Food Stamp Challenge 2009
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
My family (okay, it was all me, and the rest were along for the ride) tried a food stamp challenge in October of 2008. We came in under budget - for many reasons.

I am starting what I'm calling a Journey to Simplicity in 2009. I want to make room for the things that matter. Part of that journey is simplifying our food and reducing our expenditures.

The fact that we need to buy a new (to us) Mamamobile that can fit 10+ people *might* have something to do with it, too...

I've seen varying amounts for the Food Stamp Challenge. Onedollardietproject allots $1 per person per day. The famous Oregon Governor experiment allotted $3 per person per day (all amounts are for food only).

I'm estimating for a family of 10 -since I'm pregnant. One dollar would be $70 a week. $3 per person per day would be $210 per week.

My goal falls in the middle. $2 per person, per day. I think I will be able to purchase organic milk, and plenty of fresh seasonal produce for $140 a week.

I didn't buy organic milk in December, but it is something I want to start doing on a regular basis. I don't think you have to buy everything organic, but milk + young children will have a big impact on health, IMO. Do your own research and do what's right for you.

Along the same theme, I know I posted about my meat dilemma previously. I am still undecided. There are butchers around, but I don't speak fluent enough Spanish to ascertain where their meat comes from. I've been kicking around the idea of ordering half a cow - my sister's in-laws do every year - but we don't have an upright freezer right now. We shall see how a quest for better meat pans out over the next year.

My first trip actually occurred on Dec. 31, 2008 - but the food will be consumed in 2009 so I thought it would be a good starting point. I'll do my darnedest to keep track of expenditures month to month. We continually restock our pantry and although I will be using things I already have (milk, rice, etc.) I'm not going to nitpick. I'll have to buy more and then those items will appear in our expenses.

I have a few freezer and fridge items on hand that will be used up soon, as well. I have a 10 lb. turkey, 4 or 5 bags of frozen veggies, two eggplants and a head of cabbage. As well as the ever-present gallons of milk and sticks of butter.

Mindfulness is the first step to simplicity, and I think publicly posting our food consumption will definitely make me more mindful! I hope it can help my readers, and I'm counting on my readers to help me out, with tips and recipes, too!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/31/2008 08:50:00 PM | Permalink | |
Salt in the Wound
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
We have a fair bit of salt shaker drama around here.

I had the standard little glass set with the chrome metal lids. They got lost a lot. Then they got broken.

I upgraded to a wooden set - with a napkin holder! The shakers were too small (seriously, I had to refill it about twice a week) and they were hard to fill. They also got lost a lot. It looked kind of like this.

So I moved on to acrylic ones, from the dollar store. I bought THREE sets, and put salt in 5 of them and pepper in one. We have a giant vat of pepper that we plunk right down on the table, because we're classy like that.

Four of the salt shakers got permanently lost. The fifth got broken, despite being acrylic.

Every night at dinner I have the Great Shaker Hunt. I shake down the children (har-de-har-har), interrogating them as to the whereabouts of my vital kitchen tool. Then I end up trying to open the spout on the salt can a fraction and shaking it out. Once I poked holes in the cardboard top with a skewer, out of desperation.

My new weapon in the Salt Wars:
Big. Shiny. Unbreakable.

This thing holds probably half a can of salt. They are at least 6" high and 3-4" in diameter.

Hopefully we can at least stop losing it!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/30/2008 11:09:00 AM | Permalink | |
Running Scared or Prudent?
Monday, December 29, 2008
Much has been made of the housing bubble, how it broke, and what's going to happen next.

In a nutshell:
Banks have assets and liabilities. On their balance sheet, mortgages are assets (they bring money in through interest payments, fees, etc.) and deposits by customers are liabilities (they have to give the money back).

So many people have defaulted on their mortgages, that the amount of bank owned property has skyrocketed. The banks made loans on inflated property values. Properties that the bank has on their books as a $250,000 loan (a $250k asset) is now actually worth maybe $175k, what someone will pay for it. However, the banks cannot sell these properties at such a loss. So they keep them on the books as a "real property" asset, for $250k even though the asset is not worth that amount of money. Someone called it "Enron style accounting".

