The Teeth Grinding Starts Early Around Here
Friday, November 30, 2007
Every single day, I have the exact same conversation with Mr P. This has been going on since school started (and we're on week 14).

Mr. P: Mom, what can I eat for breakfast?

Mama: Same thing we always have, son.

Mr. P:But I don't know what to have

Mama: You can have some fruit, make some toast, make an egg, or get some cereal.

Mr. P:What else?

Mama:That's it. Those are your choices.

Twenty minutes later.

Mama: Strapping young son, have you eaten breakfast? School is going to start soon.

Mr. P:But what can I have to eat?

Mama: Same thing we always have.

Twenty minutes later

Mama: Everybody come to the table! School time!

Mr. P:But I haven't eaten yet.

After Math

Mr. P:Mom, what can I eat for breakfast?

It's a wonder there is any hair left on my head. Remember this happens
The Evening Meal by Carl Larsson
Interestingly, we do not have this problem when I cook breakfast for everyone. Generally, he complains about what I'm making, then I tell him to starve, then he eats and happily asks for seconds. Every time. Unless it's waffles, and then nobody complains.

Last week I made chocolate Malt-o-Meal, my favorite breakfast that doesn't involve Krispy Kreme. It's chocolate! For breakfast! He moaned. He even cried while I looked at him like he had grown two heads. Then he ate it all up and asked for more.

And this is the kid who wants to be a chef. (A pastry chef, to be exact. He's promised to make me brownies every day when I'm old. He knows the key to my heart!)

I suppose it's my own fault. My breakfast of choice before I had to actually feed other people in the morning was coffee and a Snickers bar. (That was my pre-seven children metabolism) Truthfully, the hardest part of being diabetic was eating breakfast - not giving up potatoes, not forgoing cake. Actually eating breakfast, the most important meal of the day and the measure of Good Mothering.

I'm still sticking with the coffee, and usually that's all I have. I'm just not a breakfast person.

Neither is he, apparently.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/30/2007 07:41:00 AM | Permalink | |
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I know some bloggers IRL that love Ron Paul. I haven't found a candidate I can get 100% behind yet, but he was looking good. He voted to ban partial birth abortion. He's against the NAFTA superhighway from Mexico to Canada. He wants ID's to be checked in order to vote. I can agree with all of that.

Then I found a transcript of the Sept. 17 debate.

At first, he seemed to be my kind of guy.
Q: What will you do to restore legal protection to the unborn?

PAUL: As an O.B. doctor of thirty years, and having delivered 4,000 babies, I can assure you life begins at conception. I am legally responsible for the unborn, no matter what I do, so there's a legal life there. The unborn has inheritance rights, and if there's an injury or a killing, there is a legal entity. There is no doubt about it.

I like this position:
Q: Will you abolish all plans to promote economic integration of North America?

PAUL: Not only do I not want a North American Union, I want us out of the U.N., the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, NAFTA and CAFTA. NAFTA has nothing to do for free trade. It's a pretense to lower tariffs, but it's a reason to go talk to the WTO to raise tariffs. We need free trade. That's very, very important. But you don't get that by world government.

But then this:
Q: The Bush Justice Department is reticent to prosecute any but the worst hardcore pornographers--and most often, only the smaller companies that produce such filth. Meanwhile, hardcore pornographers have found their way into major hotel chains. Would your administration prosecute all illegal adult pornography, including so-called white-collar pornographers?

Why wouldn't you prosecute illegal activity that hurts women and children, destroys marriages, and damages families?
Q: Sarah Lu was forced to work in labor camps for six years, for the crime of being a Christian house church leader. Thousands of prisoners of conscience are forced to manufacture items that stock our American shelves. Would you make future trade with China contingent on them measurably improving their record on religious freedom & human rights?

The United States and China are huge economies, who do billions of dollars in business with each other. Here is one chance for us to put our money where our mouth is. Why would we not want to see China improve their human rights record?

And this:
Q: My name is Bobby Schindler, and I'm with the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation. My beloved sister Terri Schiavo was starved & dehydrated to death, in the land of abundance. The world watched because she was disabled & unable to speak for herself. Would you support legislation that would protect the cognitively disabled & vulnerable people from having their food & water taken away?

And this:
Q: I was made a slave during the government of Sudan's war against black Christians of southern Sudan. I am a slave no longer, but today want to free tens of thousands of my brothers and sisters who remain in chattel slavery in Sudan. Would you today endorse the creation of a commission to monitor the eradication of slavery in Sudan, where the slavery of a man is legal?

Is there any candidate that would protect our most vulnerable brothers and sisters, at all stages - preborn, disabled, slaves, the elderly? One who will do something about China, with a huge trade imbalance, exploiting helpless workers, and now won't let our Navy dock, even when prior permission was obtained?

I'm getting discouraged.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/29/2007 09:12:00 AM | Permalink | |
Awww, Shucks

I've gotten an award from my peers, and in usual Mama fashion I am a day late and a dollar short on posting.

Barb, SFO Mom
gave me the Nice Matters award. I'm guessing she missed my Pat Robertson rant! Barb and I have been hanging on the net for quite a while now - hers was one of the first blogs I started reading, before I even thought to create my own blog.

Crystal at Proud Catholic Mommy gave me the same one! I'm guessing she hasn't spilled the oatmeal on my floor after the baby was up all night. I think my children might speak up about the Nice Matters award. She's a cyber-friend I found through the Stay At Home Catholic Moms email loop on Yahoo!

Here is what the Nice Matters Award is all about: “This award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Once you’ve been awarded please pass on to seven others whom you feel are deserving of this award."

Hmmm... I'm supposed to just pick SEVEN? I have over 140 feeds on Bloglines, *most* of which I subscribe to because they are nice matters, inspirational, or kindred spirits. The other ones I sub to because they get provide a balanced look at the other side of the issues, incite righteous anger, getting my heart racing, which conveniently takes care of my exercise for the day. (As long as I hit my target heart rate I'm good, right? Right?)

Here's who Mama loves best today - but don't worry, if you aren't on here you'll probably steal my heart by wearing large sunglasses or posting something useful tomorrow. I tried to keep it to the little blogs that others may not have heard about. And by "little", I'm going by how many subscribers Bloglines says they have (less than 150 - which actually would be a large blog, IMO). Remember, there are no small blogs, only little bloggers... or something like that. My theater metaphors never come out right.

1. Shereen at W8ing4Him. Her blog is always kind, and encouraging. I've never seen her tear down her husband or complain that her children are taking away her "me time". She usually has some interesting project going on with her little boys, and provides intense therapy at home for her older daughter. How can you not love a mom who gets a worm farm and lets her boys play with bugs?

2. Jen at "Et Tu?" She converted to Catholicism from intellectual atheism not long ago, and as she documents her spiritual growth it is poignant and enlightening.

3. Monica at The Homespun Heart. She's always got something crafting or cooking, and I've gotten some great recipes from her, including Potato Soup. Husband dear loves it and will happily eat SOUP as a main course for DINNER. He's definitely a meat and potatoes man, so that's quite a compliment.

4. Lori at Queen of the Dirty Laundry makes me laugh. Her Advice Forum Friday could be handy, especially if you loved the backwards Works for Me Wednesdays that Rocks in My Dryer did.

5. Madeline at Whitterer on Autism. She has two autistic sons and her posts documenting their daily life are full of life, wit, and humor. She manages to capture the picture of living with boys who don't quite think the same way other people do.

