Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Yet Another Study...

...Showing homeschooling produces people that "excel in all measured areas of adult life." (emphasis mine)

income, education, entrepreneurial endeavors, involvement in their community

more socially engaged and almost twice as likely to have voted

more sources of investment income and self employment

no cases of government support as the primary source of income

happier in their work and their lives in general

actively engaged in their local communities, keeping abreast of current affairs, highly civically involved, tolerant of others expressing their viewpoints, attaining relatively high levels of formal education, religiously active

No mention was made in the article as to methodology, family size, whether Mom managed to "hold it all together," or other demographic.

Do you suppose the politicians and social engineers who tout how important education is will start advocating home education as a viable, indeed superior, educational choice? If they had a shred of decency or honesty they would.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Another One Bites The... Cookie?

Actually I think it was bread.

Darling Baby #2 - our 5-year-old Little Artist - lost her first tooth Christmas Eve, with the help of an auntie and some tough bread to bite on. Adjusted for birthdates, she lost this first tooth within a month of her older sister's first loss. And also has a second one close behind! She was given the same warning about Gi-gi as her sister was, and never even mentioned it to her the two days we visited prior to Christmas (and that was hard, mind you! She was showing it off to everyone!).

I still think 5 1/2 is so young for losing teeth, and had a hard time believing it was possible (again). She now sports a gap-toothed grin that reminds me she is growing up so quickly!

Monday, December 28, 2009

We're So Rich

There are families who do very little for Christmas, regarding gifts and the like (and I so admire them), purposing to focus on the Truth of the season instead.

While sometimes I wish we were like that, so far we aren't. :) I'd guess we're pretty normal.

But I'm surprised sometimes at what constitutes 'normal' for others. There are families who anxiously find themselves short on cash this time of year (and especially this year), and worry how their kids will get to "have" Christmas. Maybe they scrape up some extra money, sell something, or ask friends and family to pitch in.

I've been surprised to discover what is "normal" for some families. Even the "struggling" ones. We're not struggling really, though we're always fairly careful with our spending.

We spent $20 each for the 'big' gift for the older 2, less than $10 (I think - Hubby actually picked hers out) on Organique, and $5 for a couple BPA-free teething rings for Baby. I sewed** each of the 3 mobile ones a skirt, a nightgown, and a "bakery hat" as Little Artist calls it. I made a chicken-scratch bookmark for Big Sister, and Daddy (the big spender) bought the Ladybug Game, Uno, and a puzzle as family gifts. Their stockings had a sampling of the goodies we'd made for giving, and an orange.

Of course, my folks sent gifts - slippers, nightgown, and bathrobe for each of the oldest, a hand-me-down game for Organique, and cute striped velour sleeper for Baby - which we opened on Christmas morning, and when Granny gave me an outfit for each of them over Thanksgiving, they were saved and wrapped for Christmas also. So even if everything wasn't from "us," there were still plenty of gifts to go around.

Christmas evening allowed for gifts from Hubby's folks too, plus a 'family gift' of a movie, popcorn, and goodies in a basket from his sister and family.

What abundance. What abundance! We're so blessed. Some have far, far less. And (maybe just as bad,) some "need" far, far more! I am struck by the massive amounts of gifts many kids have to show off (I don't mean that in a bad way. Just that like all kids they are excited to show others their gifts.). Ours look pretty modest in comparison. But what makes me feel so rich is that.. that's ok. My kids don't need $100-worth of trinkets to feel like Christmas "happened." Don't get me wrong; I'm sure they'd LOVE $100 gifts (I do realize my children are young still and haven't quite developed an appetite for the extravagant that may yet come.)! But they love homemade things. They don't (usually) see commercials that tell them everything they're missing out on. Our "Christmas" can be modest. Maybe even stark to some. But for us it's perfect. And for that, I'm so grateful. We're so rich.


How about you? Are you "normal?"




**Most of their sewn gifts were made from my 'stash' of fabric. I really never spend more than $2/yard for fabric.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dockers

Have you all seen this ad? It's been around the blogs for a while now, but I just had to post about it too. I'm still a little surprised that it's real, but I love it:

"Once upon a time, men wore the pants, and wore them well. Women rarely had to open doors and little old ladies never crossed the street alone. Men took charge because that’s what they did. But somewhere along the way, the world decided it no longer needed men. Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their khaki’s and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny. But today, there are questions our genderless society has no answers for. The world sits idly by and cities crumble, children misbehave and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street. For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes. We need grown-ups. We need men to put down the plastic fork, step away from the salad bar and untie the world from the tracks of complacency. It’s time to get your hands dirty. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. It’s time to wear the pants.”

I emailed them (Had to click through to the levi strauss site, then a Contact Us form) to give my thumbs' up, encouraging them to not just SAY such things, but DO them too.

There's all sorts of criticism, of course, saying this is sexist. I say, "probably. And we need more of it."

We've never been a Dockers household, but the likelihood of our ever being one has gone up dramatically.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ouch, Organique!

That poor girl. She's two, you know. Has big sisters who are bigger and stronger and taller and (apparently) more coordinated.

In the past 30 hours (from this writing), she has fallen from playground equipment (six feet up, maybe a bit less), bruised and scratched her chin, cut into the inside of her lower lip with her teeth, fell from a tall (counter/bar sized) stool and bloodied her nose and bruised her forehead, and bounced haphazardly on her toddler bed and re-bloodied her nose. I am not counting the full-force belly flops she does on the floor when bounding somewhere suddenly, or the literal bouncing-off-walls that happens concurrently.

I think she's like her daddy. Tightly wound bundle of excitement spiked with caffeine and plutonium. I suppose the junk food we've had around here lately hasn't helped. Speaking of, I've bought marshmallows for some holiday gift recipes, and she got into one bag the other day. Ate a couple. Next time I saw the bag, it was half empty! Giant, jet-puffed marshmallows, half gone?!? I put the remainder of the bag up high, on our 6.5' tall fridge. They were safe there. For a few days. I found 2 left in the bag the other night. And she'd taken liberties with my sharpie markers that are up there too, decorating Daddy's menu plan very nicely. Hm.

Her daddy was like this, I think. His mom told me of waking in the night and checking on him, only to find him sitting on the stovetop fiddling with the knobs. God's grace? I think so! When we found Organique in the same place, it was (barely) daylight and she had emptied the garlic powder into a still-dirty skillet, and was only fiddling with the onion powder. Hubby now puts the baby gate at the top of the stairs before he leaves for work!

I'm hoping to keep the facial injuries to a minimum, at least long enough to enjoy holiday festivities without sidelong glances from the relatives. Though just keeping her alive might be a more reasonable goal.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Animals Awry

It's been a bummer week, critter-wise. I blogged about losing Aflac, and this week seemed to mark the end of the guineas. I say "seemed to" because those things are like a stray cat. They may be here one day, and then gone a while, then back. There were four at last count (pre-Thanksgiving), but I spotted only 3 one night, and wondered if we'd lost the little chocolate one. We let the chickens out some days, and pen them in when they go to roost. I think at least 2 guineas went to roost with them. We didn't let them out the next day, apparently, but the day after that found the two dead in the coop. I suspect the chickens "picked on" them, and they were overwhelmed. Which just breaks my heart. Big Sister hauled their frozen carcasses to the front driveway, honked the van horn for my attention, and waved the birds about by their feet, with a regretful, matter-of-fact look on her face, if that's possible. Perhaps we'll replace them, though I can't be sure. The Fancy Neighbor seemed to enjoy their presence in the mornings, after I assured her that they would eat bugs, but not decimate her landscaping. RIP weird guineas.

The latest creature to cause havoc here is the mice. Ew. I noted with some surprise an empty cob of corn tucked back between a couch and end table, along the wall. Organique often 'rearranges' the decor, and even likes to pop the little dry popcorn kernels from the cob... but she doesn't leave a tidy pile of bee's wings. I moved the loveseat and found evidence of mice. Nasty critters. I vacuumed and set a trap, and caught one that night. And the next. And the next. But not for the past 2 nights.