If the banks were to adjust their books to reflect the actual value of their assets, they would be bankrupt. Their liabilities would far outweigh the assets.

Some analysts are predicting a second wave of mortgage defaults in the next year as a few other special types of loans, such as the Option-A, come due and go into default.

How does this affect me?

We do not have a mortgage. We rent.

I am still worried, though. Our landlords are not professional property developers. Rather, it is a family that outgrew this house, and moved into a larger one. Later, the husband got transferred out of state. Instead of selling the two homes here in Texas, they kept them as rental properties.

If they default on their mortgage, I will be the last to know. I have a friend who went through this scenario in August. Her landlord was foreclosed on, and she didn't find out until the sheriff arrived to serve an eviction notice - three days after she had paid that month's rent. She had 10 days to pack up, find a new home, and move.

My landlords are very nice, upstanding citizens, and are a military family. I do not think they would try to rip us off. Then again, I don't know what their credit rating is. I don't know the terms of their loan. I can't control whether there will be a layoff or illness affecting their income.

However, I still think it would be prudent to plan for a "just in case". Set money aside for a new deposit, should we need one. Money to move quickly. Cash for a motel. (Although we ran into a motel problem when we first moved here - occupancy restrictions. I couldn't even get a quote for a family with more than four children!)

Beefing up the savings is all part of the new economy, especially if your shelter is at the mercy of someone else's payment.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/29/2008 11:31:00 AM | Permalink | |
God Keeps His Promises - Merry Christmas!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
From Isaiah chapter 62:

For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.

2 The nations will see your righteousness,
and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.

3 You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD's hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

11 The LORD has made proclamation
to the ends of the earth:
"Say to the Daughter of Zion,
'See, your Savior comes!
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.' "

12 They will be called the Holy People,
the Redeemed of the LORD;
and you will be called Sought After,
the City No Longer Deserted.


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/25/2008 08:00:00 AM | Permalink | |
Christmas Eve with the Disorganized and Discombobulated
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
It's Christmas Eve. I must make my fudge! I've been putting it off because I can't use marshmallow creme.

I had three strikes against me before I even started:

  • We couldn't find the candy thermometer. It's okay, I'll just use the soft ball candy test.

  • It's raining. Can't help it. I'll use 1/2 c. corn syrup in place of sugar, in hopes of stabilizing the crystals. Even the driest day in Houston this week had 43% humidity.

  • New, untried recipe. But got raves on and was reprinted at Home-Ec 101.

I don't let little things like life circumstances stop me. So off I went to make the fudge.

It didn't turn out.

But... somehow I made Tootsie Rolls in the process and they are really good! I broke a spoon stirring the taffy-ish "fudge". If a little chewy.

Then, at 4 pm we decided to attend 7 pm Mass as a family. So we're leaving in an hour and I must fly to shave my legs and find clothes for the masses. Too much information? Sorry.

Then I'll return home and finish repairing that last stocking.

And wrap the presents.

And make cranberry sauce.

And two pies.

And rolls. And maybe even kolaches. Then I'll cut up fresh fruit for breakfast- a Christmas tradition.

Late nights and unexpected plans are a daily part of my existence.

Merry Christmas!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/24/2008 06:04:00 PM | Permalink | |
Whew, That Was Close!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Last night I was watching the Duggar's birth special. I convinced my editor to pay me to write it up, even though it's not a show we usually cover. Can you believe she had the baby last Thursday and they aired the footage 4 days later? Those editors must have been pulling doubles all weekend.

Mr R, age 10, was watching with me. At one point, Jim Bob and Michelle attend a natural childbirth class because, as they say, you can never stop learning. The instructor got a little graphic in her advice of how to use natural prostaglandins to soften the cervix. Without warning, I might add.

And then it happened. The ads came on and Mr R had a question.

Mr R: Mom, what was that word she said? What does that mean?

