Doctor's Visit, 18 month
Friday, October 31, 2008
Baby X went to the doctor today for a well child checkup, and since this blog is also my family record and journal, here are the stats.

Weight - 24 lbs, 10 oz. - 25%
Height - 32 inches - 50%
Head Circumference - 90%

Blood Pressure - 96/64, - 95% (but not off the charts! Yay!)

Oh, and the doctor refuses to treat him and asked me to cancel all of my other children's well-child checkups because we follow an alternate vaccination schedule. An alternate schedule devised by myself and our previous pediatrician! It's a huge practice with several locations.

Nice, Texas Children's Pediatrics. You discriminate against patients who have adverse reactions to medication. Real nice.

Does he know it took me 35 minutes on the phone to schedule all of those appointments in the first place?

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/31/2008 07:57:00 AM | Permalink | |
Obama Lies, Cheats, and Steals
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I'm not subtle, am I?

I know many Christians and Catholics who are voting for Obama. They feel that other social justice issues, such as healthcare for the poor and immigration issues, are of equal weight to the abortion issue. This post is not about their situational ethics or the morality of such a decision.

It's about other reasons to not vote for Obama.

He lied about his campaign finance. He promised to use federal funds and work together with the Republican nominee to operate withing those limits.

He may have illegally taken money from foreigners. The FEC is dragging its feet about the matter, because they don't want to call the FBI in right before the election.

He does not have any measures in place to keep people from illegally donating to his campaign.

He bought the land for his Chicago home from a prominent lobbyist, who has since been convicted on fraud charges. He purchased the property for $300,000 below market value. He also bought a lot from Tony Rezco's wife for $500,000 below market value, so he could have a bigger yard.

Obama doesn't promise change from corrupt politicians. It'll be same old, same old if he gets elected.

The fact remains that he will not release his records - medical, Senate, college, or otherwise. And I don't know whether he was born in Kenya or Hawaii, but the birth certificate on Obama's website is a joke. Why won't he release that, as well?

I encourage you to look into these things for yourself. Stay away from, though. Obama served on the board of the company that owns it.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/30/2008 02:32:00 PM | Permalink | |
Overheard at Our House
My poor husband is doomed to live with me forever (Bwah ha ha ha!)

I'm not sure he knew what he was getting into. The poor man comes home from work to adult conversation starved woman with ...eclectic interests.

Monday night's conversation...

Did you know Mike from Little People Big World died?

What am I looking up? Oh, it's GAO 93-90 on the effects of depleted uranium on Gulf War troops...(continue for 20 minutes).

Miss C went potty all day (another 15 minutes describing the adventures of two year olds and potties.)

Hey, remember when I put Equal on the ant mounds? (Several minutes recounting another blogger's adventures with aspartame and ants.)


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/30/2008 08:11:00 AM | Permalink | |
Halloween Costumes for Christmas: Works for Me Wednesday
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Yesterday I posted on why my family doesn't celebrate Halloween. That doesn't mean we're opposed to the costumes!

My children love to dress up. The day after Halloween, head down to your local Stuffmart. The costumes will be 50-75% off! Last year I paid $3 for a princess gown and $2 for a suit of armor.

They make great Christmas presents and you won't have to worry about lead paint, either.

Works for Me! See other tips over at Rocks in My Dryer!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/29/2008 12:08:00 AM | Permalink | |
Why We Don't Celebrate Halloween redux
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
A rerun from 2006. Nope, nothing's changed!

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

For the next week, if you've been directed here by me because you just don't get our weirdness, please read the entire post.

This post is for all of those people out there who simply cannot believe we don't pay $20 for a cheap costume, then let our small children browbeat our neighbors into giving them candy, so they can gorge themselves and end up grounded for a week due to their poor behavior.

Our family does not celebrate Halloween. We usually celebrate All Saint's Day, a Catholic holiday that occurs on November 1. This year we'll just be doing a small celebration at home, as the local church doesn't have anything planned.

Why we don't celebrate Halloween:

1. We are not pagans. I know it sounds flippant, but Halloween did originate as a Gaelic pagan festival, and that's why All Saint's Day is on Nov. 1. The Church, in her wisdom, recognized that the culture was used to having a big celebration around that time of year, and decided to give the new Christians something good to actually celebrate. Originally called Samhain, the name Halloween, I'm sure you've heard, has derived from All Hallow's Eve - the night before All Hallow's day, aka All Saint's Day.

2. Sure, you say, but it's no longer a pagan holiday, but a secular American tradition. Well, no, it's not. No matter how you try to deny it, witches, ghosts, vampires, and being scared all pervade the Halloween celebration. Women's magazines post elaborate recipes to make candied witch's brooms (you've got to see this, BTW - Martha Stewart would be proud!) and ghost lollipops. Fake vampire teeth and blood are sold by the bagful to give to trick-or-treaters. You can buy chocolates in the shape of dismembered body parts. Superstitions are dragged out and celebrated, with black cats taking the center stage. Not only is superstition wrong and specifically forbidden by God, the underlying, subtle message is that some of God's creation is intrinsically bad or unlucky. (Poor cat. Too bad God didn't like you and made you black!) That a broken mirror rules your destiny. Adults can see past this (usually), but children are much more literal.

3. The atmosphere that pervades Halloween is not one of "family values". There is no denying that many feel freed by social constraints on this night, free to be daring, wild, different. In this sense, it is much like Mardi Gras. You can do things on Halloween that you would never do in real life, whether it is participate in Fear Factor type dares at a party or TPing the neighbor's tree.

4. The costumes are often inappropriate. Young girls dress in bras and pantaloons or strapless gowns to be Disney Princesses. French maids abound, frolicking in the street. Bratz dolls appear on your doorstep, complete with glittery lip gloss to compliment their diapers. The most basic costumes, whether they be fairies or pirates, are 'sexed' up for the girls. The boys generally appear as serial killers, rubber weapons dripping in blood, ghosts, zombies, ghouls. Or maybe they dress up like their favorite sports hero, the one who beats his wife or evades taxes. Children imitate and fantasize about being Christina Aguilera, witches, or psychotic individuals. Is this good character training?