This afternoon we enjoyed a very uncommon environment. Organique was napping upstairs, Baby fell asleep near me on the couch while I worked on some Christmas gifts. Big Sister was reading aloud, Little Artist was listening, and there was no radio or Christmas music playing. I kept hearing an odd little squeak, like perhaps the dog whining from out back. Maybe it was Baby breathing through a stuffy nose? I sent Big Sister to listen, and she didn't pay much attention until I pointed out a scratchy, scuffling sound. I had her stand in the middle of the house, and listen, and she finally heard and pointed to a corner of the dining room. There is one cupboard against the wall below the counter overhang, and there was considerable activity coming from within. I crept near, quite astonished, and cracked the door open. There was MUCH evidence of the nasty critters, and I expected to find a nest or something. Instead, a shallow cardboard box, labeled "indian popcorn for decor" was certainly the focus of the mice's efforts. Yuck! My pretty, beautiful corn! I got a tablecloth from the shelf nearby, and thought I might perhaps envelop the box (the top was partly open, and blocked from closing by something) and hurry it outdoors, where the mice could do some good by lessening my cat food bill. That would not do, I decided, and gave the box a couple pokes. One small mouse scurried out onto the floor (and I did NOT startle, not at all) and I thought it might be hiding in the tablecloth I'd set there, but had found some tiny crack to wiggle through to get beneath the cabinetry. There was still another creature inside, so I retrieved the trap from the living room and put it in side the cupboard. I hoped to hear an immediate "snap!" but I didn't. I scared him out enough to watch, horrified, as it literally shimmied up the hinge-side of the cupboard and around the edge to fit between the wall and the side of the cabinet.

The girls, once afraid of being eaten alive (don't they remember playing with mice? Oh yeah, they were dead mice.), were by now hovering at my shoulder, exclaiming that they wanted to see them. I set one of those spring-loaded, wooden, scary traps inside as well. Mmm.. peanut butter. And we left it alone for a while.

A few minutes later (20? 30?) I peered inside again, uncertain if there had been a third mouse or not, and found the black plastic trap sprung, without a ... wait... was that a tail? Sure enough, the trap had closed (like the mouth of an alligator, kinda), but had come down on the verrrrryyy tail end of the mouse. Maybe an eighth-inch of his backside was on the outside, as well as the tail. I didn't think it could really be dead, so I picked it up carefully, took it outdoors, called, "here, kitty kitty!" and opened it up on the driveway. It wasn't dead actually, but Gilbert took care of that.

When Hubby got home from work, the girls were still staking out the cupboard (Organique was awake by then), using a large Christmas light bulb from a lighted decoration to try to flush out any remaining corn gluttons. Hubby bent down, took the box to the porch, peered in and did not startle, at all when a young mouse leaped out and ran down the length of the porch. I don't think the cats were near enough to notice, sadly.

Hopefully we'll catch the remainder of them (I have three traps set just now), and I can begin to *gag, choke* clean out that cupboard. You'd think, with our ability to put men in space, the internet, cell phones and GPS technology, we'd have figured out how to mouse-proof our living spaces. Apparently not.

On a more positive note, we got an egg the other day. Twenty chickens. Over 3 months. One egg. I'll not tell you what I spent on chicken feed during this time.

Monday, December 14, 2009

You're Welcome.

I know most of you come here for the plethora of advice and tips I offer as an expert on all things domestic.

Ok, you can pick yourself up from the floor and wipe your tears now. I was only kidding.

But, I DO have one tried-and-true method for one of life's challenges.

But it only works sometimes. In some places.

But it worked here on Friday!

I had to pick up my azure order, of which only half came. They were out of 50-lb bags of hard white wheat berries, and also gallons of honey. The half that came was a 10 lb box of blueberries and one of strawberries.

Problem was, this was my first stop. And I still had to hit Costco, the cheap annoying store, and maybe the fabric store. I had a coupon. I didn't want my berries to defrost in the van, see, but I didn't want to rush home either.

No problem.

Two boxes berries + 1 luggage rack + 1 ratchet strap + 15 degree weather = frozen berries all about town! Yes, I really did do errands with a couple boxes perched up on top of the van. And I could keep the van as warm as I liked to nurse baby and such between stops. I'd have taken a picture if I'd had the camera, but I didn't so you'll just have to use your imagination.

I did remove them before hitting the highway for home. I don't trust my ratchet-strapping skills that much.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Steppin' In It.

Oh I do. Thoroughly and often, apparently.

And I can't say I have any lofty, wise commentary about this situation. I'm posting this here more because there might be others who knew of this or felt the same way, yet went unnoticed by me.

The back story is this: A decent chunk of my friends and relatives (both genetic and by marriage) have tattoos. Some many, some few. I ran across something that I could match, with certainty, to my tattoo post, that did more than hint at hurt from my wondering whether or not tattoos were an outright offense to God. And while the post was a positive portrayal of a specific incidence of 'tattoo,' I remain generally uncomfortable with the idea of tattoos... on me.*

So I wrote to this person. I don't know the fruit of it yet, but I praise God that He brought this to my attention. It might well be a non-issue in this person's heart by now, but, as I said before, others may have been privvy to this person's hurt... OR, some of my hundreds of silent readers may have felt the same (ok, tens? Tens of readers? Maybe?).



So... I came across something, and can hardly believe I missed it the first time around.. Forgive the long wordy intro, but it's relevant to context, I think.

[blah blah blah. How I came to find this evidence of hurt. Not so relevant to blog readers. blah blah blah]

As always, I gear my blogposts for the great wide expanse, and my own personal workings out of issues. I hope I never, EVER use it to slam any individual. My thoughts on tattoos in that post are just that - MY THOUGHTS. Because *for me* I don't have peace about getting a tattoo *on me*. *I'm* not willing to risk doing something that may be breaching God's standard of conduct *for me* in that area (along with the whole baking cookies with the grandkids thing). Now... one scripture passage (Leviticus 19) that deals with tattoos also admonishes against wearing clothes that are made with both linen and wool at the same time.. Um, I'm fairly confident that's a symbolic reference. Unless God shows me something new there, I'm not too worried about eternal damnation based upon the fiber content of my clothing (unless it's made in China, and then maybe... :) ). Another one says not to cause your daughter to be a prostitute. Good idea. That one I take pretty literally (and would dare to say that's a standard for everyone wanting to be godly). :) For me (and that means *unto* me), the tattoo/scarring one falls somewhere between those. No, I'm not lining up to get any. But am I ready to call Franklin Graham (Billy Graham's son) an offense to the Lord (he's like a walking art canvas)? Heck no. That's God's business. Now, the tattooed gangster might be condemned (lest he repent), but I imagine the whole drive-by-shooting thing might be the main element in that. :)

I really don't want you to be hurt by these musings. I was not trying to put forth that I think all tattooed Christians have missed the mark based on their tattoos. Maybe? Maybe not? As I said, I'm not willing to judge that! And I feel terrible that you took it personally. I always assume my 'regular' readers comment, and forget that you or others stop by sometimes. I kindof wish you could use a blogger ID (that I know is you) and say "hey! What are you trying to say?!" But that's hard too (at least for me) because you (I) wouldn't want to sound accusatory on the one hand, or hyper-sensitive on the other. I know that any time someone goes against the flow with a decision they make (and that could be having tattoos or not, depending on the demographic of the particular group), it automatically feels like judgment to the rest of the flow. Trust me; saying that I homeschool in certain circles makes for interesting commentary. Everyone thinks it's a referendum on THEM (they respond with, "oh *I* don't have the patience," or "*I* could never..," or "*My kids* would..."). Seriously, they don't have to defend their educational choices to *me*! But you'd think it the way they respond (to be clear, I'd probably do the same on a subject I hadn't really considered before... if someone spoke of their anti-lock brakes for their kid's safety, I'd want to be able to nod my head with 'me too' or offer some legitimate reason as to why my vehicle weren't so equipped... which is so silly!).

[Person I'm addressing], I don't think your tattoos make you less of a Christian, nor do I think my lack of them makes me more of one. Please hear my heart in this. You are a blessing and treasure to everyone who knows you, I'm sure! Forgive me for writing carelessly, and please know that you are not 'judged' in this household.

Blessings to you guys..




*and, ok, my kids, while they're under my stewardship. We're all about full-disclosure here. :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sisters... Sisters...

There were never such devoted Sisters...

Have you watched White Christmas yet? You need to. So do I.

This picture was taken late October.

Organique had one of these little suits in a 6-month size. Later I found them on clearance and bought a 9-month size, and a 24-month size. I had no idea I'd have girls wearing them at THE SAME TIME. Or that my next 2 1/2 month old would be nearly too big for the 6-month suit.

