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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tips on Tuesday: Time Saving Ideas

Today as I was running late (again) for Bible Study, I realized I hadn't written my Tips column for today. Oops! On my 'to do list' for last night, but we took the kids to the local indoor water park and ended up staying from opening to almost closing time. (Photos coming tomorrow.) I was so pooped, I got the kids in bed, made lunches and went to bed myself.

So, back to this morning and being late...again...and I'm thinking of the things I could have done to get me out sooner. I self-blogged this post to the DJ on the radio and he seemed to like it and Rebekah said, "Funny mommy!" which means it must be cutting edge stuff.

Here are some tips I usually use to try to help keep us close to on time. Some of these are things that you will think I'm crazy for suggesting, but think about it a little longer and you might see my point.
  1. Lay out clothes the night before. We don't allow swapping (much) in the morning unless a weather change has occurred. Get the hassle of choices out on the way to bed and lay everything out (including socks, shoes and underwear) in one spot for each child.
  2. If your kids are up late and you know morning will be a struggle, might I suggest "clothes for jammies"? (Don't call me crazy yet!) I know it sounds dumb, but dressing them in wrinkle-free clothes at bedtime means they can get up and already be dressed for the day. We used to do this a lot when we had late church evenings followed by early morning appointments. Sweatpants and a t-shirt are great for this. Babies have all kinds of clothes that are almost PJ's. Use them!
  3. For kids old enough to feed themselves, you can get their breakfast ready before bed. Put the cereal in a bowl on the table with a spoon and pour milk into their glass in the fridge. They pour part on the cereal and drink the rest. Or if they eat Nutrigrain or other bars like my kids do, I leave them on the table. When they couldn't open the packages, I'd open and put in a baggie for them to have in the morning.
  4. Keep backpacks and diaper bags loaded and ready. Put them in the same place every day. If there is something that needs to go into the bag in the morning (lunch or papers) you can put a clothespin on the bag or safety pin a bright colored cloth to the bag. It's a visual reminder that something is missing.
  5. As much as possible, handle the details after school the night before. Take the first 10 minutes home from school to go through the mounds of paper and sign permission slips, write checks, etc. Then it's done and you don't have to worry about trying to scramble in the morning to prepare everything.
  6. On a larger scale, create a check list for when you travel. Each person has a list of what they need to pack and bring. Keep it updated with each trip you take. Then check off and you know you have it all. **Note**If you go to the same place every year, make a special list for that place (like Grandma's). Chances are she might have some of the things a hotel wouldn't so I have a hotel list as well as a list for each grandparent.
  7. Do you find it hard to read your magazines? Carry some in the car and when you are stopped for those 'extras' that happen in life---like waiting for the last child to get out of school to the van, unexpected dr. appt. or while hubby is driving---pick one up and read an article or two.

Hopefully these tips will help you put a little time back onto your clock. Although the biggest tip I have is very tongue in cheek! I know each child has added between 5-10 minutes to my late factor. I used to be the 5 minute early girl, then the 2nd one came and I was exactly on time, now with #3, forget being on time. Isn't 10 minutes late the NEW early??

Saturday, September 27, 2008

AIG Bailout Ideas

I will confess that I didn't write this, but I fully agree with what the author (Birk) is saying. I think I could do better with my money than the government currently is doing!

I'm against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG.

Instead, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a We Deserve It Dividend.

To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens 18+. Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up.

So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billion that equals $425,000.00.

My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It Dividend.

Of course, it would NOT be tax free. So let's assume a tax rate of 30%.

Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes. That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.

But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket. A husband and wife has $595,000.00.

What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?

Pay off your mortgage - housing crisis solved.

Repay college loans - what a great boost to new grads Put away money for college - it'll be there Save in a bank - create money to loan to entrepreneurs.
Buy a new car - create jobs

Invest in the market - capital drives growth

Pay for your parent's medical insurance - health care improves

Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean - or else

Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.