For less than $40, you can dress your 6 yr. old like a working girl!

5. Halloween is not respectful of the dead. A corporal work of mercy is to bury the dead. Respect for the dead is very, very important in Catholic culture, as the body was once the temple of the Holy Spirit and often contained Christ himself in the form of the Eucharist. Mocking the dead has no place in Christianity, whether it be dancing skeletons, zombies, or fake dismembered body parts hanging from a car trunk. What are we teaching our children - that it's fun to make fun of corpses?

6. "Trick or Treat" is not a good thing for children to say. Sure, it seems harmless, but underneath, it is blackmail. Give me candy, or I'll do something you don't like. I don't think it is a good idea to tell our kids it's okay to speak to adults that way, even if it is only one day a year. (Remember, Honor thy Father and Mother? Means every day, all the time. Not 364 days a year with one day off.) Also, there is the additional problem of slightly older children actually performing tricks, egging mailboxes, tp-ing cars, ringing doorbells and running. Authorities, whether parental or official, often turn a blind eye to such harmless pranks on this night. The fact remains, though, that these are sinful activities and parents are responsible for helping their children avoid sin.

7. The candy. Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. Gorging on candy, fighting over MINE MINE MINE, selfishness, and self-entitlement abound on this night. The alternative is worse - parcel out one or two pieces until you run out around Christmastime, for that extra fun time at the dentist next year.

I have no problem with scarecrows, indian corn, harvest themes, or even jack-o-lanterns (provided they are carved with a cheerful grin to welcome guests and not mutilated with fangs and a 666 on the head). I have a problem with the evil atmosphere that pervades our culture in October.

Yes, my children are horribly deprived. So what.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/28/2008 10:08:00 AM | Permalink | |
Recall: Baby Clothes
Monday, October 27, 2008
I like Carter's clothes. They generally last a long time, and I know by now that they run one size too big.

Unfortunately, the 2007 line has problems. 400 babies have gotten rashes from the clothing, and while there is no recall, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is issuing a warning.

As Christmas approaches, you might want to review the list of recalled toys. Yes, toys are still being recalled for lead content!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/27/2008 07:12:00 AM | Permalink | |
Q and A
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Because the people want to know!

Regarding the Family Closet:

Kaira asked,

Are all of your clothes displayed in these pictures?
Not all of our clothes are on the shelf, but probably half are. When we moved from SC to TX in May, I packed a suitcase with about 7 outfits for each child, plus church clothes. I packed 3 or 4 boxes of extra clothes, and that's after giving away 20+ garbage bags full of clothes.

6 or 7 outfits seems to be just the right amount. Those boxes of clothes are still in the garage. The kids have 3-4 pairs of shorts and 2-3 pairs of pants each, and the girls have some extra dresses. It's just the right amount and even if I get behind on the laundry, I don't get overwhelmed anymore.

How many clothes can a kid wear, anyway?

Shannon asked,
Do you ever have trouble with those wire cubbies?
In SC, our family closet was in the laundry room and an attached hallway. This was a heavy traffic zone, and I DID have trouble (usually from the kids hanging on them or swinging on them.) Now they are in a closet and I haven't had any problems. No one is idly leaning on them or kicking them for fun and they stay together.

Regarding Faith matters:
Someone asked me if I could recommend a novena to be said before the election.
Radical Catholic Mom has one she will be posting from Oct. 26- Nov. 4.

I also received this email regarding the Pope's prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary in Pompeii, but haven't had a chance to respond. K, I hope you don't mind me leaving you some links for now - others say it much better than I do.
Did the pope actually pray this prayer? If so, how do you explain that? I mean, for all intents and purposes, it does seem to me that the Catholic Church treats Mary as we, in the Christian church, treat Jesus.

First, Catholics are Christians. The Nicene Creed is article of faith, and recited at every Mass. We believe Jesus is the only begotten son of God the Father, that He became man and died for our sins, that He rose again from the dead, and that He sits at the right hand of the Father.

I haven't been able to find the text of the prayer online, but it was pretty widely reported in the media so I'm assuming that it's true. Here are some links about the hows and whys of Catholics devotion to Mary and the other saints. It may be helpful to understand that Catholics see Mary not just as a woman who happened to carry Our Lord, but also has a new Ark of the Covenant, carrying the Word, in a new Kingdom. (See Ark of Covenant and also how Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon, was treated in the OT.)
Marian issues from Scripture Catholic
VTC has covered this fairly comprehensively
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2673-2679)

In communion with the holy Mother of God

2673 In prayer the Holy Spirit unites us to the person of the only Son, in his glorified humanity, through which and in which our filial prayer unites us in the Church with the Mother of Jesus.27

2674 Mary gave her consent in faith at the Annunciation and maintained it without hesitation at the foot of the Cross. Ever since, her motherhood has extended to the brothers and sisters of her Son "who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties."28 Jesus, the only mediator, is the way of our prayer; Mary, his mother and ours, is wholly transparent to him: she "shows the way" (hodigitria), and is herself "the Sign" of the way, according to the traditional iconography of East and West.

2675 Beginning with Mary's unique cooperation with the working of the Holy Spirit, the Churches developed their prayer to the holy Mother of God, centering it on the person of Christ manifested in his mysteries. In countless hymns and antiphons expressing this prayer, two movements usually alternate with one another: the first "magnifies" the Lord for the "great things" he did for his lowly servant and through her for all human beings29 the second entrusts the supplications and praises of the children of God to the Mother of Jesus, because she now knows the humanity which, in her, the Son of God espoused.