But truly, when Organique isn't trying to poke Baby's eyes out, or pinch her fingers and toes, she's so loving. Too loving, really, but what can you do? :) The girls were allowed to watch a Muppet Christmas Carol the other evening, Big Sister and Organique sharing a small seat. I came in and was going to set Baby with Little Artist for a moment, and Organique nearly raised the roof, demanding to be near her baby sister. If I prop Baby in the corner of the couch, Organique is right there, sitting by (nearly on) the little chunk.

It's exasperating sometimes, trying to protect the little one from such exuberant love.

But someday I'm going to miss this like crazy.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Heh.. Lookee That.

I wrote a blogpost a few weeks ago. And didn't publish it. Imagine that, *me* forgetting to wrap up a post? Crazy, I'm sure.

It was originally entitled, "We're Leavin'"

Yep. Road Trip.

How come I want to type "Road Trip From Hell?" there? I hope it will be fantastic. But there are just so many unknowns!

FIRST road trip (more than 2 hours) in our van (by the way, we named her Ruth).

FIRST road trip with FOUR children.

FIRST road trip to take Baby anywhere, really.

We are going to my folks' for Thanksgiving.

Oh, would you like to hear something funny? That doesn't really have to do with this story? My brother made arrangements to take his wife and darling baby girl to our folks' for Thanksgiving. So my mom got all nostalgic about the idea of having *all* the grandkids/kids there for the holiday, and called me up all excited to invite us too. I was, shall we say, less excited than she at the prospect of taking four children through mountain passes in late November. However, I agreed to talk it over with Hubby, who sounded almost like he wanted to do it. So we agreed, albeit weather permitting. My mom is thrilled, of course. My bro? Notsomuch. He calls me the next day to say, "Hey, what's with inviting yourselves to Thanksgiving? You have, like, FOUR kids, and it's going to be chaos and what the heck?" (my brother, he loves me). I laughed at first, and then asked him to think it through (and walked him through it), and he realized *I* hadn't invited us *anywhere*. So I told him to complain to Mom, and pray for bad weather (and that Mom would be praying for good weather and we could see who God loved more). :)

So anyways, weather permitting, we're going not just to my folks, but adding a hint of 'vacation' into the trip too. We'll take a long route, and spend a night where we 'vacation' when we 'vacation'. Why is it, do you suppose, that I can only type 'vacation' with those semi-quotes around it? Perhaps I don't really believe in 'vacations' any more... :) We did go there 5 years ago (we 'vacation' but rarely, see) when Big Sister was 3, and Little Artist was about 4 months old. Anyways, we're planning to drive all day, maybe stop and see an old friend, stay 1 night, enjoy our 'vacation' for half a day, and then get to my folks' by bedtime or so.

Of course, googlemaps doesn't necessarily factor in a potty-trained 2-year-old and a nursing baby on their time estimates, so...

The good news is that we'll arrive a day or two ahead of my accommodating brother, and leave a day before he does too, giving him ONE WHOLE DAY without the chaos that is our family. :P

So I'm filling up the outside of the fridge with "to do" lists and "to take" lists and all that, trying to get ready in the time we have. I excavated the toy/clothes/shoe/trash bin that our van had become, removed carseats, un-did all the straps and latches and upholstery - laundered the appropriate stuff, aired it dry, and did my best to reassemble the right parts to the right seats in the right manner. I vacuumed and windexed and spit-shined the inside of the van - right down to the rear cargo area - I even removed and laundered some of the long floor mats.

Of course, THEN I went to the feed store, where for the FIRST TIME EVER a bag of OVERLY-MOLASSESED grain BURST open and spilled all over the cargo area, bumper, and loading area of the mill. *sigh* Does MOLASSESED have another S, do you suppose? Will the heavy-handed molassifier come re-vacuum my van, do you suppose?

I have re-vamped the seating chart (keep Organique away from Baby, lest she poke out her eyes, keep those who need it within reaching distance of Mama, etc etc), upgraded Little
Artist from carseat to booster seat, reinstalled everything, and now need to figure out how and where to stash everything we'll need (reading material and knitting for the road? snacks? drinks? baby's crib and jammies handy for our 'vacation' night?), and whether or not to take the stroller, whether or not to leave the cloth diapers at home.

There's still the homefront to consider. How to keep the chickens fed and watered (they're not laying, so that's not an issue)? What about the cats? Hubby will deposit the dog and her house at a coworker's - he'll hardly notice the extra canine in the backyard I'm sure.

I'm cautiously excited; there's no such thing as "simple" in this scenario, and I'm so afraid I'll forget to take something or do something and wreck the whole deal. We'll see how it goes! :]

I Want One

Which is typical for me these days. I figure 3 grand could grant me my immediate wish list.

I got to briefly admire my Granny's Amazon Kindle over Thanksgiving. It was so cool, though suffering 'low battery' so I didn't handle it too long.

I don't expect to drop that kind of money on such a thing anytime soon though.

But...! Mary of Owlhaven is giving away a similar item. I didn't even know Sony made a Pocket Reader! "Free" of course fits into my Christmas gift budget just right. This would be excellent, methinks.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Overheard

On our Thanksgiving trip, in which we made a half-day's stop for some family fun, Little Artist was looking out the window as we meandered through a small coastal town. There was a stiff breeze blowing, and she remarked breathlessly at what she saw...

"...Look! The leaves are dancing! Oh Mama, even the weeds (neatly-spaced tufts of sea grass in the landscaping of a bank) are dancing!"



I love how God shows Himself in children.

Monday, December 07, 2009

RIP Aflac

Aflac, that erstwhile Pekin, is no more.

When we returned from our Thanksgiving trip, she wasn't hanging out in the usual spots. By now, we're certain she's gone for good. Hubby thinks some white feathers he saw lately were *not* from the turkeys or geese.

Aflac came to us over 3 1/2 years ago.

I wanted to raise some turkeys, but didn't want us to "fall in love" with them and not want to eat them, so I got a duck to go along. Turns out, falling in love with the turkeys was not a problem. Didn't really like the duck much, at times, either.

She started out in the garden cart, swimming in a paint tray. We didn't know she was a she until a few months later when we started finding eggs in the backyard.

She was even part of my long-time profile pic!

Now she is gone, as is the trampoline, Mary Jane, and the Little Monkey in the bucket is even mostly memory.Come to think of it, that little aspen tree in the background is gone too, Hubby having chopped it's diseased self down this year.

She was forever getting into (and soiling) the kids' wading pools.


Getting into the garden, before it was fenced.

When we sold Mary Jane to my cousin last summer, I sent him photos of the car, labeled for clarity.


She has a striking photo in my brother's Birthday Tribute from a couple years ago.

Ah, Aflac, we will miss you pooping all over the walkways, dirtying up any drop of water you could access, playing in the sprinklers at midnight, loudly quacking a greeting (scolding?) when we drove up to the house, and being our general watch-duck.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Prayers, Please

A friend of mine on Facebook - an old friend from middle/high school, just lost her baby to miscarriage. YEARS ago she had a tubal pregnancy, and lived a pretty wild life before and after, and had longed for a baby in the midst of that. But every pregnancy miscarried. She and her now husband have adopted some kids out of foster care, and she was surprised to get pregnant again (I'm not sure how much time has lapsed since her earlier miscarriages and this pregnancy), but spent the morning in the ER, and lost the baby.

Pray that this loss would not be in vain. She does not know the Lord or His great love for her, and I pray that somehow she might turn to Him and be comforted. I can't imagine the heartache, most especially without the Lord.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Grocery Adventures, part II

I had another experience when grocery shopping the other night. This one less maddening, if only because it was so heartbreaking.

I was maneuvering my cart - just Baby and me - down the canned fruit/juice/condiment/pickle aisle in search of olives. It was a fairly full aisle, with at least two people on their cell phones while shopping.

One of these was a mom with a dozing baby in an infant carseat. He was bigger than my 3 1/2 mo-old, but presumably less than a year. She paused her conversation to instruct a boy, about 4 maybe, on which can of fruit to get (which he naturally dropped, and scuffled around on his knees with his coat dragging to retrieve). As I passed by, she leaned to see under the hood of Baby's carseat and from behind me I heard this: "Awwwww..." And then, "why couldn't one of you have been a girl?" My heart just sank within me. I could not believe I'd just heard - quite loudly and in public - a mother speak to her boy like that. I can only guess what might be said at home, behind walls of privacy. I gently shook my head as I continued on. I wanted to go back, pluck the woman's phone from her, look into her eyes and point out what amazing treasures she's been given to steward. That these are men, in her keeping, and will likely one day be someone's husband or father. Or to ask her by what means she expects to demand a particular gender in her family. Or to express my gratitude that, on behalf of all girls, she doesn't have any to raise with that attitude. Okay, so those last comments only came to me much later.

