It's A Wonder She's Survived This Long
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Overheard at my house yesterday:

Miss E: Look, Mom, Baby X likes his upside down piggy back ride!

Me: Don't do that! You could drop him on his head!

Miss E: Yeah, he likes that! KA-THUNK.

Poor baby. And apparently he did like it because he laughed hysterically.

Overheard last week (while Miss E was taking a bath).

Me (ankle deep in water): Miss E! The floor is full of water!

Miss E: Oh, yeah. Miss C turned on the faucet.

Me: Well, why didn't you get out and turn the faucet off before it flooded the floor?

Miss E: I didn't turn it on. It's not my job.

Cruel mother that I am, I did insist that it is indeed her job to prevent wanton destruction of our home. And I made her get out of the tub and soak up all the water, too.

This sink is the bane of my existence. Why would they put a sink with no overflow hole in the hall bathroom near the kids' rooms?

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/29/2009 09:09:00 AM | Permalink | |
Writing: Works for Me Wednesday
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
My oldest son doesn't care if he's grounded or given extra chores (which is often extra work for ME), or even stuck in his room with no toys.

But, he hates handwriting with the white-hot heat of a thousand suns. (He still adamantly insists he will have no use for cursive skills, ever.)

Guess what works for me?

(...and can you see why I make him practice handwriting everyday?)

For more Works for Me Wednesday, check out Rocks in My Dryer.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/28/2009 10:25:00 AM | Permalink | |
Life Full of Joy
Monday, January 26, 2009

A friend of mine sometimes sends me pictures of a little boy she knows. He's a thanatophoric dwarf, and doctors said he would not survive birth.

He's three now. Sometimes she sends me pics and he is just always full of joy!

Catholic News Agency
ran a feature on him - check out the slide show! My favorite picture is when he's sitting in his Bumpo seat.

Life is always worth living. Life is always better than being killed.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/26/2009 09:41:00 PM | Permalink | |
Food Stamp Challenge, week 4 SUPER CHALLENGE

Food Stamp Challenge - feed my family for $2 per person per day. ($140 a week).

Well, this week threw us a curve ball. Husband dear is paid by the hour, and there were some unexpected slow times plus a sick day. Add that to unexpected expense and an oopsie on my part (I thought I paid for 6 months of car insurance in December, but I actually went on the monthly plan, so we had to pay a month's worth of car insurance, too), plus rent due, and we have $75 to spend on food and whatnots until next payday (February 6).

It's feast or famine in the construction industry. Last two weeks? 35 and 40 hours. Next paycheck? 58 hours this week, scheduled for 84 hours next week (time and a half for overtime, woot!)

So. Two week's worth of meals for $50? Can it be done?

Well, yes it can. On the other hand, this is a realistic challenge. How many families run out of food stamps at the end of the month?

I stock up whenever I can (remember those 35 pounds of meat I bought last week?) so I only needed a few staples. We'll be eating less fresh fruit this week, but I'll be breaking out my "hurricane stock" of juice and canned veggies in order to make sure everyone gets their vitamins. We rarely drink juice, so a glass of pineapple juice will be a treat for the kids, instead of a sacrifice.

Here are my saving graces:
  • A stocked pantry. I have rice, beans, peas, lentils, flour, cornmeal, popcorn, bulgur, quinoa... and I know how to use them. Truthfully, I could have not gone to the store at all (but the meals would have been a little meager. Plus I really did need eggs, since I plan on baking!) Thanks be to God for giving me the means to have extra money in the "fat" times so we have food for the lean times.
  • The knowledge, skills, and ability to make many things myself. I didn't fret about being able to afford bread - I have flour, yeast and water at home. I have access to an oven, freezer, and refrigeration. I know how to make bland foods taste good enough that the kids ask for seconds (sometimes...) Thanks be to God for giving me understanding and providing such a nice kitchen and comfortable home!
  • I have been reading frugal, cooking, and mommy blogs and been blessed by other ladie's insights, tips, tricks, recipes, and encouragement. Thanks be to God for all of the people on the Internet (and the amazing gift of the Web, as well) who freely share so that others may be helped.
  • I spent an hour and a half planning our menu this week, poring through the pantry and the circulars. Thanks be to God that I have a safe place to store my food, and the luxury of time to sit and ponder recipes.

I think the real challenge will be in two weeks, when I restock!

What I spent: $36.15 on food (plus $6.25 on diapers. 30 diapers for the week? BWAH HA HA HA! Seriously, we'll be working on potty training this week!) I left some room to buy milk, oranges, and anything else that might crop up.

What I got:
7# onions, large bunch kale, 5# russet potatoes, 5# Yukon gold potatoes, 5# carrots (again. We really do eat 5# of carrots a week!), 6 0z. fresh blueberries (pregnant mama with gestational diabetes can't drink juice to get her fruit.)

42 oz. quick oats, balsamic vinegar, 1# dried black eyed peas, 2 bottles Ken's Salad dressing (paid 49¢ each for them, and they are one of the few brands that do not have MSG or artificial colors), 2 jars Pace picante (paid 76¢ for them), 2 cans Rotel (40¢ each), 100 corn tortillas.

1# cheese, 5 dozen eggs, 3# ground chuck, 24 oz. Green Giant Veggie Steamers (free after coupon).

What we'll be eating (no price breakdowns. The thought of doing fourteen of them was overwhelming. Plus, this post is already long.)
Sunday Jan 25: Baked penne with spaghetti sauce (noodles in pantry, gallon bag of meat sauce leftover from my giant vat of sauce last week.)

Monday Jan 26: Ham bone soup (which we didn't have last Monday, as my pan of lasagna was so filling it lasted for two meals!) (Which means ham bone is still in the freezer. And husband dear informed me that black eyed peas would be way better than split peas).

Tuesday Jan 27: Bangers and mash. Okay, it's really bratwurst with chunky kale/potato puree and canned green beans.

Wed, Jan 28: Beef stir fry with frozen veggies (those free Veggie Steamers) and sprouts.

Thur Jan 29: Lentil Soup, rolls

Fri Jan 30: Bean tostadas (with that salsa. Is that a vegetable?), corn/Rotel salad.

