7 Quick Takes 6
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Baby X waved hello at the garbage truck! This is a milestone. He's almost 23 months and has never waved hi or bye at any one or any thing! His sign language is ramping up, but since he still doesn't cross the midline it's a little hampered. He can say more, please, eat, drink, play, stop, no... and we're working on turtle.

He's potty training and we're suddenly cloth diapering, too (disposables for overnight, still, though.) I'm 100% sure I'm doing it wrong, but it's ridiculously easy! I've thought about cloth diapering a few times over the years, but once I start researching it I get intimidated by the cost of starting and the options and the washing instructions and the details, details, details.

Last month, a friend sent me a big box of cloth diaper pads, and some wraps (too small for X). I decided to work with what we had - size 2T underwear. Put pad in underwear (two for naptime). If wet/accident, dump it in a bucket in the bathroom (#2's washed out in toilet). At the end of the day, put in washer with a little detergent; soak in cold water. Then wash in hot water. Dry. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It helps that the boy is catching onto the Potty Game very quickly.

In my defense, I think it's ridiculously easy for me right now because he's kid #7- I've already cleaned so much poop out of clothing in my lifetime that it doesn't phase me anymore, and I already do a lot of laundry. The diapers are a tiny load comparatively and I don't have to fold them!

How annoying is it to get a pop up message? The latest one says:
Windows is unable to configure you internet connection. Please see Section 8812 on www.microsoft.com for troubleshooting information.

As much as I'd love to browse the technical support for Windows, I can't. Because my connection won't configure.

Have you seen this? A Letter From the Boss.

We finally got our tax return filed. First, we could not find last years tax return or Baby X's social security number. You have to have last year's Adjusted Gross Income or remember your 5 digit PIN, or know your AGI to use the free filing software off the IRS website. And I have to know the social so I can write that little boy off. Why have kids if not for the dedcutions?

Husband dear finally got X's number off his employee paperwork ( you have to fill it in on the insurance application). And you can call the IRS to get your AGI!

If you don't know your IRS PIN or last year's AGI, call 1-800-829-1040. Listen to the Nutcracker Suite hold music for a ridiculously long time. Answer a slew of personal questions and get your info!

I love filing our taxes. Our return is generally uncomplicated, and we get $ back. Now we can play "We Won the Lottery" and plot how to spend it. I want to buy beds for the kids, a Berkey water filter, and laminate cubbies to replace the wire ones in the closet. Husband dear wants to buy a deep freezer, half a cow, and grow to a 2 computer family and/or a 2 car family. Or at least fix the window and door lock so they open. Such a handy thing, a car window that opens! Especially when it's the Drive-Thru one.

I also want to buy new picture frames with glass. We had an unfortunate Superman incident on our moving boxes and every one of our pictures had broken glass. For those of you without boys, a "Superman" incident generally involves capes, peer pressure, and a jumping off point.

Yeah, we dream big over here.

See everyone else's takes over at Jen's!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/26/2009 11:13:00 AM | Permalink | |
Misc. Political Rumblings
Local Politics
Houston Mayor Bill White has realized his plan is dumb. Sorry, don't really have any other way to spin this.
Mayor Bill White yanked a controversial plan Tuesday that called for the city to use taxpayer funds to pay off some personal debts for first-time homebuyers, following a flood of outrage and criticism from across the city and beyond.
This whole "let's save the homebuyers" is really ticking me off. We chose not to buy a house, because we couldn't afford it. Where's my bailout? We chose not to rack up credit card debt. Where's my money?

BTW - Bill White is less and less popular, every day.

National Politics

Obama's speech - I can't believe he delivered this line without a trace of irony.
The only way this century will be another American century is if we confront at last the price of our dependence on oil and the high cost of health care; the schools that aren’t preparing our children and the mountain of debt they stand to inherit. That is our responsibility.
Dependence on foreign oil did not cause our children to inherit a mountain of debt. $787 billion in "stimulus", billions more for housing bailout, billions more for bank bailouts? That is what is causing our children to inherit a mountain of debt.

And who managed to spend over $1 trillion dollars in his first 30 days in office?

That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education – from the day they are born to the day they begin a career.

Obama is going to make sure my child has access to a competitive education from the day of birth? I'll take care of my own 1 day old babies, thanks.

I'm assuming he's talking about making federally funded, union-backed public schooling mandatory for all children for all time. Funny how when politicians talk about "education" they never include the parents.

And the day they begin a career? What if they never have a career? What if they become stay at home moms and dads, or care for aging parents, or simply work jobs here and there while fulfilling their dreams in other ways?

I'll believe that the administration cares about education and not the NEA, when I, as a homeschooler, qualify to write my educational expenses off on my taxes.

The State considers me a valid educator - but I don't get to write off our textbooks. It's all spent out of pocket with after tax dollars and I have to pay sales tax on top of it. Other teachers are allowed a $250 credit to pay for classroom supplies, but not me!

So, let's do a quick rundown of Obama spending/proposed spending. (Does this count as math class? I guess not. My children aren't adding 13 digit numbers yet; we're merely in the billions.)

$787 billion for Recovery/Stimulus dream
$25 billion for foreclosure help ($75 billion total, but $50 billion is from the ARRA.)
$634 billion for healthcare reform, paid in part by raising taxes on those pesky wealthy Americans to almost 40%. (pending)
$50 billion to fix the Alternative Minimum Tax (pending)

$1,496,000,000,000 in on month. That's more than the $1.3 trillion Obama inherited from Bush and doesn't include TARP. I thought he promised to half the deficit, not double it.

(And I'm not even sure I got everything, this is just what I could remember him wanting to spend!)