If we're going to re-distribute wealth let's really do it...instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 ( 'vote buy' ) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.

If we're going to do an $85 billion bailout, let's bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+!

As for AIG - liquidate it. Sell off its parts.

Let American General go back to being American General.

Sell off the real estate. Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.

Here's my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn't.

Sure it's a crazy idea that can 'never work.'

But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party!

How do you spell Economic Boom? I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion We Deserve It Dividend more than I do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC . And remember, The Birk plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

Ahhh...I feel so much better getting that off my chest.

Kindest personal regards,
T. J. Birkenmeier, A Creative Guy & Citizen of the Republic
Hubby emailed that Birk's numbers are a little off. He did the math with trillions instead of millions in the bailout program. (After a while, don't all the 0's look the same?!?)
Here's hubby's math. Rats, I was so happy to think on the original.
Hubby said, "As an example if there are 100 million people, and a 100 billion dollar plan, then each person would get $1,000 because there are a thousand millions in a billion. Therefore a $700 billion dollar plan with the currently 300 million people, then each person would get about $2,000-$2,500 which really isn't that far out of reach from the incentive plan they tried earlier this year sending each person $600."
Again, I say rats! I was looking forward to my $250,000+.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Walgreens Savings Fri/Sat Only

Did you get this coupon in your inbox?? If not, you didn't sign up at for update and savings. Click the picture to get the coupon good for $5 off a purchase of $20 or more. I print several off and hit every Walgreens I pass in the two days.
***NOTE*** I'm having trouble getting the coupon to load. For a while, it said no such page. Now, I'm getting the 'x' in the box where the picture of the coupon should be. I'm going to print this and take to WG and argue for my $5 off. If you get the same broken links, keep trying--or go argue, like me.
Buy your rebate items and get $5 off that will be cash in your pocket after rebates are done. Or, get a big discount on printed photos. Shop their sales/clearance for bonus savings.

Have fun and Happy Shopping!!!

Why I can't get anything done...

Yesterday was what I consider to be pretty much a waste. I got up today and wondered how I could be so tired when NOTHING got accomplished yesterday.

Then I looked at my day. Take a deep breath and hold onto your hat as I:
6:30--woke up before alarm went off got up to let Sean sleep
6:45--started trying to get Andrew out of bed for school, argued over whether or not he would go and nagged him to get dressed
7:08--Andrew out the door 2 minutes early!!
7:10--Start getting dressed and ready for the day
7:20--Rebekah up, change and dress her
7:30--Start kicking Sean out of bed
**Somewhere in here Nathan got up and went to watch TV--where it's safe!
7:45--Start moving Nathan towards dressed
8:00--feed everyone
8:20--need to leave, but need pics of Nathan in his Cowboys Duds for Round Up Days!
8:25--Sean takes Nathan to school, keeps Rebekah home while he works from home and I head to MOPS to work in the nursery
11:30--done at MOPS, head straight to doctor's office
11:50--Hook up with Sean & Rebekah at doctor's office, tag team trade child so he can get his Round Up Lunch at work and head home to continue working.
**At doctor's office for LONG time. Diaper bag was left at home by mistake. No cup, no snacks, no diapers and no toys. Entertain active 2 year old with Working Mom magazine (no kid magazine's either). Sing songs until I'm hoarse and try to keep child from breaking medical equipment.
1:15--TWO HOURS LATER--Find out strep screen is negative, she must have had a virus
1:30--Feed Rebekah and Mommy some lunch
2:00--Try to get Rebekah to take a nap as her naptime is really 1pm.
2:30--Start the carpool run--which was a bust because the middle school kids went to the football game. Some fast talking later, Andrew gave me his junk and I drove home alone so he could go to the game, too.
3:30--Off to Elementary school carpool run
4:00--Home and everyone unloaded, find out our 5pm appt. can take us at 4:30 to sign papers
4:15--Load up kids and off we go
5:00--Home from signing papers, Andrew walked home from football game and is waiting for us (he knew he'd have to wait a bit for us)
UPDATE--It's now 5pm and I haven't done ONE thing today. My list is something like 48 items long 'to do' but not one thing is done.