Sat, Jan 31: Birthday celebration for Miss E! She wanted hamburgers (that's why I bought the ground chuck). Hamburgers, brats, potato salad, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, popcorn, and spinach. Yeah, she got to pick the menu. I forced the potato salad on her, though. She really loves spinach, believe it or not.

Sun, Feb 1: Turkey, stuffing, broccoli and cauliflower blend (I bought an extra turkey at Christmas because they were so cheap! $2.50 for a 12# bird!)

Mon, Feb 2: Chili with red beans, cornbread

Tues, Feb 3: Turkey tetrazzini with broccoli

Wed, Feb 4: Pork chops, spaetzle or latkes, sweet and sour cabbage (Doh! Forgot to buy cabbage.)

Thurs, Feb 5: Beef and barley soup

Fri, Feb 6: I lied. I only planned 12 meals. Payday! Goin' to the store!
A word about fruits and veggies:
We eat tons of fresh fruit and fresh veggies. The kids really did eat the kale, turnips, yams, hominy, eggplant, zucchini, and did I mention we eat our way through 5# of carrots a week? However, it was simply not in the budget this week. I made a list of fruit/veggie snacks to make sure they get what they need, nutritionally. But I'm paranoid about things like that, so they'll probably be getting one of Mr R's multivitamins for the next two weeks, too.

From my stash of cans and pantry staples:

Pineapple rings (frozen because it's good that way)
Pineapple juice - I have 4 cans!
oranges (we have a few left)
pumpkin bread
pineapple yogurt (can of crushed pineapple in pantry, plain yogurt, honey)
Split pea soup (a lunch standard around here)
Spaghettios (w/ tomato paste and nutritional yeast for "cheesy" flavor. I know. It sounds totally gross, but the kids like it. Or maybe they're just used to it.)
Sprouts - so easy to make, cheap way to get fresh green veggies.
Two mystery cans that Baby X peeled the labels off. Don't know what they are (I suspect crowder peas) but we'll eat 'em!

From my fridge and freezer:
Apple juice (3 cans)
Lemonade (with lemon juice and pulp in them, 2 cans)
Pumpkin soup for lunch this week
Banana muffins (frozen overripe bananas)
Smoothies (bag of frozen fruit I bought last week, yogurt)
Carrots, the ever popular snack

Kid in the Kitchen picture is Mr S, making brownies to celebrate the feast day of his patron saint. And Miss C enjoying a brownie. Because my family reads here.

Are you a frugal foodie? Leave your link here and make sure to link back!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/26/2009 10:55:00 AM | Permalink | |
Freelancing on the Web
Friday, January 23, 2009

Four people have asked me for tips on writing freelance web articles from home in the last two weeks. Many people are looking for ways to bring in some extra money without having to leave their houses.

This is what works for me. I've written various articles for the web since 2006, in addition to writing my blog. I currently only write for one client, but have had several different ones in the past.

This article is how to get started - not whether you should, not whether you have the talent, and not for someone who wants to make a full time income.

This advice is NOT for people looking to write a book, but for people wanting to pull in a little money on the side writing articles for the web or small publications.

How to Find Work
Writer's message boards are good places to start. There are several, but remember YOU should never pay to get work. One "free" sample of your writing is fine, but be careful of places that want you to write for a month, then they'll let you know if they want you.

One site I've used is - they have a free forum, and includes paid work listings, nonpaid work listings, and there is an entire freelance board as well.

Network locally; many large cities have writing groups. If you can get involved, even virtually, then members might pass leads your way once they get comfortable with you and your writing style.

If there is a magazine type website that you enjoy, search their site to see if they accept submissions.

Craigslist also often posts writing jobs. It's posted in two different places, under "writing/editing" on the jobs list, and under "writing" on the gigs list. Please use discernment and be safe when replying to Craigslist posts! Check out the person who is offering the job, visit their website, Google their phone number, etc.

Many places offer very, very low rates. You are a contractor, and can decide whether or not to take a lowball job.

How to Get Work
Do you blog? I've turned blog posts in to Associated Content and gotten paid. Only a couple ( I really should do more!) Associated Content is a little different, in that you submit your article and the editors then make you an offer ($5-$10, generally.)

Example: My blog post on couponing
My Associated Content article on couponing

I like Associated Content because they pay promptly, you can submit work that has already been published, and you still retain all rights to your work.

Often, you will be required to write a test article and then the company will decide whether or not to contract with you. Usually you will get a writer's agreement, and often you'll have to fill out a W-9.

When writing for hire, be aware that often the copyright of your work belongs to the person writing the check - not you. You cannot reprint them (but can use them as writing samples). Details about retaining rights will be contained in the writer's agreement.

To apply for other freelance jobs, the first thing you need to have is a portfolio. Pull together some writing samples - or write some, that show off your talent. Paste it all into a Word or PDF document. Every job I've ever applied for asked for writing samples, often simply copied and pasted into an email.

If you have ever had published work - even if you were not paid for it - mention that. This could be anything from a contribution to a group blog, to an article published in your church bulletin, to writing the employee handbook at your workplace.

Think long and hard before passing out your blog URL, though. Remember, you are applying for a job! You can mention that you have a blog with X number of visits per week.

I've included my blog URL for some jobs and not for others. I blog about religion, politics, alternative therapies... it's not appropriate for all applications. If you post faithfully five times a week, it can show you are responsible and can meet deadlines. If you post how much you hate peanut butter, and your editor happens to be the Jif heiress, it could cost you a job.

If you are familiar with a particular platform, let them know when you apply. Wordpress seems to be popular among webzines, because it is easy to collaborate and allow team members to post independently.

Pay close attention to style guidelines. You'll have to do things their way, even if you think it's asinine (and you probably will, at some point).

Writing for Print
There are many places to look; many "freebie" and local magazine type publications post writer's guidelines. Look in publications that you want to write for!

Chicken Soup for the Soul almost always is accepting submissions of uplifting stories on various themes. Asimov's Science Fiction magazine accepts unsolicited short stories up to 10,000 words for sci-fi, payment is 5-6 cents per word. You are looking for people that accept unsolicited manuscripts. There is a niche for everyone.