Me (hoping he's not thinking of "intercourse"): Uh, um, what word?

Mr R: Oh, I can't think of how to say it. You know what she was talking about?

Me (stalling): Cervix?

Mr R: No. Transverse. What does transverse mean?

Me (happily): Oh! That means the baby is sideways!

Whew! That was close!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/23/2008 11:39:00 AM | Permalink | |
Randomness, take 1
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Baby X used sign language! He says "more" using signs now.

He has also discovered how to use the sink stopper. He has combined this knowledge with the ability to drag chairs in to the bathroom and turn on the faucet. My bathroom floor is very clean now.

The spin cycle on the washer went out. While it was full of sleeping bags, which are difficult to wring out with one person.

Went to husband dear's Christmas party, which was a catered buffet style holiday dinner. Oh, my goodness! When did I get so picky? The cranberry sauce was out of a can, the stuffing was from a box, and the dessert were those creme puff that you can buy frozen and thaw. The mashed potatoes were made with margarine, not butter, and the rolls came from a bag. I never would have noticed before, and I always just thought I didn't have a sensitive palate. I guess it turns out that I just ate so much fake food I couldn't taste real food! Once you have real cranberry relish there's no going back, even though I adored canned cranberry sauce growing up.

I'm going to return my Sam's Club membership. We've been members for years and years, but since moving to TX, they just don't have good deals. I go *maybe* every two months, and the only thing I really buy is butter and yeast. And butter went up, it's now $2.25 per pound at Sam's. I can match that with coupons and loss leaders.

I've been to four different Sam's in Houston, and NONE of them carry things that were staples for me to pick up at other stores - Healthy Harvest pasta, bread flour in bulk, cornstarch in bulk, olives, and ZipFizz drink powder. I saw 1 lb. bags of yeast at the grocery store for a nickel more than I pay at Sam's. Supposedly, you get a full refund of your membership price if you cancel. We'll see!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/21/2008 11:23:00 AM | Permalink | |
A Bush Bill I'm Thankful For!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Bush signed a conscience clause into law!

Any facility that receives federal funding cannot require health workers to recommend abortion, perform them, or dispense abortifacient drugs if they have a religious or moral objection.


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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/20/2008 04:59:00 PM | Permalink | |
It doesn't feel like Christmas.

I pulled out the Advent wreath, but I'll admit that I didn't get around to buying candles and we haven't done a single night.

Husband dear has worked every Sunday, and we haven't been to Mass since Thanksgiving. Except I took the older kids on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception because it was in the evening.

Our Jesus Crib is still in the box. Our Jesse Tree - didn't work out this year. I'll be better prepared next year...

The stockings are up, the Christmas tree is up, the Nativities are out... but I am not in the Christmas mood.

Next week, husband is off for the whole week. Need to think of some activities to do as a family.


I wonder how many of the Israelites felt the same way? Tired of waiting for the Messiah. Resigned to putting one foot in front of the other and just making it through the day, the week, the month.

And then they were surprised by joy.

O come, Emmanuel!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/20/2008 10:48:00 AM | Permalink | |
Food Stamp Challenge Reflections: 7 Quick Takes
Friday, December 19, 2008
(I know the 7 Quick Takes should be, ya know, quick takes; but as I was typing this up and came out with 7 reflections, I couldn't resist!)

I tried the Food Stamp Challenge in October, and was surprised at the results. We used less than half our "allotment", spending just under $500 for the month.

However, I've been thinking about this challenge. It's easy to play at poverty. For many, being frugal is a means to an end, and it can be entertaining, but it is not a matter of survival. If one scores a great deal at CVS, it's wonderful; but for most of us in the Mommy Blogosphere, if we can't get shampoo for free, we still have the means to purchase it.

We might, out of necessity, go without luxuries like packaged chicken broth, but it's never really a question of whether we'll eat. It's more a question of what we'll eat. We choose to eat beans instead of steak to achieve a goal - staying at home with the kids, paying off the car, or even just to beef up our retirement savings. If we choose the steak, we might have a goal setback but it is not a catastrophe.

