Monday, December 31, 2007
Dear Digital Divas,

Still looking to change the template. Still have no idea what I'm doing! Mrs. Mecomber's Scrapbook is very cool and very helpful, but I'm still a babe in the woods.

Everyone tells me to save my current template by logging into Blogger and choosing "Layout". Except I can't find a layout button. I have Posts, Settings, and Template.

What I WANT is a three column layout and navigation buttons at the top - like Mommylife. I want to put some kind of table on the side for household budget/savings or CVS savings -like Sense to Save. I want my bloggy thoughts in the middle of two sidebars.

I don't want to spend any money. I like green. I do not like lots of cutsy graphics. I do like one or two graphics/buttons that look cohesive and branded. I'm not a country duck/wooden heart kind of girl, but a little flourish never hurt anyone.

I guess my first question is, how do I save my blog template without a layout button? And, how do I know if I have Classic Blogger or XML Blogger or what?

Clueless in SC

P.S. How boring am I to be spending New Year's Eve playing with Blogger templates while everyone else hops into their little black dress for a night of fun? That is what everyone else is doing, right?


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/31/2007 05:16:00 PM | Permalink | |
Learn Something New
Somehow, I always thought Muslims were pro-life. I'm not sure why. Perhaps because their women are so (forced to be overly) modest? They seem to hold the family in such high regard? They pray several times a day? Pro-life stereotypes, I guess, because they are not.
"A raped woman must terminate the pregnancy immediately upon learning of the pregnancy if a trusted doctor gives her clearance for the abortion,'' the Islamic Research Council of the Cairo-based institution said.

H/T Dawn Eden

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/31/2007 10:41:00 AM | Permalink | |
New Year, New Look
Saturday, December 29, 2007
So... I want to change my template to a three column and get one of those nifty headers. I have no idea what I'm doing. But I want it to be as cheap and painless as possible. Any ideas, links, tutorials? I'm even kicking around the idea of getting my very own domain.

Thanks. I knew I could count on you.


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/29/2007 10:58:00 AM | Permalink | |
Not at This Address
I think some mail has been misdelivered.

Well, it did have my name on it, and our house number, but it couldn't possibly be for me. It's an offer to subscribe to the exciting new magazine Cookie, "the magazine for the woman inside the mother". Well, if the woman inside the mother is self-seeking, worldly, and sees motherhood as a hobby to pass the time and not as a vocation, I guess. I'm not all that concerned that other mothers see my child in designer clothes and with fully prepared with the kiddie yoga sessions programmed into my Blackberry, so we will never miss a class, unless it comflicts with shopping for the perfect vase, of course. Although, if you're interested, they do have an informative article on choosing the right yoga program for your tot.

The copy inside is actually trying to entice me to send them my $12 with tidbits like this:
From a beautiful, cashmere soft designer hoodie for your child... to a dazzling pair of freshwater pearl earrings to for you...
and this
What do smart, sexy, stylish moms do?
Sorry, but if anyone is getting designer cashmere, it's not the toddler. And what does a designer hoodie look like, anyway? Any mother worth her salt knows to avoid clothing that must be removed over the head as much as possible - especially mudwear outdoor clothing.

Smart, yes. Stylish and sexy? Not so much. Of course, the brand of "sexy" they are promoting is probably the one that the world glorifies, the enticing of men to look lustfully at a a woman (why on earth would that be a goal for a smart woman?) Nine pregnancies in ten years are a good indicator that I'm sexy enough without the magazines help, thank you very much.

I went to their website and saw that they have a featured columnist called Crabmommy. Click on "hear her whine" to access the columns. I've got way to much whining around here, already.
Why would I want to read about a mother who calles her child "crabtot", bemoans the hideousness of having to travel alone with her child, and then finishes by wishing a "happy happy to those of you who do the Jesus birthday thing."

I think I'll pass.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/29/2007 10:19:00 AM | Permalink | |
Does Nothing Ever Change?
Friday, December 28, 2007
Once, there was a man who heard about an unplanned pregnancy. He had to hear about it second hand, as he had no clue such a thing was going on right under his nose.

He saw the child as a threat. His career could very well go right down the tubes. His personal power might be weakened, even lost. He was embarrassed in front of his colleagues.

Well. He decided to nip that in the bud. No baby, no problem, right? After all, it was not illegal for him to get rid of the child. He was well within his rights to take care of the problem in a permanent way.

Herod Slaughters the InnocentsAnd so, as the Christ child was smuggled from the country in the dead of night, Herod ordered all of the male Hebrew children to be slaughtered - and his soldiers carried out the order. Why wouldn't they? It was legal, after all, and the Israelites weren't "real" people. They wouldn't become "real people" until, and unless they became Roman citizens.

