response to Planned Parenthood's Fill My Pills Now Campaign, Walgreens and Rite-Aid became the two latest pharmacy chains to agree to stock and fill prescriptions for emergency contraception.
Now, I'm not planning to organize a boycott, but there are so many other places to get your prescription filled...I'm just sayin'.

Tags: Mama Says, Prolife, Need to Know
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/30/2006 04:00:00 PM | Permalink | |
Plausible Deniability
Friday, December 29, 2006
We found this on the wall today:

Someone's trying to be sneaky! Notice someone signed their name, "LESU", to the artwork... wait, that's MY name. Sort of.

My name spelled in the peculiar method used to teach Special Education son... who drew it about 18 inches from the floor... who tried to blame Mama...(Yeah. That worked.) And then tried to blame Baby C (I'd actually be thrilled if my 13 month old wrote my name phonetically, wall or not!)

Maybe not so sneaky, after all.

I see some quality time in Mr R's future...
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/29/2006 09:24:00 PM | Permalink | |
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Yesterday we ventured out into the world again. Husband dear is off until Monday, and the children got some money for Christmas. We took all six to Target to hit the sales and my head did not explode. A Christmas Miracle, truly!

I am always a little surprised by my oldest, who talks and looks like he's 8 going on 9, but emotionally he is more like 5 or 6. He bought a bucket of army men and has been playing ever since. His younger brother bought another Bionicle, because he just can't get enough of them and if one is good, two are better. I have not sucked a single Bionicle part into the vacuum - another Christmas miracle!

We had a very nice clerk who didn't mind each child buying their treasure individually, even though it meant he had to ring up six different sales for our family. We also got new shoes for #4 - two weeks ago he lost one and it is nowhere to be found. I have no idea what the boy did with it! One day he came in from playing in the back yard with one shoe on and one shoe off and it was never seen again. Here's how the interrogation of Mr S, age 4, went:

Me: Where's your shoe?
Mr S: (looking down at his foot, confused) My shoe?
Me: Yes. You should have two shoes.
Mr S: I don't know.
Me: Well, where were you when you took it off?
Mr S: I didn't take it off.
Me: Well, did it fall off when you were running?
Mr S: I think a T-Rex got it. He was going to eat my foot.
Me: Go get your shoe.
Mr S: My shoe? (confused again).

We had Christmas dinner on Tuesday, so family members could make it. We're still eating ham! I finally found a good Brussels Sprouts recipe, which is great because Husband Dear loves them and the rest of us wouldn't touch them... but now even I'll eat them. The kids were chowing down until I thought I'd be funny and tell them they were Turtle Seeds. Instantly they put their forks down and stared at their plates... maybe we need to emphasize some basic biology around here next quarter!

Miss E told me on Friday night that she had an earache... within an hour she was crying. Of course it was Friday of a holiday weekend, with no prospect for a regular doctor until Tuesday! I have a no-fail ear drop cure for infections (breast milk- really, you have no idea how great it works!) but since I'm out of that, ;) I tried a new home remedy. It seemed to work - she was able to fall asleep and I've heard no more about sore ears! Crush a clove of garlic, and put it in a small pot or double boiler with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Put the small pot in a large pot of boiling water and heat indirectly for 1 hour. Cool slightly, and use as ear drops. Save the rest covered in the fridge, and just heat to slightly warmer than body temperature to use as needed.

Today, we are going to work on Projects.
Gardening, yard cleanup, and finally finishing putting in the closet organizers - all of these are husband chores, though, which means my main activity today is to nag supervise. And try out my new waffle maker.

I am going to try a lasagna garden, and hopefully get my salad garden planted. We are Zone 8, but the tiny bit I learned about gardening was a Zone 5 Alpine Desert - so Zone 8, 20 miles from the Atlantic Ocean will be much different! I primarily want to grow food, but so far most of the information I've found are for flowers. We'll see how it turns out! I'm told tomatoes do terribly here, which is quite a disappointment.