We might have a tight grocery budget, but generally a dime increase in a bag of flour will not break us. Our children will still eat. If eggs are too expensive, we have the means and the knowledge to buy something else. If milk prices rise too high, we will hop on the Internet and research the McDougall diet or buy calcium fortified orange juice or look up and calculate the calcium requirements for the members of our family. We have education, knowledge, and resources to overcome many challenges.

It's easy to say, "Well, I used only half of what the government would give me. It's not that hard." But to do so denies the reality of the situation many food stamp recipients are in.

I am not trying to stereotype anyone; the following broad generalities are based on my personal experience with friends and acquaintance who were food stamp recipients coupled with reading various reports and human interest stories published by the papers.

Here's why what was easy for me and an intellectual challenge to stretch my paradigms and budget may not be so simple for others.

1. I was able to price shop. I have three major grocery stores, a Big Lots, a dollar store, AND a Super Wal-Mart all within a quarter mile of my house. I have walked to the grocery store before!

Reality: Many people live in very urbanized areas, where grocery stores are few and far between. Often, the nearest place to buy food has expensive, convenience store prices and poor selection, especially for fresh produce.

2. I was able to make many things from scratch. I am a stay at home, homeschooling mom. Baking bread, for example, is not an insurmountable obstacle.

Reality: Many food stamp recipients are "working poor". They work a full time job, maybe two. Then they must pick up their children, supervise homework, perhaps go to the laundrymat on their days off, and fit making budget meals into the limited evening hours, after they are exhausted from the day's work. For a woman working double shifts, having a three hour window of time in the kitchen for mixing, rising, and shaping loaves could be impossible.

3. I have reliable transportation. It was not difficult for me to stock up on a 10 lb. turkey for $4 and a 6 lb. roast plus buy regular groceries and frozen foods.

Reality: Many food stamp recipients do not have cars; they rely on public transportation or pay exorbitant fees for taxis. If they can't carry it in their arms, they can't bring it home. They might have children tagging along, as well. Would you carry a 10 lb. turkey on a bus, if you also had your four year old along as well as your other necessary groceries?

4. I am part of a team that includes another adult. When I am busy or overwhelmed or tired, there is a backup. If I am tied up making yogurt or kneading bread or cooking eggs, and the kids need something, there is usually another adult around (at least at dinnertime) to tend to them. I don't usually have to leave the kitchen or risk burning our meal to bandage a scrape or change a diaper.

Reality: Many food stamp recipients are single parents, or work split shifts so there is only one parent at home. If a situation arises that needs parental intervention, including a sick child, a neighborhood skirmish, a childhood injury, that parent must leave the food (possibly to ruin). Also, everything is on one person, making it more difficult to come up with creative meal ideas or even make many things from scratch.

5. I have easy and quick access to the Internet. Thousands of recipes are a click away; I can cruise over to Hillbilly Housewife and print out a $45 dollar menu and grocery list. I can read frugal blogs and nutrition websites. I can plan to make the most of my money. I can read, I can write, and I can generally tell which foods are not a good buy.

Reality: Many food stamp recipients do not have daily access to the web. If they can get to a library (see the above paragraph on transportation) they can find cookbooks or access the Web - but it takes time and familiarity to know where to look. There are still illiterate people in America; many libraries probably don't carry The Tightwad Gazette in Spanish or Russian or Swahili.

6. I have many modern conveniences. I have a reliably working refrigerator and freezer; I don't worry that my meat won't keep or the milk will spoil. I have a large pantry to store food bought in bulk. I have an oven, a stove, a microwave, and a crockpot to cook a variety of dishes in a variety of ways; I have a blender, an electric mixer, and a drawer full of gadgets and utensils designed to make cooking easy and enjoyable.