6. Hadias at A Day in the Life Of. I'm relatively new to her blog, but it just seems to be a natural fit for my life right now. She has a blogger book club going on featuring a charming vintage book called Adventures in Thrift, a fascinating peek into the life of a housewife way back when! I love the artwork she places with her posts as well.

7. Wait - only one left? Well, then, Number 7 is you, my dear reader! I have Sitemeter, so I know who you are! (Or, at least how you found my blog). I've found many a good blog by following the lurkers rabbit trail!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/29/2007 06:47:00 AM | Permalink | |
The Golden Compass
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I'm sure many of you have seen the warnings for the new children's movie coming out this Friday - The Golden Compass.

The Catholic League is boycotting it. The author of the original books readily admits he is an atheist and specifically tried to undercut religion as he wrote the stories.

The studio has "toned down" the anti-religious aspect, they say. It's a family film!

No. It's even worse than I thought.

Disclaimer: I have not read the books. However, even if you blow off everything author Philip Pullman has said in past interviews about religion; even if you think the films are harmless fantasy, you need to know that the anti-religion aspect was deliberately written into the film.

From an interview with the screenwriter/director, Chris Weitz, who has this to say:
I don't think the books are anti-religious per se. I think that the books are anti-hierachical. Which is to say that the books are, if anything, anti-organized religion. Other than that, I feel the books are actually spiritually kind of rich. the film, the evil to be combatted is more dogma and authoritarianism on any level.

....[he notes] that the second and third stories become more "cosmological."
(Script Magazine, Vol.13 Number 6)
And "rich" with non-organized religion they are. A central element to the movie are daemons (and no, spelling it with an "a" doesn't make it any less obvious what they are.)

Obligatory Snarky Aside from Mama:
(And, of course it spiritual. Man is intrinsically spiritual, since he has both soul and body. The question is not "is it spiritual" but rather, which spirit?) (Fortunately for us, God in His wisdom has already provided us with good spirit friends. They are called Guardian Angels.
Matt.18:10, Psalm 91:11-13, Heb. 1:14)

Daemons, in this movie, are familiar animals, a manifestation of the child's spirit outside their body that is, according to the Golden Compass Movie website:
an animal spirit that accompanies them throughout life.
As a tie in, your child can visit the website, fill out a questionnaire, and find out who their daemon is. From the website:
In our world, it is possible that people have daemons as well, only they are invisible. If you would like to learn more about your "Meet your Daemon".
How blatant the adversary is! He is not even trying to hide the nature of his plans to corrupt the children. It's cool and popular now to have a personalized daemon.

Perhaps there will even be trading cards made available? Did they learn nothing from The Amityville Horror? Invisible demon friends of your children are never a good thing.

BTW- if you want a sense of writer/director Wietz's moral compass, check out his past work which includes:
Writing Antz, a cartoon I won't let my kids see.
Producer for the American Pie franchise, and a stint on American Pie as an actor - specifically, "Male Voice in P*rn Video"

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/27/2007 09:16:00 AM | Permalink | |
Linky Mark: Toys
Sunday, November 25, 2007
For an explanation of Linky Mark, go here. These are a collection of links from my bookmarks folder - I'm putting them in a post and so can you! Now, this version - TOYS - is held over from last week thanks to AT&T's incompetence. Look for Advent ideas, celebrating the liturgical year, and keeping Christ in Christmas next week (Dec. 1-2) and Christmas helps, secular tips, recipes, etc. the week after (Dec. 8-9)!

Write a post containing your favorite links about toys, and join the fun with Mr. Linky!

First, let me say that many of our toys are eco-friendly. That is, recycled. From garage sales.
I got a great haul last week, including a cozy coupe car (Little Tikes) for $2 and a baby bike (Little Tikes) for $1; a K'Nex (made in the U.S.!) complete rollercoaster building set for my big boys for $10, a nightstand to make into a play kitchen for $7 (solid wood with two shelves). I also got a solid wood baby doll cradle for $1 that I need to clean and paint.

Mama even found something she's been coveting for two years - a real OXO salad spinner for $2, and I got them to throw in two saucepans for the little girl's kitchen for free! I've been using a salad spinner from W*Mart that you have to handcrank, but we eat a lot of greens so I'm quite pleased!

Onto to the links!

I did email Hasbro - LiteBrite and Tinkertoys are made in China.

Little Tikes are US made (generally, but always check)
Lego, Bionicle, and Duplo are not! YAY!
The K'Nex sets I've seen also are made in the US.

Back to Basics toys
has a category sort for toys made in North America and Europe

NMC Toys stands for Not Made inChina.

Toys Made In America has tons of links.

Sticker shock? Amazing how much using non-toxic materials adds to the price of a toy!

If you don't want to go the thrift store route, here are some toys to make:

List of links, especially science toys

No brainers
Old fashioned country livin' toys to make, including braided dolls, felt boards, and a "Whimmy diddle".

Paper toys to print and make, good for stocking stuffers.

Canon has some awesome papercraft activities, including a 3-dimensional orangutan! I'd print off the patterns and give as a gift, letting the kids put them together.

Need a little skill
Make a bamboo flute

Make a hacky sack (or stress ball) - crochet (I'm planning to try this for my boys)

Lots of patterns
and instructions for sewing, knit, or crochet toys, including Hello Kitty doll, teddy bears, balls, and more. Scroll down a bit to find the toy section.

Grabby ball for a baby, from that same site.

Educational toys to make from household objects (young children)

I'm going to make a clothespin drop for Baby C - paint doll clothespins different colors. Get a plastic container (I'm going to use a Folger's canister) paint wide stripes of corresponding colors along the rim. She can match the colors, drop into the canister, or just play house with them.

I can't find any play food that is not Chinese and/or painted wood from third world countries, so I am going to make some felt fruit and veggies for her. Miss V (age 3) and Miss C (age 2) LOVE to play "tea party" and spend hours cooking, serving, and moving their party around the house (hence the DIY play kitchen I mentioned). And I'm totally going to use glue, because we're still working on the seamstress portion of my Supermom resume. I did buy an espresso set at Goodwill for $1.49 with four little cups and saucers as well. They are just the right size for little hands.

I'm also going to try to make my own moonsand. Okay, not the seen on TV stuff, that is supposedly is a nasty mess. This is more like sand playdough. I'm going to 'test' it first with the kids, as we are learning about Ancient Egypt and maybe we'll use it to make a Sphinx. If it's a hit, then I'll make up a batch for the kid's stockings.

Here's the recipe I'm planning to try:
1 c. cornstartch, 2 c. playsand, 1 1/2 c. water. Mix it in a pot, cook on medium high for 5-10 minutes until thickened. Let cool (duh) and play!

or you could try Meredith's Pumpkin Pie Playdough for an old fashioned DIY Christmas gift. How cute would it be packaged in little tart tins (or, let's get real here, recycled pot pie tins).

I'm kicking around the idea of these make-at-home science toys - putting them together in a kit form for the boys to make. How cool would it be for a boy to make a magnetic linear accelerator? Maybe I just read too much sci-fi.

Mechanical toys to make. Oh, those physics lessons are sneaky! Although I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to make my boys rubberband guns. That would be taking my own life in my hands, I'm sure - not to mention the backyard squirrels might unionize and extract revenge. I'd constantly be looking over my shoulder for flying nuts.