2676 This twofold movement of prayer to Mary has found a privileged expression in the Ave Maria:

Hail Mary [or Rejoice, Mary]: the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer. It is God himself who, through his angel as intermediary, greets Mary. Our prayer dares to take up this greeting to Mary with the regard God had for the lowliness of his humble servant and to exult in the joy he finds in her.30

Full of grace, the Lord is with thee: These two phrases of the angel's greeting shed light on one another. Mary is full of grace because the Lord is with her. The grace with which she is filled is the presence of him who is the source of all grace. "Rejoice . . . O Daughter of Jerusalem . . . the Lord your God is in your midst."31 Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is "the dwelling of God . . . with men."32 Full of grace, Mary is wholly given over to him who has come to dwell in her and whom she is about to give to the world.

Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. After the angel's greeting, we make Elizabeth's greeting our own. "Filled with the Holy Spirit," Elizabeth is the first in the long succession of generations who have called Mary "blessed."33 "Blessed is she who believed. . . . "34 Mary is "blessed among women" because she believed in the fulfillment of the Lord's word. Abraham. because of his faith, became a blessing for all the nations of the earth.35 Mary, because of her faith, became the mother of believers, through whom all nations of the earth receive him who is God's own blessing: Jesus, the "fruit of thy womb."

2677 Holy Mary, Mother of God: With Elizabeth we marvel, "And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"36 Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: "Let it be to me according to your word."37 By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: "Thy will be done."

Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the "Mother of Mercy," the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender "the hour of our death" wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son's death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing38 to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.

2678 Medieval piety in the West developed the prayer of the rosary as a popular substitute for the Liturgy of the Hours. In the East, the litany called the Akathistos and the Paraclesis remained closer to the choral office in the Byzantine churches, while the Armenian, Coptic, and Syriac traditions preferred popular hymns and songs to the Mother of God. But in the Ave Maria, the theotokia, the hymns of St. Ephrem or St. Gregory of Narek, the tradition of prayer is basically the same.

2679 Mary is the perfect Orans (pray-er), a figure of the Church. When we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends his Son to save all men. Like the beloved disciple we welcome Jesus' mother into our homes,39 for she has become the mother of all the living. We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.40


27 Cf. Acts 1:14.
28 LG 62.
29 Cf. Lk 1:46-55.
30 Cf. Lk 1:48; Zeph 3:17b.
31 Zeph 3:14,17a.
32 Rev 21:3.
33 Lk 1:41, 48.
34 Lk 1:45.
35 Cf. Gen 12:3.
36 Lk 1:43.
37 Lk 1:38.
38 Cf. Jn 19:27.
39 Cf. Jn 19:27.
40 Cf. LG 68-69.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/25/2008 10:05:00 AM | Permalink | |
The Family Closet: Works for Me Wednesday
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The best thing I ever did for our laundry situation was the family closet. (Click on the pics to see them better.) I don't have to trek all over the house gathering clothes to wash, and I don't have to traipse into every bedroom to deliver clean laundry.

When we moved to Houston, husband dear rented us a house. I didn't see it until we moved in. He drew a floorplan for me, and I just could not fathom where our family closet was going to be.

He forgot to mention the Master Closet was larger than the kids' bedroom in our old house!

Here's a brief tour.

The kids clothes are still in wire cubbies, with their outfits hanging above. Socks and undies are in bins.

Here's Miss C's section, underneath the shelves that the grownups folded clothes are on. We are not a dresses only family, but we are a "dresses often" family and she likes to get her own clothes.

The grownup's clothes, folded.

And hanging. I have a ton of skirts - yet somehow, I wear the same pair of jeans everyday. It's all about the shoes - I can't wear cute shoes for any length of time and the skirts look stupid with Avia Walkers. I'm a victim of fashion.

Lots of storage above!

The dirty clothes hamper is in the closet. We fill it every day!

Here's where the adult's unmentionables are stored. Also, swimsuits for everyone are in the same drawer instead of in their individual cubby.

Yeah, it's ugly. We got it at an estate sale for $20, and it's solid wood. Someday we'll refinish it, or at least sand the glue off the front. It works for now, though!

The dresser is in the Master Bathroom. The top is so handy for dumping junk. Why, yes, that a welding sleeve! And no, my husband is not a welder!

I hang their church outfits up altogether. My boys can never seem to find anything, so the pants, undershirt, tie, etc. are all on the hanger together. When I was the black socks, I'll stick them in the pocket.

And here is the laundry staging area. It's quite convenient to have such a large, flat surface to fold and sort all of the clothes before putting them away! King size beds can fit 5 children in it, and clothes for 9 people on it.

Folding Clothes on King Size Bed
Miss C and Miss V are my super laundry helpers. Miss C knows exactly which clothes belong to every member of the family.

All of the clothes, clean and dirty, are contained in one room. No more piles of socks under beds. No more dumping the contents of a drawer into a puddle. I love it!

Head over to Shannon's for more Works for Me Wednesday hints and helps!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/22/2008 09:03:00 AM | Permalink | |
Large Family Linky Love
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Kim, at Starry Sky Ranch blogs about (yet another) encounter with a grocery store clerk.

Barbara is welcoming home a prodigal, and she's giving away a copy of Ben Stein's Expelled.

Large Family Logistics is back up and running.

And not a huge family, but getting bigger... Mrs. Wilt is back up at The Sparrow's Nest!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/21/2008 11:04:00 AM | Permalink | |
Homeschooling for Real
Monday, October 20, 2008
Before we started homeschooling, I read books. I read blogs. I envisioned a peaceful life full of bookish children who would teach themselves (Robinson curriculum, anyone?) It would be serene and filled with a glow of happiness, love of learning, and developing spirituality.

God did not give me peaceful, bookish children. God gave me Dennis the Menace, to varying degrees.

Our homeschooling is influenced by Maria Montessori, who emphasized the dignity of the child. I'm an eclectic homeschooler, taking the best of many methods and leaving things that don't work for us behind. My shelves are filled with books and blackline masters and games that might be integrated, someday.