And... the House just passed ANOTHER $410 billion spending bill.

This is what happens when the same party controls the House, the Senate, and the White House.

Meanwhile, I just can't decide what to spend my $13/week stimulus package on. Sunday lattes at Starbucks? New crayons? Hmmm.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/26/2009 08:00:00 AM | Permalink | |
8 Ways to Save on Produce
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
A lot of people think that they cannot afford to eat healthfully. I disagree. We eat a lot of fresh (and sometimes frozen) fruits and vegetables, and I fit them in our budget. Food for thought: this week I bought 5# of Red Delicious apples for $2.99, the same price as a bag of Oreos!

See this post for a picture of fresh fruit and veggies bought for under $25.

How can you save money on produce?

1. I buy through loss leaders. A loss leader is something sold dirt cheap on the front of a grocery store ad, with the intention of getting you through the door so you'll do all your shopping at that store.

2.I buy in season. In December, we ate frozen veggies (10/$10 at Kroger, they run the sale 2x a month or so), kale, cabbage, carrots. Now kale is a little more expensive, but kiwis and oranges are dirt cheap. Last week, I paid 20 cents for navel oranges, and a quarter each for kiwis, and apples are really cheap right now, too.

As we head through spring and summer, we'll eat nectarines and plums as they get cheaper. Around the end of June, corn gets cheap - 6 or 8 for a dollar.

3. I usually don't buy organic, even though I would like to. I do keep an index card in my wallet with a list of the "top 10 dirtiest" so I can avoid them, or at least be aware and make informed choices. This doesn't mean I would never buy spinach, but it does mean that I might skip strawberries except for a couple times per year, peel the peaches, and wash the bell peppers thoroughly. I don't worry as much about bananas and oranges, because they have a thick peel (I do not use zest or candy the peels, though); but I always peel the potatoes (even though *I* love chunky skins on mashed potatoes!)

My goal with organic eating is to make changes where it will have the most impact, which, for kids, means I want to start with organic milk. Wash your veggies, or use a veggie wash (make your own!) and don't stress too much.

4. Also, I always hit the markdown rack. Our local Kroger marks down produce in the evening - 4-5# bags of bananas for 99 cents, or this week I got 2 4-packs of organic bell peppers for 99 cents each.

5. I'm growing my own. I make my own organic sprouts (you need a mason jar, water, and beans - it's easy!) and planted a garden. I haven't harvested much from our little garden, but the spinach, radishes, and chard are doing well and I've started the peppers indoors. (The lettuce and beans never came up.) Note: Never sprout kidney beans!

6. I buy frozen when it's cheaper (and it almost always is, for broccoli). Frozen veggies have as many vitamins as fresh, are picked when they are at their peak, and are already prepped. When I open a bag of frozen broccoli, I don't have any waste. Kroger very often runs 10/$10 sales on their frozen veggies, and I stock up. Other stores often run similar sales; a good BirdsEye coupon + a loss leader sale can even get you veggies for free!

7. I shop off the beaten path. Ethnic grocery stores usually have rock bottom prices. When I lived in Denver, I shopped at KoMart, a Korean market. In Houston, I shop at Fiesta Mart or FoodTown, which are Mexican markets. (I usually only buy produce there, the prices on other items are much higher than other stores!) Throughout summer, farmers markets and roadside stands can offer great deals.

8. I always cruise the produce aisles of every grocery store, because you'll never know when you'll get a deal. Then, I change the menu plan accordingly. One week, I happened by a display of eggplant and did a double take. They were marked 25¢ - not per pound, but a quarter each! I bought a ton and we had eggplant in spicy tomato sauce, eggplant with white beans, and eggplant dip that week!

How do you save money on fruits and vegetables?

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/24/2009 08:26:00 AM | Permalink | |
Food Stamp Challenge, week 8
Monday, February 23, 2009
See all Food Stamp Challenge posts here.

My goal? Spend $2 per person per day on food. $140 a week, for our family of 10.

Week 5 and 7 are MIA because I did not go shopping that week and we ate out of our pantry.

I spent $109.59 (and $17 on vitamins).

Average spent per week so far: $103.86
(I'm really surprised it's this low, although we are eating vegetarian for most lunches, and eat oatmeal or hot cereal for breakfast most days. Also, I make a lot of things from scratch.)

What I got:

1 doz. eggs, 2 gallons milk, 32 oz. plain yogurt, 2# shredded cheese

5# cornmeal, 4# sugar, 8# quick oats, 1 box complete pancake mix (at 99¢ for 32 oz, it's cheaper than mixing up my own!), 1 box Multigrain Cheerios (sale + coupon = .67 for the box!), 200 corn tortillas, 12 pkg. ramen noodles (per husband's request - YUCK!), 14 oz. alphabet noodles, 3 cans picante sauce, 6 cans hominy, 2 cans Ranch Style beans, 1 bottle ketchup

17 navel oranges, 24 apples, 1 head cauliflower, 8 organic bell peppers (red, yellow, and green mixed, on the reduced rack for $2 total), 21# potatoes, 5# carrots, 2 poblano peppers, 4# white onions, 2 1/2# Roma tomatoes, 4# green cabbage.

1# dried garbanzo beans, 1# pearled barley, 1# blackeyed peas, 2# dried white beans, 1# dried black beans, 8# rice.

2# frozen gumbo mix, 2# frozen broccoli/cauliflower mix, 2# frozen garden blend

3 chickens, 3# boneless beef steak, 5# pork roast, 11# shank ham

...and 3 bags of half off Valentine's candy. The chocolate's for me, the conversation hearts are potty training bribery.