5:05--6:10--Make dinner, feed family at 6:10 (During making dinner, tried to field two phone calls from my family, worked with Nathan to get piano done, found Rebekah had unrolled an entire roll of TP in my family room, kept on Andrew to finish homework and actually cooked a meal in the skillet.)
6:50--Sean off to church while I hassle, threaten and coerce children to do homework and play piano.
8:30--Kids in bed (got 2 of them showers), Sean is home and I'm so tired I can't lift my tired self off the couch to go to bed.

Can I get an "Amen, sister" from all the tired moms out there!?!?! No wonder I'm pooped.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday Thoughts

I'm going to start doing an off-and-on update on Thursday's. Sometimes, there's more information that comes after my Tuesday tips. I won't guarantee I'll do it weekly, but want to give myself the freedom to have a follow up day.

First of all, I must say, "Praise the Lord, my sister & BIL now have power!!" She appreciates all the prayers and support. Continue to pray for the hurricane victims as there is a lot still 'to do'. Did you hear the polemen (with the new power poles) now have police escorts to get them to the areas needing poles. Since the power is down, they energy company is more concerned about restoring power to homes before power to streetlights. It slows down the trip when everything is a 4-way stop. So police are escorting them to get them through more efficiently.

Now for the shampoo-free update. I've been shopping around and wanted everyone to know that Dr. Bonners is having a sale on castile soap. I'm going to order and see how it works for me. If you want the castile soap shampoo recipe before I give it a whirl, let me know. I just didn't want anyone to miss out on the sale. Click here and in the lower right corner is the info on 15% off Liquid Castile soaps (looks like the photo at left).
Free shipping with a $20 order. Most local places that carry the Castile soap have a 16oz or 32oz size only and they only carry one or two kinds. Cost ranged from $10-16 in the local store so I figure I'll get a couple varieties and free shipping. Just wanted to pass the savings along. I'll let you know how I like my new shampoo recipe. Also, castile soap is reported by Dr. Bonners to be an 18-in-1 product. They have suggested uses online. I read in one place that the tea tree oil castile soap is as effective as harsh chemicals in killing bacteria and germs.
More on castile after I try it out.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hurricane Ike Update

First photo--major street and damage.
For all of those who have been asking, we thank you for your concern. My folks were planning to return to TX until Ike started brewing. Then it was a case of wait and see. They chose to stay at their condo here to ride out the storm many, many, many safe miles away from the destruction.

My sister & brother-in-law live about one mile from my parents. BIL had been in Orlando on business for two weeks and they had arranged many weeks ago for my sis to fly to Orlando for a long weekend of R&R at the House of Mouse. Sis managed to get out less than 24 hours before the airports closed. BIL's parents came in from San Antonio and had the dog with them. They were originally to ride out the storm at my sister's, but when Ike changed paths, they high-tailed it back to San Antonio and safety.

Second photo: you've probably seen this one from National Geographic, but it shows the power the storm had. It's a before and after photo of Bolivar Peninsula.

They returned as soon as they could get back into town. My parents lost many limbs and the neighbor's chimney cap was at the bottom of the pool. (Thank you pool guy who came and got the debris out of the pool before the power came back.) Sis & BIL were to fly back Monday, but couldn't get a flight until Thursday. BIL's folks brought a generator with them and saved my folks' wood floors by getting the stuff out of the freezer and moving to the now-generator-powered freezer at sis's house.

Sis lost tree limbs and one was on the garage roof, but not through the roof. Power has been down since the storm. Folk's house got power back on Monday night (yes, that is 9 days later). Sister still has no power. She's moved into the folk's house to keep it secure--yeah, that's it. Can you imagine the heat and humidity of Southern Texas with NO AIR CONDITIONING?!?!? We continue to pray for the state. Houston still has only 1 in 4 homes without power. That's a big city to be 1/4 without power.