We are not unschoolers, but we are not traditional homeschoolers, either. I don't have a strict schedule, although we have a rhythm and flow to our days. I call school off completely sometimes - like when we have guests. Or the public schools are out and every kid in the neighborhood wants to stay at our house for the day.

Our school day begins late - 10:00 am, more or less. That's the goal, anyway. I have 4 students - two 3rd graders who are not twins, a 2nd grader, and a 1st grader. The 4 yo loves to plow through worksheets, the 2 yo and the baby wander in and out at will.

We gather and pray. We say the Apostle's Creed everyday, and then I have a book of devotions to St. Joseph that lists several psalms to pray through the week. The children have folders with their seatwork listed, but it can still be a challenge because I have one set of texts and the third graders must work together and cooperate. They cannot both do their spelling at the same time, so one must work on math or handwriting.

I give them a verse of the week, which they must write everyday after writing their spelling words. For the first month, I chose verses about joy and cheerfulness. This month, we're reviewing the Ten Commandments. We REALLY need to review them, if you know what I mean!

Previous verses included:
"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart."

"Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs."

"Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise."
If they must do copywork to practice their handwriting, it should at least be useful or encouraging.

I don't always do everything I would like to - detailed illustrations of the Epic of Gilgamesh, staking out a wild area for nature study throughout the year, and copying Ben Franklin's admonitions for great character have all been dropped. Better things have displaced my well-laid plans - better because they are what my children want and need to learn right now.

Hunting a local dirt dump and finding animal skeletons, observing (a little too closely) wasp nests, spiders, and ants, and experiments in imprinting and fossil creation have crowded out other plans.

I get discouraged. There are days when we end up with the bare minimum, and sometimes even the minimum drags on into the dinner hour. There are days when I feel I'm on Homeschool Throwdown: Cranky Kid Edition. Sometimes I have to fish Cuisenaire rods out of the baby's mouth and tell a brother a little too sharply that his math lesson is just going to have to wait and doesn't he have anything else productive to do?

We read our Bob books on the front lawn while the littles play. I ditched the official readers for books titled "The Dinosaur Hunter" and "Little Wolf Hunts." How can Dick and Jane compete with that? I allow StarWars for silent reading. Sometimes I forget to write the current date on the board.

Other times, I feel like I am in over my head, but I know I'll eventually get my feet under me for that particular circumstance. Right now, I'm wondering about my 10 year old third grader. I think he may have a visual processing delay. He often adds things when he reads. He'll say "this" for "his", "worker" for "work". He can do horizontal math problems but not the same problem stacked vertically. But I know how to find resources and how to advocate for him now. I'm not worried, just temporarily ruffled.

Homeschooling is not an exercise in perfection. It is an exercise in love.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/20/2008 08:40:00 AM | Permalink | |
Does 5 Mean Death?
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Recently, some e-friends and I heard a sermon by an Independent Fundamental Baptist on You Tube. He asserted that 1.) Real men pee standing up (with Bible and verse to support it, and that was the topic of his sermon, I kid you not!) and 2) the number 5 signifies death in the Bible.

Now, I am familiar with the way several numbers are used in Scripture. (6 is the number of creation, and the number of man; 7 is the number of completion; 9 is the number of angels; 40 is the number of repentance; 3 is the number of the Trinity.)

I have never heard that 5 is the number of death. And because I'm a nerd with nothing better to do on Saturday morning, I thought I'd look into it.

Most online sources I looked at say that 5 is the number of Grace. Nowhere could I find 5 is the number of death. (It seems just the opposite). Jesus multiplied 5 loaves and 2 fishes; David killed Goliath with 5 stones, the parable of the talents, the wisest servant was given 5 talents.

I don't know how this squares with Catholic teaching, as there isn't much numerology in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Catholics do have a devotion to the Five Wounds of Jesus, however, and altars are consecrated in 5 places in remembrance of them.

The preacher cited three reasons 5 is associated with death in the Bible:
  • People killed under the 5th rib
  • Genesis 5:5
  • Acts 5:5
So, let's take a look. Scriptures quoted are from the NIV, copy and pasted from BibleGateway.

First, I must add, that the numbering of the Bible is not inspired. The chapter and verse system was introduced hundreds of years (in the 13th century) after the Canon was codified, in order to aid study and exegesis. There really would be no reason to see significance in a verse 5:5, or a verse 6:66 for that matter.

Several people are killed by being stabbed under the fifth rib in the KJV, in 2 Samuel. The NIV translates it simply as "stomach", and the Douay-Rheims calls it a "groin".

Genesis 5:5
Altogether, Adam lived 930 years, and then he died.
Genesis is full of geneologies noting how old people were when they died. The number 5 doesn't have much to do with it. Other places in Genesis recording people's deaths: 5:8, 5:11, 5:14, 5:17, 5:20... I could go on, but I can't even type all of the non-5 references.

Other verses recording important men's deaths:
Noah - Genesis 9:50
Abraham -Genesis 25:8
Joseph and his brothers (the twelve tribes of Israel) - Exodus 1:6

Acts 5:5
When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.

Other deaths in Acts occur at chapter/verse: 5:10, 7:60, 12:23,
Hmm... the numerology doesn't work so well for those.

Some other "5:5" verses in the New Testament -
And Matthew 5:5 is this:
5Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Mark 5:5
Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
John 5:5
One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years

Revelations 5:5
Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.

Nothing to do with death, there, either.

Well, how about the fifth book of the Bible? Deuteronomy 5:5
(At that time I stood between the LORD and you to declare to you the word of the LORD, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said:
Yeah. Not seeing the connection.

Mama Says:
One doesn't have to add superstition to the Bible in order to make it more meaningful.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/18/2008 10:07:00 AM | Permalink | |
More Friday Fun: How to Survive Aliens
Friday, October 17, 2008
John C. Wright has the answer.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/17/2008 10:32:00 AM | Permalink | |
I tell my kids that I see everything, but they never believe me.