There is significant lag time between submitting an article for print, finding out if it's been accepted, and getting paid.

Your Content
Steady work will not always be original articles or short stories. Often, there are assignments and guidelines. You might be assigned to write a 500 word article on blood pressure cuffs, post blurbs on breaking news, or more.

My steadiest client asks me to write recaps of reality television shows, and I'm assigned certain shows to watch. My current list include Supernanny, Wife Swap, and Kitchen Nightmares.

I started writing scripts for a role-playing video game, until it became clear that was not where my writing talent was strongest.

Many sites also will pay a dollar or so extra if you provide images. If you have a digital camera, this might be a good way to go! Here's an article I did on Mommy's Helpers. I was paid for two pictures in addition to the article. Those are my children, but I was careful not to show their faces. Use common sense. Photo copyrights belong to the person who took the picture, so don't steal images off the web.

How to Get Paid
Many webzines and sites use Paypal, so you may need to open a free account there.

Some places pay by the word (for example, require a 300-500 word article at 3 cents a word) or by the piece (1000 word article for $10). Some pay for a group of articles; $100 a week, and you'll post 6 news items of 400 words.

Many sites also will pay a dollar or so extra if you provide images. If you have a digital camera, this might be a good way to go! Here's an article I did on Mommy's Helpers. I was paid for two pictures in addition to the article.

Sometimes you have to invoice the company (a simple table in Word can do that for you) and sometimes they will keep track. You should always keep copies of your work and keep records, so if you wrote 310 words, you get paid for 310 words.

Remember that you are a contract worker in most cases, and you will have to pay your own taxes. Most places that pay cut checks once a month. For example, one website I write for pays Net 30. This means I invoiced them for work done in November by the end of November, 2008. My check was mailed 30 days later, at the end of December.

How to Keep a Client
  • Produce good content, and double and triple check for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
  • NEVER, EVER plagiarize or copy someone else's work. EVER!
  • Always be on time, if not a little early. NEVER, NEVER miss a deadline.
  • Don't take editing personally, and promptly correct anything the editor requests. I prefer to communicate almost exclusively through e-mail, because it is difficult to have a professional phone conversation around here! Also, when I email I always have a written record of the conversation I can refer back to later.
  • Be prepared to be a team player, even if you are working alone from home. There are other writers also writing content for the same site or publication, and sometimes you have to cooperate or be gracious.
  • Be professional. You are being paid to write. Treat it like a job.

Art: At The Writing Table by Charles Soulacroix.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/23/2009 09:50:00 AM | Permalink | |
A Sad Day
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Today is the anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade.

Abortion became legal. Over 50 million children have died since then.

Over 7,000,000 children have been killed since the start of the Iraq war.

These should have been my friends. My coworkers. The parent's of my kids' friends. My children are missing cousins. Good friends are missing brothers and sisters.

Their hope and promise and life are lost, forever. What poverty! We have all been deprived of their gifts. Abortion affects us all.

And it continues.

A sad day.

If you have been affected by abortion, please check out Rachel's Vineyard.
Rachel's Vineyard is a safe place to renew, rebuild and redeem hearts broken by abortion. Weekend retreats offer you a supportive, confidential and non-judgmental environment where women and men can express, release and reconcile painful post-abortive emotions to begin the process of restoration, renewal and healing.

First picture: "Yea Though I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death I Will Fear No Evil" by Frank Pape.

Second picture: "Le Jour des Morts 1859" by William Bouguereau

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/22/2009 12:39:00 AM | Permalink | |
Flip the Butter: Works for Me Wednesday
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
We eat butter at our house.

Sometimes I make it spreadable, and store it in a tub in the fridge, but often we have a stick of butter out on the counter.

With lots of littles, that can be messy. They smear. They knock it off the little rectangle plate.

My solution? Flip it upside down. Now the butter top holds it all in, and the bottom plate can be used as a lid.

Works for me!

For more Works for Me Wednesday fun, go to Rocks in My Dryer!
For more Kitchen Tips, check out Tammy!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/21/2009 10:12:00 AM | Permalink | |
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I'm recording the inauguration to watch later. A friend told me that 10:30-12:30 Central is the time to watch.

Hey, I actually have to teach civics, per Texas law!

I just realized that if Obama is elected to two terms, then this will be last major inauguration blowout before Mr R can vote! How did that happen?

For fun, take this Civics Quiz! (I saw this on someone's blog but now I don't remember who! If it was yours, leave me a comment I'll give you a link!)

I got a 97%! How the heck did that happen? I hated history in school. And I got all of the economic ones right... must be a fluke!

I don't like Obama. I don't like his policies, the company he keeps, and I think he is a man of low character.

But he is our president and today is an important day for our country.

May God keep all the crazies home today, and may all of our public servants be safe.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/20/2009 10:28:00 AM | Permalink | |
Food Stamp Challenge, week 3
Monday, January 19, 2009
Okay, here's the weekly roundup! Stay tuned for next week - they cut husband dear's hours so my goal is to buy only fresh fruit, veggies, and milk and use up pantry stock for everything else.

I spent on food:
Kroger, husband run: $15.60
Kroger, my main run: $37.61
HEB: $81.46
Food Town: 17.95

TOTAL: $153.62 - $2.37 returned goods = $151.25
Avg. for 3 weeks: $139.32 per week.

I got:
12# boneless chuck roast, 4.5# chicken, 10# boneless pork loin, 4# bratwurst (1 per pound! Score!), 3# ground sausage, 2.5# ground chuck

8# bananas, 16# oranges, 6# apples (Gala and Golden Delicious) 1 head Romaine, 4# zucchini, 1# jalapenos, 2.5# yellow onion, 1,9# yams, 1# turnips, 2.25# Roma tomatoes, 5# carrots, 10# potatoes. (You might notice that we ate the whole 5# bag of carrots last week, as well as 18# of oranges and 30 apples!)

3 gallons milk (regular, not organic - sigh again!), 4.5# cheese, 1# ricotta, 1# sour cream, 1# cream cheese,

1# split peas, 1 jar orange marmalade, 1 can pineapple slices, 2 boxes lasagna noodles, 100ct. corn tortillas, 54 oz. peanut butter, 12# sugar, half a pound of bulk WW Pastry flour, 2 c. bulk wheat bran, and about 1/2 c. mung beans. Plus some misc. bulk spices I've been wanting to try - mace, hot curry, and Chinese 5 spice.