I'm trying to find the lesson in this for myself. My own sins are never so glarlingly obvious to me as this (well, some are, actually). How often am I ungrateful, even resentful, that I don't have what I wanted or expected or worked for? When I anxiously await some gift, thinking that certainly I will have it as I expect, because Susie Christian has that, as does Lucy Righteous and - oh! - even Mary Notsoperfect. I mean, certainly I've earned it if she has been blessed with it.

*sigh*

Too often! I have to remind myself that I am not *entitled* to the blessings of others. Whether it's the 'big' things like someone's house or income or marriage or family, or the 'little' things like help with the dishes or time to meet for coffee, these are not owed me. It is not necessarily for my happiness that God gives (or allows) certain things. Perhaps He prefers refinement. And perhaps, instead of wanting, I should too.

Grocery Adventures

I'm back home, safe and (somewhat) sound after our holiday trip. More on that later, perhaps.

I went grocery shopping last night, and was assaulted by the craziness that is the cheap grocery store on the first day of the month - when food stamps are deposited into beneficiaries' accounts.

It was like the UN in there, and I don't mean that just in reference to the surprising diversity of languages I heard. More in the sense that people were enriching themselves by way of "helping the poor," and acting incredibly entitled to *my* money.

When I'd finally finished my modest shopping, I stood in line. There were no short ones, so I stood behind a non-english-speaking family whose cart was overflowing with stuff. And this is the store with the really deep, large carts. They piled their groceries until the belt was full, but their cart still had two-thirds left. The stuff I saw was not your frugal beans and rice, either. Well, there was rice, but there was also boxed pizzas and steak and rice krispie treats and popsicles and granola bars and cereal and jugs of juice and Marie Callendar's microwave meals and frozen shrimp and jello and animal crackers and Arizona drinks and crab legs. Crab legs!!!

My mom, a divorced, handicapped mother of two was on food stamps back in the day. We had a lot of help from my grandparents, and sometimes those food stamps would build up in the drawer. I'd get permission to ride my bike to the store and spend some of those - on Snapple drinks, ice cream, whatever I wanted (and could carry home on my bike). I didn't understand all the ins and outs of the system then, but I certainly realized that we ate "fancier" than a lot of other people I knew who actually had to pay for their own groceries.

Eventually I developed a philosophy, which was brought to my mind last night as I watched the eastern-european ladies wave their benefits card in the clerk's face and argue for many minutes (I found a new line after 15, and they were still there, holding things up much later when I left the store) about how much they should have, or whatever. Why should the "poor" be more wasteful with my money than I am? Why should they be able to buy boxed cereals - or! - already-made rice krispie treats??? That's absurd. One would assume that they need me to buy their groceries because they don't have a job - or enough of one. If that's the case, they might have time. Time to learn some other skills, time to prepare their own rice krispie treats. My philosophy is that certain foods be scrapped from the food stamp allotment. No boxed cereals. Just oatmeal. Certainly no Snapple! No bread, just flour and yeast and ingredients. No seafood over $5/lb!! Canned tuna will do. Cake mixes, refrigerated cookie dough, pancake syrup out. Heck, throw out sugar and chocolate chips too, and these folks might just be a little more motivated, ya think?

Now, of course there are people who have fallen on temporary hard times, and this safety net is just that for them. While I still think one's family and church be the first lines of defense, I understand that this type of thing can be a "hand up" to them. I DON'T think it's reasonable for this to be a "lifestyle." Most especially when they're buying the kind of things I saw, while chatting away on their blackberry.

And these people can vote.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

There Are Days...

that threaten to do me in. They coincide with the days I threaten to duct tape Organique to something indestructible.

I left the house last night for a few hours, to pick up stuff for Hubby's health and diet (oh, the diet...), and some quiet time at the library.

Of course, it wasn't quite that simple. Hubby's doc had assurred me that they were open until 5:30 now, and if I had the chance to get to town by the, I could pick up the supplements. I called at 4:50 from my van, where I was nursing Baby (in my own driveway) to find that the receptionist was just about ready to close up shop. She graciously said she'd wait until a quarter after, so I hurried to town and was only a couple minutes late, thanks to the weird gray van with B.C. plates who apparently thought the speed limit was 60 kilometers per hour. And then I couldn't find my wallet. Anywhere.

That's ok, I'd give her my CC# that I knew by heart. Oh, except they didn't take that CC. I called Hubby, who gave me the debit card # so she could charge the transaction, but I wasn't sure what I might do about the grocery shopping. No cash, no checks, no ID by which the bank might be persuaded to grant me a withdrawal. My father-in-law saved me, having not yet spent a $20 bill, though payday was long since gone. I did my shopping, saw some friends, went to the library...

Little did I know what was happening at home. *sigh* Daddy just doesn't have the same radar Mama does, apparently. The place was already a mess (and any requests for certain tasks went unheeded, in the "mama's away, time to play!" mentality that reigned), and I didn't know the opportunities for Organique to add to it were so abundant.

An older sister helped herself to my off-limits box of extra school supplies - and left it out. From this Organique emptied a box of 144 pink pencil erasers, and tossed them about the room. Also the little box of binder clips, and the 1" loose-leaf rings. Ai ai ai...

I had purchased - at long last - a bottle of organic shampoo from the Used Food Store in Town for the girls. They only ran out of shampoo a few months ago, and I figured it would be nice to wash their hair again with something. I'd given the job of putting it away to an older sister, who instead left it in an accessible place, apparently. What I thought was conditioner smeared all over the bathroom floor, cabinets, and countertops is apparently the shampoo. I found the mostly-empty bottle sticking (yes, sticking) to the carpet in the school room, about as far from the ransacked bathroom as you can get. I didn't react well to this, as the bottle was small, but spendier than most Used Food Store prices, and I was really hoping to portion it out carefully and make it last. I guess we'll go with baking soda for a while.

A neighbor gave us a box of apples last week, and, well, let's just say we're (hopefully) coming to the end of the "search and rescue" of half-eaten apple cores hidden here and there. I blame Organique for the odd occurrence of fruit flies in November.

Earlier this week she found scissors (left out by... wait for it... an older sister) and cut holes in her clothes. Oh, and there is a teddy bear in the area with 3 decidedly bald-ish spots, but since I've found no teddy-bear fur, it could've happened long ago, by anyone, really.

It's a stage. It is only a stage. I mean, she wears pajamas with holes that were cut by an older sister back when *she* was this age.

Hopefully tomorrow will be different, right? Hopefully tomorrow some progress will be made without sacrificing the ground we took (I hope) today. Maybe I won't wake up with the blue ink of my hastily-scrawled grocery list on the back of my hand transferred to my left temple... "Mama, why do you have writing, up on your face...?"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bookish

My gas budget doesn't cover two trips to the library each week, it seems. That, or I need the Camry back just for evening jaunts into town.

The library is open some night until 9:00 p.m. I've moved my typical Thursday errands to Wednesday nights. To hinder homeschool a bit less, and to do it without all four angels in tow. This Wednesday just Baby and I went, though I've taken Big Sister along (it went ok) once and also Little Artist (it went less than ok - the girl needs her bed at 8:00, and 10:30 just doesn't cut it). First we hit Costco, because they close at 8:00. Then the library, because they close at 9:00, then other stores with later or no closing times. Whew.

In any case, I went to the library Wednesday to return 2 dozen books (there were several I hadn't rounded up yet, and some I didn't want to let go. Addicted much?), and found the drive-thru bins nearly overflowing. I drove around to the front, figuring to pack them in with me and Baby, only to find the placed closed in observance of Veteran's Day! I was able to enter the foyer to return the books, but all my holds and my browsing list lingered alone.

I was so let down. I'd been all geared up to cozy into bed with Baby and a book[stack] or two, and I had to go without. And really, Veterans? Are you honored by the library closing for the day? Do you feel better appreciated when new books cannot be checked out? I'm curious about that. I don't know that it would do anything for me, personally, but...