The folks are on the trail and heading back home. I hear the cities look like war zones. I'm thankful my family was safe and there was no real damage to their homes.
Here's another reason it's so difficult to get power back for my sister and others. This tree is lying across a power line. Hmm--that doesn't look good to me!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tips on Tuesday: Shampoo Free Update

Thought I would give everyone a shampoo update. I went shampoo free several months ago, switching to using Baking Soda to clean my hair and Apple Cider Vinegar & Water to condition my hair. I went through a short 'detox' period where the oil production had to decrease. I could feel the chemical buildup on my hair and could tell as the soda worked it away.
I've been happy for quite a while, but continue to find myself ending up with a buildup on my hair. It happens slowly and around every 3-4 weeks, I've been having to use a shampoo to get the buildup out. I think my hair (and my harder water) works against me. I've always had higher oil production in my hair which caused my shampoo frustration to begin with.
I've gone back to using a clarifying shampoo (all natural ingredients--no chemicals) once every week or so. It's an expensive one I had purchased at a salon once when my hair had sustained some major damage so I won't recommend it by name. The cost is too high in my mind.
I'm researching other options and will be getting myself some Dr. Bonner's Castile Soap and trying a new shampoo recipe. I'm still loving the ACV rinse, I just need to find something that helps balance the oils in my hair. I'll let you know how it goes when I find Dr. Bonner's and get some shampoo made.
Until then, if you're one of the people who ARE having success with Baking Soda instead of shampoo, please shout out. I know you are out there and I've emailed with a few of you who are successfully using this paste and ACV rinse. It's just not working for me in the way I want it to.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Apple Fun

My parents & I decided to go to a local orchard to get some apples (and stop at the nearby outlet mall). Sean ended up taking Friday off and joining us for the trip. Rebekah hasn't ever been to the orchards before, so this was a fun special day for her. She enjoyed having Dad & Mom (and Poppa & Grandma) to herself...even if it wore daddy out.

At the orchard, we walked around to pick apples. They weren't marked well, so we don't really know what we picked. We would taste one off a tree and if it wasn't too tart, we'd pick a bunch. I think Rebekah ate about 4 small apples out there.

She also found a baby squash that she adopted. I wasn't sure if she would use it to club her dad while sitting on his shoulders or not.

Here's a fun photo---it's a scarecrow...

No--it's a Rebekah. Children of the Corn come to life. AAAhhhhhhh!!!

At the outlet mall, Sean found the cutest shirt. Each one of us laughed and laughed when we saw it. I had to purchase. I don't have the best photos because the streak was running from the paparazzi while putting Nathan's jacket on.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mothering Doesn't Come With A Map

With the start of a new MOPS year, I thought I'd share the article I wrote for our first MOPS newsletter.

I love our theme this year—Adventures in Mothering. I find it to be appropriate since each day as a mom is a new adventure. Sometimes it is a good adventure—first smile, first step, first tooth, even first day of school. Other days the adventure resembles Chevy Chase’s ill-fated cross-country trip.

Often, life as a mom is like visiting a theme park without a map. Unfortunately, mothering doesn’t come with a map. We’re in a theme park of uncharted waters. While we can help each other and share experiences, our children don’t always act as we expect. And honestly, some days we don’t act how we expect ourselves to act. We might take a ride on Monster Mom and we spend the rest of the day wishing we had taken that ride.

Isn’t that part of the total package? When we ride theme park rides, some we like, some we don’t like, and some we wish we’d never gone near. Some moms love the thrill of the coaster and with the ups and downs resembling daily life with children. Some of us would prefer parenting if it bore more resemblance to riding the trams or trains with their definite stops, charted courses and a predictable plan of action.

