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Archive for June, 2007

Nothing to eat, nothing to wear

June 29th, 2007 at 09:59 am

If you have a teen, or are female, or know a female teen you have heard the phrase "I have nothing to wear' Common admit you said it at least once gals. I wear holey jeans (among other things) and even I have said it.

The thing is it isn't about not having clothes, most Americans have more clothes than will fit in the McMansions we favor. Instead it is about the right clothes for for XYZ ceremony/date/conference/meeting/whatever. So we at least internally think 'I have nothing to wear'. If we like shopping we go find something, if not, we prolly just suffer reminding ourselves it might not be 'perfect' but at least it didn't entail hours of shopping to find.

I think food is often the same way, many people look in an over stuffed pantry and say 'there is nothing to eat'. Not because the cupboards are bare, but because nothing is quite right for dinner/lunch/breakfast/snack/whatever.

Part of this might be due to lack of cooking skills (just because flour eggs, butter and milk make pancakes doesn't mean everyone can do that.)

But I think a larger part is that people don't like branching out. Suppose you can make pancakes...if you don't have maple syrup you might pass, or you might realize strawberries makes a great topping, or peanut butter, or try em with just butter, or a brush of powdered sugar. If you think of it, pancakes are just sweet bread, eat them however you like.

Whatever the food, you can prolly eat it, you just have to branch out.

Another common failure to serve up a meal, is the wrong time of day. Eggs for dinner is food, and even nutritionally sound, but most turn their nose up at it. What about the bad mix....apples with steak? Hey it is a fruit and a protein, add those pancakes and you have a complete meal!

Just like clothes can be found in that 'closet full of nothing to wear' a meal can often be found in a 'cupboard full of nothing to eat'.

If you are going to spend the money on a movie, make a movie, not a graphic nove

June 29th, 2007 at 05:43 am

This is useless advice as I doubt any of my three readers are planning to make a movie (well ok my husband would like to..)

But after watching "Ghost rider" last night I can say definitively that movies are NOT graphic novels, nor comic books, for a good reason.

I like a good comic story, I just can't handle having to read 10 mini picture books to get one story, so a good comic needs to be made into a graphic novel.

What they did with Ghoast rider is take all the great one liners with goofy pictures and line em up..which misses the flow of a movie, I don't have to turn the page in a movie and imagine the middle between pictures, you are supposed to fill it in with something good. If I have to waste 2 hours (when I could read the graphic novel in say 20 minutes) There aught to be some fleshing out of the story, some new interesting tidbits..something.

Coure I never read the original, maybe the movie did add stuff to a very sparse comic book.

On a side (and financial) note, the movie was borrowed from the free library of the brother in law, great to have a movie addict in the family Smile, almost makes up for the cost of family....

The trouble with debt.

June 28th, 2007 at 10:11 am

Debt owns you, yeah sure lots of big businesses and rich people talk about how they use debt to succeed, and I am happy for them (well not for the big business, but that is a whole 'nother story)

Truthfully for the average Joe, if something happens to the income we are screwed if in debt. On the other hand, simple bills (electricity, water) can be reduced or even removed. The debt I owe cannot.

Debt owns me, my husband has to keep working at least enough to pay off the debt we have (house and car) yet if he had the itch to stop working to be a writer and we had no debt, we could do it on what I could make. He could be home writing at nap time and/or while watching kids play instead of me (and he would be a lot better at it) But because we have a house to pay off and a car to pay for he is stuck working no matter how willing he is to sacrifice steak or two cell phones.

While I know paying of my house early earns me no extra cash on the bottom line, I am not looking at the bottom line, I am interested in being free, I want the freedom to choose the sacrifices completely, I want the freedom to offer my husband the chance to stay home. But because of debt I am not free to explore all options, due to debt of a house, we aren't talking ridiculous spending of youth, just a house and a car keep us from looking toward his dream. (this isn't to say we are never stupid with our money, just that no amount of smart money moves will remove the house and car debt in less than 10 years)

The cost of family

June 27th, 2007 at 11:08 am

Family isn't cheap...I am not talking about the kids, while not free they are relatively cheap. I am talking about the extended family. The trips across town for no reason but to pick up a niece or nephew (OK so w made up an excuse to be there, but really it was just to pick up a kid)

I am talking about the splurges on food, and extra trips for the cousins...Not to mention driving halfway up the country to go see one get married.

