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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tips on Tuesday: Vinegar

I've posted several times about vinegar and some of the uses for it. A dear friend of mine emailed this past week to inform me of another use she found for vinegar.

From Lara:
After reading about the vinegar for fabric softener you got me thinking. I have used vinegar and water for odor removal....what else can I use it for??? So I started my research journey. Lots of course, but here's what I did!!! I shampooed my carpets!!!!!

We rented a Rug Doctor $32.00 (including attachment for stairs). A gallon of vinegar, $2.00 and a bottle of Simple Green about $3-$4.00. Did the whole house and it looks fantastic.

On the bad stains (entry way), we sprayed simple green directly on them. No stains in the entire house!!! It looks great and hopefully will not attract dirt like soap.Whole house shampooed $38.00!!!!!!! Who weeee. Of course there is our own labor.

Last time we did it ourselves at the old house it was over $100.00 with the rental, spotter, soap, defoamer, etc. Just wanted to share.

Thanks for the great info, Lara. Our carpets need cleaning, too. I'm just reluctant to use soap because of the recurring stains.
For those of you who aren't aware, soap attracts dirt. That's it's job. It attracts the dirt and takes it off our skin when we shower, off our clothes when we launder, etc. However, any soap residue (which can happen in carpet cleaning) is now a dirt magnet. It's attracting the dirt--which is it's job--we just don't like it attracted in the same spot where we just cleaned on our carpets.

Another note for even greater savings. If you go to, there is usually a $2 off coupon for Simple Green. Our local Dollar General has Simple Green for $2.50 (last time I checked) per bottle. Take your coupon and pay $0.50 for the entire bottle.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

PSA: Chocolate Coin Recall in Canada

With Halloween fast approaching comes a warning to parents and kids regarding Sherwood brand Pirate's Gold milk chocolate coins imported from China . The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is warning the public not to eat, distribute or sell the candy.

It is sold across Canada (not the USA) by Costco and may also have been sold in bulk packages or as individual pieces at various dollar and bulk stores. The chocolate contains melamine which is the same chemical responsible for killing several babies in China , and sickening thousands more.

The National Post Online ran the story here.

I did verify the story at For the snopes story, you can click here. Snopes does say that the Sherwood Company's official statement said NONE of these candies were distributed in the USA.

Since we don't celebrate Halloween, I'm not worried by this. If you do trick-or-treat with your kids, this is just a good reminder to be safe. Please check the candy your kids receive and toss anything that looks partially open or suspicious. Better to toss a few candy bars that were ok than to be sorry you didn't.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The 12 Days of My Life

OK--I don't really have all 12 here, but to the tune of "The 12 Days of Christmas", these verses are running in my head today. We're getting our roof & siding redone this week and Rebekah calls the contractors 'hammer guys' because they hammer.

Five hammer guys.
Four thirty wake up call for
Three nights of vomit with
Two times last night
And one Nosebleed to start my day.

After three nights of throw-up, we took Rebekah in and found out it's most likely allergies. Nothing we can do. Just drainage coming up (lucky me and my laundry). Thankfully the vinegar does take the smell out during the first wash. Unfortunately, she started at 4:30am and again at 5:30am. She wouldn't go back to bed so I had the opportunity to be up from 4:30 on. I got Andrew out the door for school at 7:10, crawled in bed and told Sean if Rebekah called, he was now on duty. My head hit the pillow and she called for me. He ignored her and she ended up falling asleep on the couch. We didn't wake up until 8:30 when the Hammer Guys showed up to work.

With ma in her bathrobe and Rebekah in her jammies, we'd just settled down for a long fall nap... OK, I apparently can't think outside of books and songs today. What an interesting view you have into my wacky head. :-)

Turned on the humidifier to stop the boys from having more nosebleeds (two this week).

Going to bed now. Hoping to sleep in tomorrow. My goal is really 8am, but even 6 would be a major improvement this week.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Nathan's School Days

Recently it was Western Day at school. We found a plaid shirt and jean shorts (too hot for jeans that day). Add the cowboy hat and we thought he was ready to go. Nathan reminded us a real cowboy has a bandanna/handkerchief. The only one we could find was the purple one. So he decided to tuck it in his pocket like the real cowboys do.
On another day when he was out of school, we took him to lunch as a special treat. He picked---Dairy Queen. He was so darned cute waiting for his lunch, I had to snap a couple pictures. Nathan's eyes have fascinated me since he was a baby. They are basically grey. Sometimes tending towards blue and other times more green. But mostly, they are grey. He has such beautiful eyes.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

State Music Festival--the 2008 Edition

Who knew this would become an annual event for our family? And it looks like Nathan will follow in his brother's footsteps and participate in District & State Music when he's old enough.

Andrew participated in the 2008 Music Teacher Assoc. State Music Festival this weekend. To get to the state level, you must participate in districts, receive a superior (1) rating for your performance and pass a theory and ear training test with at least 75% correct. Since Andrew met the criteria, he was invited to state. (This first picture is Andrew in the practice room working on his songs before he performed.)