Today, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, pray for an end to the slaughter of the innocents. In America, over 50,000,000 children have been killed in my generation, legally, because they were inconvenient, expensive, or not perfect. (Hmm. Sounds like me on most days.)

Lully thou little tiny child
Bye bye, lully lullay
Lully thou little tiny child,

Bye bye lully lullay

India childrenIndia leads the world in gendercide- that is, the killing of infants and the unborn babies because they are girls.

Oh sisters too,
How may we do,
For to preserve this day?

This poor youngling,
For whom we sing,

Bye bye lully, lullay

The Dying Room ChinaChinese young adults do not have sisters. They do not have aunts, uncles, or siblings - they've all been "prevented" or killed. Imagine what this means for the world, when the largest culture has no extended family ties?

Herod the king, In his raging,
Charged he has this day

His men of might In his own sight
All young children to slay

Darfur children wait for helpDarfur, Sudan

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/28/2007 01:50:00 PM | Permalink | |
Merry Christmas
Monday, December 24, 2007
Merry Christmas!May the Christ child always be as welcome in your heart as He was in His mother's arms.The Sleeping Christ


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/24/2007 11:59:00 PM | Permalink | |
Christmas Price Check
I thought someone out in Bloggetyville might be interested to see how a family of 9 celebrates Christmas for under $250 $300 total. Actually, I don't know if that's our total, because husband dear won't be purchasing my gift until Christmas eve, and we haven't actually bought stocking candy yet. It should be under $300 still when I get those numbers in.

We usually have a fairly frugal Christmas. We don't have any credit cards, so we have to pay cash, which helps a lot. Amazingly, God always provides... last year Mr R's school gave us $500 (!) to spend at WalMart, which was amazing since we had $0 to spend on Christmas, as we were putting our pennies towards Baby X. This year, a neighbor gave us a box of toys that were left over from their Angel Tree. They just had a few odds and ends left over that didn't fit in the truck and asked her to find a family to give it too. The few odds and ends were toys for preschool girls and elementary aged boys!

So far, I have bought some gifts both Eco Friendly and Recycled (aka, Garage Sale and Goodwill) and at a few stores. I was so happy to find out from that the Imaginext Dinosaurs were safe! Mr. S has been wanting one for over a year now. They were on clearance at Target (clearance toys at Christmastime? What are they thinking?) so he gets two.

Here's the roundup so far (also, my list of gifts where the kids won't find it and I won't lose it. Blogs have many uses!)

Mr R - $25
Rollercoaster K'Nex $10.00 (garage sale)
New Bionicle $8
K'Nex mini set - free (it was a buy two toys, get one free special)
Wallet with zippered coin holder, a critical feature for the under 10 set $5
2 packs football cards, $2
Baseball glove - free

Mr P -$13
K'nex Rollercoaster set with Mr R
New Yellow Bionicle $8
Little Bionicle Sidekick Man Thing $3 (yeah. I'm hip to the toys)
Wallet, zipper coin pocket $5
2 packs football cards, $2
Baseball glove - free

Miss E - $13.50
Potholder Weaving Loom $3.50 (From craft store, $6.99 w/50% off coupon)
Sparkly church shoes $10
Stuffed dog with purse - free
Doll house figure - free
Robe $10

Mr S - $41
Lincoln log playset $6
Imaginext Pteranodon $10
Imaginext Allosaur $10
2 pack Jammies $15

Miss V - $9
Plush Kitty Cat purse - free
Creative Cubbie desk $1
Valise filled with costume jewelry $2
Nightie - $6
Dora toy, Dora ball - free

Miss C - $5
baby bike, $2
Babydoll bed $1
Paint for baby bed $1
Bubble bath with doggie lid $1
Jammies - free (someone gave us some, with tags still on!)
Dora ball - free

Baby X - $10
Baby's First Christmas Ornament $4
Baby Feeders (these are sooo cool! Perfect for an 8 month old baby who wants to eat buy lacks teeth) $6
Activity center toy - free

Husband Dear who reads this blog occasionally:
$6, $10, $20, $6, $1 = $43

Decorations and miscellaneous: $13
6 pack of snowmen ornaments to make the kids a "2007" special one $7
6 tangerines for stockings $2
Hershey Kisses $2
Marshamallow Santas $1
Fruit juice sticks gummy things (again, I'm hip to the fun kid food) $1
(we go very light on the candy. Very. Light.)

Total so far: $172.50

Whoops! Totally forgot the Walgreen's Stocking stuffers ($5.25) and the new missals and church books I bought at the Daughters of St. Paul's last week ($21).

New total: $198.75 - although this was spent between Sept. and Dec. and did not c
ome out of the same month's budget!

We give the kids brand new jammies on Christmas Eve every year. That way I can keep all the pictures straight. I'm having problems with my big boys though, finding jammies for a skinny 9 yo boy is a challenge. Last year he was in size 10 Spiderman jammies; this year, he outgrew those over the summer and I think is going to have to settle for pajama pants and t-shirts. Haven't gotten those yet.