So - LUCKILY (imagine, me saying that) I had to go to town again today to pick up my Azure stuff, so of course we went to the library (after locating 11 more things I *was* ready to return, plus one I wasn't but someone *else* had the audacity to request it). Ah, it's really enjoyable, yeah? They have a wheelchair ramp - which works for my sit-n-stand double stroller, and a good 9 books were on hold for me.

And let me just take this moment to thank God for the kind of technology that lets me browse the 'shelves' from home, put in my 'order', and have the items sitting there sporting a slip of paper with my name printed on it (ok, so it's my mother-in-law's name, but they're practically identical..), just waiting to be brought home... Thank you, God.

So, this time, there's probably less than 38, but many are big and thick and take up more space, so it only SEEMS like a lot. And I have things about Montessori-style education, and homeschooling families, and photography, and photoshop Elements 5 for Dummies (and I use version 6 or 7, so that makes it even more 'dummy,' I suppose), and dog obedience training, and kid stuff, and Ben Stein's "Expelled" DVD and...

PLUS, there is a little glassed-in room full of board books and wooden puzzles and a couple upholstered benches (I don't think I could go so far as to call them couches) where I can let Organique loose (a little bit) and nurse the baby and I only have to threaten violence sometimes when Organique opens the sliding glass door/wall and escapes into the next glass room over... But oh, it is nice.

PLUS, plus, I filled out little request forms for books like Family Feasts for $75/week, Fit & Fabulous in Fifteen Minutes/day, Fit for Real People, and Fix, Freeze, Feast, and the first 3 are already showing on my hold list as "on order." Interesting choice of titles, huh? Maybe next week I'll give them my "G" list.

And I got the apron book last week (and already made an apron from it)! Turns out, my FRIEND had it, and doesn't want me to squeal on her that her library-employed *sister* was renewing it for her.

And I suppose I won't squeal on her for that, as long as she doesn't tell her *sister* that I'm bootlegging my in-law's library card... ;)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Turkey Time

Well, I found him. He sits in a weird folder on my hard drive, and it always takes me forever to find. It's not the right size, since I re-did for 3 columns, and the background is now different too of course, but those things aside... what do you think? Appropriate for November? Too scary? He kinda looks mad...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Opinions, Anyone?

I have a dilemma. Well, several actually, but I just want to highlight one in particular here, and ask for opinions. YOURS.

What say you to 'helpful' books as gifts?

Last year we gave as Christmas gifts a handful of books that I'd read and enjoyed. The kind that make you look at things differently, do things differently, and bless your entire household. I LOVE books like that. We gave a couple copies of Nourishing Traditions, more than that of Total Money Makeover, things like that. Both of these are books I own and treasure, and I wanted to bless others the same way. One recipient of NT deals with certain health issues that are somewhat addressed in the book, and I thought they might enjoy a new perspective on nutrition, in light of that. The other NT book was for someone who just loves cookbooks and health stuff. Everyone likes money, so I figured the TMM couldn't go wrong.

Except, maybe.

Based on the response (or lack thereof) to some of these (not all), I began to wonder (paranoid, again?). Did people assume that a gift like TMM was more of a "you obviously don't know how to manage your financial matters, so here you go."? That's hardly the message I'd want to convey to someone, especially by way of a gift!!!

I think maybe I'm an information junkie. Aside from my household duties, the bigger portion of my time is spent reading. And it's not usually just for enjoyment. It's usually to 'better myself' in some way (or at least try!); how to organize better, cook more efficiently, educate my children, be a better wife, have more fun with my girls, what children need for optimum nutrition, development, etc, what kind of paint is safe to use, etc etc etc. I forget that some people are not driven to (attempt to) know all there is to know about everything. :) And the last thing they want is for *me* to point that out by giving them information on whatever subject? - Ack, it hurts to even type that (not because of my sliced finger)! I really hope it doesn't feel like that to people.

Which brings me to this holiday season's moral quandry... I browse my CBD catalogs and see a lot I'd like, and a lot I *think* others would like. Some I've read, some I haven't -- take, for instance, Every Young Man's Battle... I haven't read it, but have read good things about it. Being the only "young man" in my immediate gifting circle, I always think of my nephew when I'm browsing with Christmas in mind. And then I think of how that might be taken, as though I'm suggesting he 'struggles with sexual temptation' (well, some things are universal in certain demographics, aren't they? a bundle of handwritten recipes for a new bride is usually appropriate, right?), or suggesting to his parents that they haven't done their job, or trying to be insulting, and on and on. Now, to clarify, I realize that such a book deals with a somewhat sensitive subject, and it's not like we'd hand him the book and wait for him to unwrap it before a waiting audience, you know? More likely we'd buy the 'girl version' for his sister, maybe some other relevant, edifying books for their parents, tie them up and add them to a 'family gift basket.' Which would probably put that particular basket over and beyond our entire Christmas Gift Budget, so this particular scenario isn't really on the table any more, but hopefully you get the idea.

Do we make the effort to really bless someone in a way that has lasting effect? Or do we bake a batch of cookies and call it good? Do we give the neighbor a loaf of banana bread, or attach a gospel tract too? Lately I've just been realizing how short our time really is - today will be gone in a few hours, did we build something worthwhile? Or did we just exist? This attitude spills over into everything in life, where I want everything I do to have a purpose. A good purpose. I don't just watch a movie for entertainment these days (not that that is wrong in itself!), but I'll watch one to spend some down time with my husband. I want my Christmas efforts to be similarly purposeful, but I don't want to offend (gee, that would certainly defeat "purpose!").

What do you think? Where is that line?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Unblogged

Well, I didn't win that food dehydrator, darnit.

And I feel entirely terrible that I haven't written much on here in some time. I have some ideas; posts about my shoes (contain your excitement, I know), hobbies (ha, ha), books I'm reading (oh, I'm loving that library card), the funny stuff (Organique [presumably] scribbling in the toilet - below the waterline - with a pencil), funny-but-also-not stuff (Baby suddenly shrieking and wailing, and my rush to examine her - finding a pokey cheat-grass seed in her cloth diaper), Hubby's new old diet, my homeschool room almost-redo, my updated wish-list, household fun (the pellet stove emitted ash one day through it's chimney pipe - which is full of more ash and needs swept [will happen tomorrow], and a day later the furnace broke), and more.

There's always a reason, you know? I'm nursing Baby and don't have 2 hands free, or I need to take a picture of [whatever] before I can post about it, I need to upload the picture of [whatever] before I can post about it, I nearly removed half the nail (and flesh to go with) from my left index finger and if I type, I'll squirt blood all over (well, not really, but almost).

BUT - at least now I've written this idea list, and can refer back to it, letting guilt hammer me into cooperation with my efforts to document this crazy life. Oh, and if you're just on the edge of your seat to hear more about any of the above sooner rather than later, feel free to guilt me into it leave a comment with your requests. :)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I'm Not Dead

...And I'll blog again shortly, I'm sure. :)

But I MIGHT just keel over if I won this. Check it out!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ecstatic!

So. I've been wanting something for a long time now.

I used to have one, but these days they'd make me pay through the nose for it.

Other people can still get it at no cost, and I've been harassing friends and family to get one and - since they don't feel the need for it - pass it along to us.

I think I started asking around last Christmastime or so. And while I got lots of "yes" answers whenever I mentioned it, people often forgot or just never got around to it.

But I had an epiphany (ok, so someone suggested it). I called up my mother-in-law and said, "would you like to see this fat baby today? It's been half her life since she's seen you..." She obviously said sure, and so we made arrangements to meet in Town...


...at the library.

That's right! The library. Can I tell you how excited I am? SHE gave US the little key-chain version of the library card I made her get. Which they don't charge HER for. Of course, I'd assembled a list of books to look for, and found some of them available. Little Artist basically pulled anything from the shelves and started a stack (that needed serious paring-down), and Big Sister sat down to read. Grandma loved the baby while I looked up numbers and locations, armed with Books Children Love by Elizabeth Wilson. We left armed with James Herriot's Treasury for Children, The 5000 Year Leap, and 16 others. The apron book I've been drooling over since January was *still* checked out (I'd piggy-backed a couple times with a cousin when she made her library trip, wanting a particular maternity apron pattern from said book), and I completely forgot about the computer-printed list next to my handwritten one. But that's okay!!! Do you know why??? Because I can go back anytime I want.