7 bags frozen veggies (1# each), 1# mango/papaya frozen fruit.

A bag of ice, 10 yogurt covered pretzels, and a pound of andouille sausage (impulse buys!)

Obviously, I stocked up on meat for the freezer. We aren't going to eat 35 pounds of meat this week! Some people buy exactly what they need week to week, like Grocery Cart Challenge. I prefer to have rotating stock

Our budget was tight, too, because a friend had a baby so I made a pan of chicken enchiladas and lasagna for her.Visit Laura to see tons of menus!

The Menu:
Saturday, Jan 17: Throw together of pasta carbonara w/ham and peas. $3.88
Ham - free, sister's leftovers
2 bags egg noodles, $2
1# peas, $1,
Onion, .35
2 c. milk, .40
2 T. butter .13

Sunday, Jan. 18:, spaghetti, salad.
I'm not going to price this out. I made a giant Vat O' Sauce to make 2 family size lasagnas plus some to freeze. It's 8# crushed tomatoes, 6.5# diced tomatoes, 5.5# meat (ground beef and sausage), garlic, onion, italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
Romaine lettuce, 99 cents.
Roma tomatoes, 35 cents.

Monday, Jan 19:ham bone soup, rolls $3.84
Ham bone - free (last week's ham)
carrots 3 large, .42
onion .35
celery 3 ribs celery, chopped .25
1# white beans, .89
1/2 # split peas .43
1# pearled barley, .85
Homemade rolls, .65

Tuesday, Jan 20: Pork Loin, mashed potatoes, zucchini $15.57
5# pork loin $8.85
1/3 jar orange marmalade .45
4# potatoes $1.92
4 T butter .13
3# zucchini $3.87
onion .35

Wednesday, Jan 21: Roasted root vegetable/pork ragout, cornbread $6.44 In other words, leftovers.
1# turnip, .83
1.9# yams, $1.86
1# potatoes .50
3 large carrots, .50
1 med. onion, .35
Leftover pork tenderloin, free
3 c. brown rice, .90
cornbread - too lazy to figure it out. Guesstimate? $1.50

Thursday, Jan 22: Beef curry $7.20
2.5# boneless chuck roast cut in strips $2.50
3 c. brown rice, $1.30
2# frozen chopped broccoli, 2.00
1# frozen Asian Stir Fry Veggies $1.00
3 oz. Kikkoman soy sauce .40

Friday, Jan 23: Lentil enchiladas, pintos, celery and carrot sticks $8.83
2 c. lentils .40
2 c. brown rice .80
Dried chiles ???Bought many moons ago. They weigh nothing, so cheap!
3 carrots, grated and cooked .42
1 lb. Roma tomatoes, diced and cooked .69
16 oz. sour cream, $1
12 oz. cheese, $2.63
corn tortillas (30?) .45
1# pintos, .50
1 onion, .35
3/4 stalk celery .75
6 carrots, cut into sticks $.84

Are you a frugal foodie? Leave your link here and make sure to link back!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/19/2009 08:00:00 AM | Permalink | |
Peanut Butter Recall
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Another batch of peanut butter is tainted with salmonella. It didn't hit the big news, because the manufacturer only supplied industrial sized cans to schools, nursing homes, and factories.

Including the Kellogg's factory

And now the recall affects you.
  • Austin® Quality Foods Cheese Crackers with Peanut Butter - all sizes
  • Austin® Quality Foods Cheese & Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, all sizes
  • Austin® Quality Foods Mega Stuffed Cheese Crackers with Peanut Butter, all sizes
  • Austin® Quality Foods PB & J Cracker Sandwiches - all sizes
  • Austin® Quality Foods Super Snack Pack Sandwich Crackers
  • Austin® Quality Foods Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers - all sizes
  • Austin® Quality Foods Toasty Crackers with Peanut Butter - all sizes
  • Austin® Quality Foods Reduced Fat Cheese & Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers
  • Austin® Quality Foods Reduced Fat Toasty Crackers with Peanut Butter
  • Sandwich Crackers
  • Austin® Quality Foods Cookie/Cracker Pack
  • Austin® Quality Foods Variety Pack

  • Keebler® Cheese & Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers - all sizes
  • Keebler® Toast & PB'n J Flavored Sandwich Crackers - all sizes
  • Keebler® Toast & Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers - all sizes

  • Famous Amos® Peanut Butter Cookies (2- and 3-ounce)

  • Keebler® Soft Batch Homestyle Peanut Butter Cookies (2.5-ounce)

Hundreds of people have been sickended and 6 have died in 43 states - so throw out those crackers!

Photos from Amazon, which promises to ship those items as soon as they become available safely again.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/17/2009 12:58:00 PM | Permalink | |
I Only Wish I Made It Up
Friday, January 16, 2009
Today's post? #4, about Lobster Mac?

Totally not making it up.

See for yourself.

Please note that the recipe also calls for 8 oz. of Gruyere, and 12 oz. of freshly grated parmesan.

The blog post has some tips the paper article lacked, like 3 1/2 lbs. of fresh lobster should be enough, and it should be served with haricots verts. No, plebian green beans won't do!

Yo, Chronicle, if you need someone to write actual budget friendly recipes, drop me a line!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/16/2009 05:16:00 PM | Permalink | |
7 Quick Takes: Annoyances and Kids (they aren't the same thing!)
Baby X has just polished off his 4th serving of oatmeal. Full, 1 c. servings. And he drank his milk + his sister's. Where is he putting it?

For the last 6 months, Miss V has spent every waking moment playing "tea party" with her plastic food. She packs it into whatever bag or container is available and carts it all over the house.

FOCA is still looming. Leaving every pro-life argument aside, it's terribly impractical and will make health care for the poor more dangerous and less available, in my opinion. FOCA will require every hospital that receives federal funds or accepts Medicare, Medicaid, etc. to perform abortions and prescribe the morning after pill. But, most doctors are not trained abortionists. Should the government be dictating that an ER doc perform a procedure they are not experts at? In addition, there is the possibility of a hospital going private rather than accept federal money, leaving fewer health care options for the poor.