My kids are weird and they'll play with this kind of stuff for a long time.

How have the toy recalls affected your Christmas? Have you found a great source for American made toys, or are you making your own? More importantly, does anyone have a free pattern for a flip doll? (I don't know if that's the technical name. They are dolls that have skirts, and you flip it over and it is a different doll. Like this.)

Leave your link!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/25/2007 10:18:00 AM | Permalink | |
Back in the Saddle
Friday, November 23, 2007
We had planned a party for Baby C today, but she was up with a fever all night so we are postponing it until next Saturday.

Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, was a no good, very bad, horrible day so the party cancellation makes a nice holiday bookend! Thanksgiving was good, though.

I'm out of the bloggy mindset, so I will leave you with some highlights of what you, my readers, missed while I was in modem exile.

The Great Lego Debacle
The children are not supposed to have food or drinks in the playroom. So when one child spilled her cup of milk in the Lego bucket, the natural thing to do was to quickly replace the lid and put it back on the shelf so nobody would find out - no harm, no foul. Until the foul odor, that is.

You know you love your children when you individually handwash 400 million Legos. I thought about putting them on the cold cycle in the washer in a pillowcase, but I was afraid the chunks wouldn't wash out, and the dishwasher is too hot.

The washing wasn't the hard part, the drying was. Leaving the little plastic bits in the bucket didn't work - they were still wet two days later. The salad spinner was only marginally successful. Finally I hit upon spreading them out on cookie sheets lined with a towel - great, but it still takes time. And we have to dry them in shifts. I spent the entire week prior to Thanksgiving with a kitchen covered in Legos, all in various stages of processing - dirty, clean but wet, drying. I also knocked trays, buckets, and a salad spinner of Legos onto the floor approximately every 37 minutes. The fun never ends around here, folks!

A few slipped through the cracks and broke the dish disposal, which we found out about in the thick of the last frenzied Thanksgiving day feast. I have a knack for timing! Fortunately, my hands are small and I was able to pry it loose with a screwdriver and my fingers.

The Oven Repair
We spent $30 on a new oven element, which husband dear installed, so we had pie. We also discovered that 1) the kitchen shares a wall with the bathroom and 2) the people who fixed up this house didn't bother to put flooring or walls in where they wouldn't be seen, so the oven backs up to the shower stall. We don't need no stinkin' drywall at Mama's house! At least we are renting, so it's not our nightmare.

Oh, and there only plywood subfloor under the stove. Husband dear thought he was going to have to get the car jack to lift it up but he was able to bench press it. That's my man!

Where Did All These Hoodlums Come From
And why do they keep calling me Mom?

Wednesday found Mama awakening to the dulcet tones of her oldest boy and oldest girl fighting. Then a thump, then a *Crash* Tinkle Tinkle. Appropriately, it was our family picture that was knocked to the floor and shattered. I also learned that the dustpan was lost (it turned up later in a tree outside.)

Keep in mind I had not even gotten out of bed yet. The day went downhill from there and included several episodes of Lego spillage, a teething baby, a spitting up baby, V-8 juice being clandestinely consumed on the living room carpet, my pulling the gadget drawer all the way out and dumping the contents on the floor and the drawer on my toe, and the refrigerator door breaking, sending salsa, dressings, and condiments all over the aforementioned kitchen gadgets. That's just the highlight reel, and doesn't include all of the non-exciting every day mishaps that combined to make the perfect storm.

And the fighting. The Fighting!

The kneading blade to the bread machine turned up missing, by which I mean, it didn't turn up at all. I ended up handmaking the rolls, but used a new recipe that was too dry.

Husband dear came home early because of the holiday and I threatened and cajoled convinced him to take the boys to the store to shop for a new digital camera card. While they were gone, I thought I'd work on an apron, so I'd at least look Martha Stewart-y for Thanksgiving. I got the pattern for a dollar on sale and it's so cute and retro! I splurged on fabric, which is to say, I got it from somewhere other than the dollar bin.

And as I laid out the pattern, it became clear that the envelope lied when it said 1 5/8" yard. I even measured my fabric to see if they miscut it at the store. Nope. It's about 2 inches too short. I can fix it - I have some fabric that I can cut some pieces out of for a nice contrast - but that fabric has to be washed, dried, and ironed before I can sew it.

My cute little teapot I bought online last week arrived as well. In a hundred pieces.

A thought I want to keep for posterity: Baby C calls the cranberry sauce "ball berry sauce". An apt name, that!

So it's Black Friday and I'm at home hanging out and watching the Women's Ninja Tryouts on the Game Show Network. That obstacle course looks easy compared to my bon-bon eating stay at home lifestyle.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/23/2007 12:31:00 PM | Permalink | |
Whew! I'm Back!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Remember my meme last week, and that part when I said AT&T really stinks?

They still stink and their five month old bocky modem stinks and their assurance a new one would come Tuesday stinks double. 'Cause it didn't come until 4pm Wednesday.

Note to self: print Thanksgiving pie recipes next year instead of just bookmarking them. That way you won't have to guess at the ingredients during the annual marathon shopping spree.

Baby C is two years old today. The above tantrum is posted in her honor.

From Baby C:
To Miss C. in the blink of an eye!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/21/2007 09:08:00 PM | Permalink | |
Bad Recipe
Friday, November 16, 2007
OK. My oven is broken, but I have a freezer full of pork chops. I know you *can* cook them on the stovetop, I just never have.

So of course I check in with my old pal Google and find a blog with what promises to be healthy fried pork chop recipe. Since several other options I've looked at involve CUPS of melted shortening put on high heat, I click through.

Hmmm. The recipe starts with this:
Let me give you an easy and simple recipe of Fried Pork Chops today. This is very simple to make, very tasty, goes with anything from wine to beer to a chilled can of coke.
Ok. Obviously not written for my demographic, but I'm game. I've never actually planned a chilled coke friendly menu before, so what do I know? It might be good. It is, as I said before, advertised as healthy.

Choose Pork Chops with lots of fat. 1 TSP each of Black Pepper powder, Cumin Powder, Coriander Powder and Red Chilli Powder (Coarse if possible). About 15-16 cloves of ginger roughly crushed. 1 Medium onion roughly chopped. 2 Tomatoes, chopped.
Not sure what 15 cloves of crushed ginger looks like. I'm thinking maybe he means garlic?

Then he advocates cooking on the stove for a total of 45 minutes (could they possibly take that long?) Next step:
Now add all the masalas, salt to taste, and the curshed garlic. Add tomatoes. Saute for 10 more minutes in low heat, or till tomatoes disappear.
Oh, it was garlic, not ginger! But what is masalas? It's not in the ingredients list and I have no idea what it means. And how do two cut up tomatoes disappear? Another google search reveals masalas are an Indian spice blend, so I guess he means to add the spices.

The kicker is the final sentence, that accompanied this photo of the dish:

You may Garnish with Coriander or Cilantro. I didn't, in the photo, because it doesn't come out good in Picture.
Yeah. The cilantro would have totally ruined the picture, making it look like an unappetizing mess.

Suddenly, I appreciate good recipe site a whole lot more!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/16/2007 02:31:00 PM | Permalink | |
Friday Fun: Sing Along Version

Enjoyed at Mama's house this week:

Vintage Pop Tune

Baby C has quite enjoyed the singing nuns, as well. I found some on YouTube for my Meme post and she could watch them for hours! Who knew?