I made teacher baskets as well, for CCD teachers (x4), Mr R's Bus driver and assistant, and Mr R's teacher and assistant. Last year we had a terrible bus driver so I really, really appreciate wonderful Miss Alma this year. I do find it ironic that I homeschool and still made 8 teacher appreciation baskets! I made homemade goodies, because that is cheaper than buying a tchotchke, and how many apple themed coffee cups does a person need, anyway?

Here's the breakdown for 8 baskets:

DVD/CD organizing baskets for CCD teachers ($1x4) = $4.00
Desktop organizing baskets (.50x4) = $2.00
Ribbon: $2.00 plus some I already had $2.00

Fudge (3 different kinds; 24 pieces total each basket) = $15.11
Evaporated milk 15 oz. - (well, actually two cans because I left the extra out on the counter overnight and had to throw it away) $1.52
Butter, 18 oz. - $2.25
Marshamallow Creme, 3 jars - $2.46
Chocolate Chips 36 oz.- $3.36
Vanilla - I'll estimate $.15. It's so cheap for a huge bottle of the real stuff at Sam's Club!
Walnuts - $1.80
Cherry flavored Craisins - $1.00
Flaked Coconut - .30 (Got a great deal on packages for .59 in the fall, and used half a package.)
Waxed paper for packaging - free
Christmas themed labels to write on: $2.27

Cherry Crisp cookies- $3.80
Jar cherries $1.00
8 oz. butter $1.00
Flour, sugar .50 total maybe?
3 egg yolks .30
Holly printed cello bags to put them in (used for Peppermint Bark too) $1.00

Pumpkin Bread (half for baskets, we ate the other half) $1.15
1/2 can pumpkin .45
applesauce .25
Flour, sugar, cinnamon, etc. $.50?

Hot Cocoa Mix x 4 : $6.15 (only put this is CCD Teacher baskets)
Powdered milk $5.00
Cocoa powder $.40
Powdered Sugar $.50
Jars - free
Fabric to cover jar lids: .25 (used less than 1/8 yard, at $2.00 a yard.)

Peppermint Bark -$3.25
1/2 package of Vanilla Almond Bark $1.00
12 oz. Chocolate chips $1.12
12 candy canes $.88
Peppermint Extract: Just guessing here - $.25

Total: $31.46 or $3.93 per basket
Christmas Breakfast: (Fruit plate and Apple Jacks) $8.50
Apple Jacks (bought 3 weeks ago with a coupon, $1.60 for two boxes.) (We eat fun cereal on Christmas, Easter, and birthdays. Otherwise it's Grapenuts, oatmeal, or wandering about the house aimlessley)
Eggs for Mr R .50
Fresh pineapple $3
Oranges $2
Watermelon $2
Bananas $1

Christmas Dinner: $31
Ham - We'll eat 1/3 of $27, so $9 (My mistake? Husband dear accompanied me to choose the ham, so we ended up with 20 pound spiral cut instead of the 10 pound shank I had planned to buy. The man never met a hunk of meat he didn't like!)
Rolls- pennies. I make them myself.
Mashed potatoes- $2
Gravy - free
Brussels Sprouts Supreme -$3
Mom's Chick Food Salad (spinach, red onion, raspberry vinaigrette) $3
Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie - $5 ish
Pecan Pie - $6 ish
Egg Nog - $3
Fudge - saved some from teacher baskets

Grand total: 269.75

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/24/2007 09:50:00 AM | Permalink | |
Sew Crafty Friday: Aprons
Friday, December 21, 2007
This is the apron I made for Thanksgiving, when I found out the pattern for the cute vintage apron was mistaken in calling for 1 5/8 yards of fabric.

I made it out of an old sundress because I'm lazy ingenious like that.

Actually, I'm glad I thought of the apron - I loved this sundress but I would probably never have worn it again. It's a little low cut, a little small now, and the straps always slipped down driving me nuts. I cut out the front, hemmed the sides, added red ribbon for a belt and cut it long enough to tie in front instead of in back. I just like it better that way.

I have no idea why Mr S looks like he's been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He's actually eating a bag of plain corn flakes. Also, you might note the whiteness of my kitchen. If you have seven children, white cabinets and appliances are not your friend. Just so you know.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/21/2007 02:17:00 PM | Permalink | |
New Pets
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Most children beg for a stray, claiming it followed them home. These children rely on puppy dog eye and sad faces - not to mention the appearance of the actual animal - to convince Mother that they will spontaneously morph into responsible citizens of the earth, and Mama will never even have to think about Tootsie Roll Patrol, let alone nag anyone over it.