I found a fabulous new resource at the library - The Vegan Lunchbox Cookbook. Every once in a while I'll click over to the Vegan Lunchbox blog and admire her lunches. I knew there was a cookbook, but wasn't ever interested because we're not vegans, and there's no way I have the time to make such intricate and pretty lunches for 8 people everyday.

But, the cookbook is great! I'm trying a ton of recipes this week. Our lunches had become throw-together ho-hums, and I apparently need to eat more food -I've lost weight for two months inexplicably, and I'm down to my prepregnancy weight, more or less. And I still have 3 1/2 months to go! My problem is that I am not hungry, more or less. If I didn't have 7 little stomachs yelling for food all the time, I'd probably forget to eat altogether!

I'm hoping that carefully planning lunches and snacks will help with that.

I'm also hoping to mix up our grains, so if we have malt-o-meal (wheat) for breakfast, we don't also have pasta (wheat) for lunch, bread (wheat) for a snack, and bulgur (wheat again!) for dinner. Or cornmeal mush for breakfast (the kids don't want oatmeal everyday... so okay... I'll try anything once!), polenta for lunch, popcorn for a snack, and tacos for dinner all in the same day.

What we're eating:
Recipes in green are from The Vegan Lunchbox Cookbook.

Sat., Feb 21: Lunch, snack: Peanut butter and jelly, apple, orange
Dinner: Chicken fajitas, pepper strips, Spanish rice

Sun., Feb 22: Lunch, snack: Golden Cauliflower soup, apple, pepper strips
Dinner: Ham, baked potatoes, peas

Mon., Feb. 23: Lunch, snack: Tostadas, pepper strips, "cheesy" roasted chickpeas
Dinner: Pasta Carbonara w/broccoli and fresh tomatoes

Tues., Feb. 24: Lunch, snack: Corn pone muffins w/pintos, mixed veggies, orange
Dinner: Waikiki Chicken (stupid name for recipe from WalMart kiosk), broccoli, rice.

Wed., Feb. 25: Lunch, snack: Baked cream cheese spirals, apple, bread
Dinner: Fish tacos, cole slaw (didn't actually make them last time!)

Thur., Feb 26: Lunch, snack: hummus and sprout pitas, honeybee balls
Dinner: Hambone and black-eyed pea soup, cornbread

Fri., Feb. 27: Lunch, snack: Leftovers or sandwiches.
Dinner: Vegetarian gumbo with red beans, rolls or cornbread. (I love cornbread and could eat it every day!)

BTW- Baby X ate three bowls of the cauliflower soup! I made it with fewer potatoes than called for because I have to eat like a diabetic, but it still turned out tasty.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/23/2009 08:28:00 AM | Permalink | |
A Person's a Person...
Saturday, February 21, 2009
SECTION 1. References to individual, person, or human being - Legislative
intent. For purposes of interpretation of the constitution and laws of North Dakota, it is the intent of the legislative assembly that an individual, a person, when the context indicates that a reference to an individual is intended, or a human being includes any organism with the genome of homo sapiens.

That's right, the North Dakota house just passed HB 1572, which states that any organism of Homo Sapiens is a person, no matter what stage of development. And, of course, a person is protected from murder or exploitation under the law.

Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot, sponsored the bill. "I think North Dakota will be on the map to be the first state in recent years to mount a legitimate challenge to Roe v. Wade," he said. "This is the exact language that's required by Roe vs. Wade. It stipulated that before a challenge can be made, we have to identify when life begins, and that's what this does."

The legislation now heads to the state Senate, where it hasn't been assigned to committee and is not on the calendar. The ND Senate has a Republican majority, but the party hasn't commented on this bill. However, the Senate did just pass a bill that would require abortion clinics to post a notice to women that they cannot be forced to have an abortion.

Of course, there wasn't a peep from the MSM, except a few blurbs in the local press.

Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota has posted a local press release, but as of yet there is no national call to action.
HB 1572 is dangerous, far reaching and allows the government, not women and families, to make critical decisions about health care,” said Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota (PPMNS).

“Women and families, not politicians, should decide what’s best for their unique circumstances. Whether the issue is abortion, birth control, or in vitro fertilization, women, in consultation with doctors should make these personal medical decisions,” said Stoesz.

How ironic. Stoesz claims women and families should decide what's best. Isn't a child a part of the family? If it is important for them, and not pro-choice politicians, to decide whether it's best that they live or die, shouldn't they be allowed to have a vote (of course, they'd have to reach an age of majority, or at least accountability, before voicing their opinion.)

Of course, Stoesz fails to mention that Planned Parenthood only cares about women and families that are able to purchase services right now. PP could care less about the female children who will never get a chance to grow into strong, independent women able to make critical health care decisions.

Planned Parenthood and the Bismarck Tribune also point out that the law could affect access to contraception and Plan B, but don't clarify that only birth control methods that involve harming an already fertilized egg would be affected. Barrier methods, such as condoms and diaphragms, will not be banned or eliminated. Is PP now admitting that the Pill actually does prevent the implantation of a new life?

Others have a problem with section 2 of the bill, which states that the legislature will appoint someone to defend the resolution. Rep. Kari Conrad, a Democrat, opposes the measure not for moral reasons but for fiscal ones. "People who presented this bill, were very clear that they intended to challenge Roe versus Wade. So they intend to put the state of North Dakota into court defending Roe vs. Wade," she said.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/21/2009 11:49:00 AM | Permalink | |
7 Quick Takes 5
Friday, February 20, 2009
I'm glad that Pelosi met with Pope Benedict XVI. His job is to shepherd the flock, and she is obviously ignorant of Church teaching. What a wonderful opportunity to enlighten her about what an "ardent Catholic" (her words) believes! I can only hope that the Holy Spirit did find the meeting irresistible, as a few Catholic bloggers have speculated.