Since he's getting older, his pieces are becoming more difficult. We had a few tears shed over errors and notes that didn't want to be remembered...did I mention you have to have two MEMORIZED pieces of music? I know he was sick of drilling the same lines 8-10-12 times a day, but it paid off.

I was the Monitor for his room, fancy way to say I'm the check in girl and SHHH person in the hallway. I was able to hear through the door when he played. I held my breath at the part he often forgot on the first piece and he played if flawlessly. Then he nailed the ending which is tough to do when you don't have adult sized fingers. It was a tricky chord progression that was easy to hit some extra notes. Andrew calls it sour chords when he gets extra notes in error. His second piece was easier in the fingerings, but the entire bass is octave jumps. Again, a difficult fingering when your fingers aren't quite long enough to hit an octave without moving the wrist. He was more confidant on that piece and I only heard one incorrect note (Andrew said there were two). Apparently, the judge didn't hear it--maybe she doesn't eat, sleep and breathe Burleska at her house!

We waited for the ratings to go up. You have to have a Superior (1) Rating (either a 1, 1- or 1+) in order to receive a trophy. Here's his rank when it went up--contestant 246.

Andrew received a Superior rating with a 1+. We're very proud of him! His trophy looks like last year's model with the new date. It spins and he loves that does his dad. They blow and see how fast they can make the center spin.

One final note--we got a call last night from Andrew's piano teacher regarding Jazz Band. She found out that there were 20 (twenty) piano players that auditioned for the 3 (three) Jazz Band Pianist spots. Andrew (the only 5th grader who auditioned) got in ahead of the older children. She wanted to make sure he knew to hold his head high that he was accepted while 17 others were turned down. I was amazed!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tips on Tuesday: Mammogram Reminder

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please remember to do a self check and get your annual mammogram. Do it for the health of it!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Big Blast Party

Here's some of the fun from the Big Blast Party we had at school yesterday. Three inflatables, a dance contest and a wall of prizes. Does life get better than this??

Nathan danced his socks off at the dance contest. He did great! He did all three bouncers and seemed to enjoy the afternoon.

Here's a video of Nathan doing the YMCA. (Remember to go to the bottom of the page and turn off the blog music when you view.)

Here's a little free dancing I caught. Check out Nathan's moves!

Friday, October 17, 2008

You might be a PTA Mom if...

I got the link to Holly Jacob's site for the following. I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants.

Here's what Holly had to say on her site:
I recently ran a Jeff Foxworthy-esque contest on in honor of my new trilogy. So here we go:
10. ...when you appear in the teacher's workroom all the teachers rush over to see what you brought them to eat. ~Ellen Too

9. know the location of every public washroom in town---field trips help that along. ~Kaelee

8.'ve dressed up in a grass skirt, aloha shirt, and carried around a pink, plastic, blowup dolphin as volunteer reader for the annual Scholastic book fair . . . in a snowstorm.~Shelley Burbank

7. ... your kids' friends call you "Mom." ~Patti Mann

6. You might be a PTA mom if you can sing "Found a Peanut" in your sleep. ~Jody

5. take every school fundraiser to work and then end up having to carry in 100 tubs of frozen cookie dough ~Tammy

4.'ve popped so much popcorn to sell on Fridays that when you go to the grocery store later that day, you notice people around you sniffing the air and saying, "Do you smell popcorn?" ~JV

3. ...the students wave in the hall and say, "HI Laminating Lady!" rather than "Mrs. ____" ~Donna Alward

2.'re so busy with PTA stuff that your husband has to dress out of the dryer in the mornings. ~JV

1. ... if you've ever forged another mom's name on a volunteer sheet. ~Ellen Hartman

From Holly's site, I had to check out the nominations that she got on the eHarlequin site. If you want even more laughs, check out that list!!!

When I showed the list to Sean, he couldn't stop laughing at #3. Every child in our school knows me--by name.
Not kidding, ask anybody who I am and they'll tell you, "It's the Box Tops Lady!"

In fact, today at the celebration for the fundraiser (bouncers and dance party and prizes), the head gal forgot my name, but all the kids said, "That's the Box Top Lady. It's Nathan's mom---she's a teacher here."

Do you love it? The way I see it, any grownup who hangs out at school as much as I do must either be a child predator or a teacher.

Maybe they think I'm a teacher because I bust them just like their own teacher would. I have no problems enforcing the rules at school.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jazz Band Announced

We are so happy to announce that the Jazz Band was announced today at school. There are only 3 pianists in Jazz Band. Andrew was one of the three!!!!

At the audition, some other kid (an 8th grader) told him that there's only been one 5th grader to ever make Jazz Band in the history of the school. (Since it's a 7th-8th grade only band, that's not surprising.) I took it as an intimidation technique, but Andrew just told the kid, "That's ok. I was told I could audition if I had 3 or more years of lessons. I've had four years, so I can try."