Let’s bring all our mothering ‘rides’ to MOPS this year and learn from the adventures of one another. We can learn what not to do as well as gain insight into things to try to do. It’s my purpose and prayer to bring help and hope to areas affecting our families this year. If there are topics you’d like me to cover, please let me know.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tips on Tuesday: Some Fun Freebies

I get a lot of questions on how I get so much free stuff. Part of it comes down to being willing to register online and perhaps receive an extra email or two. (Remember, you can always unsubscribe or mark the sender as junk/spam and not have to deal with the company's emails.) I search certain places (like all the time and I glance through all the e-newsletters I get to see if free samples are in there. Proctor & Gamble, all shampoo companies, Dove and a few others always have some sort of free sample to offer.

Here are a few I've found or been sent this week:
  • Free Kashi Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Cookie here. You're supposed to get a 2nd free cookie if you play the game. I tried playing and supposedly won--but it wouldn't let me register for a 2nd free cookie. If anyone figures out how that 2nd cookie works, let me know.
  • continues to have freebies all the time. You can go here and see what is free this week. I bookmark and check every week.
  • Free subscription to Traditional Home Magazine here. (No credit card required on this one!)
  • Free reusable tote bag and coupons here.
  • Info. on a free can of Organic Baby Formula here.
  • Arby's Coupons (OK--the food is not free, but I LOVE to eat there) can be found here.
I know there are hundreds upon hundreds of free offers and samples on the web. If you know of some additional good ones, please post for the rest of us.

Happy Freebie Hunting!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bicycle Fun

We are 'THOSE' parents you read about. The ones who don't force their kids to learn to ride bikes. Some things just don't seem worth the hassle at the time. However, we put it on the Summer '08 To Do List and we're trying to finish checking off every item. Sean has been taking the kids out for the past several nights to force some practice time.

Rebekah is getting better at riding her "Dora Bike". Unfortunately, she needs to be about 1/2" taller to reach the pedals, but she tries to scoot her buns forward on the seat to reach. When she gets tired of that, she zooms around by pushing herself with her feet on the ground.

When she gets bored with Dora, she needs to ride Andrew's scooter. Of course, she can't balance yet, so somebody has to push her around. She kept trying to push with her left foot like big brother. It just tips her dangerously close to falling over.

Here's Nathan taking a whirl on the bike. He's working hard to balance and is doing really well.

Andrew has been 'so close' for such a long time. He took a couple of super painful tumbles last year and it made him a little bit less than pleased about bike riding. Sean got a better video tonight on his cell phone of Andrew going around the big lot totally on his own---but I can't figure out how to get that video downloaded to the computer. If I ever find a way, I'll post it.

A beautiful photo of the full moon rising.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Andrew (Again)

Andrew got to have a friend come over for dinner and a sleepover. We surprised them by sending the boys (Rebekah & I came home) to the local arcade. Great drama ensued when we discovered the arcade shut down operations on Sept. 1. BUMMER!!!! So, we talked Daddy into taking the 3 boys to Dave and Busters. I realized after I suggested it what a nightmare for Sean to track three small boys on a Friday night at D&B. I tried to get them to switch to the local pizza place with a big game room, but the message was not correctly conveyed to Daddy. He was a trooper and took them to D&B.

To further complete the birthday fun, Andrew got to go to Tyler's house post-sleepover for the entire afternoon to keep playing.

Here are some pictures of the festivities:
More Webkinz---you should see the zoo we're running here!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Super Student Nathan

The first couple weeks of school have been a little rough for Nathan. It's hard to leave the security and comfort of Kindergarten and become a big First Grader.

Dad & Mom are so proud of Nathan. He's our Super Student and his teacher sent home a note telling us of his terrific day. She is a wonderful teacher and has been really encouraging during this transition.

Way to go, Nathan!!!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Tips on Tuesday: Financial Seminar

Our church is hosting a four week financial seminar. No sales pitch, just great information. The first week was FANTASTIC with the information being geared to help you see where you are at and where you want to go. We had people from all walks of life and vastly different financial circumstances.

From the seminar, I wanted to share Pastor Dale's list of things to do to get out of debt. He was very clear that these steps need to be done in chronological order and that it is a long term process. This isn't an overnight fix.