The experts claim that April 15 is the last frost for my area, which makes me laugh, since we haven't had a first frost and my bushes are blooming. In Colorado the last frost date is Memorial Day, and you can have snow up to and including that weekend! Then it will be 80 degrees the next day. Denver is the only place on earth where the weatherman can be 100% wrong Every. Single. Day. and still keep his job. I'm still slightly surprised when the forecast here calls for rain... and it rains. Although, our local weatherman has been known to say things like, "It's currently 73 degrees... high today was 69." Um, no, wouldn't the high be 73? Must be the new Everyday Math, I guess.

My grand plan is to grow Spaghetti Squash, which we love and which is surprisingly hard to find around here, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and radishes. I have great dreams of self sufficiency and bumper crops - but in our family tradition, will get some scrawny half sized vegetables, I'm sure!

I also want lettuce, spinach, peppermint, and catnip in the salad/herb garden. I need to find somesort of quick growing vine also, as I am going to make a trellis to shade the air conditioner unit. For some reason, the builders down here put it on the southwest corner of the house, with no cover, no shade, and no protection. I'm hoping to drop our AC bill by seeing that it is shaded in the late afternoon. Any ideas? I'm putting my salad garden next to it, so it needs to be a quick vine, preferably yeilding food, or at least looking pretty! I'm thinking string beans... I guess I could always do a morning glory, though!

My goal is to cut our spending, and we eat a lot of veggies. My other goal is eat more nutritious foods, which is a challenge because, Martha Stewart I ain't. Whole wheat baking continues to elude me, although I can finally make a decent whole grain pancake.

I'm getting more and more interested in natural remedies, since they work, are cheap, and generally a lot less toxic than pharmaceuticals. I'm also becoming one of those weird conspiracy theorists regarding the FDA - who knew I'd be the crazy lady people roll their eyes at! I constantly surprise myself. Next stop, 400 cats and saving every newspaper. Gotta make room in the garage for that... hmmm... another Project. That's what the peppermint and catnip are for.

I'm also busy today with New Year's Resolutions... I always think I can scam it and start a week early, then I'll be in the habit, and it won't be so hard... you know, get a jump start. What actually happens is I peter out in mid-January, but convince myself it doesn't really count as a New Year's Resolution, since I started in December, so I can try again later.

My current New Year's Resolution reflects my redneck eclectic, laid back style:

We will all sleep with sheets.

Now, most people find it strange that we don't always have sheets, but I'm telling ya, these kids are going to drive me over the edge! It started with Mr R, who would strip his bed and make me nuts - looking back, I think it was a sensory thing. He now refuses to sleep in a bed at all and has spent the last two years sleeping in a slumber bag on the floor. This convinced his younger brothers and sisters that naked mattresses were cool, and if you add in a mom who's strength is NOT folding and putting away laundry... now I have to work very hard to get them in the sheet habit. I mean, really, it looks like a cheap hourly motel around here.

Off to work, I suppose!
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/28/2006 10:50:00 AM | Permalink | |
A Christmas Story - the first version
Monday, December 25, 2006

Mama Says:

The Birth of Jesus
(Luke 2:1-20)

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.

He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see
this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in themanger.

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to the


But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Tags: Catholic, Misc., Family Life, Less is More Christmas Club, Mama Says
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/25/2006 06:35:00 AM | Permalink | |
A Christmas Story - funny version
Sunday, December 24, 2006
A Special Treat today!

My husband's favorite Christmas movie, quite possibly his favorite movie altogether, is A Christmas Story. You know, the one with Ralphie and the bully and the gun.

TBS runs 24 hours of it on Christmas Eve every year - guess what we'll be watching ALL DAY LONG.

In case you don't have time to sit and watch, here's a 30 second version, enacted by bunnies.