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/16/2007 08:59:00 AM | Permalink | |
Shepherding the Flock
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I've always like Archbishop Chaput, of Denver, CO. I spent many years in his diocese. He is strong but not immovable. He is loving, but will tell it like it is.

He's written a book on faith and politics, and in an interview tackles a thorny question:
I think the real question is how you interpret the part of the document, which flows from Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter to us when we met in Denver. It’s this: what is a ‘proportionate reason’ [to vote for a pro-choice candidate]? ... [Non-Catholics: Cardinal Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI]

I think there are legitimate reasons you could vote in favor of someone who wouldn’t be where the church is on abortion, but it would have to be a reason that you could confidently explain to Jesus and the victims of abortion when you meet them at the Judgment. That’s the only criterion. It can’t be that we favor a particular party, or that we’re hostile to the war, or so on.
His previous book, "Living the Catholic Faith" is an excellent read as well.

Charleston diocese is currently without a bishop, since Archbishop Baker was transferred to Alabama and the diocese where EWTN is located. I pray we get a Chaput or a Burke, who writes a great letter, in his place!

H/T Curt Jester

I believe that the document referred to is Faithful Citizenship which is currently being considered was just approved by the USCCB at their meeting.
The letter from then-Cardinal Ratzinger is here and refers to a letter to the USCCB when they met in Denver in 2004 to consider the same document. (I can't find a copy of the 2004 version online in my limited time today, to find the exact quote regarding the proportionate reason.)

I think they update the same document prior to big elections. If I'm wrong and you know it, please drop me a comment! I'm not an episcopal expert, just an armchair quarterback.

The new document explicitly says this, about the temptations to rationalize a pro-choice vote:

“The first is a moral equivalence that makes no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity,” it says. “The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life is always wrong and is not just one issue among many.”

The second temptation, the draft says, “is the misuse of these necessary moral distinctions as a way of dismissing or ignoring other serious threats to human life and dignity,” citing racism, the death penalty, unjust war, torture and war crimes, hunger and health care, and unjust immigration policies.

In other words, there basically is no proportionate reason to justify the killing of an unborn person. It is a clarification to confusion caused by the bishops in 2004 assuming Catholics in the pew were properly catechized. Priest for Life takes up that issue with the 2004 document here.

In essence, The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was saying that the bishops were in harmony with the principles of the Faith with their document Faithful Citizenship. Clear as mud now, isn't it?

Now, I've got JW's coming over, so I must go brush up on the reality of the physical Resurrection of Christ. A little light reading for a rainy afternoon, eh?

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/15/2007 07:19:00 AM | Permalink | |
I just discovered that my Spam filter has been eating my e-mails. If you've sent me something in the last couple of days that I *should* have responded to, but didn't, please resend it! I get 3000 spams a day on average, so even though I have been manually checking it I may have missed some.



posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/15/2007 06:57:00 AM | Permalink | |
WFMW: Soap Scum Solution
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I noticed during Shannon's last two backwards Works For Me Wednesday adventures that a burning question in MomBlogLand is what to do about soap scum.

I have the solution: Spray N' Wash. Spray it on your (clean) bathtub and shower (do NOT spray it on the bottom of the tub!) Wipe it around so all areas are covered and let dry. Soap will not stick, not even Irish Spring! If your tub is not clean, I've had good luck with Tilex Soap Scum Super Magic Fantastic cleaner, or what ever it's called. It's from Tilex and says Soap Scum on the label. Our favorite friend Mr. Clean and his Magic Eraser works very well too. Don't let the kids rub it on their face and you'll be fine.

We really put this to the test at one home we lived in that had one bathroom, two adult male construction workers, 2 busy little boys and 2 toddlers (and no shower head. Baths for everyone!) I never had a ring around the tub. You will probably have to reapply every 4-6 months though.

Some notes:
1. I have only used Spray N Wash. I have no idea if Shout would work or not.

2. You can also use RainX, that stuff for your car. But I have Spray N Wash in my house and so that's what I used.

3. I repeat the part about not putting it on the floor of the tub. You'll slip, fall, and die. Consider yourself duly warned.

4. If you have one of those automatic shower cleaners, this will work for the spots it won't reach, such as underneath soap dishes, etc.

For more tips, go visit Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer!

I hope you all are collecting your links for Linky Mark Carnival this weekend. The theme is going to be Toys - Not Made in China,and will include homemade, recycled, and so on. Any links you have cluttering up your Favorites folder about toys, throw it into a post so you'll always know where to find it and join the fun!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/14/2007 06:52:00 AM | Permalink | |
Living on the Edge
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I am seizing the day today!

First, I took a shower and the children were not asleep. I did get them a babysitter though.

Then, I saw this at the Nesthaus, Mrs. Wilt of the Sparrow's Nest's store. I asked a question and bought it all in the span of five minutes.

This is huge. I'm a procastinator and a ditherer, especially if it involves internet purchasing! Generally I think about possibly purchasing something for days, weeks, and months. Let's just say I love e-stores that remember my cart.

I even parted my hair differently today! Whoo-hoo! What's next, snowboarding?


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/13/2007 12:46:00 PM | Permalink | |
I told you I was bad at Memes. SAHMY Says tagged me for this meme over a month ago; last week Hadias at A Day in the Life of tagged me again. Here goes!


8 things I'm passionate about...
My family (c'mon, everyone has this one! I told you I'm boring!)
Prolife activities
Homesteading/surviving WWIII with a pocketknife in a log cabin
Saving money (it's a sickness. But at least I'm not blowing the paycheck at the spa)
Education - both of my children and continuing education for myself. DIY, of course.
Comparative religion (I talk to every missionary who shows up on my doorstep. And invite them back. I'm in the middle of JW meetings, right now.)
Natural medicine/Nutrition based medicine/FDA Mockery and Skepticism Did you know they are developing a vaccine for cavities? And that the biggest contributor to the American Diabetes Association, who issues guidelines of diabetes treatment, is Hershey Corp. and Cadbury-Schweppes?
Screenwriting and then picking apart every television show and video I watch with commentary on bad dialogue and missed opportunities to heighten dramatic tension. Especially on Season Two of Heroes (oh, how the mighty have fallen). My husband really, really loves me.

8 things I say often
Are you bleeding?
Are you Dead?
You'll survive If I'm feeling particularly maternal, I might offer them a wet rag, which every mother knows cures all ills, real or imagined.
Get out of the tree (Monkey blood runs strongly in this family)
Oooh, hims a vishious vewociwaptor to Baby X who has Claws of Steel no matter how often we clip his nails. Say it aloud for full effect.
I'm not paying that much! I'll do it/make it/cook it/ myself!
It's "Yes Ma'am, NOT Yes Sir" My children are often gender confused and manners challenged.
"Let your YES mean YES and your No mean No." They're not even teenagers yet, but they have the shoulder shrug/grunt down and Ida Know has taken up permanent residence around here.

8 books I've read recently...or am currently reading
Bible I don't read so much as do particular studies on theological teachings and concepts. Although my Bible study is on Matthew so we are reading that chronologically (Check out this verse. It's a howler! Deut. 25:11-12. Can't you just see the Israelite leaders mediating this dispute?)
Country of the Pointed Firs, by Sarah Orne Jewett - I picked it up after reading My Antonia by Willa Cather and reading about it in the preface.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller - It's my 'car book', so I'm reading it very slowly. What? No one else has a book they keep in the car for those dull moments at the drive thru, bank, or waiting for husband dear to fillup the tank? I'm still a nerd, I guess.
Foxfire 1, 2, and 3
Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic
by David Currie.
The Treasure Box by Orson Scott Card. It was different from his Ender series, and bordered on fantasy in usual Card tradition. Also made me tear up, in usual Card tradition.
House of the Scorpion
Adventures in Thrift, for Hadias' Blogger Book Club. It's page turner click-througher!