For more on FOCA, please click the button at the top of my blog.

Wednesday, our local paper ran a series called "Cooking in Hard Times". They don't have a clue. The two recipes printed called for sea bass, fresh goat cheese, and asiago. A helpful sidebar noted "Lobster Now Fits in Budget" with a recipe for lobster mac and cheese and involved a total of FIVE cups of cheese (for 8 oz. of noodles). The appetizer recipes in the back? Asparagus and prosciutto. Budget food? Really? Try some lentils and rice.

I hate Monitronics alarm system. Our house is set up for it, but as renters we don't have access and it basically just acts as a door chime. Miss C set it off last week - I called the company and was put on hold FOUR TIMES and transferred to a different department THREE TIMES while the klaxon went off in the background. Then they couldn't help me because I didn't have the password. We had to unscrew everything and clip the wires to get it to shut off. Still haven't heard from the landlord about it, either.

And... the alarm was going off for an hour and a half. You could hear it up the block. No one came over to check on things and the police never arrived to save us, either. Some alarm system. (To be fair, I think I am the only person on the block who is home during the day.)

I may have finally found a homeschool group! I haven't attended any meetings or activities, but the people seem nice and it is very active with lots of families. Even better, the leader attends my church, but many activities are held at the church nearest to me - we can walk there! We only have one car so this opens up a lot of possibilities. If I can find the energy to walk over there with every one! The last active homeschool group I was in was in Colorado, 3 years ago. I'm excited!

I have gestational diabetes (as usual) and my blood sugars are wonky (as usual). My fasting sugars (after evening snack) are often higher than my one hour post meal sugars. This is normal for me, but my new doctor is perplexed. I get more A1C tests for the rest of the pregnancy. Joy.

7 Quick Takes
is hosted by Jen at Conversion Diary/

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/16/2009 11:09:00 AM | Permalink | |
Thursday, January 15, 2009

One popular dish at our house is Salad Bar Night. (Yes, that's the remains of that gallon of coleslaw in the corner!). I try to put out a great variety of veggies, and supplement with protein rich hard boiled eggs, chick peas, white beans, or any leftover meat we have on hand.

All those veggies can get expensive. I'm going to try a garden this year!

We're starting small. I am having a baby in June, after all, and I've never gardened in this zone (9a for us.)

We're using the Square Foot Gardening method.

Husband dear built a bed. He did this last October when he was rebuilding the fence from Ike.

Lay down a weed barrier. Cardboard and newspaper, in our case.
(Dang, lady, mow that grass!)

Got some dirt. The bed is 2x12, and 6" deep, so we needed 12 cubic feet.
7 bags of humus: $9.50
2 bags of Peat Moss: $20.00
1 shovel - $10
2 purple sparkle shoes to make sure the edges are straight - priceless.

Mix and fill. I couldn't find the vermiculite or plain Perlite that SFG recommends, so we just mixed humus and peat moss.

Drive your husband crazy by taking his picture while he tries to work, insisting he move so the shadows don't get in the way.

Next steps: Lay out the grid, plan the crop layout, direct sow, and water.

I have a black thumb. Wish me luck!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/15/2009 12:28:00 PM | Permalink | |
Cheap is not Frugal: WFMW
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
My boys are hard on pants. I usually buy them at Sears, but they needed new jeans and our local Sears didn't have any in their size.

So I went to Target, and bought 3 pairs "to hold them over".

Big mistake.

Did I mention my boys were hard on pants?

These pants are three weeks old. Unfortunately, I can't find my Target receipt to take them back. I totally would - one pair busted through the knees after two days of indoor play.

Did you catch that? THREE WEEKS!

Sears has a program called KidVantage. It's free, and guarantees that if the clothes wear out before they're grown out, Sears will replace them, free. (Although Sears jeans seem to last a lot longer and I've never had to have jeans replaced.)
The KidVantage® Club offers the Wear Out Warranty. When your baby grows up and your kids clothing or kids shoes wear out before they are out grown, Sears will replace them for free.
You can only exchange for the same size, and if you buy Levi's you need to keep your receipt.

Whole-Knee Guarantee? Works for Me!

For more Works for Me Wednesday, check out Shannon!

Actually, now that I see the picture, I don't think those pants are the Target pants. The Target pants also wore huge holes on the cuffs in addition to the giant, gaping knee holes.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/14/2009 10:33:00 AM | Permalink | |
It's A Girl!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Probably, most likely, but not for certain...

I had an ultrasound last Friday, but my scanner is not liking the US film. The baby was turned backwards so I'll probably have another one in a few weeks to get a better look at the face and heart.

Due date is still June 11.

Everyone's having babies, now, though! First DadWithNoisyKids, then Kelly, and now Yofed and the Zimms at any time!

Pretty, free vintage clip art at

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/13/2009 01:47:00 PM | Permalink | |
Food Stamp Challenge, week 2
Monday, January 12, 2009

I won't post my receipts this week, because we went to four stores and I stocked up -they are really long! I'm very fortunate to have 7 grocery stores all in a row on the same road - the road that leads to the library. I can really shop around to get the best deals without wasting gas, and can afford the luxury of stopping into a couple of Mexican markets to see what they have (sometimes killer deals, sometimes...meh.)

My goal: To spend $140 / week on food. Last week I spent $105; this week I stocked up some and spent more.

I also ended up shopping with the entire family. We had some... unplanned purchases. Including Twizzlers and Coke. A 20 oz. Coke, cold, is $1.38 - a 2 liter Coke is $1.25. ???

My total for all four stores (including sales tax):
FoodTown $66.84
FiestaMart $30.50
WalMart $121.07
Kroger $13.98

Total: $232.39

However, you can only buy food with food stamps, and my $140 is for food only. I spent $45.82 on diapers, wipes, paper towels (I hate buying these but have resigned myself to my fate), toilet paper, etc.

We decided to eat in on Thursday instead of going out Friday. We went to the library, and then all the groceries. We picked up two rotisserie chickens, 1.5# hot wings, 4 lbs. macaroni salad, a Coke, and a pack of Twizzlers (see why I shop by myself?) We spent $24.58 on our picnic, but this is actually planned to come out of our entertainment budget, not food budget.