Family isn't cheap, it would be much cheaper if I didn't have to do any of that. I don't think it would be better necessarily, just cheaper.

lousy food splurge...

June 25th, 2007 at 07:43 am

After a week of being low on groceries, and spending more time at the pool than in the kitchen, I was NOT in the mood for another PB sandwich...which is fine since we had no bread.

So Sunday after a light snack at church we headed to the in-laws to pick up a niece (hereafter to be known as Essy). On the way there I mentioned we would have to get food, since we don't eat like the in-laws, and since we are not rude enough to pester them to cook or use up the dishes in the kitchen, it would have to be out. My husband suggested taco bell...My stomach turned at the possibility. We then went down the list and came up with nothing worth doing. I said I was in the mood for steak, preferably accompanied by a nice glass of wine. So we headed to 'the backyard restaurant' as Essy called it. And spent a small fortune...all because I was burned out on cheap lousy food.

Today when we finally go to the store we are getting some not so cheap convenient food so that when we spend the day at the pool we can still eat something relatively good. In hopes that next week I will not be so desperate for meat that I order a 9oz steak. (it was a very good steak btw, and the glass of wine was a perfect compliment)

Cool pool

June 22nd, 2007 at 11:07 am

The summer reminds me of how lucky we are, ok so money is tight, but...I would rather it was tight, and I spent all day with my kids, than it was easy and I didn't (obviously, or I would get a job)

Anyway..while I do have some work to do before the pool (and some being ignored while at the pool, and plenty after) but really, my job is to be with my kids, and if that means soaking in a cool pool...well then, I love my job description!

Gmc is still improving on his swimming, but..still like a frog, I really have to work on that, which is hard, because I don't know how to swim.

JC is swimming underwater like...well a swimmer, but she still can't get her head out of the water, so she has to be able to stand or reach her goal in less than 5-10 seconds (which is longer than her big bro can hold his breath!)

UE loves to jump in..which is pretty boring to me, but hey, jump in, swim (with me holding) to the ladder, climb out repeat. Keeps him happy and gives him lots of practice swimming (and some going under water)

The two older kids bike to get there, which is good practice for them, and I walk. UE half walks half rides on mommy, so a wonderful workout. Who needs gyms Smile

Money shuffle

June 21st, 2007 at 10:29 am

Now that we have two checking accounts, I constantly find myself needing to do the 'money shuffle' move cash from one account to another...just so it is there to pay a bill. I hate that job.

I wouldn't have it as bad if we could get the money auto deposited into ING, but there seems to be a hiccup in that regard.

But on a plus note, with all that shuffling I have to be a bit more conscious of how much money we have and where it goes.

And some recent overtime is making that amount much nicer than last month Smile.

Crayon divide

June 19th, 2007 at 07:59 am

1. Take one sheet of paper, divide into two sections,
2. draw a red line just to the left of the middle and a blue line just to the right of the middle.
3. Offer child multiple crayons of either red or blue shades (check that you don't have orange with a red wrapper)
4. Encourage child to scribble/draw red on the red side, or blue on the blue side.
5. Keep saying, oh now you have blue, lets draw on the blue side, what a nice red scribble, ect.

For older children write the words red and blue (in red and blue if you like) to practice reading.

Or use a larger sheet and divide it into many sections, find a color for each.

For adults write the word red in blue and blue in red...see how long it takes before they realize they are doing it wrong.

Gearing up for trip

June 18th, 2007 at 09:34 am

We are heading to see my brother on Wednesday and I have to bake, pack, wrap, sort, stack and find...stuff. Lots of it.

Planning bagels with butter for breakfast in the car.

By lunch we should be there, and eat with them...but I am debating on packing whole wheat bread...I had a reminder of how many different varieties of bread are out there and what may be called whole wheat may not be anything close in taste or nutrition to what we are used to...but I also don't want to insult. Same with cheese, I don't do american and neither do the kids...and cheddar needs to be extra sharp, see I eat more now than when I was a kid, and yet I am still picky! (now make sure that water is with lemon, no ice...)

Also planning snack for the ride home possibly trail mix.