8 things I want to do before I die...
Take a cruise through the Panama Canal
Write a movie that gets made
Go to medical school and work for Doctors without Borders or similar organization; be a medical missionary.
Have a home with a proper library, and read all the books
Learn to decorate a cake, including roses without using fruit rollups.
Learn to control my temper (and my tongue. Can we say acerbic? That's me.)
See Christopher Hitchins convert and repent
See my husband convert and receive the sacraments.

8 songs I can listen to over and over again, and probably have...
I don't listen to music much. I actually probably couldn't name 8 songs (but I could hum you a bar or two until you recognize it!)

There's the one from Andrew Lloyd Weber's The Secret Garden I like.

There's that funny one about Captain Kirk and crossing the border from years back.

Weird Al usually makes me laugh.

Creed from Petra is a good one. Also This is My Prayer. Totally awesome song for someone whose husband has to leave home for work.

O Salutaris, Hostia is my favorite hymn.

That's only six, but that's as good as it gets. Sorry. I'm a talk radio junkie.

8 things that attract me to my friends
They are kind
They are not foolish (I so do not need soap opera drama in my life)
They are steadfast, not fair weather friends
They are not afraid to disagree, but do it in a friendly way
They love my children (and I love theirs)
They understand, often without words
They are okay with the fact that I am not a hugger and don't get offended
They are passionate (about something.)
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: he that has found one has found a treasure. Sirach 6:14
8 things I learned in the last year
Pork and mustard is not BBQ, despite what any South Carolinian might tell you. It might be called BBQ, but unless there is a cow involved it just ain't right.
I don't like the beach. Thank goodness the nursling gives me an excuse to hang out away from the sun, salt and sand.
I miss snow even though scraping the car was a most-dreaded chore.
You should measure the width of the fridge door before installing it in a narrow walkway. Not pointing fingers here - I'm just sayin'
Making strange and exotic things such as salami and yogurt at home is not very difficult
at all!
Even a seventh baby can still throw you for a loop.
Your breadmaker is your friend
AT&T still stinks.
Every month we have some sort of problem with the bill, and a totally unrelated problem with our service. I don't have any other options right now, though.

I don't know who to tag, because, honestly, I've seen this all over and I think everyone's already done it! If you visit and you haven't done it, consider yourself tagged and leave a comment so I'll know where to find you!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/13/2007 06:28:00 AM | Permalink | |
Month of Savings #3 - Trials
Monday, November 12, 2007
I'm not sure if I have saved but I have not spent more.

This was not the best month to publicly out myself as starting the program. First, my frugal friend died an untimely death.

Let's add on there Mama's health kick, which this season is manifesting itself in the form of eliminating trans fats and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Quite shocking, let me tell you, to pay $1.86 for 16 oz. of natural peanut butter when I am used to paying $1.98 for 40 oz.! At least I had a coupon, which brought the price down a bit. (To those of you shocked that I would quibble over a a few cents on a product that costs only a couple of dollars, I reply that you have never tried to feed 6 small people lunch on a daily basis on a budget. Plus, you know, the granola bar recipes all call for PB.)

It's also the foodiest of months, with Thanksgiving looming in just two weeks. Baby C will be two years old in a couple of weeks, and boycotting China means any purchased toys will cost more.

Then, Friday, the oven stopped working (after the element sparked and caught on fire). So I have to revamp my menu and create a stovetop and microwave only one for next week. This makes it difficult to cook my frugal staples of the multiple meal, chickens and pork roasts.

The flames died down, but dinner was still raw. Husband dear suggested eating out but I forced myself to say no and cooked spaghetti. Savings: $40.00, the cost of our family to eat at Ryan's buffet. Then I had to run to the store for posterboard, which I forgot to buy as I was distracted by the chocolate eclaires for $2.50. Add that to last week's Chinese food, and we're down to Savings:$21.50. Last minute trips to the store are budget killers.

However. I spent $100 LESS at the grocery store last week than I usually do. I actually have no explanation for this, aside from not buying cereal which means I bought less milk. That does not add up to $100. I did purposely cook from my pantry, including making a meatloaf that I had frozen a while ago. Actually, I do have an explanation. I am usually pretty good at sticking to the list, but tend to throw things into the cart that should be on the list but aren't. Things like a new potato peeler. Or deciding to try making tortillas, a frugal idea that will bust a budget if not planned for ahead of time. Also, I am purposely making do with our old vacuum cleaner and have not replaced my crockpot or bought the lid for it. Savings:$75.00
Impulse purchases are budget killers.

Normally such things would be a budget crunch and we'd eat lean, but we'd go ahead and get them. I would also usually pick up something fun and cheap for the kids to do (like a coloring book for a buck, or sticky foam shapes, or something) and a magazine for myself. Maybe new hair barrettes, since I'm down to ONE, or some other impulse purchase that I rationalized wasn't an impulse purchase because it was Practical and We Really Would Use It.

So. Week One has us Not Spending $96.50 that we probably would have if I was not really, really trying to save money! I guess it's one of those things... if you are not actively trying to pinch every penny, it won't happen. Even frugal habits slide back to not-so-thrifty actions.

This week, Mr P also needs new shoes, Baby X needs some socks and jammies (he's a porker, that one is), and I need new shoes as well. Anyone know how long athletic shoes are supposed to last? I bought Avias 7 months ago, right after Baby X was born and they've got a couple of holes, plus my feet are killing me. Time for new ones! Am I getting my money's worth? I have problems with my feet a lot, and wear these every day. I cannot walk barefoot. I have one pair of sandals I wear on Sunday mornings, but as soon as I get home the tennies go on!
New shoes for multiple family members are budget killers.

I also have some necessary home improvement projects, namely setting up a sewing are for myself for all these Christmas gifts I'm going to be making. I need a table (looking for a folding one, which means buying new) as well as an ironing board. My last ironing board was a little table top jobbie (I told you that I only iron Perler beads if I can help it!) that is now broken after Baby C tried to surf. Darn that penguin movie, anyway!
Spending money to save money is a budget killer - but we'll see a return on that money.

Today I am planning a run to Sam's club - we shall see how far the budget stretches! On the positive side, husband dear's paycheck was 130% of average (And yeah. If I wasn't trying to save I'd totally own a new vacuum with the attachments still, well, attached)

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/12/2007 07:46:00 AM | Permalink | |
Linky Mark
Sunday, November 11, 2007

I usually don't post on weekends.

However, my Bookmarks are OUT OF CONTROL! I easily have a hundred or more.
And so I'm starting a Carnival!

The LinkyMark Carnival

Of course, I have no idea how to create a nifty button for it, but that will come in time... perhaps my first carnival should be Blog 101. :)

The rules: I will share a collection of links related to a theme (and then delete them from my bookmarks, hopefully making that little drop down window easier to navigate!) If you have a link that fits with the theme, post it on your blog and add a link to your post to Mr. Linky. My vision is for this to be place to save your links where you can access them from any computer, and share a great spot on the Net with others.