I'm a bad mommy. Guess what I forgot to buy this week? (That's a pineapple upside down cake, with cherries on half since Mr R can't eat them. I do love upside down cakes. I don't have to make frosting for them!)

Truth be told, it's not that I forgot to buy birthday candles, it's that I forgot to check and make sure the 1 yo hadn't eaten them before it was time for cake.

And the newly minted 5 year old has declared she has outgrown all of her 4T clothes and will only wear things with a 5 on the label. Poor, deluded, nekkid girl!

I still have not bought a new pair of shoes. And I'm a bad hillbilly wannabe, too. I could not find a roll of duct tape to save my life, and my neighbor didn't have one either (despite the fact that I bought two rolls prior to Ike, they are not in my hurricane box!). Related: electrical tape does not stick well to rubber soles, but will do in a pinch. And did I mention how much I hate shoe shopping?

I am so very irritated with our electric company's ridiculous billing policies. It's all green energy (mostly from wind, some hydro) but I have about had it and am calling around to switch. Bills are printed on the 5th of the month, and due on the 20th. But they are mailed out bulk mail and are not available online until the due date. My latest bill had a billing date of Feb. 5, but the envelope was postmarked Feb. 13th.

In Houston in the summer, the electric bill can be several hundred dollars and it can be hard to budget precisely.

They do email it but my spam almost always eats it. Why can they email the bill but not show it to me online? Enquiring Minds Want to Know! Paying online costs a fee, but there isn't enough time to mail it in. And if it's a day late, they assess another fee ($7.99)

Also, our rate went up 2¢ per kilowatt hour, so the other companies are cheaper now, too.

This graphic is way better than the stupid one the Houston Chronicle published over the weekend.

Where is the Stimulus Going?

My friend posted about Governmentium, the heaviest element ever discovered. Go read for a laugh!
These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second to take from 4 days to 4 years to complete.
Is this not the cutest little house you have every seen? Can you believe it is only 382 sq. ft, and she has a toddler? It was on the sidebar of Eyes of Wonder blog.

See more Quick Takes over at Jen's blog!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/20/2009 09:27:00 AM | Permalink | |
Fun New Book Meme!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Go to your bookshelves, and post what is on TOP of them (not the top shelf, but on the very top).

In our house, the top of the bookcase is reserved for things I don't want the kids to get ahold of!

In the school room, the top of the bookcase contains:
Prisma colored pencils

6 Catholic coloring books on the Saints, the Rosary, the Most Holy Eucharist, etc. I make copies to use for lapbooks, feast day crafts, etc.

Preschool Lessons About Jesus (because the 3 yo was coloring in the blackline masters)

4 foldable candy boxes with handles.

Upstairs, I have three bookshelves side by side. The left bookshelf holds most of my Catholic and religion books.

The top is where I keep the rare, old books - and the rest of the shelf is where I keep books I haven't categorized yet.

I have a large book that is missing it's cover and spine - it's old and appears to contain papal encyclicals through the 19th century.

The Throne of the Fisherman, 1887
The Popes of Rome, vol. 1 (16th and 17th century) 1846
The Soul of the Apostolate
The Foot of the Cross
Charity for the Suffering Souls
Suffering - The Catholic Answer
Self Abandonment to Divine Providence
Eucharistic Miracles
Evidence of Satan in the Modern World (Cure D'Ars)
Visual Basic.net
Visual C++.net (obviously misplaced!)

Middle shelf, I keep the books that are too big for the regular shelves, mainly art print books for school.
Mary Cassat
Winslow Homer
American Impressionists
Leonardo DaVinci
Stack of Catechist magazines
Laura Ingalls Wilder Country (from the museum, I think.)

The right bookshelf is for fiction, and "business" books.
A lot of Shannara books, by Terry Brooks
Angela's Ashes (didn't fit on the lit shelf)
Investing for Dummies
How to Master the Art of Selling
Idiot's Guide to Personal Finance
Idiot's Guide to Successful Entrepreneurship
Motley Fool Investment Guide
Dave Ramsay Total Money Makeover
Money Book of Personal Finance

In the playroom, the top of the bookcase holds:
Boardgames - Risk, Lord of the Rings Risk, Shogun, poker set, Axis and Allies, the chess clock, and a tub of baby toys that X has outgrown.

In the living room, I have several more older books, and a couple of classics that I took the dust jackets off of. The classics are the little cheap versions Barne's and Noble sells, but I like them because they fit in my purse and have a ribbon bookmark attached.

The top of that shelf contains:
Crime and Punishment
The Prince (I confess I've only made it about the quarter of the way through that one.)
St. Peter and the First Years of Christianity, 1927
Pictures of Christian Heroism, 1855
Systematic Study of the Catholic Religion, 1909 (haven't read that one yet, either)

How come modern books aren't as pretty as old books?

What's on YOUR bookshelves?


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/19/2009 12:06:00 PM | Permalink | |
Apple Doesn't Fall Far...
...from the tree!

Michelle Malkin recently moved to the Denver area, and Obama's arrival (by jet - doesn't he care about global warming and reducing unnecessary trips?) was too much for her to resist.

So she held a protest and my mom showed up.

You can see where I got my "stand on the side of the road with a political sign" gene from!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/19/2009 10:04:00 AM | Permalink | |
Invisible Clutter: Works for Me Wednesday
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Slowly we're clearing out the clutter.

Invisible clutter. Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it takes up no effort in your life or costs nothing.