Taking muffins, and a snack thing GMC wants to make (he is getting to be quite the 'chef', no bake of course.

Also packing a couple surprises for the family and lots of birthday presents. They have a thing for Summer birthdays!

Now what am I forgetting?

Painted shirts

June 16th, 2007 at 03:58 pm

We had a fun day at the church decorating shirts and playing. It cost 5 dollars for each shirt, but I cheated and brought 3 of our shirts to decorate with the stuff.

I didn't mean to cheat, we also bought two shirts, but I packed spare clothes in case they got really dirty outside or paint on them, and decided to decorate them too. It was loads of fun.

I also made muffins to share and took some grapes and carrots, half of which we got back. Perfect packing for snacking before/after the library tomorrow.

I also got a list of books from bookadventure.com to take to the library to see if the kids can find a couple to read for points.

A fathers Day wallet

June 15th, 2007 at 09:34 am

Actually we already made one, like I said I never remember things!

instructables wallet

But I thought it was cool enough to share, you make a wallet out of paper, which means kids can color it and older ones can do all the making. Of course for fathers who don't get to splurge on themselves a gift card or cash inside would be cool.

Their is a suggestion for cutting out a photo window and putting clear contact to make a window which could have a photo made by the kids with 'Greatest Dads club member' instead of license or state name. Just grab your own license and redo all the questions for Dads..issued date would be the date of the oldest birth.

Only thing I would recommend is to have an adult make the wallet before inviting kids to try, you will get stuck on the final phase and not want kids pestering you to tell them how to do it.

Table Dice

June 14th, 2007 at 09:47 am

For a long time now we have been playing a game at dinner of quiz questions for a trophy..the trophy can be anything, from the ketchup bottle to a straw to the cup (we often share water when out)

The hardest part is Mom or Dad having to come up with all the questions! After awhile you start to think you have asked 3*6 every day and are not sure which numbers are being left out.

Today I hit upon a great idea to make my life easier...dice. I have a nifty 'die in a die' it actually has a 6 sided die inside of another six sided die. I love it, and the kids love it. We took turns rolling and multiplying, dividing, adding, or subtracting the two numbers. (depending on the kid and skill level)

Then I started thinking of all the ways dice could help with quizzing.

For young kids, I could use one die and have them count the dots, or have them find the side with 6 (or 2, whatever) I have a die with just numbers on it, instead of dots, perfect for practice recognizing 1-6.

For other subjects like geography, you could write up 11 questions numbered 2-12 (or use other types of dice, 20 questions for a 20 sided die, and whatnot) Roll the dice add them up and answer the corresponding question.

Or for more open ended questions, I wrote up an English list. 2. Nouns...that way I have a general pointer, to ask a question about a noun, but I can tailor the question to a specific kid. I can ask:
"what is a noun",
"name a noun",
"is 'walk' a noun"
"what are the nouns in this sentence...'Jeffrey walked his Dog.'"

Most subjects could be open ended that way.

Even after I left the room to go take care of UE they were still passing the die back and forth to add or multiply the two numbers. It was sooo cute.


The brthday preasent that would make a good fathers day one.

June 8th, 2007 at 09:43 am

Actually I know myself, when I had the idea I did it that day, I didn't trust myself to wait till his birthday or fathers day! but here it is:

1. The treasure map. The kids picked a treasure...we are poor (less than 15% tax bracket here) and besides I wanted the treasure NOW. So we wrote a poem..something corny:

We decided to play
like pirates today,
and bury a treasure
just for play.
We donít have money,
not much stuff.
But we do have love,
hope itís enough!


And really play and play and today..bit redundant, but since he thought it was mostly my 5 year old he didn't complain.

I printed the poem and had the kids decorate the page.

Then we drew a map of the house and yard, and dug a couple holes. One to put the treasure in (we actually put the paper in a zip lock, and that zip lock in a peanut butter container....cleaned out). The other holes were to make life less easy on my husband.

Then I took the map and buried it in a bit of mud, wiped it off on the grass, and crumpled it a up a bunch of times.

Then I tore it in four pieces and put one in each kid's pocket plus one in mine.

He had to put the map together decipher it (no neat labels) and find the right hole, then dig it up.

He loved it Smile.