We have a pack of feral housecats living underneath the floor of my bathroom, little enormous furrballs who startle me by sneezing underneath my improperly insulated floor while I'm brushing my teeth. This causes Mama to briefly consider the chances that Anthony Hopkins may be in the tub behind the curtain until she remembers that not only is there a pack of housecats under the floorboards, but they are apparently allergic to themselves and her heart starts beating again. The children know that any request for a homeless animal will be met with a heartless "We already have some. Whatever you do, don't touch them."

Many a mother has been trapped by the rosy thought that a new pet means that the children will no longer be foolish. Mama, on the otherhand, is not easily twitterpated by soft fuzzy animals.

Some children have imaginary friends or pets. They spend hours underneath blanket forts and setting up pink plastic plates for a picnic, weaving elaborate stories about their best friend, He Who Will Remain Unseen. Mothers around the world smile wisely and offer HWWRU a sandwich or an extra blanket, then obsessively worry that their child is schizophrenic or poorly socialized. Mama already knows her children are nuts and my goal is to have them poorly socialized, at least by modern standards (for reasons such as this, which happened not so far away. Note that the shooting happened AFTER three other students were arrested on gun charges. Goose Creek is a small town - they don't even have an Applebee's) so an invisible friend would be a welcome addition - at least I wouldn't have to wash his socks. Alas, HWWRU has not bothered to show up, so to speak.

Instead, Miss E has this.

Yes. That is a plate full of slugs, named Icky, Gicky, Princess, and Sluggy. Princess is a girl, of course. Miss E thinks it's cool that they have glitter boogers, that is, a shiny trail that will serve her well when she loses them.

Miss E also requested that I put the picture on eBay for Grammy, so she would freak out. Always putting family first, that girl is! This might work if eBay was a method for sending information to others, and if Grammy ever actually used e-mail.

All told, this might not be a bad pet. There is no backyard shoe hazards related to slugs, no hairballs on the carpet, no nagging over the litter box, and they probably won't get hit by a car, repossessed by the original owner, or poisoned like our last three pets. Just as long as they don't come inside, I'll be fine. They can sleep under the house, as long as they don't have allergies.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/20/2007 09:35:00 AM | Permalink | |
How'd I Do?
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I was quite intimidated, and a little skeptical, but the lure of free loot at Walgreen's and CVS is strong.

I dipped my toe in the water tonight, and I don't think I did half bad.

I paid $36.37 out of pocket (including sales tax) , got $2 Register Rewards back, and will be getting $9.99 back from rebates. Net out of pocket = $26.36

Retail cost of everything: $69.72

This is what I got:

These were free after rebate and/or coupons:

It's a Glade Scented Oil Candle Holder and mineral foundation from Jane. I'm not a photographer, can you tell? I'll try to light things a little better next time!

These are for Christmas. I ended paying $2.99 for the giant 12 oz. box of candy! I paid $5.25 for everything else - 3 candy cane pens, 6 pencils with giant Christmas themed erasers, 5 activity/coloring books, three candy bars for husband dear,and 3 empty tins for fudge to give away.

This falls under my regular grocery shopping. The Miracle Whip is $1.99 and goes on sale just at the right time - Walgreens runs it at this price often, limit two and it comes up for sale again just as we are halfway through our second jar. I usually make a lot of chicken salad from dinner leftovers for a free lunch, and Miracle Whip is crucial!

The GrapeNuts were 5/$8 after Register Rewards and Mr S LOVES GrapeNuts. Each box was 65 cents cheaper than the generic kind I usually buy. The milk was... just milk. $3.59 this week, not cheaper than the Big W but not more expensive either.

This I bought because my old eyeshadow was, well, old. I bought it just before I got pregnant with the child who recently celebrated her second birthday. It wasn't a great deal, but not getting pink eye = priceless. Plus husband dear appreciates it. Can you tell I don't wear makeup very often? And that I've been thinking that, perhaps, I should start?

How'd I do, oh coupon queens? Did I make any major rookie errors (aside from the makeup, that is!)


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/19/2007 10:34:00 AM | Permalink | |
WFMW: Pajama Party
Every Christmas Eve, we give our kids brand new pajamas to wear on Christmas morning.

They like getting a present a little earlier. They usually need new jammies at that point (this year, Mr R outgrew his over the summer!).

It really helps later on when I have 2000 photos, some taken by other people, and need to sort out which set belongs to which year!

A Bonus WFMW Tip: Don't buy Superman pajamas for your four year old boy if you own bunk beds. Unless you have really good ER coverage.

Merry Christmas!

Visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for more tips!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/19/2007 08:51:00 AM | Permalink | |
Curious Little Criminal
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Curious George EtherCurious George is bad, and not just because his toys are lined with lead.

Seriously. This little monkey is a bad influence, and if it weren't for the Chimp Lobby he'd have been locked up years ago.

Proof? Let's take just ONE of his books: Curious George takes a Job.

He huffs painkillers.