Reality: Many people do without even a basic kitchen. At one point, my family lived in a weekly motel. Most of the other "residents" did not speak English; many were migrant workers. We paid $10 a week extra for a mini fridge, and I cooked in a crockpot plugged in on top of the dresser. We washed our dishes in the bathtub. We also were fortunate enough to own a microwave. My pantry consisted of a Rubbermaid tub; my kitchen tools were a knife, a vegetable peeler, a cutting board, and a can opener.

We kept lunch meat and leftovers for husband dear's lunch in the fridge; every night I would make a quart of powdered milk for the children because that was all the fridge would hold. I had transportation; I visited the grocery almost every night for the next evening's meat and meals (we could only hold about a pound of meat of that fridge, I could not buy ahead.) However, I could not cook many frugal staples - like rice or pasta. I could make beans in the crockpot, but I couldn't make cornbread to go with it. I couldn't buy frozen vegetables or keep homemade, cheap chicken broth on hand. Everything had to be canned or packages and shelf stable (adding to cost.)

7. I had the luxury of failure. One of my meals did not turn out. (Well, it did eventually, but took much longer to cook than anticipated and wasn't done until 8:30 pm!) What did we do? Bought a rotisserie chicken.

Reality: Food stamps cannot be used at fast food restaurants. If a meal is ruined, it still must be eaten or the family must go hungry. This is exacerbated by the time constraints; if one cooks almost everything from scratch to stay under budget, and nothing is prepared, then there is nothing to eat (at that time.) It is a luxury to run for fried chicken or to even have the time, resources, and knowledge to prepare and freeze a casserole ahead.

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

My random musings on our economic crisis have made me think that many people are going to embark on a path to frugality. Even people who may have retired early and are living "off the interest" are going to be slashing costs or looking for work as the Fed lowered their interest rate to an obscenely low amount. Nobody is making anything off interest, now!

I hope they practice frugality before it is a necessity, and make their mistakes while they have the luxury of recovering.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/19/2008 08:00:00 AM | Permalink | |
Paying Out of Pocket: Works For Me Wednesday
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Many insurance plans have differing coverages for prescription drugs. My health insurance has three copays: $15 for generic, $30 for name-brand, and $45 for a name-brand 30 day supply of drugs.

The formularies also might not make sense.

I usually have gestational diabetes. My doctor wants me to monitor my blood sugar, even though I have not been diagnosed. No problem, I got a nifty free meter from CVS'ing, so all I needed was a prescription for the strips!

Except. My insurance didn't cover that brand of strips (and it's a $45 copay.) Oh, they'll cover insulin shots and A1C tests and expensive diabetes drugs, but the strips necessary for good blood sugar control, so those other things aren't necessary? Nope.

There was a brand that was covered, but I'd have to buy a different meter. Fortunately, it's a brand that often has many coupons and rebates, making it cheap. Again, though, my copay for 100 strips is $45! Currently, I only need to test twice per day, so I really only need 60 strips per month, anyway.

I noticed Wal-Mart had an off brand machine, Reli-On. The machine was $9, and 50 strips were $22 (100 strips are $43). For $31 - 33% less than my copay - I bought a new machine and a month's supply (almost) of strips.

I found the same thing when I had a prescription for Motrin (800 mg.) A bottle of generic ibuprofen was a fraction of the cost of a copay!

Paying out of pocket - sometimes - Works for Me!

Also, this recipe for Olive Garden Alfredo is totally working for me, too!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/17/2008 12:14:00 AM | Permalink | |
Wanted: Blog Post
Monday, December 15, 2008
Over the weekend, I read a good blog post about Huckleberry Finn and Tim LaHaye/Jerry Jenkins' Left Behind books. It was comparing the choices made in those books, specifically the choice made in HF to tear up the letter outing Jim, even though that was a choice for eternal damnation.

I didn't save it, I can't remember the blog, and I'm not having any luck with Google!

Did anyone else read it? Can you point me in the right direction?


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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/15/2008 07:10:00 PM | Permalink | |
Great Kid Book for Mass
I have a new advertiser, "Hear My Voice", a children's translation of the Gospel Readings.