Short Term & Long Term Financial Goals:
  1. Establish a savings account of $1000 so it is available and uncommitted. Then you have an emergency fund if you need it. (If you have to dip into it for car repair, etc.---replace the money as fast as possible to keep the account at $1000.)

  2. Make a will. (Married couples can't have a joint will. Each spouse needs a will that mirrors the other.)

  3. Establish another savings account with one month of take home pay in it. (Not gross salary.)

  4. Pay off all your credit cards.

  5. Increase 2nd savings account from 1 month to 3 months of take home pay.

  6. Pay off all consumer debt (other loans, lines of credits)

  7. a) Begin saving for major purchases (auto, home, etc.) Only borrow on items that appreciate in value. b) Begin saving for retirement. c) Begin saving for children's education.

  8. Update your will again.

  9. Purchase an affordable home. **Watch the interest rate and make sure it is fixed. **Be sure you understand your property tax--especially if building a home.

  10. Begin to prepay your home mortgage.

  11. Pay mortgage off.

  12. Have your children's education fully funded.

  13. Have your retirement fully funded.

One other hint was to get overdraft protection on your accounts just in case something would even happen and a check would be short.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Video from a soldier

I generally stay out of politics on the blog. However, this video spoke to me on a personal level. My father proudly served in Vietnam and my father-in-law proudly retired from the Air Force.

Freedom isn't free and our soldiers deserve our respect and support. I especially agree with the closing quote, "The day we lose our will to fight is the day we lose our freedom."

Beautiful Butterflies

I was checking out various settings on my new camera. I practiced close ups of butterflies when we were at the zoo. All in all, I think they aren't half bad.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Zoo Trip with Poppa & Grandma

While Poppa & Grandma where here for the weekend, we decided to take a little trip to the zoo. They haven't been in several years and we've added quite a few exhibits. However, we only made it to the butterflies and the aquarium. Oh well, we'll check cats, bears, monkeys and more the next time we go.

Nathan and Andrew both loved studying the fish.

Check out Rebekah's new monkey backpack (also known as the "ha-ha" backpack because monkey in Rebekah speak is ha-ha......what does the monkey say....oo-ooh you know). It's really a harness and leash. It used to be you'd get the evil eye if you used a harness and leash on your child. Disguise it as a ha-ha and everyone wants one. For those of you who'd like one of your own, check Walmart out. They come in assorted animals but we got the ha-ha for the Curious George freak. She likes to dart away from you and they won't allow any strollers in the butterfly exhibit. This presents a large challenge with a darter. After our last zoo trip, I made sure I got one of these harnesses before we'd go back to the zoo.

I enjoy the zoo, but after two hours I get cranky tired and my kids recognize the edge of steel in my voice as they begin to volunteer to leave.

After the zoo, the cranky tired mom needed food and a jolt of caffeine to keep her going without causing somebody bodily harm. We saw King Kong restaurant and the boys started chiming to go in. Mongo-burgers, here we come! We had a great time.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Happy Birthday Grandma & Andrew

On Labor Day, we had Andrew's family birthday party and surprised Grandma S. with her own cake and party as well. She got a Triple Chocolate Fantasy Fudge cake and Andrew had chocolate with butter cream frosting. Yum! We had a cookout and presents and lots of cake and ice cream. What a great day.
Check out Andrew's cake. In the corners are different math problems. 9 + 2, 6 + 5, 8 + 3, 7 + 4. When I asked what he wanted his cake to be, he asked if they made a math cake (can you say math geek?) I told him no and then racked my brain to figure a way to make it work for him. I chose the pun-ny phrase and told the nice cake people at Sam's Club how to make what I wanted. They did a fantastic job.

With all the leftovers, we are all running on a constant sugar buzz this week.
Rebekah was so upset that she didn't get to blow out candles. So being a Super Grandma, our Grandma S. relit the candle and let Rebekah blow it out. Gotta love grandmas!

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