2. For his birthday (OK fine the day before) My son asked to make him a "hunt where you find a hint and that leads you to another hint" So we did, I took the cards they all made and put them in a zip lock (handy things zip locks) then we decorated door hangers, one side had the kids pictures, the other had a clue.

I put the first on the door in from the garage (that he normally comes in on) and the others around the house.

Your clues will have to vary, and they don't have to be easy or rhyme, mine were.

---Look for games and fun to find clue number one (hanging where we keep games)

----For clue number two look for a shoe.

Then the final one was 'head out the door' and I put that zip lock sticking out of the grill (cause I didn't know what number rhymed with grill....never claimed creativity here.)

They made extra door hangers so we had some 'nopes' in case the clue wasn't obvious enough (or to use up time with kids who love to draw...whichever)

Anyway if you happen to have a husband like mine, either hunt would work well for Fathers day.

Edit oh yeah if you do fathers day with multiple generations you could bury a 'treasure' for each father...then let them try to find the right one.

I have been taking pictures, and some blurbs, shorts, quickies, notes, whatever

June 7th, 2007 at 09:39 am

Unfortunately for anyone here most are full face, and not post-able.

But here is one of the windows at the nature center...they have frosted leaves and some bird shapes laminated to prevent birds from flying into the windows...I thought all the kiddie fingerprints would be good enough.



And the other day I walked into the living room to see GMC laying on the couch with a book, not to unusual, seconds later UE joined him checking to be sure he had the exact right pose and everything, so I took a picture.



And the pool is open! so here is one of GMC swimming over to daddy and UE. No picture of JC, she was too cold to get in, not quite the fish her big bro is.



---On a completely unrelated note..we have life insurance! I hope we go the right one.

---I have plans for a debt article, so the of you need to get writing!

---And for all the parents out there, cheer with me, my youngest is in his room sortof putting himself to sleep for nap!

---The kids received money, and they each bought a book and a toy, with some to spare. All three books were around $3 each at a used book store, and the toys were at the dollar bins, $2 for GMCs travel sized spirograph that he is playing with right now, and $1 each for a puzzle and some light up bracelets (the kind that sell for $5 each at a concert)

They also each put $5 in the bank and $5 for church. Each has between $3 and $5 left for the Arcade Friday.

--- we are going out to see a movie! Babysitter and all! With my husbands money for his birthday...Pirates three Smile.

What makes fudgy?

June 5th, 2007 at 03:38 pm

I made chocolate cupcakes for my husband to take to cubscouts. I offered to make icing, he insisted it be fudgy....

I tried a new recipe that involved melted butter and cocoa powder, plus of course sugar, milk and vanilla. By not using a mixer I hoped to keep the air content down, and figured melted butter plus cocoa powder makes fudge..it worked...

The end result was a very fudgy, very dark chocolate icing...and a very tired arm on my part!

So now the problem...my cupcakes are not fudgy enough for the wonderful topping!

So how do I make a cup cake fudgy-er....

Some secrets of homeschooling

June 4th, 2007 at 11:09 am

1. We don't do much teaching. We are facilitators, someone who facilitates meaning we make the path of learning easier. That is it, the main goal of most homeschoolers is to help our children reach their full potential, to learn 'all they need' to be the best they can be. How homeschoolers define 'all they need' varies, but the base is the same, we want to facilitate the learning so no time is wasted. Sometimes that makes us look like traditional teachers, playing games to help memorize states and capitals, other times it means we look 'lazy', watching our kid build yet another lego contraption, but all of us are simply trying to facilitate our children's learning path.

2. It didn't start out easy, in fact many days it still isn't! I remember the first time I heard about 'teachable moments' which is the idea of finding a moment to pass on a nugget of knowledge. I was positive I would never see one. But then one time I counted shoes with no previous lesson plan, another I explained somewhat solar energy when a kid asked why the sidewalk was hot. before I knew it I was seeing teachable moments left and right! No matter what skill is involved in facilitating education I had to learn it, John Holt had to learn it, and you can learn it. If at first you don't succeed try try again!

3. YOU are a home schooler...no matter who you are, or how many children you do or do not have, you ARE 'schooling' at home. If you have a kid, look at how they eat, sleep, brush their teeth, swagger, or channel hop. They learned it somewhere, and that somewhere is you. Of course if you have multiple kids you may notice not all pick up the same lessons...real learning is caught, not taught, maybe one picked up Dads swagger while another picked up moms channel hopping, they will carry that swagger/hop with them for years, but will forget the list of groceries you had them memorize in a snap.