The author, Jonathan Stampf, was kind enough to send me a reader's copy and it is a great resource for parents! It retells the week's Gospel in a simple, child friendly format and contains the actual Gospel on the sidebar for parents to read.

It is fully illustrated, and the pictures are simple and uncluttered without being simple-minded. There is also a website where you can print out a coloring page for that week's Mass. The pictures are of children, set in the time period when Christ lived.

I've long been a fan of Open Wednesdays, but that is a limited service in that the talks are for slightly older children and you can only see one week at a time. This book contains the entire year of readings.

I like it because we can read over the gospel message with the kids, and then take it to Mass where they can look through the whole book and the life of Christ.

You can order through the button on my sidebar; it would make a great Christmas or Epiphany gift, especially for a godchild.

Hear My Voice is a paid advertiser, however, I only allowed him to advertise after I approved and liked his product. We use it at our house - and it was nice this weekend when we were sick and missed Mass. I was still able to go over the readings with the kids.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/15/2008 09:59:00 AM | Permalink | |
7 Quick Things About Cooking Dinner
Friday, December 12, 2008
1. If the baby breaks an egg on the floor, cover it with salt and it's easy to scoop up.

2. If the baby is rooting in the fridge for eggs, maybe you should feed him. Isn't it time to start dinner?

3. Buying whole chickens when they are on sale is economical, if you have the freezer space.

4. One should remove the giblets before freezing a chicken. This will prevent liver popsicle chiseling later on, when it's time to cook the bird.

5. It is entirely possible to overcook potatoes so much that people think they are raw. Especially if your bird is still frozen in the middle when you put it in the oven.

6. Cold medicine + making a hot meal for 9 people is not a good combination.

7. One should keep pizza coupons handy at all times.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/12/2008 09:45:00 AM | Permalink | |
MaMa, DaDa, and the Silent Mr X
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Baby X is 20 months old and does not talk.

He does not babble like normal babies - no buh-buh-buh-buh, no da-da-da-da.

He doesn't wave hi or bye-bye. I have the book Baby Signs, and like I did with all of the children, tried to teach him some signs when he was a few months old. He does not use a single sign. He may, occasionally, point.

Poor little guy. He has a whining noise he makes, with different intonations, and we interpret what he means. He did say "Ha" for hi a few times last week, but doesn't do it consistently and only says it after someone else does.

So we had him evaluated. It took a lot of paperwork. My set is 10 pages long!

They pegged most of his development as right on track 18-21 months. (I think he's more advanced than that, but he got marked down for a lot of speech related things, like "says please and thank you".) He's socialized at a 29 month old level (who says homeschoolers are unsocialized, LOL!)

His receptive speech has always been fabulous. He will hear me talk about going to the store, and bring me my purse and shoes. He'll hear me say to one of the kids that dinner's almost ready, and go get in his high chair.

His expressive speech is at a 4 month old level. He has one consonant sound, which he only makes when he's playing animals.

I was curious as to what a speech evaluation would look like for a baby who isn't talking. They did a lot of motor skills evaluations by providing him with different toys to play with - a ring stacker, a peg board, a shape puzzle. They gave him a pencil to draw with.

Most of the evaluation consisted of questions for me - how does he walk up the stairs? What does he do when he's hungry? How does he greet his father when he comes home from work.

4 months old. Wow. I knew he was behind...but not that far behind. The therapist will come to our home one day per week to work with me (and him, but she's mostly teaching me and the other kids.)

They are going to try to train him to use picture cards, as well, to communicate. Eventually, the goal is to have him give me a card with a picture of milk on it when he wants milk, and so on.

I predict the card for "go outside" will get lots of wear and tear. He's such a funny, sweet little guy!

Oh, my beautiful darling! I love you so! I can't wait until you can tell me what you are thinking about.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/11/2008 02:34:00 PM | Permalink | |
About Time for Blagojevich
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
The governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, has been engaged in funny business for quite some time (it is Chicago politics, I guess...)

Story after story was heard in the prolife world of things that were not quite... by the book. Whispers of fraud and abuse have swirled since before his election. He's still tied up in the Rezco scandal, which so far seems to have left Obama unscathed.