First, we returned our Sam's Club membership. They have a full refund policy at any time if you cancel your membership. The Texas Sam's Clubs don't carry a lot of the products I used to buy in South Carolina, including bulk cornstarch, whole wheat pasta, or certain spices. Their milk was more expensive than the grocery stores, as was their produce. I used to buy whole wheat bread there for cheap, but I make my own now. They don't carry bread flour. Over, and over again I would head to Sam's Club with a long list, and leave with butter and chickens. Then, a local grocery store started carrying butter for the same price.

$35 back in our pockets!

We paid off our van in December, and switched the coverage from Full to Liability Only. Our van is maybe worth $1800.

$35 a month, back in our pockets!

Husband changed his cell plan. He did have a supernifty one with unlimited nationwide roaming. When he realized that his company wasn't sending him to any outlying oil platforms any time soon, he changed plans.

$15 a month, back in our pockets! We can always change to the upgraded plan at any time, if we need to go out of town.

I changed our cable service yesterday. This was tricky, because we have a package deal (phone, internet, and cable.) I work from home watching TV, and I had to have certain channels for my job. The best package I could get cost $160 after taxes (including taxes, fees, and DVR.)

In January, our cable company sent us a notice that prices would be going up by $5. But, they also added several new packages and bundles. We went to a different phone plan, eliminating long distance (husband gets it for free on his cell, anyway), went to a slower internet, and lost a bunch of channels.

Truthfully, even though we "lost" about 100 channels, the only ones we'll miss are The Science Channel, Noggin, HBO, and EWTN.

Savings? $50 a month!

(But oh, how I wish they would let you pick 25-30 channels that you want for a low price. I get 100 channels still, but most we skip over. I can totally do without the Golf channel, QVC, MTV, Spike, and 4 channels broadcast in Spanish.)

Invisible clutter elimination - works for me!

For more Works for Me Wednesday, check out Rocks In My Dryer!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/17/2009 11:05:00 PM | Permalink | |
Dem Bones
We're studying the skeletal system. My older boys BEGGED me to "let" them do worksheets and not have to make a lapbook. Why do they hate glue sticks so much?

Okay, then. They can do worksheets, if that's what they want.

I bought this book at Mardel's:

Human Body: Fun Activities, Experiments, Investigations, And Observations! (Skills for Success Series) (Jan 2003) by Carson Dellosa Publishing

Other Printables:
Free Skeleton Page to label (with scientific names)

Human Body Unit, free PDF (looks like about 2nd grade)

Bone Diagrams, labeled and unlabeled. (Scroll down, they are towards the bottom)

Tons of books. I found a good children's Encyclopedia of the Human Body for less than $10 at Barnes and Noble (plus teacher discount). They LOVE this book, which they got for Christmas.

We got a ton more on bones and teeth at the library. If you look closely, you can see one on the floor behind Baby X on my 7 Quick Takes post!

Bones of the Face and Head, hands on lesson.

Model of Cervical Vertebrae,
using kitchen items.

Bone Connection, visual lesson the functions of the skeleton.

Visible Body
, which I haven't explored but looks pretty cool!

We already studied some properties of bones when we did our dinosaur lesson plan, including putting eggs and chicken bones in vinegar to show how minerals make it hard, and burying bones in the compost pile to show how they are the last thing to decompose in a body.

Another activity we are going to do is to write on their bodies, labeling the major bones!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/17/2009 10:15:00 AM | Permalink | |
Back on the Info Superhighway
Monday, February 16, 2009
Our computer has been acting worse and worse over the last month, and this weekend husband dear was finally able to straighten things out (by reformatting the hard drive and reinstalling windows, taking everything not saved on another drive with it... but I digress.)

Blogging might be slow this week. I have reinstall everything, from Acrobat Reader to Media Player.

Also, something's glitchy with the users so I can't customize my desktop or reload my bookmarks. Why is that soooo annoying?

What programs can you not live without?

Also, I didn't shop this weekend for the Food Stamp Challenge, so that will post later in the week. Husband added about $30 to last weeks total buying this and that. I don't have my menu done either! But I *kinda* know what we're eating tonight...LOL!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/16/2009 01:04:00 PM | Permalink | |
64 Years
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Many of my family members served their country, and the cause of freedom, during World War II.

One was lost.

"Uncle Buddy", as he was known, was shot down by Nazis, taken prisoner, and killed by the enemy. His B-17 was lost during an air battle over Dresden, Germany on Valentine's Day, 1945. He was a ball turret gunner. The plane eventually crashed near the village of Hridelec in the Czech Republic, about 130 km from Prague. His grave is in Epinal, France

He died over 30 years before I was born, yet I know his story. He is still loved, remembered, missed.

Eternal rest grant him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace, amen.


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/14/2009 07:19:00 AM | Permalink | |
7 Quick Takes 4
Friday, February 13, 2009
Wednesday, husband dear took the boys to a new chess club. I guess they had a good time, because they didn't make it home until 10:30! 6 yo Mr S. is just learning the rules. This morning he had a heated argument with Mr P over how the "Popes" move. Mr P insisted they were called bishops, not popes. Mr S, who recently mastered checkers, announce that the bishops had made it to the other side of the board and got "kinged" - making them popes.

Is first grade too young to start lessons on the heirarchy of the church?

I don't see how this could be legal, and I hope the parents sue for a violation of their rights.

A school attorney grills them on Catholic theology, saying he must determine if they are sincere Catholics. But he doesn't quiz them on the Catechism, but rather on the theological roots of beliefs!

450,000 have signed the petition at nostimulus.com. I usually don't sign online petitions, but added my name to this one. The petition is set to be presented to the Senate at 2 pm EST today.

The text of the bill
is finally online, 24 hours before the House is set to vote.

Text of SB22, which passed.