At least until they start checking IDs...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Homeschool Testimonial

This is one of those great moments that you read about and wish you could've seen. I wonder if anything more will come of it?

See here.

Cheeky Girls

Blogger put these in reverse order, but I couldn't resist comparing pics of my girls at this age. Though when Little Artist was a wee one, I was using an old SLR camera, and don't have her cheekiest photos in digital format.

Here's the Recent One:

Here's Organiqe about the same age, give or take. She was the largest at birth, but looks pretty trim here!


This is Little Artist, younger than the rest. This was a crummy Kiddie Kandids shot. But oh, the cheeks she had!! I really need a scanner.


Tell me, doesn't Big Sister bear strong resemblance to the top photo?

Friday, October 23, 2009

That Says Something.

In this article by Mercola, discussing the hazards of some meat suppliers (specifically ground beef), there's this:

One retailer that does test their trimmings for E. coli before grinding is Costco, and according to The New York Times, Tyson will not supply them because they don’t want their product tested.

Wow. While I don't buy meat from retailers, typically, if I had to I think I'd go to Costco. And stay the heck away from Tyson brand!

Those for whom buying an entire beef (or parts thereof, ordered a-la-hoof) isn't reasonable, there are still ways to curb your risk. Obviously, shopping at Costco seems one step in the right direction. Grass-fed beef is the best choice; it's often also organic, but if I had to choose from a feed-lot animal steeped in antibiotics, chemicals, hormones, and belly-deep excrement and one steeped in antibiotics, chemicals, hormones and placidly wandering among green pastures, I'd choose the latter. Although most of the interventions used to prop up the health of a feed lot animal just aren't even necessary in a pastured one.

Also, cows eating grain (feed lot) have a change in their digestive pH, which causes E. coli to run rampant through their entire system. Not so with the bovine on grass and hay. Even IF the processor inadvertently drug the carcass through spilled manure on the slaughterhouse floor (and I BET that happens), your risk is far less if the cow wasn't eating lots of grain.

Oh, and ground beef comes from who-knows-how-many-animals, upping the chances for contamination, and every last little bit is exposed to everything, which is why you should cook your burger well. Save the 'rare' for the interior of a T-bone which hasn't had the same exposure.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Paranoid.

Yes, me, and not for what might be expected. :)

I just want to reiterate here (because here is the only place I can imagine having done something recently enough to have offended anyone) that I am not against anyone having their child routinely vaccinated, or getting the flu or swine flu shots for themselves or their children. I am against MY children having the flu or swine flu shot, and remain decidedly undecided about the rest of the program. And uphold the freedom we still enjoy (even if it is hanging by a thread) to CHOOSE one way or another.

So - in case the offended/hurt person/people were offended/hurt by my Swine Flu Questions post, I wish to assure them that it most certainly has nothing to do with their decisions on such (I don't even know if they have made decisions on such). It has far more to do with my suspicion of all things bureaucratic and my relatively weak blogging of late. :)

Wow, and I am so ashamed at how long it took me to figure out how to spell 'bureaucratic' up there. How the mighty have fallen... :(

Can You Hear Me Now?

...

Yeah, but it may cost me $0.65/minute.

I posted earlier about my cell phone dilemma, of roaming when we knew it not, and being charged a lot for the information. I've been waiting for the 5-7 (or 7-10) days to 'double-check' the change in billing. Of course, during this 'wait and see' window, they finalized the shift from what was my carrier to a different carrier. Hmm... handy, that.

I logged on to my new carrier's website to find that my bill had not been adjusted at all, so made a call to the new carrier's customer service. The woman on the line read through the previous call notes before telling me that 10 days wasn't going to do it; that it would require 2 or 3 billing cycles before any credit was posted. That seemed odd to me, and the rest of her story contradicted anything I'd been told by previous contradictory customer service reps. Including the part where she offered me what I understood (after clarifying 3 times) to be free nationwide roaming service. What she apparently did was add a bundle of 100 'travel' minutes (I guess a bit of roaming) for free to every bill cycle starting October 7. Except she didn't mention that the new carrier would have no way of granting me that. Ha ha. Ha. So, I could've gone to Florida really quickly within the next few days to make that offer worthwhile, eh?

She told me that nothing would change for me, that my existing contract carried over as-is. I told her it had already changed during the last carrier-switch, and seemed to do so occasionally. So then she admonished me that since it was a 'local' plan and there was no coverage map to be had, to be cautious and not leave my town if I didn't want to risk incurring roaming charges.

Um, really? Because I'm not really even IN my town, and if I was, I could walk across it in about 10 minutes. And I'd like to go grocery shopping without roaming, too, were that possible. OH, but it is. Just upgrade to one of "their" nationwide plans (and get new equipment too, of course, because mine won't work if I did that). Well, I try to REDUCE expenses, not increase them - especially if I have to take a serious hit in what I'm getting (sure, I could go to Florida, and even grocery shopping, but with several-hundred less minutes to use when I got there).

So I hung up without any real answers, having been advised to call a local store for information on my local plan. Which I did, and was told that my WHOLE STATE is my area. Also TWO MORE whole states (where I never go) and part of THREE OTHERS, where I go rarely.

I called again later, hoping for a better rep, which I got. For one, she *immediately* reversed the roaming charges I'd been dealing with. Imagine that! And it wasn't even Christmas yet. I feel a little bad, because they didn't add on the $10 I'd agreed to. She decided to give the coverage-map another try, and after a long pause told me that my entire region was white, indicating "no service." We laughed, because I was talking on the phone with her right then. Eventually, after some holds and deliberation on her part, she came back with the news that I might well be roaming.. in my kitchen. That would not be handy at all, and I said as much. She agreed, and tried understanding the different bill-language on my minute usage from the previous carrier. She seemed fairly certain that I was even then incurring roaming charges, and said I might want to use my cell phone sparingly until the bill cycle ended and it could be verified. OR to check my minute usage online.

The minute usage isn't available for 3 more days, apparently. I called my local store again, who was fairly certain I WASN'T roaming in my kitchen, but he couldn't really be sure either, until the billing cycle was completed.

Hmm...

I really don't feel like I can live without this cell phone (I know, most of the world would shake their heads at me), and with the hours (or lack thereof) Hubby has had at work lately I don't feel like I can increase my bill, either. Our plan is just right for us, and to get another one (adding the nationwide coverage, obviously) would add about $25/mo, and we'd lose nearly 40% of our minutes. Oh, and I'd lose my one free-to-call number too (yes, we have ONE of those). My in-laws would (I think) love me to join their world of text-messaging, but that would add about $55 - nearly doubling our current bill - to each month, and we'd still be down-sizing our minutes just as much.

Maybe I should opt for the two-tin-cans-and-a-string plan...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Swine Flu Questions

Well, it's everywhere. The news, the radio, the internet, and God help you (me) if you question the government mandates for vaccination among Facebook friends. :)

Why am I not lining up to get this? Well, as is common with vaccination information, there are just too many unanswered questions...

Why the rabid hype when the southern hemisphere is coming out of their flu season and it wasn't such a big deal for them?

Why has the government issued guidelines to classify any reaction/death to this vaccine as a "coincidence?"

Why did Congress act to shield these vaccine manufacturers from any possible lawsuits?

Why are they pushing this for pregnant women when there have been no studies on them - let alone time to do any?

Why did they change laws to allow for major prosecution against anyone advocating natural preventatives or solutions?

How can they say "this vaccine is quite like the flu shot" (and therefore safe), but follow that with "this virus is so different and we're all gonna die!" (not a direct quote :))?

What I know:

People born before 1950 or so seem to have natural immunity.

Millions of people have had it and survived it - this year.

The virus isn't mutating like they thought it might.

Therefore:

I'm not going to sign up for a largely-untested mass vaccination program promoted by people who are opposed to open and honest discussion (let alone the radicals in the white house who've advocated forced sterilization via drinking water additives).

I WILL try to get more sunlight/vitamin D. I WILL eat more virgin coconut oil. I will try to reduce and limit sugar intake, stock up on vitamin C and echinacea, maybe other herbs.

Am I telling you to stay away from needles? Nope. I'm telling you to inform yourself before you make major choices for yourself and your family. If you can read the same information and come away confident and secure in getting the H1N1 shot, by all means, you've done right. But INFORM YOURSELF - don't just listen to one side.