How did Mom know Miss E ate all the apples and half the bag of Tootsie Rolls?

Yes, when I buy fruit I have to hide it, or else they'll gorge themselves the first day and we'll have nothing for the rest of the week.

Baby X has discovered the joys of turning the lights on and off.

Every time I turned around, he had dragged the chair over again and was flicking it on-off-on-off.

How did I know what he was up to? It's a mystery.

On another shenanigans note, it finally happened. Miss C ate an oleander flower. After calling poison control (FOUR different numbers, the one listed in the phone book and online were disconnected) they told me that she'd have to eat half a pound's worth before she had ill effects. Good to know!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/17/2008 08:03:00 AM | Permalink | |
Food Stamp Challenge: Recipes
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Thrifty Jinxy

Cooking more or less from scratch helps stretch the food dollars. Here are two recipes I made this week, with cost breakdown.

Fair Warning: I use recipes as "inspiration". I really do cook with a shake of this and a handful of that (except baking) (well, okay, sometimes baking too, which doesn't always turn out so well.)

You will want to scale these recipes waaaayyy down. They fed 9 people for two meals each!

Root Vegetable Chili
(inspired by Good Housekeeping this month.)

1 med. onion $ .25
3 cloves garlic $ .20 ??? Who knows. It's cheap.
1 med. rutabaga $1.80 (almost 2# @.99/lb.)
2 small turnips $.65 (.99/lb again. They were small!)
3 medium carrots (5#@$1.69... maybe .15?)
1 6 lb. can crushed tomatoes ($2.81 at Sam's Club)
2 c. Pinto beans, soaked. (I'm lazy, so I quick soak a ton of navy and pintos together then package and freeze in 2-3 c. portions. You could totally just add 1-2 cans of beans, drained.) $.50
Olive oil (half an oz, @ .21/oz = $.10)
Chili powder, black pepper, salt. (negligible)
Total cost: $6.46

Peel the onion, carrots, rutabaga, and turnips. Cut them into pieces about the size of your pinky. Try to get them roughly the same size.

Place in bowl, toss with olive oil to coat. Add seasonings. Put in crockpot, add three cloves of pressed or minced garlic, and roast on high for about an hour - 90 minutes. When they start looking and smelling roasted and softened, add the crushed tomatoes. Adjust seasonings. About an hour before serving, add soaked and/or cooked beans.

I quick soak my beans, then freeze them, which gives them a tender almost cooked texture. If you soak your beans overnight, you might need to cook them a little longer.

This made 15+ servings, definitely a two nighter. The key to good flavor is to roast the veggies first.

I liked it, husband thought it was good but would be better with beef (his verdict on every vegetarian recipe I try), half the kids loved it, half hated it. Oh well. Stinks to be them.

Chicken StirFry
(I made a huge amount - double what I normally would. We usually eat 2-3 lbs. of meat in a stir fry, but with so much chili leftover we're going to have planned leftovers later in the week)

5 lbs. boneless, skinless breast cut into 1 inch pieces $5.00 (I stock up big time at loss leaders for $.99/pound; I won't pay more than $1.49/lb. for boneless chicken because it's always on sale somewhere)
3 bags frozen veggies $2.97 (.99 each for 16 oz. Frozen veggies are a better deal for me than fresh because they are cheaper + there is no waste)
Orange juice (1/5 of a pitcher, made with 1 can OJ and 4 cans water. 1/5 of $1.25 = $.25)
Soy sauce (2 oz. maybe?) $.26
Various and sundry spices (tonight, curry powder, onion powder, black pepper)
Corn Starch (two spoonfuls)
More garlic
3 c. white rice (after a year of forcing brown rice on husband dear, I took pity and bought the junky white stuff this week. He loves me again. (3/5 a bag = $.65)
Total cost: $9.13

Make the rice (3c. rice, 6 c. water, cover, boil, turn off heat and let sit)

Cook the chicken over high heat, stirring it (stir - fry, get it?). Meanwhile, microwave the veggies so they are not a giant block of ice.

Mix 2 c. OJ with about 2 oz. soy sauce. Put in some garlic, and some onion powder, black pepper, and curry powder. Or whatever you have and the family likes. Stir in two heaping forkfuls of cornstarch. Mix thoroughly.

After chicken is cooked, pour sauce over. When the sauce starts bubbling, try a piece of chicken. Adjust seasonings. Add veggies, mix together to coat with sauce. Serve over rice.

Everyone loved this one.

BTW - I have a 24" wok to cook it in. I bought it for under $30 one year for husband's Christmas present, because he loves to cook!

I used several frugal strategies:
  • Made a meatless dish
  • Planned dinner around loss leader protein (chicken was on sale)
  • Used frozen veggies that won't spoil and have no waste
  • Stretched meat with veggies and rice
  • Used bulk food (6 lb. can of crushed tomatoes is the equivalent of 3-4 large cans of crushed tomatoes.)
  • Tried new things and a varied diet
  • Used spices to make bland foods (turnips, beans) taste great
  • Used a crockpot (this is frugal, because in Houston we are still running our AC and I am loathe to turn on the oven while the AC is running!)
  • Ate seasonal vegetables (root veggies are only going to get cheaper through October into November)
  • Cooked in bulk to get another meal out of it (only frugal if you actually eat the leftovers)

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/16/2008 09:03:00 AM | Permalink | |
Women in Combat?
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Obama says:

Mr. Obama has said repeatedly that he will draw down the U.S. military presence in Iraq if he becomes president, but he has also said he would increase the number of troops in Afghanistan, where Taliban forces have seen a resurgence in recent years.

During a CNN/YouTube debate for Democratic presidential candidates last year, he said he doesn't "agree" with the draft.

But he did say women should be expected to register with the Selective Service, comparing the role of women to black soldiers and airmen who served during World War II, when the armed forces were still segregated.

"There was a time when African-Americans weren't allowed to serve in combat," Mr. Obama said. "And yet, when they did, not only did they perform brilliantly, but what also happened is they helped to change America, and they helped to underscore that we're equal.