So. $232.39, minus $45.82 non-food, minus $24.58 entertainment, = $161.99 this week.

Total for two weeks: $267.71 (Some weeks we spend more, some weeks we spend less).

Among other things, I got:
  • 3 cartons oatmeal, 1 box chocolate malt-0-meal, and two boxes of cold cereal (again, why I shop alone! But we haven't had cereal with milk for about a month, and they had some Mom's Best Natural at a good price.)

  • 10# AP flour, 5# cornmeal, salt.
  • 4 small jars Peanut butter (the smallest jar is the cheapest per ounce, even though it annoys me to have to buy so many! I paid a total of $5.44 for 72 oz. PB.), 3 cans tuna (why do my kids like this?), 28 oz. jar salsa.

  • 4 boxes whole wheat pasta, 2 jars garden spaghetti sauce (good in a pinch), 2 large (28 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, one small can Organic Fire Roasted tomatoes (had a coupon! Paid 14 cents! Woot!)

  • 3# bananas, 10# oranges, 3# bag red delicious apples, 17 individual Fuji apples, 1 large head green leaf lettuce, 2 packages radishes, 5# carrots, 4 bell peppers, 1 lg. celery, 2 lg. red onions, 1.5# jalapenos, 4# tomatoes, 2 bunches kale, 4 kiwis, 10# potatoes, and 7 yellow onions. (Note - the apples were gone by Sunday. The kiwis didn't make it past Saturday!)

  • 11# shank ham, 10# sirloin pork chops, 2 pkg. bacon, 10 oz. chorizo.

  • 4 gallons milk (not organic. Sigh.) 2# cheese, 3# butter, 6 dozen eggs.

  • 6 cans green beans, 6 cans pintos, 4 cans Ranch Style beans, 3 cans navy beans, 3 cans crowder peas, 6 cans hominy, 2# dried pintos, 1 bottle ketchup, 1 large can Folgers ($5.44! What a deal!).
I also bought 3 cans of picante sauce which I just saw they way overcharged me for so I'm going to take them back, and also buy some split peas instead. I don't shop at WalMart for groceries often - one reason is because they don't stock everything I buy. Including split peas.

  • 2# froz. brussels sprouts, 2# froz. peas and carrots, 1# froz. chopped broccoli.

And two Reese's Whipps candy bars. I had a coupon for $1 off 2...they were advertising them as "less fat and fewer calories than regular candy bars" in the paper. Yes, they gave out a coupon so you could include candy as part of your New Year's Resolution weight loss!

So. Now that I've cured your insomnia, what are we going to eat?

Thursday we had the "eating out dinner", and Friday we had "miscellaneous pantry throw together". So, our new menu is:

(I just realized I forgot to link back to Laura at Orgjunkie, hostess of Menu Plan Monday!)

Sat., Jan 10 - Kolaches, sauerkraut, braised cabbage. coleslaw Husband dear also made an unplanned appetizer of jalapeno poppers. I estimate they cost $1 or so for 12. I promised to share pictures:

Sun, Jan 11 - Ham, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts $16
Ham, $11.66
4# potatoes, $1.20
2# froz. brussels sprouts $2
6 oz. bacon, chopped .75
1 med. onion - .35

Mon, Jan 12 - Salad bar night, bread $7.69
Green leaf lettuce $.99
2# tomatoes $1.60
1 c. (before cooking) chickpeas .35
9 hardboiled eggs $1.00
8 oz. radishes, chopped .59
2 zucchini, shredded .35
3 carrots, shredded .20
1/2 onion, chopped .20
4 stalks celery, .35
8 oz. cheese, $1.75
salad dressing - ??? bottle's in the fridge already
1 loaf homemade bread .66
Updated - didn't bake today but had to run and buy trash bags. Bought 2 loaves of French bread for $2.46 total, instead.

Tues, Jan 13 - Macaroni and cheese with ham and broccoli, salad or turnip greens $9.20
2 boxes WW Penne pasta, $2.50 (the elbows got eaten for lunch Fri.)
16 oz. cheese, $3.50
1 c. milk .20
handful flour - ???
2# froz. broccoli $2.00
leftover ham - free
leftover salad - free
turnip greens - $1.00

Wed, Jan 14 - Crockpot Cuban Pork w/black beans, seasoned rice, spinach $9.56
4+# sirloin chops, $4.30
3 c. black beans (dry), soaked .75
3 carrots, chopped or grated .20
1 can picante sauce $.33
28.5 oz can diced tomatoes, $.85
sour cream (in fridge from Christmas) (hope it's not furry.)
3 c. brown rice $1.00
2# frozen spinach, $2

Thurs, Jan 15 - fajitas, pico de gallo, refried beans, spanish rice $15.53 (wow, homemade pico is expensive!) (I can't believe this dinner costs as much as the ham dinner!)
3.5# beef strips, $5.56
2# frozen pepper strips, $2.00
2 onions, $.70
3# tomatoes, $2.40
1 red onion, .75
2 jalapenos, .45
corn tortillas (est. $1)
1# (dry weight) pinto beans, .50
10 oz. chorizo (best refried beans you've ever had!) .99
Another onion .35
2 c. white rice, .50
1 can picante sauce, .33

Fri, Jan 16 - lentil shepherd's pie, broccoli and cauliflower $5.50
2 c. lentils, .35
2 c. brown rice, .65
onion, .35
carrots, .20
3 stalks celery, .25
1/2 c. milk, .10
2# potatoes, .60
1# frozen peas $1
2# broccoli/cauliflower, $2

Most of my meals seem expensive - $10 or $15. But remember, they are designed to make a minimum of 10 servings since husband dear likes to take leftovers + there's a pregnant lady in da house! So it works out to $1-$1.50 per person.

Are you a Frugal Foodie? How do save money in the kitchen? Link up here!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/12/2009 10:12:00 AM | Permalink | |
Need a Baby Fix?
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Go tell DadwithNoisyKids congratulations on baby #13!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/11/2009 09:13:00 PM | Permalink | |
Favorite Homeschool Links
Friday, January 09, 2009
Just for you, Lesley!