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

Tags: Misc., Family Life, Less is More Christmas Club,
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/24/2006 06:27:00 AM | Permalink | |
Overheard at our house...
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Well, the Angel program for the school has provided us a wondrous bounty of toys, toys, toys. Last night we hauled them all out and divided them up - making sure we were more or less "even". Baby C is a little light, but she won't know or mind. We came away with 6 toys each, plus a box of girl's toys that I am saving for their birthday in January and February.
6 toys isn't so bad... until you multiply by 6, and add in Grandma and Grandpa, aunts and uncles, and other well wishers.
The school called me yesterday, asking me to come on down since they "had a few extra toys". The school had gotten a large donation from different stores in the area, clearing out their old merchandise. There were some great toys! We were the last family to come, and the counselor of the school just kept packing more and more stuff. I got some great things that will be for school, not for Christmas, including Melissa and Doug stamp sets, a wooden puzzle of the United States (Oh, rapture! I'm easy to please!), and other wooden puzzles. I got a Melissa and Doug magnetic 'paper' doll set, which I'm saving for Miss E's birthday next month. I even got a complete Bible lesson of Jonah and the Whale, complete with stickers and activities!

God is truly amazing - usually we try to adopt a family, or at least donate toys, and this year we are the recipients. I was worried about Mr R's clothes, too... Wednesday Husband Dear came home with the car packed full of 4 garbage bags full of clothes that I'll sort through next week, plus a Leap Pad for the 4 yo, plus a complete set of BoomWhackers (which I had just been looking at online at Rainbow Resource and thought would be great for musical education of Mr R, who needs, shall we say, ACTIVE education.)

We are facing an influx of 45 - 50 toys, which will make this one of our biggest Christmasses ever. Since I bought panties for the 2 yo - maybe she'll finally be interested in the potty - and blankets for the #2 and #5, I guess those don't really count as "toys". I cleaned and organized the shelves in the schoolroom, but I'm going to have to make some more room over there! A lot of the things are of an educational nature that need to go into the schoolroom - wooden blocks, puzzles, music makers, wooden food and dishes. We do Montessori in the home, so everything is on open shelves with Baby C's things on the bottom where she can reach it.

Last night I started wrapping. Husband Dear rented Lady in the Water, which was pretty good. I love M. Night Shyamalan; I think his last two projects have been sadly mismarketed. Lady was, according to all of the trailers I saw, marketed as a horror/supernatural film. It's not - it's more magical adventure in real life, more like Big Fish or The Princess Bride. Maybe I'll expound rapturously on Night's work... but that's another post.

My decision to multitask started a debate.

HD: You're wrapping presents now?

Me: Yes (looking at the pile of 36 presents scattered throughout the living room, and looking at the one roll of wrapping paper I've gotten out)

HD: Why now? Christmas isn't until next week.

Me: Christmas is Monday, and it's Friday. Do you want to stay up all night Sunday wrapping presents?
HD: No. Maybe we could wrap them tomorrow night.

Me: I will be wrapping tomorrow night. And tonight. I need more paper.

HD: What's wrong with what you have in your hand?

Me: It won't be enough.

HD: Why not?
Me: (Hmm... how to explain that this roll of wrapping paper is NOT like loaves and fishes, and will not keep a coming until I have 7 extra rolls and everything wrapped.) (Deciding to change the subject) Where's the rocking horse for Baby C?

HD: I haven't painted it yet.

Me: (What!!! I bought it 2 weeks before Thanksgiving! And the spray paint, too! It was supposed to be a birthday present.) Oh?
HD: I'll do it tomorrow or Sunday.

Me: I really need it to be painted so we can put a clear coat on it. It has to be dry by Monday morning.

HD: I'll get to it.

Because Christmas is next week, Husband Dear is under the mental impression that we have a week to get ready. Really, we have 2 more nights of post-bedtime opportunity to get everything done.

I think Baby C is getting a natural wood rocking horse. Maybe we can decorate it as a family project.

Tags: Family Life, Less is More Christmas Club
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/23/2006 08:35:00 AM | Permalink | |
Insanity is Hereditary - You Get It From Your Kids
Friday, December 22, 2006
Baby C has decided to help me out with the discipline around here, starting out with washing her own mouth out with soap. Look closely - those are one year old teeth marks in the Irish Spring.