Are women who want to sign up for military service being discriminated against, as African Americans were long ago? Oh, he wants it to be compulsory. He's not pro-choice when it comes to women choosing to serve in the military or choosing to be mothers at home.

Saddest is when he says this:
"And I think that if women are registered for service -- not necessarily in combat roles, and I don't agree with the draft -- I think it will help to send a message to my two daughters that they've got obligations to this great country as well as boys do."

That's YOUR job, Mr. Obama. Teach your children well. You cannot instill character and duty through legislation, it must be learned through example. If your daughters don't think they have any civil obligations when they grow up, it's YOUR fault, not the government's.

And Sometimes Tea has some good thoughts on this.

H/T Happy Hearts at Home

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/15/2008 02:18:00 PM | Permalink | |
Hair Barrette That Stays Put: Works for Me Wednesday
My hair is fine, and right now it's pretty long. I usually wear it in a braid, because it will not stay in a barrette or a clip.

I grow it long because I'm lazy - too lazy to get it cut regularly, too lazy to style it into cuteness everyday, and too lazy to put up with husband dear pining for my long hair.

I'm not really this short, but Miss E took the picture so I'm kneeling down. Miss E is taking the picture because I disgustapated husband dear by making him take 10 shots, finding fault with all of them, announcing I was going to wash and style my hair for a good picture, and then asking him to wait while I did that. After he left, I decided to let y'all see the real me. I didn't even brush it before convincing Miss E to snap the shot. That's how dedicated I am to being real.

Big barrettes pull and yank until they fall out, usually less than an hour after I put it in.

Until now! Goody has a new barrette in their Ouchless line that is just awesome. It keeps my hair clipped up, doesn't pull, and I actually have fallen asleep in it!

Mine cost $3, and the Goody website has a $2 off coupon - I'm going to get another one in black.

Hair technology works for me!

Check out Shannon for more Works for Me Wednesday fun!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/15/2008 08:42:00 AM | Permalink | |
Where's Mrs. Wilt?
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Anyone know what happened to The Sparrow's Nest? In July she moved from Typepad to Blogger. I've been reading her at Blogger - until today when I clicked over and Blogspot says the blog doesn't exist or has been removed!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/14/2008 07:21:00 PM | Permalink | |
Food Stamp Challenge - Halfway Mark

Last month, I was going to try the Food Stamp Challenge. You figure out what your food stamp allotment is, and try to live on that amount for a week or a month. It's supposed to make you thankful for what you have and encourage thrift, I think.

Hurricane Ike messed up my plans. I actually think I spent less than I would have otherwise, because the grocery stores weren't open. I made more things from scratch, like tortillas, because I couldn't buy them. (Readers, I could use a good tortilla recipe. I used Masa Harina and they were OK but not great.)

Then again, we had family stay with us for a couple of weeks and had to replace the contents of our fridge and freezer. At any rate, I didn't keep track at all.

The USDA has updated their food plans for August 2008, to reflect the rising cost of food. According to their plan, my family should spend over $1100 on the thrifty plan! $1100! And that is not taking into account the fact that I'm pregnant.

Here's the breakdown:
1 yo - $90.00
2 yo -$95.70
4 yo- $100.10
6 yo - $126.80
7 yo - $126.80
9 yo - 147.20
10 yo - $147.20
Husband dear - $174.00
Me - $154.90

My goal is $750 a month, including diapers, soap, and other non-food household items.

I actually thought $750 was a high number. There are many, many ladies online who spend much less. One prominent example is a lady who spends $45 a week for her family of 4. Doubled, it's still under $400 a month! So not gonna happen here.

We are two weeks into the month, and I've spent just under $300 so far. I'm doing better than I thought!

Through the month, I'll try to share little bit of how I am making it work. Truthfully, I haven't really changed my habits any. I am not baking our bread from scratch, but I'll only buy the 100% whole wheat stuff. We still eat pounds and pounds and pounds of fresh fruit.

How much do you spend on groceries?


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/14/2008 07:56:00 AM | Permalink | |
You Take a Bath to Get CLEAN
Monday, October 13, 2008

Mr P comes downstairs to announce that he's finished his shower. His hair is, indeed, wet. Still, I'm suspicious.

"Let me see your feet," I demand. He's spent all day running around the neighborhood barefoot, and all of the kids' feet are black.

He holds them out, and they are gray and spotty. "You're feet aren't clean!" I announce, as though it wasn't obvious.

"I washed them as best I could!" he protests.

"Well, you'll have to do it again. Go get the washcloth you used."

"Oh, I didn't use a washcloth." Or soap, I'd guess.

Is it possible I'm so bad at this homeschooling thing that my poor, unsocialized children don't even know how to bathe themselves? Or is it just a boy thing?


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/13/2008 08:21:00 AM | Permalink | |
Homework Hassles: Friday Fun
Friday, October 10, 2008
I just thought I would share Mr R's handwriting page with you. Can you tell it's not his favorite thing and that he gets distracted?

On the political front, I saw this on three different blogs yesterday. Check it out.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/10/2008 08:13:00 AM | Permalink | |
Miracles do happen...
Thursday, October 09, 2008

How to Ruin a Carpet:
  1. Leave a red Sharpie out.
  2. Take your eyes off the baby for a moment.

How to Save a Carpet:
Search the house for the bottle of rubbing alcohol you just bought. Give up and go to the dollar store, but not before finding a roll of paper towels.

Contemplate stopping for a different kind of alcohol, to make the red marker + rental house = loss of deposit equation less painful. Remember it is a weeknight, you don't drink, and you're knocked up anyway and just drive home.

Search the house for your spray bottle. Dig it out from under the girl's bed.

Mix up a concoction of half alcohol, half water.

Contemplate testing spray on hidden area. Decide that the carpet's already ruined, so just jump right in. Spray and blot. Blot and rub. Spray. Blot.