He vandalizes vacant apartments.

Curious George Paints
He scams restaurants.

He willfully violates health codes.

And then he decides to become an actor. We all know how that story ends - Former Chimp Actor in Rehab, with a DUI thrown in for flavor.
dennis the menace
Although, as long as George stays at least 500 yards away from the criminal entity that is Dennis the Menace, we might be safe.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/18/2007 09:09:00 AM | Permalink | |
Outrageous Insults
Monday, December 17, 2007
There is a new ad campaign designed to scare and shame parents of children who have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder/neurological atypicality. Okay, it's actually designed to drum up dollars. The other thing is just a side effect.

The New York University Child Study has devised a message that says, essentially, that children who fall outside the neurotypical range are being criminally held against their will by their disease.

You should pay the ransom - that is, donate to their cause - to help these poor kids out.

The wording is shockingly divisive and insulting. A kid with ADHD is a detriment to himself and those around him?

So much for diversity.

What a step backwards for parents who love their children, and see them as a gift, even if they are not "perfect" by the world's standards. It serves only to stigmatize and point out how different and "wrong" these suffering children are, while serving up a heaping dose of misinformation.

Here's an ad for autism:The ad sensationalizes the condition, while ignoring the fact that children are sometimes able to do better. Parents spend fortunes on therapies - and cognitive behavioral therapy, along with medications, diet, nutrition, all work to improve the condition. Jenny McCarthy has successfully treated her son, and has book and a website. Generation Rescue also is a good resource for "non-traditional" treatments and DAN! protocol, including a helpful resource for finding doctors. ("Non-traditional" is in quotes because the "traditional" treatment for severely autistic children was for parents to institutionalize them, which did not, to my knowledge, actually treat the condition.)
Here's a billboard actual parents of spectrum children have designed that I like a lot better!

Here's the ad for ADHD. So nice of them to promote the stereotype that ADHD kids are nothing but an impediment to others. I'm sure teachers around the nation will really be looking to bring out the natural gifts in their ADHD students now! (Insert sarcasm here)

What do you think? Are these ads helpful to informing the public, or do they portray children with disorders as hopeless husks, trapped by their disease and unable to contribute?

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/17/2007 07:46:00 AM | Permalink | |
A Haiku for You
Friday, December 14, 2007
Rocks in My Dryer is having a contest with an awesome prize - just write a haiku!

I'm running with the same theme today:

Visit from sister
Fudge to make, cookies, bread, more
Posting to be sparse


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/14/2007 10:15:00 AM | Permalink | |
Thank Goodness They're On the Watch
Thursday, December 13, 2007
[UPDATED at 3:15 pm FOR CLARIFICATION] The "religious ritual footwashing" is not actually a religious ritual. It is the volunteers wiping off the feet with moist towelettes, if the children agree. There are no basins filled with holy water, no drying with hair, and no Bibles being thumped. Just because these people go to church does not make everything a religious ritual!

I mean, really. People showing compassion and actually imitating Christ? Ministering to forgotten children? Whew. Glad the Americans United for Church and State are on top of things. making sure these kids go shoeless.

I am pretty sure that some of these kids who would be receiving new shoes have never had anyone, let alone a complete stranger, treat them with this sort of dignity - personally washing their feet before bestowing new shoes to them.

South Carolina is a place apart - we've got the Confederate flag at football games, flip flops in church, and people complaining about washing children. And, ummm, hate to nitpick, but footwashing is not just a Christian activity. What happened to the hue and cry surrounding the decision to install foot baths for Muslims at airports? Foot washing is one of the eight offerings of Buddhism. Hindus wash feet during marriage and death ceremonies. People who wear flip flops, the state shoe of South Carolina, engage in regular foot washing (one hopes.) It's pretty universal - I bet even secular humanists wash their feet, and pay other people to do it for them at the pedicure salon.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/13/2007 06:15:00 AM | Permalink | |
WFMW: Safe Toy Check
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
We are doing our darndest to keep toys Made in China out of the house now, especially since even the big brand names are contaminated with lead paint.

We've already thrown away two trashbags full of toys that were questionable (or annoyed Mom. Shh. Don't tell my kids). is a helpful website in the battle! They test toys for lead, arsenic, PVC/Chlorine, and other chemicals. If they haven't tested the toy you are worried about, you can submit a request. They have a searchable database by brand name or toy type - and they tell you the GOOD toys as well as the worst.

Quality lab test results, available to parents online for free, Works for Me! For more tips visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/12/2007 10:10:00 AM | Permalink | |
Tough Times
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Please pray for my husband dear. He is having a tough time at work. His direct supervisor and several others in high positions are embezzling from the company, and have been for some time (I'm not sure if embezzle is the right word. They are collecting pay for hours not worked, and for employees that don't actually work at the jobsite). The problem is compounded because it is several individuals who are all related to each other, and have a lot of power on this particular jobsite.