Links should be on topic, and go to a site that does not require you to be 18 to enter. Seriously, it needs to be family friendly enough that a mom can surf without banning her children from the room.

Links also cannot go to a site that is explicitly anti-Christian. Commercial sites are fine (I love, for example!) If a site requires a membership, or registration (such as, leave a note in the comments with the link indicating how long you've been a member. Only sites with free memberships or registrations are allowed!

Go crazy! Blogs, tutorials, TV websites, commercial sites, school sites... all are allowed (within the above guidelines)

And... it's my blog so I'll delete what I want to. I'm the dictator benevolent leader in Mamaland! I know I probably won't need to, but I'm putting it out there before someone screams No Fair!

Add on throughout the week!

Upcoming themes:
Nov. 17-18: Toys that won't poison our children. Made in the USA links, easy ones to make, and ecofriendly options.

Nov. 24-25: Church or liturgical activities to prepare for Christmas. Advent, St. Nicholas' Day, and so on - best of the net for preparing our hearts for Christ!

Dec. 1-2: Get ready for Christmas links and posts for the more practical and/or secular side of Christmas.

This weekend's theme: Thanksgiving recipes and tips, of course!
My LinkyMarks to remember for Thanksgiving:

Really good, easy pumpkin pie. I made this last year with rave reviews!

Countdown to Thanksgiving, a series of ongoing posts at HomeEc 101

Best cranberry sauce EVAH! And the kids can help you make it. They love to listen to the cranberries explode - make sure your pot has a lid! (Note: The recipe says five servings, but it makes way more than that! Half the recipe for a smaller gathering)

The Butterball site. A Thanksgiving obligatory link. They have podcasts!

Pilgrim Lapbook carnival
-I haven't mined all the links yet, but thought I'd put it here to, you know, get it out of my bookmarks!

Cute, easy kid craft from Scribbit

Make a teepee out of newspapers. Good to know the engineering degree was good for something! I think that paperbags could be subsituted for the paper plates. I mean, stapling 200 paper plates together? What were they thinking?

Or, a non-disposable teepee.

Bunch O'Links from Boys + Academy

I love the way she decorated her window for Thanksgiving at By Sun and Candlelight! Great for renters, easily removable and portable!

How the Pilgrims actually celebrated the first one

Can you tell I LOVE pumpkin?

My favorite pumpkin bread recipe. I substitute applesauce for the oil, make it in a bundt cake pan and top it with cream cheese frosting (5 Tbs. melted butter, 4 oz. cream cheese, 1-2 c. powdered sugar depending on how sweet you like it, mix well with electic mixer. So easy!)

Pumpkin butter recipe I want to try

Pumpkin school curricula

What links do have to make a Happy Thanksgiving?

Scribbit has a link bonanza herself for her Winter Bazaar. I really like her idea of telling jokes!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/11/2007 09:32:00 AM | Permalink | |
I'll Probably Be Flamed
Friday, November 09, 2007
But I have to put it out there.

I am a Catholic. My husband is not. He was saved in a Southern Baptist church, felt at home in the Calvary Chapel movement, and is "non-denominational".

Now, my question. Can someone please explain to me this "Accept Christ as your Personal Lord and Saviour, and then Once Saved you will Always Be Saved" business? I truly cannot wrap my mind around it. It seems to fly in the face of Scripture after Scripture.

I just would like someone to explain it without simply repeating the same tired verses because they don't prove anything to me. And yes, I've read Charles Stanley's "Eternal Security". John 3:16 is not a proof text for this doctrine. I've also e-mailed pastors and commented on minister's blogs. I have yet to receive a response from them, however.

I would at least like to understand what it's all about.

BTW: Catholics believe we are saved by grace, through a living faith evidenced by works. We do not believe you can earn your way to Heaven by being good. So please don't email me a list of verses about how you need Jesus to be saved. I know that already. I'm looking for an apologia of the eternal security belief. Use any mainstream translation of the Bible - NIV, KJV, etc. I won't accept the New World Translation, though!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/09/2007 11:22:00 AM | Permalink | |
I Guess It's Time
Now hear this, ye family and friends who are wont to purchase plastic entertainment devices for Mama's children: No Made In China allowed. And no drum sets, but that's a long standing rule.

When you can't trust Dora, you know there's a problem. When you have to wait until after bedtime to inspect Thomas the Tank, it's bad. Now there are roofies in their toys too?


In addition to our own children's safety, I think it is immoral to buy toys that I know are made with lead paint, etc., from a land that I know doesn't have any concern for its workers. There's no OSHA over there. I shudder to think about the health effects on Chinese workers - and we're not just talking long hours or sweatshop conditions either. We're talking slowly poisoning their brains with heavy metals, making it less and less likely they will be able to protest or help themselves with every breath of lead dust they take.

I've broken it down in a three step program:
1. Prevent 2. Eliminate 3. Substitute

I'll be posting later on what we will actually do for step 3, since almost ALL toys are made in China. We are also having an allowance issue; I don't let them spend their whole allowance on food, but a trip to the dollar store was like a cruise to Shangri-La to them. No more DollarTree toys. What's a boy to spend his quarters on?

BTW, I contacted Hasbro directly to ask, and Tinkertoys and LiteBrites (two toys we don't have but were on my list for the year) are made in China as well. Matchbox cars are from Thailand or Malaysia, so hopefully that is some kind of reprieve!

There. Step 1 is taken care of - we will not bring any more new Made In China toys into the house.

Today, my dilemma is what to do with the mountain of toys that we already have.

Step 2: Eliminate
And we have toys. I worked as a Discovery Toy consultant for three years. Add that to 9 years of multiple birthdays and Christmases, and you get the idea. We never threw out Mr R's baby toys because there is always a baby in the house. And those babies acquired new toys. We have a mountain of toys.

It's time for a clean out. Most of the toys are in the play room, and thus centrally located (theoretically). I have already combed through and gotten rid of dinosaurs. I went ahead and secretly tossed Dora and pals when the girls were asleep, even though their particular playset was not recalled. I ditched the wooden blocks that were painted. Mostly, I've been quietly, without fanfare, picking up and tossing the toys that annoy me by crunching underfoot and/or used to tease someone.

It's easy to toss the toys that are still on the shelf, in their organizational bucket, and that are rarely played with. Now I am facing tossing bags full of toys.

So, I will prioritize, so as not to shock the children or my frugal heart.

Painted toys that say Made in China have got to go. This includes all Happy Meal toys. (Cry me a river.)

Rubberized plastic toys made in China are going as well. This will be heartbreaking, as my children have some very realistic large animals (they are about the size of a newborn baby) that my mother got them a few years ago from a teacher store. Mr R in particular loves his hyena. I might let that one slide... for a bit.

Painted blocks - go.

For now, hard plastic non-painted toys will stay. Army men and Marbleworks, rejoice! Stuffed animals will stay. Dress up clothes will stay.

It doesn't just stop at toys.

I already threw out Baby X's bibs. There is often lead in the vinyl lining - it makes the plastic more pliable. They were terrycloth backed with thin vinyl to make them waterproof. He's likely to gum the bib, so out they went. I'm kicking around the idea of tossing the boys' vinyl lunchboxes as well, but haven't acted because they are unlikely to teeth on them.