Repeat 416 times for the next hour, while the family eats dinner. Use the whole roll of paper towels.

Now the carpet has a light pink smear. It looks like the spray did bleach the carpet, but relax. You just cleaned the filth off of one spot, and that's why it's 7 shades lighter.

Spray with carpet spray.

beg plead cry Convince your husband to break out the carpet cleaning machine. Announce you are going to bed when he's only halfway through, because you're mean like that.

Wake up to a fresh, spot free rug!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/09/2008 10:19:00 AM | Permalink | |
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Works for Me Wednesday - yeah. I got nothing.

But, I've been givenan award so I'll brag instead!

Sue in Japan gave me the Brillante award.

For those who are about to be honored, here are the rules:

1. The winner can (and should, really) put the logo on his/her blog
2. The winner must link to the person from whom they recieved their award.
3. The winner must nominate at least 7 other blogs for an award.
4. The winner must place links to those blogs on their own blog.
5. The winner must leave a message on the blogs of the people they’ve nominated.

I'm passing the award onto some longtime bloggy friends - I was reading these ladies before I had a blog! They've probably already gotten it from someone else, though.

Barb, SFOMom
In the Heart of My Home
Principled Discovery
Like Merchant Ships
Homespun Heart
The Sparrow's Nest

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/08/2008 09:51:00 AM | Permalink | |
Off the Wagon
Monday, October 06, 2008

As you may remember, I started a diet on Oct. 1. It actually was great! I lost three pound by Oct. 5, and although it was hard not eating whatever I wanted, I didn't starve either. I even got to eat ice cream.

I'm off the diet however.

We're having a baby!

Just in time, too. God is never outdone in His generosity!

BTW - I just wantonly stole that image from the web. Do you think I'd actually takea picture of something I peed on?

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/06/2008 09:20:00 AM | Permalink | |
Obama Campaign Sign: Sharin' the Love
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Popping this to the top again.

Mama Says:
How can Obama lead a people, if he won't recognize a person?

Wow, my poster has spread across the blogosphere! Well, not across, but it's popping up all over in our little corner of the World Wide Web!***UPDATE*** I'm moving this to the top of my page again as several more people linked over the weekend.

If you are new to this site, and would like to know more about why I feel so passionately about this, please check out the links on my right sidebar under Prolife and Politics.

Or watch this video, and see what Obama fought to keep legal.

I wanted to acknowledge those who are spreading the word. Again, anyone is welcome to grab the sign and post it on their blog. I'd appreciate a link back, and leave a note in the comments so I can get you up on this page! Or, fill in the Mr. Linky yourself! I plugged in everyone I knew about already.

Anyone who posts this poster on their blog with a link back to me will get some Mama linky love!

Was your link removed? Only sites with the actual poster on their site (sidebar or in a post) will be on Mr. Linky. Let me know if you have any issues - maybe I just didn't see it!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/04/2008 09:30:00 AM | Permalink | |
Friday Not So Fun
Friday, October 03, 2008

Believe it or not, I've never been on a weight reducing diet. I've been on special diabetes diets, but the goal was to modulate blood sugar, not lose weight. I'm always pregnant or nursing!

I generally "even out" at a size 10 in between babies . Lately, I've been a 10/12... edging closer to 12. Also, my feet just plain hurt.

I've also noticed that my "sweet treat" is now a "sweet standard - with seconds". Having a fun size candy bar with my coffee is not the exception. I spoil myself... everyday.

So I'm going to try this whole dieting thing. I may even attempt to work up a sweat.

Now the question is, which diet? We already eat fairly healthy. Brown rice, meatless meals, oatmeal for breakfast, whole wheat bread, pounds and pounds of fruit... all are standard routine around here. Which one should I try? Low carb? Food combining? McDougall?

Nah. I'm going to follow a method I heard about in high school (in biology, not the locker room) and came across again a while ago in the blogosphere. Look up how much your ideal weight is. For me, it's 135-140. ( Current weight: solid 160. I told you I was closer to a 12!)

Go here, and type in your goal weight, and other stats. Be brutally honest about activity level - check what it IS not what you want it to be. Figure out how many calories it takes to maintain that body weight. Eat that much food and no more.

For me, at a sedentary 140 pounds, it's 1909 calories per day.

The really great thing about this eating plan is that I don't have to radically alter anything for the rest of the family. There is no complaining or rebellion from anyone else to sabotage me. I can't force anyone to diet, anyway, and my kids don't need to. They shouldn't, what with the calories they burn drawing hopscotch grids on the carpet and climbing the walls and all.

So far, it's okay. Yesterday I ate 1905 calories. Today, I'm at 1500 after dinner (how the HECK did that happen?) so I have room to play - with ice cream! Woot!

The sad thing is, I've basically only eliminated mindless munching and replaced it with mindful munching. How much was I even eating before?

Things that are helping:
  • I like unsweetened tea. I found coconut flavor at the dollar store and it's good!
  • I went ahead and bought some frozen meals for my lunch. Michelina's budget entrees - I cook frozen veggies to add in because one of those things is seriously soooo not a meal. It's so much easier to have a portion and calorie controlled meal ready and waiting, instead of trying to figure out the calorie count from something I made. Truthfully, I usually skip lunch and just eat mindlessly here and there throughout the day.
  • I made a list of 100-150 calorie snacks, so if I'm hungry, I know what to eat. I get my info from this site.
  • I bought some extra munchies and divided them up into sandwich bags, each about 100 calories. 1/2 c. Crunch n Munch, for example, or 10 pretzel sticks. I rarely eat caramel corn, so it's an extra treat that helps "smooth the bumps" without breaking the calorie bank.

My list of snacks so far?