Well, we made it to WalMart. Luckily, I picked the right one. Unluckily, the woman was going to wait for me to shop and then pay for it herself with gift cards from the school. She seemed quite unwilling to just give me the card - I'm not sure why, was she afraid I'd just buy a bunch of booze and Calgon with it - which might make for a Merry Christmas, but not the kind the good Samaritans had in mind, I'm sure. Surveying my cart full of children, with more begging me for a quarter, promising they would be happy forever or at least until the mechanical car stopped, she mentioned "Oh, I guess childcare is an issue for you?"

What??? All the letter said was show up and get your gift card. It did not say "Plan ahead, you get XXX dollars to spend and you have to spend it NOW". It did not say "By the way, leave the kids at home". She must not have kids, because even if I knew a babysitter, it requires more than 18 hours notice to arrange care for six children on a work day - not to mention the expense! Still, it was very different shopping without worrying too much about money! Usually I'm adding in my head, balancing the bills, trying to make sure everyone is 'even'.

We did some early Christmas shopping and the kids all know exactly what they are getting. What I'm getting is a stroke, or maybe an apoplexy, which sounds so much cooler, from pushing 2 carts through the toy aisle at WalMart on the first day of Winter Break, 4 days before Christmas. I hope no one mistakes the nervous tic for flirtatious winking.

We did get quite a few things that I've been wanting for the kids. We got TV trays, so they can each have their own "space" to color, do puzzles, etc., instead of all 5 trying to cram their projects onto the coffee table which is just the right height for Baby C to climb up and sit on.

We got new pillows. Sounds simple, but when you haven't had a pillow since September, and you have really cool Spiderman pillowcases that are languishing in the linen closet, it is a good present.

We got pajamas. I try to get a new pair for the kids at least every Christmas - that way I can easily identify the photos. Plus, they've been sleeping in their clothes a lot. Pajamas cost more than regular clothes, so I've been putting it off for a while. All of the boys chose Superman jammies, but hopefully there will be no trips to the ER since they all have regular twin beds.
Mama Says: Do not ever buy your kids Superman PJ's or anything with a cape if you have bunk beds!

We got toys. Blocks, a xylophone (yes, I did temporarily lose my mind. I picked the thing up and said, Look! Baby C will love this! I bet she loves the tambourine and maracas, too, and as an added bonus will get to see Mama's head actually explode!)
Transformers. Handcuffs, because, you know, those boys of mine don't get in enough trouble. Cap guns. Ponies and dollhouse furniture. Uno and Candyland. So, it will be a good Christmas! I didn't get shopping for that ham yet... maybe the good folk at husband dear's work will come through.

I did manage to purchase a box of therapy for myself.

We arrived home 2-1/2 hours later. The Kirby vacuum people showed up, and gifted me with a 2 liter bottle of Coke. They'll do anything to get a shot at the carpet, I guess. I mentioned THREE times that I had just put the babies down to bed, and actually stepped outside and shut the door to talk to them. They still seemed disappointed that I wouldn't let them shampoo the rug RIGHT THEN AND THERE and took the Coke back. Philistines. That was actually a smart move on their part, my carpet is not looking good right now, with the kids all home from school, the 70 degree weather and playing outside, plus a mega-trip to the store. The homeless laundry has migrated from the couch to baskets on the floor, shoes and socks are everywhere, as my children are absolutely allergic to wearing such instruments of torture in the house, and we have been having packing peanut issues with holiday package arrivals.

A wiggly, brazen puppy showed up. And came into the house. With the cat. He ate a stray peanut butter sandwich, the cat almost took out Mr. P's eye, and all of the peons darling offspring think we have a new pet. The children have named him "PeanutZilla". I put a sign on my car about the lost dog and parked it next to the road, as the poor thing obviously belongs to someone. No collar, but he's little, clean, fluffy and plump. I've caught the little ones taking the sign down a couple of times... last year we had an ill-fated attempt at dog ownership, and I'm afraid they are getting attached, and getting a big disappointment when the real owner shows up right before Christmas!