Husband dear is stuck between a rock and a hard place - if he says anything (if there even was someone to tell, which there isn't), he will get a layoff. He can't transfer to a different job because they've put a freeze on that. He can't quit and get a new job, because he has to wait thirty days before applying with a new company. Although his company is huge, they have no way to anonymously report such things and there seems to be little accountability. Apparently, some workers in the payroll office may know about it, but are sweeping the details under the carpet because the fraud has been going on for so long and the office never caught it. They don't want to be fired.

Husband dear is trying to discern what to do. It is coming to a head because a new superintendent has laid off most of the workers in an attempt to cut costs (apparently, he doesn't know why the job is hemorrhaging money), leaving just two people who are qualified to do the work of five (the other three don't show up, just collect their pay) and husband dear is one of those people. Consequently, he is being bounced from one end to the other trying to do everything. They also are in a pickle, because for months this phantom crew was *not* doing what everyone thought they were doing, so it has to be done now - an quick!

The new superindendent has also returned some heavy equipment, making everyone's jobs more difficult. For example, when planning the jobsite, they located the warehouse a quarter mile from the work area. Previously, each department had a golf-cart/Gator to run for supplies, but those are gone so every time they run out of fasteners, fittings, etc. they have to walk to the warehouse and back. Provided that someone hasn't stolen said fittings and sold them under the table, another problem at the site.

On the positive side, this job will probably drag on for months longer and husband dear is pretty secure in his position, since there's no one else to do it!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/11/2007 09:14:00 AM | Permalink | |
Friday Fun: Santa Burnout
Friday, December 07, 2007

(Just a warning - there is a naughty word on the screen towards the end)

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/07/2007 09:12:00 AM | Permalink | |
Moonsand Recipe
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Here is how I make moon sand. Knock yourselves out.

2 cups play sand (I got 50 lbs. from Lowe's for less than$5.)
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Mix sand and cornstarch together. Add water. You will have to work the water through with your hands. Makes just enough to fit in a leftover CoolWhip tub (ask me how I know!)

This is different from commercial Moonsand. You will have to add water before you use it again - about 2-3 Tbsp. Sprinkle over sand, and work it through.

I might tweak the recipe, adding some oil or glycerin to see if I can get it to stay "wet". If by some crazy chance I *actually* do that, I'll let you know!

It does stay wet enough and cling together to play with; it just doesn't stay wet long term.

Notice the impromptu sand table made from a box lid and outside location? I wasn't born yesterday! Applesauce containers make great sandcastle molds.

I also made the cooked sand playdough and was disappointed. The texture felt pretty much like salt dough. It also made less than I thought, so instead of Egypt, we just made the mountains of Upper Egypt and the pyramids. If you do make it, be aware that you must stir continuously.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/06/2007 08:31:00 AM | Permalink | |
A Reader Comments - Golden Compass
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Truth posted this on my Golden Compass post, and I'm posting it here so I can reply in more depth than the combox allows. Also, now I don't have to think up a post for Thursday. Win-Win!

Truth writes:

Hi! I'm a semi-regular reader, and though I usually lurk and enjoy your wonderful blog, I felt compelled to comment on this. I am currently reading the His Dark Materials trilogy, and am about 1/3 through the final book, the Amber Spyglass. I am curious, however, to know why there is so much controversy surrounding the books and movie.

So Phillip Pullman is an atheist, and yes, there are anti-tyrannical themes in his books, but there is always a tyrant/bad guy to be defeated in fairy tales. I've heard (read) so many people say they'd never even think of reading Mr. Pullman's books, but that implies, to me, that people are perfectly willing to allow others (in this case, the Catholic League) to do the thinking for them.

Whatever happened to reviewing the information and making a judgment based on facts? I get the distinct impression that the church wants to discourage Catholics from even picking up the books, almost like they're afraid people will be swayed by a work of fiction; that they'll somehow be 'enlightened' by a children's book, and the Church in therefore threatened. Not being a Catholic (as I'm sure it's obvious), I don't understand blindly following the Church's suggestion - aren't you even the slightest bit curious about the books that have caused the flap?

They're an interesting and entertaining read, but since I am sure of my convictions, I know that a fairy tale won't change my beliefs or values, and didn't hesitate to find copies of the books as soon as I heard there was controversy brewing.

Please know that this is not meant to be antagonistic, and I truly do wonder why there's been such a huge outcry against this trilogy. Thanks for your time and your point of view. Truth
The first thing I would like to point out is the Bill Donahue and the Catholic League is not the Catholic Church. It is his opinion that a boycott of the film is in order, and because his organization is well known and respected, many Catholics will consider his suggestion and probably act on it (i.e., not seeing the movie). No one can read all of the books that are published every year, and we all discriminate in our choices of reading material.