Yesterday I tossed my mixing bowls. Baby C dropped and broke my most fabulous Batter Bowl from Pampered Chef, which I used everyday. A couple of weeks later, I happened into a Tuesday Morning and found a cute set of mixing bowls in five graduated sizes, including the rare but useful Giants Live Here size. They were colorful, ceramic (I didn't want metal or plastic) and had pour spouts. Even better - $14.99 for all 5. However, the bowls get extremely hot in the microwave and they started chipping. In a word, they were cheap, even though they seemed high quality. When I turned the bowl over - yep! Made in China. Since I have no idea what is in the painted glaze, which was already compromised from the chips, and since I prepare my family's food in them, out they went too. I guess I'll stick to Pyrex until I get invited to a Pampered Chef party.

Items I'm uncertain about I'll slowly be contacting the manufacturers to see if they need to go or stay. I e-mailed the Lego Group this morning about Duplos and Bionicles.

Baby C's birthday is in two weeks, and then the Christmas marathon begins. We need to get rid of some toys anyway. Anybody know where Perler Beads come from? I've tossed the box.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/09/2007 09:09:00 AM | Permalink | |
AquaDots Recall!
Thursday, November 08, 2007
My kids have seen 13,463 commercials for AquaDots. My oldest, in particular, has been trying to convince me of their superiority to Perler Beads for quite some time.

They are being recalled
. If the beads are swallowed, they contain a chemical that converts into the date rape drug and causes seizures, coma, and death. Two children have died. ***Updated to add*** The children didn't die. They fell into an unresponsive coma. Sorry for the mistake.

Sigh. Rocks and sticks for Christmas this year, kids. At least I know the risks of those!

Oh, and BTW, go here to see if you own any of the wagons, tops, toy dishes, music boxes, cars, or toy robots that were also recalled today.


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/08/2007 08:21:00 AM | Permalink | |
False Prophet Endorses ProAbort Candidate
Whew! If them's not fightin' words, I don't know what are!

I'm sure you've heard by now that Pat Robertson has endorsed Rudy Giuliani for President. This came as a shock to many, because Rudy is not against abortion. He is "personally" against abortion but won't make that choice/force his morality on others. (This is such a weasel! Why is he against abortion? If he believes that it ends a child's life, than why would he not want it stopped? If he doesn't believe it ends a child's life, than why be personally against it?) (He's not actually personally against it. He is, after all, a Planned Parenthood donor.) (My, I use parantheses quite a bit around here! It's the blog equivalent of a hushed whisper for the juicy stuff you don't want the kids to hear and snarky asides.)

I'm not that surprised. Pat Robertson's the guy on the 700 Club, for those who can't put a face with the name. He also is a false prophet. I spent months in 1999 watching him tell the world that Y2K was going to be horrible, just a trial of faith for God's people. The Lord told him to help the saints be prepared, he said. He paraded experts on water storage, promoted generators, talked about how to stock food, endorsed getting out of stocks and into gold. All in the Name of the Lord. Well, we all know what a letdown Y2K was to survivalists, don't we!

Let's not forget the latest presidention election prediction - the Lord revealed to Robertson that Bush would win by a landslide.

Robertson has an official position on abortion on his website. He clearly thinks abortion is murder. However, he'll apparently overlook that little detail because he's Giuliani's friend and wants to beat Hilary. IMO, a vote for Giuliani is pretty much a vote for Hilary, their platform is so similar, but that's another rant. Actually, it appears that Robertson is against murder, unless it's the cheapest option. Then feel free, as long as the victim is really, really bad.

He ran for president a while back - maybe 20 year ago? I guess it would be like Dukakis coming out in favor of Obama. Who cares?

I don't know why people are so surprised. Robertson doesn't seem to have a firm moral core - he invested heavily in African diamond mines, using the blood money to fund his various enterprises. This prophecy is still up on his website as well, copyright 2006. Um, Pat? It's been more than 40 years since June 5, 1967 (a date that had to be changed from the original 1948, when the State of Israel was created and which figured prominently in the whole 'a generation will not pass away' prophecies. Until it didn't come true and the 1948 generation started passing away.)

Giuliani and Robertson are apparently friends, and my cynical side sees this as his way of trying to prevent Christian conservative leaders from forming a third party, as Dobson has declared if Giuliani wins the Republican nomination. And so, even though acceptance of homosexuality causes natural disasters in Robertsonland, he's all for Giuliani who is notoriously liberal on that issue. Does he hate America? Does he want us to be destroyed by even more hurricanes, floods, droughts, and earthquakes, because of our President's agenda? It's a head scratcher.

The Bible tells us what to do with men whose prophecies don't come true. However, we under the Law of Grace, so put your stones away, folks! There is still hope, so make sure you slip his conversion into your prayers.

Sorry for the rant. I get worked up about such things. It's going to be long election year. I was planning to post about our toy dilemma, boycotting China poisonous ones, and Christmas! Back to your regularly scheduled blog tomorrow - or even later today if I'm feeling procastinacious finish my to-do list!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/08/2007 06:28:00 AM | Permalink | |
WFMW: Backwards Day #2
Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday is backwards today - I'll be asking your advice!

Yesterday I mentioned that I made my own granola bars. Barb wanted the recipe. Truth be told, I've used a different one each time. I've used ones from,,, and more that I don't even remember where I got them. I even tried Alton Brown's energy bar recipe with the tofu. They were all good, but they were not The One. The perfect granola bar recipe.

I need a good granola bar recipe! I like them more chewy than crunchy, and prefer that the ingredients do not include marshmallows. I really want a granola bar recipe, so if the ingredients are primarily Cocoa Krispies, it's not going to work. Everyone knows that the best cereal bar recipe is butter, marshmallows, and Rice Krispies. I'm looking for health food, people!

I make the bars for my oldest to eat for breakfast before the bus comes, and I need a good one!

Head over to Rocks in My Dryer to give more advice!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/07/2007 07:03:00 AM | Permalink | |
Month of Savings #2: Meal Planning and the budget
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
A key to our sanity around here is meal planning. It helps the budget, it helps the hassled mom at 5 pm, it helps us not eat chicken nuggets 6 times a week.

I have a home notebook, and have a tab that says meal planning. It has my menu, a grocery list behind it, and then I started keeping my old menus so they are behind that. I had been scratching it on lined paper, but this form actually helps a lot. (This was the fourth preprinted form I tried. Use what works for you - if this one doesn't, find one that does!)

The key, especially when there are lots of people home all day, is to plan breakfast (even if it's cereal, writing it down helps!), lunch, and snacks. Theoretically, this also helps to prevent everyone from eating all of the lunchmeat the day you come back from the store and having to eat peanut butter for the rest of the week!

Here's my dinner plan for the week. I don't always stick to the "day". Sometimes I fix Friday's dinner on Tuesday, 'cause I'm wild like that.
Sun: Beef and Broccoli, rice Husband dear made this, because Mr P had play practice for the Christmas pageant and since I'm a Sunday School teacher I stuck around to help.
Mon: Roasted chicken
(in the oven. At least it was cold yesterday!)
Tues: Pork Chops (probably with black beans and rice)
Wed: meatloaf, mashed potatoes
Thurs: Spaghetti
Fri: Fish (A real treat! We have fish maybe every 8 weeks, because it is so expensive.)
Sat: Pizza (made ourselves. Husband dear really likes the grownup one I do with basil, olive oil and tomatoes. The kids get sausage and cheese), salad.

Baby X is stuck with Baby mush.