Mercola has more info here and here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Love Thy Neighbor

I'm sorry I haven't been on here much. The whole one-handed blog posting just doesn't make for worthwhile posts, in my opinion. I can't speed up my fingers, nor slow down my thoughts, so it's usually a tangled mess.

Saw this link at theMangoTimes and read it. And am quite blown away: Love Thy Neighbor. Quite the read.

After you've read it, read below:








_________









I'm not now, nor have I ever been a big fan of tattoos. At the least I find them unwise from the perspectives of health and fashion (how can you know what style you want to be when you're baking cookies with the grandbabies?), at the worst possibly breaching God's will (admonitions against marks and scarring in Leviticus), and various mid-level concerns as well. However, this is the first story I've come across (not that I look hard!) where I can honestly say that her tattoo (that possible breach of godly conduct) was based in one of the two most important commands - to love her neighbor. On this (and loving thy God!) do all the law and prophets rest.

What do you think?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A Giveaway!

Have you seen Family Feasts for $75 a Week? It's a new cookbook out by the same author as A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family - which I have and love.

Well, the author is giving some away, and you could win three!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Say, What?!?

I just like simplicity, you know? Like the name of this blog. Aspiring to Simplicity. Can't we all just get on that bandwagon? Don't we all want things a bit simpler?

Apparently no.

I have a cell phone, you see. It's red and shiny, and only has a few dents and dings since I acquired it late last winter. But I've had other cell phones. And, more importantly, other cell phone carriers. Through no fault of my own, mind you. Many moons ago I shopped around and drove to every cell phone store around (back when I had less than four children and doing that wasn't an exercise in insanity) to find the best deal. And I did. Hubby and I shared minutes on a nice, frugal plan.

Eventually that provider was swallowed up by another. This benefited us eventually, granting us free mobile-to-mobile minutes that weren't free before. But it also confused us; our nice frugal plan, of which we had a nice, color-coded coverage map, wasn't so cut-and-dried any more. When I went to buy the pigs, I added a 'package' of roaming or text messaging or something... but then all the calls never showed up as roaming. After many months, I finally realized that I wasn't being charged roaming for the split-second emergency phone calls I made while visiting Gi-gi. What HAD BEEN roaming was now NOT. Very handy, that. Kinda.

When I went to see Granny last winter, I figured I was still roaming AT my folks', but not ON THE WAY TO them. This was a fallacy, and my roaming charges showed that along one stretch of highway I was fine, then roaming, then fine again. Huh? I called to get the FINAL WORD BOTTOM LINE to WHERE I might be roaming and where not. I mean, if I'm going to spend 45 cents per minute, I'm going to call my friends in New Zealand or England or something. The BOTTOM LINE was that my little roaming indicator could be trusted. That if it was off, I was fine (I figured that). If it was on, I was roaming (figured that, too). If it was blinking at me... I was also fine (huh?). Which explained my time at Gi-gi's. It blinked.

So - secure in the knowledge that the little "R" would let me know if I was in a pay-thru-the-nose zone (even if we wouldn't know ahead of time), we sallied forth. Well, not really. I hardly leave the house. But IF I DID...!

Fast forward to Hubby's trip over labor day to the motorcycle paradise. Me, at home with the kids, a new baby, and mastitis. And 150 lbs of peaches. And an impending birthday. Hubby's first call was, "hey, guess what?!? I'm not roaming down here!" Ah great! Considering I'm going to be calling you every time I can't find the can opener. And apparently I couldn't find it several times. Many, many times.

And apparently he was wrong.

Apparently the little roaming indicator only works if you have nationwide roaming, not a 'local plan' (um, if I have nationwide roaming, I'd never be roaming, right? And wouldn't need a roaming indicator..? Right?... Huh??). Of course, this directly contradicts the BOTTOM LINE I got from customer disservice last winter.

*trying to unscramble my brains and still hear the thickly-accented customer rep who DOES understand how I feel*

I THINK the customer service rep has submitted an offer to management that I purchase a bundle of roaming minutes, retroactively. That is, I can pay $10 instead of $45, which would be nice.

I ALSO think I understood her to say something along the lines of giving us nationwide roaming for free, starting now. Not that I ever leave the house.

So my phone doesn't know whether we're coming or going, or whether we'll be able to afford it when we get there, or where to find the can opener.

Oh, and our carrier is in the process of being swallowed by yet ANOTHER provider, making it highly likely that all of this hullabaloo will be ancient, irrelevant history in another month or less, and then I can start all over again. With free GLOBAL-ROAMING, maybe?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Done In

Saturday a week ago the turkeys and geese went on to their reward. Or punishment, as the case may be.

They were originally scheduled for the event a week prior, but a family engagement and crummy weather (too much wind for the propane burner) gave them (and us) a week of reprieve. The turkeys enjoyed it, escaping into the garden twice and raiding the tomatoes.

We did 9 birds total (2 geese, 7 turkeys), and I don't know how much they weighed or what they cost, because I've been busy. But they look tasty. The turkeys, anyway. Not so sure about the geese, but I've googled some recipes that we'll try out.

Hubby did most of the work, since the darling little bassinet in the shade of the apricot tree had a demanding resident at times (everyone should eviscerate poultry with a darling little bassinet parked nearby). I've decided it's easier to butcher poultry 6 weeks before having a baby than it is 6 weeks after!

I took a few pictures of the geese, since that was a first. Step 1: Have Hubby crawl into goose pen and grab a goose.
Step 2: Have Hubby drag goose out.


Be careful! Those wings can be lethal, I've read. Better be careful...


In fact, why don't you tie those wings down. Or, uh, ok... electrical tape would work too...

(No, I don't know how or why a dining chair got out there...)

Here's the wingspan of the larger gray goose. She ain't what she used to be, lemme tell ya.


I think the highlight of my day was making room in the freezers. All that leftover birthday ice cream just couldn't go to waste now, could it?!?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Friday, October 02, 2009

Room Planning

If this were Wednesday, and I was all trendy, I'd link this to that "works for me" thingy.

But it's not, and I'm not. My recent foray into Facebook notwithstanding.

I've been slowly working on 'redoing' our family room into a family/schoolroom. It's a slow process for many reasons:

*I have to wait for Hubby to do some of the 'heavier' lifting, and that may or may not be on my timetable (emphasis on the may not).

*There is a lot of painting required, and I have to be careful around the edges, and baseboards, and carpet. It's very tedious.

*There is a lot of painting required, and I have to rinse out my brushes/rollers/pans every time the baby gets hungry or needs changed or wants a change of scenery, or needs to burp, or gets her eye poked by Organique, or ...

*There is a lot of painting required, and I still have to homeschool and cook and... ok, so there hasn't been much cleaning going on.

But even when I've been unable to "get in there and work on things" in a physical sense, I've been able to work on this project in a different way.

I took some graph paper, and a tape measure...



I measured the room, and the furniture that I thought I'd like to keep in there (or move into there), along with the stationary items like built-in shelving, doors, etc.

Using 1 foot per square, I drew the room and then each item along the edge of my paper, which I cut out, and then started "rearranging furniture" to fit what I wanted. MUCH easier than dragging furniture around, especially after having a baby and all that.

I think I found a workable plan - at least on paper. It remains to be seen whether it will work out in real-life yet.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Hey Look! --->

I updated my profile. Apparently photobucket threw away my picture, so I put up a new one. What do you think?

I also updated the little "more about us" link.

It Might Just Work...

I've been thinking through a dilemma these past months.

The dilemma is "how do I run my weekly (or bi-weekly) errands and shopping without sacrificing an entire day of homeschooling, and without running myself ragged?"

Saturday is out. Grocery stores in Town on weekends? INSANE. All 60,000 county residents are in the parking lot or the store aisles, I swear.

Evenings? I did a very-late night shopping a couple weeks ago, and decided that wasn't really for me, either, though it had it's perks. Putting groceries away at midnight wasn't one of them.

My mom suggested I sacrifice that one day of school, and make up for it on Saturday. I haven't tried this yet, but unless Hubby is working that Saturday, I prefer not.

So yesterday - payday - Hubby got home fairly early. I was able to throw dinner together (a cabbage roll casserole - it was a hit) and take Baby out the door with 8 minutes left before the bank drive-thru closed. I made it there in 7.