As we pick and choose our media, almost everyone relies on an outside source to help them discern what material is worthy of their time. That's why we have movie reviewers! That's why Amazon lets you Rate This - and read other reviews too.

Recently, some American bishops have been warning the faithful to avoid the books. This is perfectly appropriate, since their job is to shepherd us. A shepherd doesn't let his sheep jump over a cliff, and then decide whether cliff-jumping is safe. A good bishop should let his flock know if and when there is a potential danger ahead as well. The Church does not feel threatened - it is looking out for threats to our souls.

As far as I know, no Pope has ever officially condemned a movie (not even The Exorcist) although often individual priests will discourage viewing questionable materials on a case-by-case basis. I don't even think there's an Index anymore.

The point being - the CHURCH is not telling Catholics not to read these books and trying to keep them from thinking for themselves. Instead, a lay organization made up of Catholics is encouraging parents to not blindly follow the marketing hype and is telling them to think for themselves.

Many authors are atheists, Wiccan, Buddhist, and so on. The views of the author do not matter until and unless they permeate the book. Pullman has specifically stated, and the writer/director of the movie has stated, that the works are deliberately created with to be anti-established religion, and are deliberately aimed at children. This is what has parents in an uproar.

The key is that it is aimed at our children. I read books and watch shows that I would never let my children watch. Why? I am an adult. My conscience is better formed, my emotions more mature. My worldview is not developing as theirs is. I can separate fact from fiction.

I know many Catholics who have read, and enjoyed the Harry Potter books, for example. There were quite a few Internet threads, and even a book I think, on Christian symbolism, or using events in the book to strengthen a child's moral sense. I did not let my children see any of the films. In my opinion, they were too young. My oldest is about two years behind in emotional development (he's 9 but acts more like 7). I am his mother, and it is my duty to make these decisions. I am also the consumer, and it is my right to spend my money as I choose.

The issue is not whether simply reading a book would change your beliefs. If reading Pullman's book causes one to suddenly become an atheist, then there was a lot more going on than just the influence of a book. However, it is naive to think that a book will not influence one's beliefs or attitudes. Most books are written with the idea of causing influence, especially in the science fiction and fantasy genre. Although the characters are removed from our world, they are instantly recognizable as they struggle against the same things we do - we can identify with them. Science Fiction works are purposely set as allegories of alternate futures, or of policies taken to extremes. Is it a coincidence that Asimov's Robot series came out around the time the Civil Rights movement was just starting to coalesce? (I, Robot appeared in 1950 and the book is about ten thousand times better than the movie.) The best SciFi/Fantasy is a commentary on our times.

The fact is, once a child has seen something, you can never take it back. You can never "un-expose" them to bad things. I speak as one who was scarred for life by the clown in Poltergeist ;)

Mama Also Says

Kind of related, but also kind of random:

Coca-Cola's claiming that they are sponsoring the movie to "raise awareness on the plight of the polar bear" is just stupid.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/05/2007 02:05:00 PM | Permalink | |
One More Thing to Worry About
Toxic chemical found in baby formula, in doses high enough to cause harm. It appears only to affect liquid formula (ready to eat or concentrated).

H/T Radical Catholic Mom

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/05/2007 09:40:00 AM | Permalink | |
WFMW: Dinner edition
Today's WFMW is the What Do I Fix Edition.

I posted my tips for quick and easy pantry cooking on a WFMW around this time last year. I have a list taped to the inside of the pantry of dishes that come together in 15 minutes or less. Helps with the last minute freaking out inspiration.

I have another trick up my sleeve, and not only can it be a fast dinner, it is an amazing leftover makeover, and it costs a quarter.


Fideos are skinny macaroni noodles - they look like the "roni" in Rice-a-Roni (and, in fact, make excellent homemade rice-a-roni without all the MSG and other chemicals.) It's basically one inch pieces of angel hair pasta. Moderna is the most famous brand, and runs around 25-30 cents for a 7 oz. package. It's in the Mexican section of the store, where they sell Goya products, whole chiles in packages, and the guava nectar. (And, BTW, while you are over there pick up a package of macaroni noodles or little shells. They are a great way to stretch a box of mac n'cheese and are closer to the smallish size Kraft and Annie's Organics uses. Just add half the package to make more noodles, the sauce will stretch to cover it.)

You can add it to soups. You can cook it in a little olive oil, add a cup of rice, add some broth (3 c. or so), and make Rice A Roni. It is great with just about any sauce or leftovers and will reinvent them just enough, and only using one pan!