Just yesterday I was outraged by his conduct in the factory worker situation:
  • Bank of America has pulled the line of credit for Republic Windows and Doors, worried they won't be paid back.
  • Republic Windows and Doors announced they were closing the factory.
  • The workers have staged a sit in (the electrical union is organizing things) demanding severance pay and vacation pay. (Not sure how a company with no money is supposed to write them a check that won't bounce...)
(The disgraced Rev. Jesse Jackson is in the mix somewhere, too.)

Blagojevich is now in federal custody, accused of fraud and attempting to profit financially from his role in appointing Obama's senatorial successor. He also tried to extort the owners of Wrigley's Field, the Chicago Tribune, to make the Tribune fire editors who have criticized the Blagojevich administration. (Another paper has endorsed Blagojevich's wife to take over Obama's seat. Wonder what dirt Blag. had on them.)

Corruption in the Blagojevich administration has been the focus of a federal Operation Board Games involving an alleged $7 million scheme aimed at squeezing kickbacks out of companies seeking business from the state. Federal prosecutors have acknowledged they're also investigating "serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud" under Blagojevich.

The Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday morning that the federal investigation had spread to Blagojevich's efforts to fill the U.S. Senate vacancy left by the election of Barack Obama as president.

It's nice to see justice served against corrupt public officials. Pray for a conversion and turning away from the things of this life for Gov. Blagojevich!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/09/2008 03:05:00 PM | Permalink | |
Wendy's Gourmet Mushroom Swiss Burger: Review
It is a busy season, full of errands and trips out of town and along with that, fast food.

I saw ads for Wendy's Gourmet Mushroom Swiss Burger - be still my pregnant heart! Cheese. Bacon. Meat. Mushrooms. Someone else to cook it for me!

I tried it.

The bun was good. Not so soft the tomato soaked through in a soggy mess, but not so hard one might break a tooth, either.

After a big bite, I took another look. Oh, there are the mushrooms. In a tiny pile, huddled in the middle of a white plastic sheet with no holes that I suppose was the "Swiss" cheese. Another bite.. mmm, bacon. And... peanut butter? Wait, that can't be right. I'm still not sure what the weird aftertaste was.

There was some kind of herbage in the mayo. I'm not sure what it was, it didn't have a specific flavor. It just tasted... green. Like if you open your mouth while mowing the lawn.

All in all, it was a sad, sad specimen and a great disappointment. The only thing "gourmet" about it was the small portion and big price.

*Note: This burger was made in Houston, TX around 9pm on a Friday night. Your Wendy's might do a better job of it, but I won't be ordering it again.


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/09/2008 09:09:00 AM | Permalink | |
Get Thee To Church
Monday, December 08, 2008
Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

It's a non-transferrable Holy Day of Obligation, so go to Church!

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the Patron Saint of the U.S. Take a tour of the National Cathedral - the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

You can read the original 1854 declaration, Ineffablis Deus (Ineffable God) here.
And indeed it was wholly fitting that so wonderful a mother should be ever resplendent with the glory of most sublime holiness and so completely free from all taint of original sin that she would triumph utterly over the ancient serpent. To her did the Father will to give his only-begotten Son -- the Son whom, equal to the Father and begotten by him, the Father loves from his heart -- and to give this Son in such a way that he would be the one and the same common Son of God the Father and of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was she whom the Son himself chose to make his Mother and it was from her that the Holy Spirit willed and brought it about that he should be conceived and born from whom he himself proceeds.[1]

You can read more on the Scriptural basis for Catholic Marian beliefs here.

You can see the Mass readings for today here.

And find a kid-friendly explanation, here.

Art: The Immaculate Conception, by Peter Rubens, 1627 courtesy

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/08/2008 09:30:00 AM | Permalink | |
You Are In A Chair In The Sky...Friday Fun
Friday, December 05, 2008
Kim posted this and it's funny, but true.