Does anyone know anything about the Texas Ratio? Economists say it is an indicator of your bank's health, and likelihood of failure. A ratio of over 100 is a danger sign; the lower the ratio, the better your bank's financial health is. Any thoughts? Chart here. (Sept. 08 figures)

Miss C is so funny. She got an Aquadoodle for Christmas, and she calls it her "Aqua Doodle Doo", because that's what the animals say when we play farm. Someone mistakenly used water colors, not plain water on it last week. Anyone know how to clean it?

We do Montessori style play at home, even though I don't own many classic works. Baby X's speech therapist is having a problem with this - his coping skills, problem solving, and life skills are too good! She wants us to start annoying using playful obstruction so that he will vocalize more (i.e., protest). I've compromised and we'll play tug of war and Hot Potato, instead. Sorry, but the last thing I want or need is a toddler who is being provoked on purpose! (Besides, it's not like he never throws a fit or gets provoked. He's just remarkably easy going and transitions very well.)

Part of Baby X's practical life skills apparently involve camera use. He's only 1 year old, but he loves to get ahold of the camera. I'm seeing a whole new perspective on my house, and some places are really dirty. I just never noticed because they are, you know, 20 inches off the floor.

I now have 300 pictures of the underside of my table, because that's where he runs to hide when he has something he knows he shouldn't have!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/13/2009 11:30:00 AM | Permalink | |
Stimulus Bill Malaise
Thursday, February 12, 2009
While all of the new legislation has been floating around (FOCA, CPSIA, Stimulus package) I've been overwhelmed in a depressed kind of way. What can I do? What can any of us do? It's hopeless...

Well, no, it's not. And I'm finally seeing an opportunity.

My Congressman, John Culberson, is on Twitter. He's posted several times today:
johnculberson RT: Call/email Sp Nancy Pelosi & yr Cong NOW to demand that StimulusBill be posted online atleast 72hrs bf floor vote so we can all read it
That's right, Pelosi won't even make the text of the final bill available to the public before the vote. Ask her to make the revised bill public for at least 72 hours before the floor vote so the American public can read it!

Remember SHE works for US.

Pelosi's contact info:

Contact Rep. Nancy Pelosi at sf.nancy@mail.house.gov

Website: www.house.gov/pelosi

Washington, D.C. Office: 235 Cannon House Office Building,
District of Columbia 20515-0508
Phone: (202) 225-4965
Fax: (202) 225-8259

San Francisco Office: (more district offices) Burton Federal Building 450 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, California 94102
Phone: (415) 556-4862
Fax: (415) 861-1670

Find your Senator!

Find your Congressman! Just type in your ZIP code!

Yeah, I'm one of those cranky ladies who's always calling my Congressman's office. YOU SHOULD BE TOO!

Mommylife has info.

Glenn Beck promises a grassroots movement.

I have heard that a fax is best - it has the urgency of a phone call but the weight of a letter. But at least shoot an email and a phone call!

BTW - I'm on Twitter now! Milehimama. Are you on? Tell me who you are so I can follow!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/12/2009 02:30:00 PM | Permalink | |
Eternal Rest
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Three SSPX seminarians were killed by an avalanche.

From a message board:

Our SSPX District Secretary Fr. Dreher confirmed that Menzingen informed us of the tragic death of our three seminarians: Jean-Baptiste Despres, Raymond Guerin, and Mickael Sabak from Paris. They were in 3rd year of their training with the Society of Saint Pius X in Econe. Another seminarian is in serious injury. They "were caught in an avalanche.." Please keep them in your prayers.
Eternal rest grant them, O Lord, and my perpetual light shine upon them. And may they rest in peace.

Why do Catholics pray even after somone died? I wrote about it here.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/11/2009 11:19:00 PM | Permalink | |
Bloggy Business: Works for Me Wednesday
I'll never have a bloggy empire, but I do make a little egg money once in a while from my blog. I'd be writing anyway, and a little extra money for not doing anything different? Works for me!

I'm maybe too particular about my sponsors. I do Amazon (of course), and BlogHer. I also have two Catholic resources that I'm an affiliate of: Hear my Voice (left sidebar) and Aquinas and More, a Catholic store run by a homeschooling family in Colorado Springs.

And, Aquinas and More is running a contest this month! Who ever has the greatest percentage increase in sales wins! Customers just need to click the link from my website (search bar on the right sidebar).

And so, I will shamelessly pimp some of my favorite things, in case you are ordering for Lent and Easter!

I always try to put some religious item in the kids' Easter baskets (it is a religious holiday, after all!) and it's hard for me to get out to a good bookstore during the day, when they are open.

Shopping online (way too late at night, usually) works for me too!

These are all books I've read, usually more than once, and recommend.

Books for Moms:
A Mother's Rule of Life

Holiness for Housewives, by Dom Hubert Van Zeller

Books for Spiritual Growth
An Hour with Jesus
A small booklet, the size of a folded piece of paper -purse sized!

Take the kids to Adoration, too. My daughter's godmother sent her one of these, and the girls loved it so much I bought another one. My mother sent more - and I had to order even more!
Eucharistic Adoration Coloring Book (based on actual great works for art; there's a whole series of beautiful coloring pages!)

Navarre Bible series
This bible has the text in English, footnotes relating to what Church Fathers or the Catechism says on the subject, and the Latin Vulgate at the bottom. The Navarre Pentateuch was especially good, as I had never read through it linearly! (I still got bogged down in Leviticus, as always, though...) I have Romans and the Book of Revelation, as well.

No Greater Love, by Mother Teresa

In addition to Lent and Easter, the Feast of the Annunciation is coming up (March 25) as is the Feast of St. Joseph (March 19) and St. Patrick's Day (March 17).