The dog was pretty much forgotten when Mr. R fell from a tree. He thought he broke his arm, but he was moving it, so I think he will be just fine. He's esconced himself on the couch, crying for his minions to get him water, crackers, toys, and claiming Channel Selection rights. I'm quite the expert on broken arms, having had 4 broken ones and 2 sprains that required casts, and he'll be fine. Ice, Tylenol, a little time to milk it nurse his wounds and he'll be good as new.

Oh, can you see I finally learned to do stikethrough font? I was googling "Strikeout", which is why I persisted in ignorance for so long. Just use the tag DEL. Don't forget to hug it <> and the backslash to turn it off and cross off to your heart's content!

Tags: Family Life, Less is More Christmas Club
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/22/2006 08:43:00 AM | Permalink | |
Bad Internet Connection = Shorter ToDo List!
Thursday, December 21, 2006
My internet connection is being spotty - husband dear says he thinks it's the NIC card and then some other technical stuff, but to make a long story short, I can't blame this one on the cable company and we have to pay to fix it ourselves. Luckily, husband dear can do all the work, it's just a matter of buying the part.

We do have a laptop, but since I use it for writing, it has NO bookmarks! Which might not be a problem as far as blogs go, since I signed up for Bloglines last week (and LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT). However, my bookmarks are seriously out of control. I have 10 folders, and probably 150 different sites marked - on nutrition, recipes, stuff for the kids to do, homeschool, sewing, crochet patterns to try, and other miscellaneous websites I read frequently. Often, if I'm in the middle of an article or interesting site, I'll bookmark the page when interrupted and come back to it later - they are in a constant state of flux, adding and deleting links every day.

I suppose I could print out a lot of the stuff, but I'll just lose it! Also, my printer also broke last week. I bought it refurbished 4 years ago, and used it up, really, with my home business and previous homeschooling adventures, so I'm actually glad it lasted as long as it did.

Does anyone know how to transfer bookmarks from one computer to another? Am I going to have to manually copy and paste the links? Is there a better way, please tell me!

Updated to add: I just installed Firefox updates, and they have an add-on that will supposedly do this! I'm going to try it out - any helpful tips or tricks from you computer savvy people?

Last night I got a note from my son's school, that we are chosen to be an angel tree recipient (they give out gifts cards for holiday expenses, not related to the Angel Tree prison ministry). This is wonderful, since husband dear was supposed to get a ham from work, but hasn't seen hide nor hair of said ham and tomorrow is the last work day before Christmas! This is really a blessing, also because yesterday a crayon got in with oldest son's clothes and they ALL have orange spots. He seriously needed new clothes anyway (all of his clothes were in one load, as well as the majority of his other 2 brothers). So, this is a great blessing at a great time. Except...not to complain or anything.... but the letter says "Meet Mrs/ Smith in lobby of WalMart in (next town) at 11:00 am and she will give you the card". Great, but I wasn't planning to have the van today (we arranged that, though). I, and 2 of my daughters are sick, and she gave me less than 24 hours notice to get 6 children to this place at one specific time. We actually had plans to meet with a homeschool group today, but yesterday I decided against it, since we're all coming down sick. My other gripe? There is no phone number or contact info in the letter. What if I didn't have transportation? Or had to work? So, since I'm unfamiliar with the next town, I google the WalMart. There are TWO Walmarts... the letter didn't specify which one! Just said meet at WalMart!
So, we'll see if we actually get the card or not...

The Tackle It Tuesday list is coming along... slowly but surely.

I cleaned the microwave

Got the bathroom floor cleared and swept

The turtles have a home now (husband dear did this)

Got the cookies made (son claims no one liked my brownies with marshmallows, so he had to eat the whole pan to be polite. Yeah, right!)

Got distracted decorating after I got the TV stand cleared off and decorated...

I found this straw wreath in the Christmas stuff. It's falling apart and shedding.

I covered it fabric leftover from Miss E's Christmas present and hung all of the Baby's First ornaments on it. We're missing one for Baby C, so I'll have to make her one. The big white ball is MY Baby's First ornament! The little birdies in the middle are from the first Christmas I was married. It says "First Christmas Together, 1997". This way they are displayed as our special ornamenents, but is out of Baby C's reach. Also, our tree is very small , a tabletop model, and it was a little overwhelmed with our collection!