10 honey twist pretzels, 96
10 large baby carrots, 52
1 med. apple, 100
1 med. pear, 103
1 nectarine, 69
30 grapes w/ skin, 64 (frozen into grapesicles - no extra calories!)
1/2 c. oatmeal w/ 1 tsp. brown sugar, 126
Black bean salsa (black beans, corn, Rotel) 1/2 c., 75
4 gingersnaps, 120 (or, 30 calories each)
1/2 Crunch n Munch, 94

What are your favorite, low cal snacks?

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/03/2008 07:47:00 AM | Permalink | |
Bailing Fast
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Some thoughts on the bailout bill. Sorry if I'm incoherent, these are just random notes.

How did we get here? The mortgage crisis. What brought on the mortgage crisis? Subprime loans with terrible terms. Why were banks giving out subprime loans? The government ENCOURAGED them too. It had to do with giving minorities and low-income renters home ownership.

So the banks went hog wild. For a time, you could even get a no-doc loan. One didn't have to provide proof of income, ability to pay, or anything.

The first bailout package, in which we, the US taxpayers, will buy junk assets off of banks that took huge risks, failed.

Drafters of the bill then piled on more stuff, including changes to the alternative minimum tax, and raising the FDIC insurance limits (from a current $100k to $250k).

Rep. Culberson, who represents me, says this:
To be clear, I understand that Congress must do something to restore liquidity and ease credit, but yesterday’s bill was focused more on protecting Wall Street institutions than protecting taxpayers. Handing over unlimited power to the Treasury Secretary to purchase toxic assets with our tax dollars under a new system that will take weeks or months to set up and raising the debt limit to more than $11 trillion (or 78% of GDP) is not the solution; instead we should focus on preventing a run on banks by raising the FDIC limit to $250,000 for deposit insurance in checking and money market accounts.

I will admit I was guilty of shooting my mouth off about this on someone's blog, but now I get why the FDIC insurance raise is necessary. I didn't even consider corporate entities day to day liquidity needs!

Rep. Culberson explains it this way:
As former Federal Reserve Governor and National Economic Council Director Larry Lindsey said, “Nearly 40% of the assets in the banking system are not protected by FDIC insurance because they are in accounts that exceed the $100,000 insurance limit. Most of these are not ‘investments’ in the usual sense of the word. They are often the transaction accounts of businesses that have to meet payrolls and pay vendors. If you have to make a biweekly payroll for 50 people, it is sheer folly to expect the paychecks to be drawn on accounts in three or four separate banks. Sometimes individuals who would normally keep a balance well under $100,000 might be over the limit to make a down payment on a house, purchase a car, or pay quarterly taxes.”

So the FDIC thing seems to be a good thing. But do we really want to buy up assets no one else wants? Is it possible the holders won't sell to free market buyers, because they think they can get more money from us poor, duped taxpayers? Are government owned securities, and taxpayer meddling in our free market economy a good thing?

Read the bill here. The House votes Friday. Call your representative! If we reward failure, what will we get more of?


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/02/2008 09:03:00 AM | Permalink | |
Kitchen Organization: Works for Me Wednesday
Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Today is the kitchen organization edition of Works for Me Wednesday.

Mama Says:
Ignore the advice! Do what works for you! Warning: you are about to witness a slew of kitchen organization faux pas. But they work for me!

For example, my pantry is in a corner of my eat in kitchen. There is a largish cabinet above the dishwasher for dishes, but it's really not large enough to store all of the dishes for 9 people. I also try to make my house as child friendly as possible.

And so, my pantry looks like this:

Easy for the slaves kids to unload the dishwasher, get their own dishes for snacks, and set the table for dinner. The lowest shelf holds our breakfast cereal - again, the kids can get it themselves.

The kids usually eat on salad plates. When we don't have a dishwasher, washing plastic is a pain.

Don't worry, I manage to cram a lot of food in there too. "Negative space" does not exist in here!

I ignore the advice to clear off your counters, too. Last spring husband dear bought me this mixer. I use it often, it's heavy, and I don't have a good place in the cupboards to store it. So it lives on this little counter, which is now my "baking center". I'm much more likely to make something with it already out!

I have a Rubbermaid cupboard shelf right out in the open, on my counter. I suppose I could wind pretty ribbon through it or a seasonal garland...but, nah. I'm not Martha Stewarty enough for that. It was decorated with a wasp nest in a pickle jar, but I moved that off the counter before I took a pic so you wouldn't think we were unhygienic. The large jars are plastic! Swoon! $5 at WalMart. They hold sugar, AP flour, and my bread mix (which is empty now). The bread mix is 2 parts AP flour or bread flour, 2 parts whole wheat flour, and 1 part wheat or oat bran.

The little blue jars are for sugar. I have a white sugar and a brown sugar bowl. You're not *supposed* to have a brown sugar bowl for the table, but we eat a lot of oatmeal and oatmeal just ain't right without brown sugar! The third container holds various things. Sometimes baking soda (I clean with it and buy it by the 3 lb. bag at Sam's). Sometimes leftover chocolate chips.

Yeah, okay. It usually holds cake mix. I figured out how to hack "Warm Delights" and my waistline has never been the same. I even - horrors - buy the cake mix at the store, and that's MY jar since Mr R can't have most storebought mixes.

I have baskets in the cabinet - one holds sugars in various forms (brown, powdered, dried honey granules). One holds "mix ins" - raisins, coconut, nuts, chocolate chips. See all those bags? It's various types of flour, masa, cornmeal... and they are not stored in airtight containers! Gasp! 4,000 gallon ziplock bags around every food product in the cabinet does not work for me. I just put bay leaves in all the corners, keep it vacuumed out with that nifty crevice tool, and hope for the best. Yes, I keep the vacuum cleaner near the kitchen.

I have a cleaning caddy in my cupboard. It holds all my little baking stuff - the things you need every time you make something. Vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, other extracts. When I'm making something, I just pull it down in one fell swoop.

For more of Mama's tips and tricks in the kitchen, click here.

For more Works for Me Wednesday Kitchen Goodness, head over to Shannon's at Rocks in My Dryer!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/01/2008 09:41:00 AM | Permalink | |