Here's the basic recipe:
Put a little olive oil in a skillet and heat on medium high. Add a package of fideo. Cook and stir. First, the fideos will look translucent, then they will start to look a little dry on the ends and perhaps brown a little too (about 5 minutes).
Add your leftovers - sauce (spaghetti, tomato, chicken alfredo, stroganoff)
- soup (use a slotted spoon to get the good stuff, leaving the broth behind)
- various meats, deboned and chopped up (shredded pork, chicken, taco meat, beans, whatever)

Add about a cup and a half of liquid, and cook until absorbed. Add more liquid if you want it runny with tender pasta, less liquid if you want it al dente.

The KEY is to match the spices. If you have taco leftovers, add chili powder or cumin, but NOT Italian seasoning. If you have leftover spaghetti sauce, add oregano, onion powder, or italian seasoning, but NOT caraway seeds. This is how you keep it from tasting like a leftover mashup that everyone feeds to the dog or the toddler.

Mama's Classic Fideos
Brown a pound of ground meat. Remove from skillet and rinse or drain. Cook a cut up onion until translucent or caramelized, whatever you like better. Dump in a bag of fideo. Cook and stir about 5 minutes. Add two 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes with juice, and one can of water. Mix meat back in. Add your spices (cumin, pepper, garlic, chili for taco style; oregano, and garlic for pizza flavor, italian seasoning for italian style). Cook about 8 minutes until fideo is cooked through (add more water if desired).

Go see Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for more last minute meal ideas!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/05/2007 08:20:00 AM | Permalink | |
Advent Calendars: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
The Good:Comes with 24 minibooks relating a Bible story, Psalm, or song, starting with the Creation and ending with the birth of Christ.

Get it here, from these dream stealers nice people who are living the good life running a Catholic bookstore in Colorado Springs. Not that I'm jealous or anything.

The Bad:
Well, at least it could be useful.

The Ugly.

Because nothing says "Prepare your hearts for the coming of the Lord" like overly made up, scantily clad dolls with alien autopsy eyes. And what is with putting "Season's Greetings" on an Advent Calendar, for Pete's sake?

H/T Carolina Cannonball.

I actually can't show you the worst calendar I found - it's put out by Hugh Heffner's company.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/04/2007 03:48:00 PM | Permalink | |
For the smoker who cares about the environment, but not his lungs:
Yes! It's organic! But it will still kill you. You can get it in a roll your own version with all-natural flax papers (what, no hemp?)

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/04/2007 09:00:00 AM | Permalink | |
Linky Mark: Liturgical
Monday, December 03, 2007
[UPDATE - Fixed the link for the bloggy Advent wreath. It was Curt Jester, not Catholic Caveman. That's what happens when you scan all your blogs really quickly to find that thing you know you saw there before but where is it in the archives, anyway!

I forgot to post this yesterday, but here goes!

For an explanation of Linky Mark, go here. Basically, it is a collection of all the bookmarks you have on a topic, thrown into a post so you can get them out of your Favorites folder - and you get to share them with Mr. Linky!

Today's links are ways to celebrate the Advent season and Christmastide in a liturgical sense, or great ideas for all of the seasons.

In our family, we do an Advent wreath, a Christmas crib, and usually hold off on the tree until Gaudate (Joy) Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent (the pink one). We also give gifts on the Epiphany as well as Christmas (truthfully, this started when we had to wait until January for a paycheck to buy anything for the children, but it proved quite popular and I think it helps them connect with the Magi giving the Christ child gifts.)

I also set out my angel collection and nativity scenes in as many rooms as possible. I have a Playmobil nativity scene the children can play with (Target carries them during the Christmas season in the toy section for about $15, but they sell out FAST!) Playmobil toys are made in Germany - not China! YAY!

Women for Faith and Family has a nice online liturgical calendar, with definitions and overviews of the liturgical seasons. Their Advent page has saints days (with readings), the O Antiphons for advent wreaths, a printable coloring sheet for advent, and more.

My favorite site for liturgical activities is Domestic Church. The Fridge Art section is full of activities, separated by younger children, older children, and whole family. There are tons of ideas, links to coloring pages, and more.

Throughout the year, I use Open Wednesdays in our school. It is a child-appropriate commentary on the readings for the following Sunday. Since we've been doing this, I've really seen some "light bulb" moments when they recognize what Father is discussing in his sermon.

H/T to Happy Hearts at Home for giving out a link to free, printable vintage Christmas stories. Check out The Flight into Egypt if you've never read it.

I like this idea for a candle and Novena of the Immaculate Conception which is Dec. 8. It's a little late to start that novena, but you can start one to Our Lady of Guadalupe tomorrow (celebrated Dec. 12)

The Curt Jester has an Advent wreath for your blog that will update itself throughout the season with the appropriate candles being lit.

Catholic Kids has activities throughout the year. Ann Ball has some fun crafts in the Kids Room- she's the author of Catholic Traditions in Crafts, a book of art projects that follow the liturgical year.

And finally, an easy way to appreciate the sacrifices of others from Knit Together In Love.

Share your links!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/03/2007 09:45:00 AM | Permalink | |