Sunday, October 25, 2009


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... 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


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.


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.


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. :)