Do you have a First Communion friend coming up in April or May?
My Confession Book (I gave these to my catechism class last year as a Lenten gift)

Children's Missal, ordinary form (I don't have this version.)

Children's Missal, extraordinary form (Tridentine)

They also have a homeschooling section, including D'Aulaire's Myths, Kolbe Academy, Mother of Divine Grace, and lots of Latin lessons!

Bloggy Business income works for me, and so does online browsing and shopping! For more Works for Me Wednesday, check out Rocks in My Dryer!
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/11/2009 10:21:00 AM | Permalink | |
Food Stamp Challenge, week 6
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
My goal? To spend $140 per week on food for 10 people, which is $2 per person per day.

If you recall, we had a super challenge the last couple of weeks. We spent around $50 here and there. This week, I spent $225 restocking the pantry.

What we got this week:
15 green bell peppers, 6 red bell peppers, 2 large poblano peppers, 12# apples, 12 navel oranges (look at 'em! They're the size of the cantaloupe, for a quarter each!), 2 cantaloupes, 1 bunch kale, 1.5# fresh broccoli, 1 medium eggplant, 2# zucchini, 8 kiwis, 3 limes, piece ginger, 1.5# asparagus, 15# potatoes, 2 heads cabbage, 3 heads romaine lettuce, and 5 tomatoes.

I love the Mexican grocery store. We got all of this fresh food for less than $25!

1.5# whitefish, 3/4# baby octopus (for husband), 7# pork chops, 2# Italian sausage, and 4 whole chickens.

7 packages assorted small pasta, 6# brown rice, 4# white rice, 2# garbanzos, 1# lentils, 1# split peas, 1# navy beans, 1# red beans, 4 boxes WW spaghetti, 2 boxes WW rotini, 2 boxes WW penne, 3 jars spaghetti sauce (I love when they discontinue flavors. They were 60 cents each!), large jar salsa, 100 ct. tea bags, 10.5# quick oats, 1 box whole grain cream of wheat, 1 box chocolate malt-o-meal, 2 cans oyster stew, 1 can black olives, 3 large cans crushed tomatoes, 3 small cans tomato paste, 1 can pineapple slices, 1 jar pineapple apricot jelly (so good on pork chops), 56 oz. creamy peanut butter, and 2 large jars unsweetened applesauce.

48 oz. canola oil, 34 oz. olive oil, 15# WW flour, 10# AP flour, 12# white sugar, 4# brown sugar, 6 oz. dried cranberries, 1 can salt, large carton baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and 16 oz. slivered almonds.

3 dozen large eggs, 4 gallons milk, 3# butter, 1# sharp cheddar cheese, 1 can whipped cream, and 3 pkg. hot dogs.

2# frozen spinach, 2# froz. peas, 2# peas and carrots, 4# broccoli cuts, 2# broccoli and cauliflower, 2# frozen blackberries, and 2# frozen blueberries.

I also spent another $40 on diapers, dish soap sandwich bags, aluminum foil, and assorted food storage/paper goods. We were out of everything!

What are we gonna eat? (besides peanut butter!)

Saturday, Feb. 7: salad, chicken tacos, pintos

Sunday, Feb. 8: Stuffed bell peppers, bread

Monday, Feb. 9: Pork chops, peas, asparagus, brown rice

Tuesday, Feb. 10: ratatouille, rice, salad with white beans and olives

Wednesday, Feb. 11: chicken enchiladas, beans, rice

Thursday, Feb. 12: chick pea soup, bread (or pitas), yogurt sesame spread.

Friday, Feb. 13: fish tacos, salad

Are you a frugal foodie? How did you save money in the kitchen this week? Leave your link here and make sure to link back!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/10/2009 09:48:00 AM | Permalink | |
Some Thoughts on the Mass Reading
Monday, February 09, 2009
It's Monday, and I have nothing to blog about. Well, actually, I have TONS to blog about, but I don't have time to write those posts this morning! (Including the Food Stamp Challenge!)

So I thought I'd leave you with some thoughts on the reading from yesterday's Mass. (1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22:23)

Brothers and sisters:
If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it! If I do so willingly, I have a recompense, but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my recompense? That, when I preach, I offer the gospel free of charge
so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.

I've touched on that before - Catholics believe we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved.

Contrary to popular belief, Catholics don't believe that we can earn our salvation. There is no board of Labor Appeals on the other side, where we can bring proof that we worked xxx hours; we can't sue God for "back pay".

We are not hirelings, but heirs.

In the same chapter, St. Paul tells the Corinthians (and us): (1 Cor. 9:25-27)
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Neither is salvation offered at a single moment in time. We can't go to an altar call, and tell God, "That sounds like a good deal. I'll take it. See ya when I die!"

No one would deny St. Paul's conversion experience on the road to Damascus was authentic, sincere, and life changing. Yet, St. Paul tells us that it is not enough. He hopes for a share in the Gospel promise,

We must actively cooperate with God, throughout our life. We must have a good relationship with Him. It is only by taking up our cross and walking with Christ that we will share everlasting life with Him.

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. Mark 8:34-35
The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. John 12:25-26
And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26

As always, I'm just a silly housewife, not a theologian. Also I'm typing this post while passing out peanuts and wiping up oatmeal. Please forgive any mistakes. Catholic belief, and the reasons for them, are laid out in the easily searchable Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/09/2009 10:02:00 AM | Permalink | |
7 Quick Takes: Week who knows? I'll call it 3
Thursday, February 05, 2009
My soup ladle holds exactly half a cup. Just the right portion for Ikea bowls, and it makes it so easy to track amounts for a food log.