He's a comedian and his language is a little coarse, though.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/05/2008 10:24:00 AM | Permalink | |
China: First Hand Account
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Before Fr. Powell was a Catholic priest studying in Rome, he was a Marxist who took on the challenge of teaching English at a Chinese university.

He writes about his experience here.

Problems began to arise almost immediately. First, the university was monitoring my every move. My mail arrived opened. My phone was tapped. I was followed off-campus. Books I checked out of the library were recorded. Visitors were registered before being allowed to come on-campus.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/04/2008 04:31:00 PM | Permalink | |
Guess Who Wrote This

The American Baby Code

Article 1. The purpose of the American Baby Code shall be to provide for a better distribution of babies. To assist couples who wish to prevent overproduction of offspring and thus to reduce the burden of charity and taxation for public relief and to protect society against the propagation and increase of the unfit.

Article 2. Birth control clinics shall be permitted to function as services of government health departments or under the support of charity, or as non-profit, self-sustaining agencies subject to inspection and control by public authorities.

Article 3. A marriage license shall in itself give husband and wife only the right to a common household and not the right to parenthood.

Article 4. No woman shall have the legal right to bear a child, no man shall have the right to become a father, without a permit for parenthood.

Article 5. Permits for parenthood shall be issued by government authorities to married couples upon application, providing the parents are financially able to support the expected child, have the qualifications needed for proper rearing of the child, have no transmissible diseases, and on the woman’s part no indication that maternity is likely to result in death or permanent injury to health.

Article 6. No permit for parenthood shall be valid for more than one birth.

Article 7. Every county shall be assisted administratively by the states in the effort to maintain a direct ratio between county birth rate and its index of child welfare. When the county records show an unfavorable variation from this ratio the county shall be taxed by the State…. The revenues thus obtained shall be expended by the State within the given county in giving financial support to birth control…..

Article 8. Feeble-minded persons, habitual congenital criminals, those afflicted with inheritable diseases, and others found biologically unfit should be sterilized or in cases of doubt should be isolated as to prevent the perpetuation of their afflictions by breeding.

Is it The Onion? A quirky Simpsons episode?

Nah. It's from the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger.

You might notice I have a button labeled "Fight FOCA". I haven't blogged about it because so many others have done such a better job. I did write a little about it pre-election.

Go. Read. Pray.

Art: Waiting to be Weighed, Timoleon Marie courtesy

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/04/2008 08:22:00 AM | Permalink | |
PajamaRama: Works for Me Wednesday
Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Every Christmas, I give the kids new pajamas.

They usually need a new pair.

It makes identifying the year Christmas pictures were taken easy.

It gives them something to open Christmas Eve, without them being disappointed that it's clothes.

New pajamas for Christmas morning... Works for Me!

For more Works for Me Wednesday fun, head over to Shannon's!

Art: Peeping into the Parlor by Jessie Wilcox-Smith, courtesy

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/03/2008 10:22:00 AM | Permalink | |
Book Meme, Revisited
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Nadja tagged me for a book meme.

Pass this on to 5 blogging friends. Open the closest book to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, to page 56. Write the 5th sentence, as well as two to five sentences following that.

I've done it twice this year, but I'm afraid this one is not as interesting as last February or as informative as last September.

No, I've been planning the next trimester of our school so the nearest books are DiscoveryWorks (3rd grade science text book), First Language Lessons, and The Mass Explained to Children by Maria Montessori.

From The Mass Explained to Children, Ch. IV "The Mass of the Catechumens" re: The Sign of the Cross.

It was the gesture through whcich a believer in Christ was recognized by his brothers. It was the sign used by a member of a persecuted society, when the very fact of belonging to it might be punished with cruel death by the powers then ruling.

I pass it on to my 5 most recent commenters:

Heather at Domestic Bliss Report
Mrs. Flam
Birdie at Wings and Prayers
Jennifer at Double Nickel Farm
Liz at Scarlet House

And anyone else is welcome to join in - leave a note in the comments!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 12/02/2008 11:41:00 AM | Permalink | |