These are some of the blogs subbed in my bloglines.

Homeschooling Mamas
Starry Sky Ranch (check out her links, too)

By Sun and By Candlelight (I love Dawn's seasonal planning and use her file crate system)

In the Heart of My Home (Elizabeth Foss's site. She's written several books)
Related: 4 real Forums
Related: Serendipity

Boys Plus Academy - public school teacher turned homeschooling mom

Trivium Academy - posts weekly updates and very detailed planning of Tapestry of Grace

Principaled Discovery - Homeschool watchdog, politics.

Three Plus Two - homeschool mother of 6, aged 1-12

Homeschooling with Joy

Wings and Prayers - Family life in a HS family, from Birdie's blog.

Shower of Roses - Catholic HS Mom living the liturgical year

Wildflowers and Marbles - more inspiration

Montessori Mama - Montessori is not just for littles!

Aut-2B-Home - Tammy HS her autistic teenage daughter (and also her son) using Charlotte Mason's approach.

(Of these, Serendipity and By Sun and Candlelight probably have the most influence on our schooling methods)

The Homeschool Classroom (group blog)

Chasing Cheerios - Montessori type activities for toddlers

Crafty Crow - tons of crafts for kids

Think! - One creative/critical thinking activity per week, and they encourage readers to send in their "solutions".

Happy Hearts At Home - always has interesting links!

Notebook Learning (free notebooking pages to print)

Freely Educate (posts free resources and links)

Waltzing Matilda (beautiful printable coloring pages for Catholic feast days and the liturgical year.)

And check out Blissfully Domestic - I'm going to be writing for their new Special Needs channel, but they have a Homeschool Channel, too. Mrs. Fussypants HS her 5 boys AND runs an online magazine!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/09/2009 01:26:00 PM | Permalink | |
Free? No, Priceless.
Thursday, January 08, 2009

Baby X has what we call "Little Man Jammies". They're a horrific print with collar and buttons, and he loves them to death.

He's a weird little boy. He really cares about what he wears.

P.S. - I lied, CM. You can't have him!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/08/2009 10:49:00 PM | Permalink | |
All Wrong!
I've been reading a lot of homeschool blogs, and everyone is starting fresh for the new year.

I just realized - I'm doing it all WRONG!

I don't have a niche. We're not unschoolers. We're not school at home-ers. We're not pure Charlotte Mason. We're Montessori-esque, but not purists. We meander along the classical spectrum, but I sometimes teach history out of order. We've never diagrammed a sentence (yet, but I'm planning to start...someday). Our children don't have their own desks but we do have a table and a whiteboard. And crayons and markers and Dover coloring books. And a kitchen lab.

This is what my school table looked like at the end of the day yesterday. Don't you have stuffed cows at your school?

If we saw an trail in the sky, we'd discuss contrails. And look up on the internet about them, speculate where they came from (nearby military base? Airshow?) and probably discuss cloud formation. And let's face it, any trip to a weather related website usually ends in a stop at TornadoVideos.

I let my oldest write his spelling words out in the shed today. He works best alone and outside.

My daughter wrote her spelling words sitting under the table with her horses. Using purple marker. My other son wrote his numbers on the marker board.

And I spent much of the day on the floor. (Note to self: must vacuum).

I'm sad to say he was probably barefoot. I cannot keep shoes on my kids. They are just like their dad! I have even made my boys write sentences - "I will wear socks". Because shoes minus socks are just stinky.

Playing Risk is the latest craze, and suddenly my boys know the continents, the oceans, and the locations of several countries. That's one of their friends - I usually have 8 or 9 boys playing all at once because the neighbor kids love the game, too. They have to double up and share colors. Those same friends have convinced my kids that ketchup on bread is a good snack. Bleh.

My boys would die of boredom if they had to do worksheets all day. So we catch snakes and identify them, then draw them in our nature journal. We mix borax and salt and look at it under the microscope. We grow Venus flytraps.

And I don't have a single form filled out to back it up.

Our new science this semester is about the human body. My Kindergartner will be making a lapbook about the 5 senses. The kids got a very cool anatomy pop-up book from their aunt and have been reading it non-stop. I have some Usborne books about muscles, bones, lungs that we'll read.

We'll hit the library. I want to pick up an Anatomical Man - the ones whose bones come out. The dollar store has them, but I want to get a better quality one and Michael's sends out 50% off coupons each weekend, so I'm hoping I can get a deal. I have a book with blackline masters and worksheets, but that's a supplement (and the worksheets will probably find their way into lapbooks, instead of being used as tests.) Maybe we'll use this for our lapbook, too. Maybe not.

I don't give tests. My kids get A's, if I graded (which I don't), because I don't accept it until it's right. Sometimes they have to change their answers several times. I only have 4 students, and I have a pretty good handle on if they've mastered a concept or not. (Well, maybe I do give tests. I've been known to make them spell a couple of their spelling words before I give them a special privilege, like haunting the creek or visiting

And yet I make them write math drills and times tables. I make them write out handwriting sheets even though there is the great possibility that my boys hands might just fall off if they have to write another cursive "C". Every day, they write their spelling words 5x each, in addition to filling out comprehension activities.

HS Mamas - where do you fall on the line? What does your day look like?

The other pictures are of my 7 yo daughter making biscuits from her "American Girl Samantha" cookbook.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/08/2009 10:31:00 AM | Permalink | |
Keeping Track: Works for Me Wednesday
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
A friend passed this website on to me, and I was amazed I hadn't seen it before.

MedHelp mood tracker

It's a free online mood tracker for depression, emotional issues, and mania.

The same site has a ton of other applications available, too, including a pain tracker for chronic pain/fibromyalgia, an ovulation tracker, a thyroid tracker, and more. (Click on the tab "Track Your Health" to see them all.)

Free online help? Did I mention it's IN THE COMPUTER so I won't lose it on my desk? Works for Me!

Check out Shannon for more WFMW fun!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/06/2009 11:50:00 PM | Permalink | |
Catholic Bible Reading for the Year
Just a quick link today.

Read the Bible and Catechism (together) in 365 days. Put out by the Coming Home Network.