Here's the Christmas present I finished for Miss E. I bought the costume on clearance after Halloween, and made a matching dress for her bear. Miss V is getting a blue ballerina bear, and Miss E gets a princess bear. I just need to tack on some gold ribbon. I would have been done a lot sooner, but I wanted the clothes to be removable (and will be making more outfits) and didn't have a pattern. I found an online pattern for dresses for 15 inch dolls - but bears are built a lot different so ultimately, I just made my own.

And here's the blanket for Mr. P. Do you have any idea how big a twin bed is? I just kept going and going and going! I just need to weave in the ends and he'll be good. I hate that job, I always procrastinate the end weaving!

Well, off to WalMart!

Tags: Family Life, Less is More Christmas Club Crafts and Cookery
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/21/2006 07:46:00 AM | Permalink | |
WFMW - Holiday travel with the Dollar Store
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I love the Dollar Store. I could spend this whole post telling you about all the things I get, and what I do with them.... but today we're going to talk turkey. Going to Grandma's for Christmas turkey, specifically.

You all know to pack juice boxes and Cheerios to take a little jaunt with the carseat set - but as some one who's moved (and driven) 12 times in the last 5 years with 3 to 6 small children, I've got some frugal survival tips that you need to know - and most everything can be had from the dollar store!

First, the fun stuff - or How Mama is NOT Driven Insane On Car Trips.

My minivan has a little drawer underneath the front passenger seat - but many of these items would fit easily in a glove compartment, or a tote bag slung over the headrest.

First up, Snackville! I keep this stuff in the car, but if you're traveling, make a stop at DollarTree instead of gathering supplies at Stop N Shop and you'll save a fortune! They have tons of snacks, and other stuff too.

My super secret to feeding the masses are cone shaped coffee filters. Lightweight, they pack flat, and are useful for oh-so-many things -they're basically a disposable paper pocket! They make great little holders for cereal, crackers, or popcorn (bring your own from home for a frugal snack), and are easily passable from seat to seat. Going through the drivethru, I usually skip the kid meals ($3 a piece x 6 kids... might as well go out to a real restaurant with real nutrition!). Instead, I'll buy them a hamburger from the dollar menu and 2 boxes of fries. Use the filters to split it up between them. It's also handy for trying to feed the littlies any kind of food, sandwiches, nuggets, fries, pretzel sticks. In a pinch, you can also use them as blotting papers for running makeup, to wipe your oil dipstick, or to clean a foggy windshield. It won't lint up like napkins. (I keep some in the house, too. They make great funnel liners for straining, making 'yogurt cheese', or even tying up spices for cooking. It's like a giant tea bag.)

Next, a box of bandaids. Get the cheap kind - not the $5 box that sticks to little boy's knees at a depth of 6000 meters, we're shopping at the dollar store, remember? In addition to dressing the occasional wound, these are hours of cheap toddler fun. Run into a traffic jam? Give a handful of bandaids to the 2 year old. She'll have loads of fun unwrapping each one, peeling the paper, and doctoring herself, her bear, the car window. They're fairly benign, removable, and just unusual enough that the kids will want to play. You can also use these as a scotch tape substitute for hems, notes, etc. They'll stop a run (under your dress!) until you can get ahold of some nail polish or a new pair of hose. I've even used these to secure the baby's shoes when she insists on taking them off and flinging them across the car every time I finally get them back on!

Put a roll of toilet paper in a sandwich bag. Enough said (if it won't fit in your glove box, put a half-used one in there and squash it flat.) Great for snotty noses, too.