Baby X learned how to put the wooden train tracks together. And he "Choo choos!", which is great because he usually doesn't use appropriate sounds when he plays. He's not quiet, but part of his speech thing, apparently, is not communicating even basic sounds and connecting them to objects - vrooming the cars, making the cows moo, etc. We've been working on it.

But what makes me happy is seeing him sitting on the floor building tracks. Just like his brother did, and his other brother, and the brother before that. Who knew that Brio knockoffs were a legacy toy?

Can you guess what we're studying in History? We're in the Middle Kingdom now.

I think it's great how hard Obama is working at decreasing our deficit. Why, out of just three appointees, he's already managed to collect nearly a quarter of a million dollars in back taxes! By the time he's done getting his cabinet approved, we might have all of that TARP money covered!

I hate shoe shopping. My feet are difficult. They always hurt. I wear athletic cross trainers with three inserts inside and never go barefoot. I think I must go this weekend, though. I bought these shoes 10 months ago and wear them 12-16 hours a day, 7 days a week. Except Sundays - I wear torture devices nice shoes for the two hours it takes to go to Mass.

Could I possibly put if off any longer?

And are Merrills really worth the money?
(I do believe I'm probably the only woman whose husband begs her to go buy more shoes!)

The kids have come down with a cold. It's so funny how they all get sick in completely different ways. X has a runny nose and slowed down for a day, but is back in fine form. He also must wipe his nose himself. Miss E feels really puny. She gets headaches and stomach aches from drainage. Mr S always gets a croup-like cough that is never actually croup.

Mr R gets so manic I think I'm going to lose my mind. Always. Then he's a big baby for a couple of days, crying that he's simply too weak to even go to the bathroom or brush his teeth by himself. It doesn't even seem like the same germ!

My computer is dying a slow death. Somehow the DLL file got erased, and the only cure is to reformat the drive and reinstall Windows. But, our Windows CD is broken. So I have to beg, borrow, or steal one.

And soon - I work from home on the Internet, and it's difficult when the Blue Screen of Death makes itself at home while I'm working!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/05/2009 12:46:00 AM | Permalink | |
Writing on the Web: Works for Me Wednesday
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
It's the first week of the month, and I just got another check for selling my bloggy skills.

Remember last week when I gave out my tips for getting paid to write for the web?

Still working for me!

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

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/04/2009 10:59:00 AM | Permalink | |
Kids Live Here
Monday, February 02, 2009
Renee asked if it was always this neat and organized.


Here's what the room looked like at 5 pm today. It would probably be worse, but I think the littles are coming down with a cold and they all took 2-3 hour naps today. Also, they played in the living room.

We usually do a "quick tidy" before lunch, but didn't today. The rooms do get picked up at night, usually. The playroom has one kid assigned as "monitor" and Miss V and Miss C are helpers. Another kid gets living room duty. Our chores rotate.

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

We rent this house, and it's twice as big as our last one. I'm glad we're renting, because it costs a fortune to cool in the summer! Our next house will definitely be smaller.

One bonus to having so much space is that we have a playroom. We've always tried to keep as many toys as possible out of the kids' room, anyway, and set things out in a Montessori fashion even though I don't have any actual works out right now. Here's our play room from two houses ago.

The downside? The room that works best as a playroom is the front room. It's the very first thing you see when you open our front door. Well, kids live here, too. I hate the super designed rooms on TV and in magazines that completely erase the existence of all people under 4' tall.

View from the front door: (Yeah, I didn't vacuum before taking these pics. So ignore the crumbs on the floor. Kids live here!)

We have a lot of toys! We have toddler toys, preschool toys, early elementary toys, and older boy toys. We have a 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 year old.

Our playroom is set up in "zones".

Dress up zone (there used to be a mirror where the US Map is, but Mr R broke it two weeks ago and we haven't gotten a new one yet.)

Pretending zone, sound zone.
Babies are in the big green bucket, baby clothes, bottles, and paraphenalia in the white basket, and doctor kit. Piano, toy phones, Tube Phone, cassette player that I don't think works anymore. Also on the floor: big bucket of wooden train tracks.

Animal play
Large plastic animals in the green bucket. In the plastic baskets, we have people (army men, mermaids, etc.), dinosaurs, and farm animals. The big white thing is a barn with stuffed farm animals for X that I got from Ikea.

My older boys play with the animals in an entirely different way from the preschoolers.

Littles shelf
Little People landscapes in the big green bucket, Little People in the small bucket (so they don't have to dump the whole thing to find a Little People (Little Person?) to play with. Baby X's Leap Frog tow truck, and miscellaneous Matchbox cars. Baby X's other toys.

Block shelf
Foam blocks, Lincoln Logs, wooden blocks, Marbleworks, and Bright Builders. Duplos in the nifty Duplo desk, another garage sale find.

Reading nook
Library books are in the blue tub; there's a white bucket for the kid books we own that I find all over the house. I found the ladybug pillows at Salvation Army for 50 cents each!

I like the bookcases, especially when you have older kids and younger kids. The big kids' stuff is on the upper shelves.

Games, puzzle, Bionicle pieces. The gray buckets on top hold Imaginext Pirate sets and baby toys that X has outgrown.

K'Nex, Legos, and the baby wipe box is for me to dump all of the extra Legos I find all over the house. My favorite label is the "weapons" box. It's so deliciously un-PC. Holds lightsabers and Nerf guns.

"Asking" toys with lots of pieces, like domino sets, Mr. Potato Head, pegboards, and lacing cards.

Along the stairs, I have a cabinet we use for "tea party" and food.

View from the reading nook.

And an Aquadoodle on the wall.

What do your kid spaces look like?

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/02/2009 10:13:00 AM | Permalink | |