Tuesday is Boy Scout night, so dinner has to be on the table when husband dear gets home at 5:30. Wednesday I have a Bible study, so we're having meatloaf which I made for a family that had a new baby before learning that the father could not eat gluten. Bonus for us! Tuesday and Wednesday need to be quick meal days.

I usually don't plan out a lot of sides. Our starches are basically rice, noodles, or potatoes and I keep a freezer full of veggies. We use two 16 oz. bags of frozen veggies per meal. We love veggies, I've never had a problem getting the kids to eat them. Probably because I cook *just enough* meat, so if they want seconds, it's veggie time. And that's been our habit since they all were small.

I try to not have pasta every single night, which is what would totally happen if I didn't actually write things down and take a critical look. I'm not a carb addict, or anything! :)

Now, after I plan dinners, I plan lunches.
Mon: Tuna Salad, canned carrots (I bribe the children to eat them by putting a spoonful of brown sugar on them before microwaving, which makes them "glazed".)
Tues: was supposed to be Chicken salad (from the bird I roasted last night for dinner) However, I tried a new recipe, that was such a success, the bird was picked clean. So we are having... um... well... hmm. I think we'll have egg salad, applesauce
Wed: Peanut butter and jelly, celery sticks
Thurs: Quesadillas (with black beans and salsa inside)
Fri: Salmon patties. When I was little, and my mom would cook these, I'd call all of my friends up and try to get invited to dinner at their house. If that failed, I'd fake sick. But my kids love them, and you know what? I do too! I like that they use canned salmon, so it's easy to keep in stock. However, it takes two cans to feed us and although the bread crumbs are free, two cans run about $3.00 so it is an infrequent lunch.

We also stopped having lunchmeat for the homeschool ones, because it's expensive! I do still buy it for husband and Mr R, who always wants the exact same thing everyday (homemade lunchables) We do have chicken salad quite a bit! Even if I don't have a bird to pick clean, if I used chicken breast, that's only 1.99/lb. at the most (that's for the individually frozen, boneless, skinless ones) and it is healthier too. Tuna and egg salad are frequent fliers around here too, as are deviled eggs (hey, it's basically egg salad except I don't have to chop the eggs!)

Now, because it is a month of savings, I'm going to go super cheap on the breakfasts and snacks around here. Normally we would have cold cereal and milk 3 or 4 days a week, it makes school easier and faster.

Mon: oatmeal
Tues: chocolate Malt o Meal
Wed: Waffles (really cheap, I make them myself)
Thurs: scrambled eggs
Friday: French toast if there is bread left, otherwise oatmeal.

Apples, pears (both were on sale this week)
Pumpkin bread (had that yesterday)
Chips and salsa
Sweet potato chips (new recipe I'm trying)
Raisin bread

I already have all the ingredients for these things on hand. I am also planning to make granola bars (Mr R's breakfast of choice) and an apple pie. Never tried apple pie, but Granny Smiths were on sale for 68 cents a pound the day after I watched Tyler Florence make a caramel apple one, so I was inspired!

Actually, I've never made a pie crust before or seen it done. I'm going to try, though, as part of my induction into the Good Southern Woman club. Still working on the biscuits though, and haven't even attempted collards.

Another point: my big freezer also is key to my meal planning and grocery planning. I plan my menu from my freezer. I buy meat and veggies based on the loss leaders, but then use the meat to stock my freezer. This way I never pay more than $1.99/lb. for meat (and that only for boneless beef). I pay between 60-75 cents/lb. for a chicken, $1.25/lb. for ground beef, never more than $1.00/lb. for pork roast, and $1.50 for boneless pork. I can only do that if I buy 20-30 lbs. of chicken or whatever when it is on sale.

My family will eat a 7 lb. chicken (or two smaller ones) per meal, and a 10 lb. pork roast will take us through three meals. I use around two pounds of ground beef (73/27) or a pound and a half if it's (93/7), but that's mixed into a spaghetti sauce or tacos where I can stretch it with beans and veggies. I'm planning on two pounds of boneless whiting filets for our fish dinner. This is also where having lots of veggies comes in! They cost around 85 cents- $1.00 a pound for packaged, trimmed, frozen ones, so it is cheaper than meat.

That's for two adults, 4 children, 2 toddlers, and planned leftovers for husband dear's lunch.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/06/2007 08:27:00 AM | Permalink | |
Monday, November 05, 2007
Don't forget to stop by and congratulate Birdie on her 9 lb. 3 oz (!) boy!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/05/2007 08:37:00 AM | Permalink | |
Month of Savings
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Keeper of the Home is hosting a challenge this month, of extreme savings. I'm new to that blog, but it looks like a great challenge!

Here's how to join in.

We started the Dave Ramsey program last year, and it was going well. We were into baby step #2, after getting current on our bills, and saving $1000 for an emergency fund.

Then life happened (husband broke his rib coughing from pneumonia, was out of work for six weeks; we had a baby, Baby X had many tests and was hospitalized for high blood pressure; we found out we had to move but could not find a new place to live, and our car was totaled when husband dear hit a tree.) (And if that doesn't convince you that God always provides, I don't know what will. We don't have any credit cards, but managed to make it without starving, being repossessed, or becoming homeless. This also happened during that time.)

BTW: Here's how we saved $140 on our car insurance - we canceled it for this car. The car actually still drove, but it was worth less than $500, (1991 Honda, no A/C, 275,000 miles) and both side windows were broken out. I used to work at an autoglass place and I know it would cost more than that to replace the glass, let alone the door panel.

We also had to buy husband dear new glasses because his flew off when he hit the ditch (prior to hitting the tree) and they were nowhere to be found. We replaced it with a $400 car we named The Hamster because it is white and brown and has a round back end.

Fortunately, we were current on our bills and had $1000 saved up! Also we had our tax refund so that helped a great deal. We have not, however, saved anything since our move. It's been one game of catch-up after another.

My goal is to save up $1000 quick, then segue into the rest of the Ramsey program. We don't have any credit cards, but do have a lot of medical debt, a small student loan, and owe $5300 on our minivan.

$1000??? The month before Christmas? When we haven't been able to save anything for the last four months? That's just crazy talk!

Currently, we spend as a percentage of our take home income:
24.5% Rent
20% Groceries and household
12.5% Car Payment
6% Car insurance
9% Gasoline
21.5% Utilities

The remaining 6.5% is spent on a multitude of miscellany, which is an alliterative way of saying huh? Some goes to church, some to buying things for the kids' school and my Sunday School class. More than enough went to McD's during Monopoly madness. New shoes for a couple of kids. Some clothes. You get the idea. To be fair, we bought a new dresser and side table at a garage sale ($40). I spent $30 on fabric and patterns last month for Christmas presents and Saints costumes. I still want to get most of Christmas done for the kids this month as well, which will be a challenge now that we aren't going to be buying toys made in China.

We'll see how far I get! Somethings better than nothing, right?

Sidenote: Husband dear is not quite on the same page as I am on this. So we ate Chinese food last night and I'm $17 behind in my month of savings! Ack!

BTW - we spend 20% of our income on groceries and household, including all W*Mart purchases, such as diapers, toilet paper, laundry soap, etc. What do you spend? Is that way out of line? We have 9 people, but one doesn't eat directly. Four children are in diapers or pullups overnight. 2 are in diapers full time.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/03/2007 06:44:00 AM | Permalink | |