Pack a box of chalk. When you are waiting for your 4 year old to finish pottying, which takes forever anyway but even longer when you are standing at a reststop with nothing to do, let the kids draw on the sidewalk or asphalt. This is also great for long trips. If you know you are going to have to stop and eat at a restaurant, and the kids have been in the car for 6 hours, do yourself a favor, stop at a reststop or even the back parking lot of the restaurant, and play hopscotch for 15 minutes. Stretch those little bodies and get the wiggles out before the waitress starts calling your pride and joys "Satan Spawn"! The great thing about chalk is it cleans up great. At the most you'll need a damp piece of that toilet paper to get it off Darling's dress!
Other great, simple, cheap entertainment that packs flat:
A 2" paint brush and water from the drinking fountain is lots of quick fun, too. Paint the sidewalk.
A deck of cards wouldn't hurt either, or even alphabet magnets (the entire outside of your car is like a big magnet board) The cards can be sorted by color, shape, number for the 2 year olds, and can be used by any other age, any number of players. Try cardhouses if you're bored of games.
A blow up beach ball, or a package of balloons from the party aisle.

Purel, for after you've let the kids climb around the gas station sidewalk. Removes permanent and dry erase marker, pen stains on clothes, and can sanitize tweezers for splinters, too.

Get a package of Dixie cups or small plastic cups. When you have one water bottle and several kids that will die of thirst before you get home, you'll be thankful! You'll also save money if you can buy a quart of milk or juice instead of buying individual servings at the convenience store.

Diapers and wipes. Put half a refill pack in a gallon ziplock and 2 or 3 diapers. Yes, I travel with a diaper bag, but what are you gonna do if you left it at a reststop in Des Moine accidentally and Johnny has the runs from eating out of a vending machine? They make great barf bags, too. Even if you don't have kids, get some baby wipes and keep them in there anyway. So many uses, so cheap if you plan ahead!

A spray bottle (empty, but this is why you pack water). This is best, fastest way to get gross stuff out of the buckle when the toddler pukes on his carseat. Put a wad of papertowels underneath, turn it to "stream", and blast the stinky nastiness out of the crevices. Fast, easy, portable. Also good if you are stranded on a hot summer day - if the engine doesn't work, the A/C won't either. Mist yourself and the kids, then fan with your hand or the classic paper accordian fold.

This little invention is awesome. It plugs into your cigarette lighter and there's no runny, dirty melted ice to clean up! It doesn't cool hot things well, but it will keep drinks, snacks, etc. cold. You can save a lot of money by packing some cheese slices and sliced turkey and skipping the Golden Arches! Much better nutrition, too. It's hard on kids to eat high carb french fries, nuggets, and sugary juice or pop, then go to a strange place like Gramma's and be expected to behave better than they do at home. Make it easy for them. There are lots of styles and price points, so shop around!

Tylenol, benadryl. The tablets and strips are fairly "shelf stable",and I've used this stash more than I'd like to admit. Benadryl is a must have - in case of allergic reaction to strange food, pollens, bee stings, or to help the kids settle down and sleep (my OB's always recommend it as a sleeping pill for pregnant women!) It's one of those things that youNEED RIGHT NOW, and don't have time to run into Quikimart to get. Dramamine if you've got carsick kids.

I also have a hairbrush I bought just for the car. Seems someone always forgets and I don't notice until we are on our way to church! I have a plastic school box that holds other "nice to haves" - fingernail clippers (because a 3 yo's hangnail just can't wait), tweezers (splinters, fishing tiny parts out of tiny holes - handy if your kid stuffs a safety pin in his car seat buckle), a sewing kit. The sewing kit is actually there so I can find it - I've never had to use it in the car, but several times I needed to sew a button or something and couldn't find a needle to save my life - even though I have a sewing basket and a couple of these dollar kits in the house...somewhere.... ditto for the black Sharpie marker (although I do use this to write names on those Dixie cups!)

Put a disposable camera in the glovebox while you're at it. You can use it in case of a car accident, to document the scene, or, in my case, documenting the obscenely absurd signage, bad grammar on school billboards, and other stuff I find hilarious but husband thinks is a waste of film!

Now for the serious stuff. You need to have these supplies in your car - yeah, I know you've heard it before, but trust me, do it NOW and forget about it. I store it all in a small trashcan in the tailgate - the trashcan is tall and doesn't take up too much floor space, waterproof, and I bungeed it to the seat so it won't be rolling around back there.