I totally messed up the day. X's speech lady is coming today. I was sure it was a 10 am so I let the older boys put on a movie and planned to do school when the appointment was over. But they are actually coming at 3 pm. So now I'm late on school and won't have time to do it between 3-4 pm.

But I let them finish the movie anyway.

H/T to Soul Pockets.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/06/2009 12:15:00 PM | Permalink | |
Frugal Foodies Food Stamp Challenge, week 1
Monday, January 05, 2009
For background, click here.

My goal? Spend $140 a week on food for my family of 10. As I said, I do have some food in the pantry/fridge that will come into play this week.
Spent so far: $79.56 105.73

Menu Plan
: (I usually try to do my shopping on Fridays, plus payday is Jan. 9, so my menu is a little longer than a week.)

Breakfast - oatmeal or Malt-o-Meal
Lunches - simple stuff from the pantry or leftovers. No PB&J this week because we ran out of peanut butter.

Jan. 1: Beef curry stirfry. $8.15
2.5# beef, cut in strips $4.50
3 - 16 oz. bags frozen stir fry mix veggies $3.00
3 c. brown rice $.65
spices - I'm not doing the math. Garlic powder, curry powder, cornstarch, and soy sauce

Jan. 2: Lentil Sloppy Joes, cole slaw, canned green beans $4.50
2 c. Lentils .25
1 c. bulghur no idea, it's been sitting in my pantry forever. Est. $1
Buns (made w/ my roll recipe) $.50
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes $1.00
1 med. onion @ .39/lb $.40
1 head cabbage @ .19/lb. $ .50
1/3 c. Miracle Whip maybe .20?
2 cans green beans, .66
vinegar, spices, who knows?

Jan. 3: Saturdays... are not well planned around here. I'll let you know.
Update: We met with some friends for a picnic at the park. Spent $26.17 on sandwich
fixings, ice, drinks, and 8# of oranges. Because we don't eat enough fruit as it is.

Jan. 4: Pork Chops, latkes, spinach $7.90
Pork Chops, $5.00
2.5 # potatoes, .50
1 med. onion @.39/lb .40
2 -16 oz. bags spinach, $2

Jan 5: Penne Primavera w. marinara $5.90
2 boxes Whole Wheat pasta $2.50
2 bags frozen veggies $2
1 jar spaghetti sauce $1
1/2 bag. navy beans, soaked and cooked .40
(leftover sloppy joe sauce *might* find it's way into here if there's any left)

Jan 6: Potato Soup, rolls $4.10
2.5# potatoes, .50
1 qt. milk, .75
3 carrots, .20
1 med. onion .40
1/2 stick butter .25
8 0z. shredded cheese, $1.50
Rolls, .50
Maybe I'll make a King Cake for the Epiphany. Cost? Probably under $1 if I do it myself.

Jan 7: Crockpot Swiss steak, peas, rice $10.10
3.5# boneless steak $5.60
2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes $1
1 -16 oz. bag frozen peppers and onions $1
3 c. brown rice .50
2 -16oz. bags frozen peas (never canned. Blech) $2

Jan 8: Kolaches, sauerkraut, braised cabbage, frozen veggies $8.29
Kolache sausages, 3 lbs $4.49
Kolache dough .50
Sauerkraut, .50
2 lb. cabbage, .40
1 med. onion, .40
2 bags frozen veggies, $2

Jan 9: Today I have my ultrasound, and we'll probably take the kids out to eat after and tell them boy or girl (if we know!). I have a killer coupon for Souper Salad that allows my entire family to eat out for $16.50. All you can eat greens, whoo-hoo!
(I don't think it makes the manager happy, but the coupon is kids eat free, up to 2 per paying adult. And children 4 and under are free. Which makes ALL of the kids free with two paying adults. I don't print the coupons, I just take advantage of it!)

You might notice we eat meat approximately every other night. Eating an abundant amount of meat for 1 meal is more satisfying for my family than trying to stretch the meat and having it at every meal. We'd rather eat a big pot roast once a week than a pound of beef stretched too thin 3 nights a week.

Are you a Frugal Foodie? Leave your link here!
Welcoming any post about food, money, and how to make it work!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/05/2009 08:01:00 AM | Permalink | |
7 Quick Takes: Putting out fires
Friday, January 02, 2009
1. We paid off our van! First time since I've been married that I don't have a car payment. So of course we've outgrown it AND it's developed an oil leak. Maybe I can pick up a school bus, cheap.

2. What IS it with boys and fire? Mr R got a magnifying glass in his stocking (he's recently become very interested in rocks and crystals.) Remember the oil-leakin' van? It leaked on the driveway. And my boys discovered they can easily create fire with Pennzoil + Magnification + winter Texas sun. Does that count as a science lesson? I'm marking it down.

3. Baby X makes three signs now. Please, more, and eat. He uses the signs to ask for... food. And he talks! Kind of. He says uh-oh when he falls off whatever surface he is scaling.

4. This house is available for us to rent-to-own. I love the house. I will never buy the house because of the HOA Nazis. Yes, another warning. Gasp! Our garage door was open in the middle of the day!

5. St. Gemma Galgani is my patron saint. I just discovered a great website dedicated to her, with reprints of her writing, photos, etc. It is sobering to think she died a saint at 26. I'm 30... probably have 70 more years before I *might* come close to being called one. And even that's doubtful! LOL

6. Katie at Team Bettendorf is having an interesting discussion about Christian neighbors. She asks, "Are you your Christian neighbor?" Do your neighbors know you are a Christian? Do you even know your neighbor's names? I don't agree with the premise that the organized church is to blame for lack of neighborliness, but the comments are thoughtful. It's an ongoing theme on her blog. I do know several of my neighbors - we've shared food, given opinions on roofing estimates, and I know where they work and their children's names. But we're still neighborly, not friendly. BTW, the neighborhood Mormon missionaries know me too. I'm the crazy lady who told them I could never be part of a church that wasn't prolife.

7. I am genetically programmed to blog about my grocery list. Just as I can't help but be Catholic - the chemicals in my DNA require it. Proof?

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/02/2009 10:35:00 AM | Permalink | |