If you do not have kids it is harder to see, but do you have pet? where did they learn food comes in that bowl every day at 6 am sharp? (or not) you, they caught that information from you. If no pets look at your neighbors, do they know you always park in the street on the far side of the mailbox? Do your coworkers know you always stop by coffee o'rama before work? Or that you make the best brownies?

You made the learning of that easy by just doing it. So you are an educator (not that your parking habits are useful...unless you park in the far lot to walk for health and your not so slender coworkers wonder what you secret is...then you are being a facilitator of health education.)

Children are not so different, humans of all ages are designed to learn, we just get to decide what information we are passing along, to be picked up or not.

4 And the barely connected financial note...facilitating is way cheaper than teaching! We just have to provide opportunity's, not lesson plans, fancy materials, or specialized equipment. No money spent on that complete lesson book with extra test guide, no need to fork over hundreds for state of the art microscopes, the best part of learning is finding someone who has one and learning with them! No need for the class on wallpapering when you have a dad who does it daily. Just the need to loosen up and try new methods, try new ways of thinking and talking and try new experiences with others. (this doesn't mean you can't spend more, after all variety can lead to more moola spent, and so called teaching supplies are nothing if not varied)

For further reading try What the rest of us can learn from homeschooling

There's a skunk in our yard...

June 4th, 2007 at 10:17 am

As I was typing away at my todo list, I got that feeling, that somone was watching me.

I turn to the side and JC is there staring, knowing this is naptime and she is about to get in trouble for not being in bed, she quickly blurts out "theres a skunk in our yard"

Now I have never seen a skunk in the wild, I do live near woods and spent a good deal of time in the woods, at least more than the average city dweller, but I have never seen a skunk. Thinking a great chance was upon me, I dashed to the door...to find a raccoon running down the hill.

Eh she was close.

On another topic if you ever wondered what the worlds largest flower was my son happened to ask, and I happened to google it. The Rafflesia arnoldii. is apparently the largest, we read about it awhile ago and he remembered it as an 'orange lilly' which well it is orange. An interesting tidbit to me is both of the large flowers are stinky..big may not be better.

And one further point...there are three secrets so I can now post...I was almost hoping it would go that far! Not because I have nothing to say, but because it is only loosely financial, they say to write what you know, and I know very little about finances still.

Misc Junk

June 2nd, 2007 at 12:39 am

First TinaPbeana jinxed me, I read her secrets Right before bed and here I am at 3am way to awake, and typing, not sleeping....

And while trying to fall back asleep I had several thoughts that so would be much better written by someone else (anyone else) but here goes.

We are supposed to stack the deck
For our kids, in the real game of life as parents we are supposed to stack the deck for our kids, it is not cheating to give them more cards more variety and more options than would normally be dealt, it is what we are supposed to do, however...

We can't make 'em play them
We can stack the deck, in the real game of life so our child has a 'helmet of salvation' but we cannot force him to put it on. I can deal her all the aces, but I cannot decide when she plays them. We can explain the rules, but we cannot force our kid to hold 'em or fold em. We can't even make them 'walk away', much less run...We can however give them as much knowledge about when they need to do each as possible. And more important we can show our kids how the game 'aught to be played.

We don't have to let anyone else trump our own 'goal'
There is a very fun game called fluxx where anyone can play a goal card at any time to change the way you win. The new goal always trumps the old. Not so in the game of life. Just because Mom wants you to be a Dr doesn't mean you replace your own goal for hers. I recommend Fluxx, I do not recommend letting pop culture, an 'expert' or anyone else dictate your life's goals.

Can you guess we had friends for games last night? Smile

If two more people would write 'secrets' posts I could use my awake time for that....

Speaking of my self goal to write for every topic...I have discovered I am not a good writer...I have my moments (reading addiction is still top on google) but well that was last year, almost exactly. Hey maybe it is about time for me to finally write something good again!

Hmm maybe I should base my hopes on something more than the time of year....

edit to add in the real game of life 'cause apparently writing at 3am is not my strong suit.