You'll want to plan for an extended stay on the shoulder of a busy road. (What are you going to do with the kids while you wait for help? What if you have to help yourself? What if you are snowed in, too much water on the road to drive, or an accident shuts the freeway down for hours?)

Here's what's in my van:

Trash bags

Grocery store bags (good for wet clothes, throw up, etc.)

Old towels (again, if your kid has an accident in their carseat, and your halfway through an 8 hour drive, this will save your life!) See if you can find a white one, in case you need to tie it to your antenna in case of distress.

Paper Towels. I dont' need to go into the many and varied uses for these. Again, put in a plastic bag for protection. Who knows, you might need the bag, too!

T- Shirt (nothing fancy - a basic Hanes style. This is for emergency cover in case your clothes are ruined by miscellaneous baby fluids, or if you are wearing something nice and need to pop the hood. I have one of my husbands, it fits OVER my clothes.)

Jumper cables
(go here NOW, print out the instructions, and stick in your glovebox. Put it in a gallon freezer bag first - that way in an emergency, you won't mess up the paper with grease or oil and you'll still be able to follow the directions) There is a new kind out that you don't even have to get out of your car to use - a wonderful invention for a woman, as we generally have to worry about safety, our own and our children's, in addition to trying to fix the car. These are not available for $1, but spend the cash anyway.

Water - for drinking, but also so helpful for washing hands, radiators, etc. I actually have a flat of it ($2.50 at W*Mart) under the back seat instead of in the trashcan. You can often find 4 or 6 packs for $1 at the local 99 cent mart, too. This can be used as weight over a tire (remember how they used to pack sandbags?)

Capri-Suns, a bottle,
etc. I premeasure formula for an 8 oz. bottle, put it in a sandwich baggie, and put it in a bottle with nipple, cap, and all. All I have to do is add water.

Crackers, beef jerkey, granola bars without chocolate
- anything that is prepackaged against insects, etc, and can stand the temperature changes of a vehicle (these are hidden at the bottom - if the kids knew they were there, they'd be gone instantly!) The dollar store by my house has bags of nuts and dried fruit, as well as SunMaid raisins in individual boxes, all for $1!

It's really cheap at the StuffMart, expensive at the 7-Eleven. Also, you'll know you have the right kind.

. The leather work kind. If your hands are small, get 2 pairs - one for you, one for husband or Good Samaritan.

Flashlight. Like these that have no batteries. They also make some that you can charge off your car lighter, but that does you no good if you're batterie's dead! Not to mention, you don't want to store batteries long term in the trunk of a car where it gets quite hot!

Blanket. Even if you live in a warm climate, remember it can still get chilly at night. Great for picnics, or when you need a safe place to put the baby down. Use as a mat if you or someone else has to get down on the ground to look under the car or change a tire. Use as a seat cover.

First Aid Kit Get a larger one with Ace bandages, cold packs, etc. and just keep it in the car. You can always refill the bandaids, Neosporin, etc.

Tools. I didn't buy anything special, although they make kits just for cars. My car has some sort of plier wrench thing (I'm sure it has a name. I just don't know what it is. Maybe it's a channel lock? ), a Phillips, and a flat head. I just rounded up stuff that was laying around the house - my husband's a construction worker, so we've got all manner of tools around.

Fix A Flat - a $3 miracle in a can.

For the true survivalist, get some hazard triangles and road flares. Road flares are awesome - you can use them to dry out sopping firewood, then to start the fire in a truly apocolyptic survival scenario.

I've also got a copy of my vehicle's Chilton's Manual. These are about $20 at the car part store, but has checklists for what's wrong and tells you how to fix your car, including diagrams. It can also help you identify funny noises - do you need an alignment, or a new axle? It is a handy guide, and could help keep you from getting ripped off at the mechanics. Plus, this way we can find it when it's time to change the brake pads, instead of searching all of the bookcases in the house; we also have it with us at the part store so we know what kind of taillight bulb, etc. to get.

Happy Trails!

Tags: Less is More Christmas Club Works for Me Wednesday Need to Know
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/20/2006 06:46:00 AM | Permalink | |