From there I went into Town, to a mainstream grocery store that has a great "Weird Food Section." ( I started calling it that waaay back before I would be caught shopping in 'those aisles,' and now it's my favorite part). I was able to park close to the front, even at 6:30, and got what I needed in good time. The only downside was that it was WINDY and COLD and I'd hurried out without a jacket or longjohns beneath my skirt! Brrr! Well, that and the fact that all the 'clearance' bananas, yogurts, organic milk, etc. was gone, if there had been any there earlier.

After that, I paused in the van to nurse baby, and then made my way to Costco. Again, I got front-row parking, and the store was pretty sparse by way of shoppers. Add to that my ONE accompanying child, and it was a pretty mellow experience. A vacation, nearly. :)

I nursed Baby again, and changed her, then instead of heading straight home (the straight-shot road home from that end of Town is under construction for the next 18 months anyway) I stopped at the home-improvement store for a couple items. I was home by 9:30 and didn't have to offload my purchases alone in the cold.

I think this plan might just work, at least for the seasons that Hubby isn't working late. I may take one of the older girls with me for future trips and enjoy some special time with them. All good.

Now, if Hubby had just remembered to have the kids work on the list of small chores while I was gone, it would've been perfect. :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Goodness, Gracious

I mentioned earlier the 60th wedding anniversary get-together our family enjoyed for Hubby's grandparents. It was such an interesting event, to my curious, hormonal mind.

His grandparents indeed celebrated 60 years together this summer. I've thought much about that, though I'm not sure why. They don't have an unmarred relationship, for sure, and I can't decide if it's laudable that they have managed 60 years in spite of all that, or if it's silly, because certainly the union wasn't preserved through maintaining vows or obligations.

That said, all 5 of their children were present, and four of them are born-again Christians. One or two are ministers. All five (I think) spent years doing drugs of one kind or another (some much longer than others), and their stories of God's grace are encouraging. They have a grandson in prison for murder, but many other grandchildren are serving God this day, to one extent or another. Some lead worship and one is married to a pastor. There are allegations of abuse, but the victims embrace victory instead of defeat, regardless of the supposed perpetrator's attitude. One grandson looked much improved (he's my age or older), and declared that instead of drinking and seeing his dealer, he went to church and worked out at the gym. Praise the Lord!

Grandad is not a believer, in fact he's quite hostile to the gospel message. I await the time he acknowledges the great and obvious changes in his own progeny and humbles himself before the Lord. What a gift he'd give himself!

It was fun to hear (I was inside tending Baby much of the time) of an uncle - with scraggly chest-length beard and omnipresent overalls (which he even wore to our wedding!) praying and sharing Christ even as he sat next to Grandad. An adventure, I imagine.

It surprises me some, that with such a patriarch so much of the family loves the Lord. It's hard evidence for God's grace, for sure, not only in the lives of the saved: Living to see such amazing changes in your children and theirs isn't a blessing one might expect for such cantankerous foolishness.

God is good.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Catch Up

I'm happy to report that while I've been absent from this blog forever, it's not because anyone has mastitis or is hospitalized or on bed rest or suffering from a wicked, debilitating infection. One-handed typing though; yes, I suffer from that greatly these days.

What has happened?

There are tomatoes in them thar jungles. Some are quite big (where the soaker hose worked quite well) and some are tiny (where the soaker hose didn't work much). I've only put up about 6 quarts (with a few more half-done as I break to nurse this baby), but I have several bags left from last year, as Hubby has been off tomatoes since Thanksgiving or so. *sigh* Oddly enough, without ANY special attention from me, the weeds have grown waist-high and tower threateningly over my garden boxes, laden with evil seeds. I always lament Adam's disobedience this time of year, fantasizing about what an un-cursed land might produce...

We had planned to kill the geese and turkeys last weekend, before remembering that Saturday was Hubby's grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. We enjoyed seeing some extended family for the occasion, and I was so thankful I'd put a loaf of banana bread in the freezer last week! That, and a loaf of homemade bread with peach jam was our contribution to the potluck! Organique only peed her pants twice and, um, did something else on the kitchen floor once (panties and pants were drying, and grandma's t-shirt was her dress), and Big Sister only once inadvertently smacked a second-cousin in the face while playing too roughly. Leave it to the homeschoolers in the bunch to make scenes, huh? *sigh*

We rescheduled the bird-deaths for Sunday, but awoke to sudden fall weather instead. The wind convinced us that the propane burner would be rendered ineffectual. We'd been enjoying days in the high 80's, but that day never hit 70. We are warming up again, though, so Saturday is it! It must be!

Monday was Organique's birthday! She's officially 2 now. Grandma, Papa, and aunties all came for oatmeal cake and organic ice cream. There was a pinata in attendance, which Little Artist suggested be placed on the floor and 'whacked with sticks' from there. :) Hubby managed to hang it over a clamp placed on the little dividing ridge between dining and living rooms, and the kids alternated between using a stick (no blindfolds, please. I'd like the piano to stay unscathed.), and "doing karate." The unicorn finally gave up it's stash of baggied 'natural' goodies. :) (c'mon - at least I didn't fill it with carrots and celery as threatened.).

Earlier that day we had a real scare with a freak accident that resulted in a harried dash to the local doc office for the birthday girl. Turns out everything is fine, and what could've been truly horrific wasn't, and I am ever and completely grateful to God. He watches over us, and His hand protects us.

I've finished painting 2 walls in the family room. I'm not sure what, if anything, I've posted on that project, but it's slow-going, so there will be time! There's only so much I can do in a day with a newborn and a toddler. Plus, everyone likes to eat three times per day, at least. Yikes.

Well, the laundry beckons, as do the scalded tomatoes!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Thoughts On The Fourth

I need to update my profile, I see.

Little #4 is 1 month old today! She is a joy and a delight, and pleasant indeed.

I'm still not used to being the mother of four girls. Four! It makes my head spin each time I say or think it. You wouldn't think it would be that different than three, but somehow it really is.

First, I allowed Big Sister to turn 8 last week. I might not have been so accommodating had I not a few more little ones to enjoy. :) Don't get me wrong; I enjoy having an 8-year-old immensely, but it would be more bittersweet if I didn't have this precious baby and the others to fill my arms.

I perceive The Fourth differently than I did The First at this stage. That could have several reasons, but I am especially aware that tomorrow she will be turning 8 herself. I know how swiftly things pass! We had Big Sister's joint-birthday party this last Saturday, and it was the first time Baby would be at a gathering of several family members. At the last minute I pawed through the "0-3 mo" box of clothes, searching for something not pajama-like or mismatched (or being worn by a doll). It occurred to me that once upon a time I'd have had a selection of brand-new outfits to choose from, and would have thought far ahead of what exactly to dress her in. Slight but relevant rabbit trail: Years ago I knew a woman with several children. For a very special occasion she had her hair done - professionally trimmed, colored, and styled. She looked so beautiful! They were typically on a very tight - too tight - budget, so this was really a one-time thing. It pained me in some ways... I looked forward to having children, but would I have to give up certain luxuries (not that I'd ever had my hair professionally colored anyway, but..), would I become frumpy and drab as a matter of sacrifice? This thought coalesced with the way I haphazardly rummaged for a baby outfit. It's not a matter of boredom, of not valuing this baby as much as I did the first. It's not a matter of 'having to sacrifice' my former wardrobe or hairstyle. No, on the contrary. I'm on the inside, now. I know the brevity of these days, this time. I value it too much to be sidetracked by mere trifles! Who cares if what she is dressed in is new (or whether she is dressed at all)?! There are her eyes to smile into. How could I spend a half-hour fixing my hair just right when I could spend it caressing her soft hair? My hair will (hopefully!) still be here long after she is not content to doze in my arms.

There is also the irony of myself mothering four daughters. *I* never had a sister. I always wanted one (at least). But I know nothing, experientially, of sisters. In fact, my mother was in no way very feminine or domestic at all. Of course, she was handicapped, but even before that she aspired to nothing remotely connected to homemaking. As a divorcee she told me once how terribly it angered her to hear a man refer to "the wife." As a child I thought it sounded quaint but sweet. She was not a born-again Christian, did not clean, did 'subsistence cooking' only, didn't bake or can or grow a garden and most certainly disliked the idea of a wife being her husband's helpmeet. You might say my 'early education' in such things was lacking. Or nonexistent.

So what is God thinking, making me the mother of FOUR of His daughters? I must say, I'm at least grateful that I am aware of my obvious lack. Sometimes I'm not. Aware, that is.

It's tapping my faith and blessing me in ways I never really imagined.