After the audition, the kid came back over to say, "I'm the only person who ever made Jazz Band as a 5th grader. You might be the 2nd."

Well, he is.

We were proud of him for trying and didn't really think he'd make it. There's a lot of competition this year! However, all 3 piano players have the same piano teacher. Makes me think we made the right choice in our instructor! She encouraged him and helped him with the audition piece. Next up, State Music Festival this weekend. He'll get to tell his teacher about Jazz Band at the State Competition.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tips on Tuesday: Angel Food Ministries & S.H.A.R.E.

With the cost of groceries rising, I want to share about two programs that are open to ANYONE! It doesn't matter how much you do or don't have, you are eligible for both programs.

Angel Food Ministries: This is the program Sean & I currently choose to participate in. The location is closer to our home, the pickup time is more convenient and the food is less processed which gives us options on serving it to our family in ways they will eat.

Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing grocery relief and financial support to communities throughout the United States. The program began in 1994 with 34 families in Monroe, Georgia (between Atlanta and Athens), and has grown to serve hundreds of thousands of families every month across 35 states. Angel Food Ministries crosses denominational lines and has spread the good news of the gospel of Christ through salvation tracts that are placed in each food order.
Blessings by the box--Angel Food is available in a quantity that can fit into a medium-sized box at $30 per unit. Each month's menu is different than the previous month and consists of both fresh and frozen items with an average retail value of approximately $60. Comparison shopping has been done across the country in various communities using a wide range of retail grocery stores and has resulted in the same food items costing from between $42 and $78.
Generally, one unit of food assists in feeding a family of four for about one week or a single senior citizen for almost a month. The food is all the same high quality one could purchase at a grocery store. There are no second-hand items, no damaged or out-dated goods, no dented cans without labels, no day-old breads and no produce that is almost too ripe.
Also offered are specialty boxes such as steaks, chicken and pork. Many participants in this bonus program appreciate the expanded choices. Additionally, there is no limit to the number of units or bonus foods an individual can receive, and there are no applications to complete or qualifications to which participants must adhere. Angel Food Ministries also participates in the U.S. Food Stamp program, using the Off-Line Food Stamp Voucher system.
It's both a Bargain and a Blessing!
Sample Menu:
(this month's menu can be viewed here)
4 lb. IQF Leg Quarters
4 oz. Beef Back Ribs
1 lb. 80/20 Lean Ground Beef
2 lb. Breaded Chicken Tenders
1.5 lb. Bone in Pork Chops (4 x 6oz.)
1 lb. Ground Turkey
18 oz. Stuffed Manicotti (Cheese)
12 oz. Smoked Sausage
Betty Crocker Seasoned Potatoes
7 oz. Cheeseburger Dinner
16 oz. Green Beans
16 oz. Baby Carrots
2 lb. Onions
1 lb. Pinto Beans
1 lb. Rice
7 oz. Blueberry Muffin Mix
10 ct. Homestyle Waffles
Dessert Item

S.H.A.R.E. (Self Help and Resource Exchange):

Established in 1990, the SHARE Food Network provides approximately 13,500 food packages each month. By combining buying power and volunteerism, SHARE is able to offer quality foods and substantial savings to it's participants.

**Note--for SHARE, you are required to volunteer for the units of food you purchase. You can do anything for someone else that you don't receive payment for. Many people give their time helping pack the boxes on distribution day. Any church work, school volunteer work or even helping a neighbor counts. Sean & I were attracted to this because of the direct impact it had on our city.

The SHARE Food Network distributes high quality, affordable nutritious food as a way to build community and strengthen families. Organized through 325 churches and community groups, participants perform two hours of volunteer service and pay $18.00 monthly to purchase groceries worth approximately $35.00 - $40.00. People are empowered through SHARE (Self Help And Resource Exchange) to stretch their family's food budget, access information on health and nutrition, and develop partnerships to prevent hunger in communities.

While they do not have a national website, if you Google Share Food Network and your state, you should find a listing of local sites. I liked this website for SHARE:

We have participated in SHARE since our early married years (17 years and counting). Until recently, we hadn't hear of Angel Food so we only did SHARE. Both are fantastic organizations and I encourage you to check the menus out and pick the one that is best for you and your needs.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Walter For President

For those of you who know us, you know Sean & I think Jeff Dunham and crew are the funniest! We try to catch all their shows.

When Sean found this piece of breaking news on YouTube, I knew it had to go on the blog. I think I'm changing my vote to Walter!

***Fair Warning***
This video uses some language that is not appropriate for children. Please don't watch with them around.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fall Foliage

We're starting to get to the beauty of fall in the midwest. Typically, we get lots of yellows and oranges--but red is fairly rare. I couldn't help but stop and snap a photo of this gorgeous RED LEAVED tree.

Since we've moved, I find I enjoy fall a lot more than I did at our old house. The old house had 5 overly large trees that all lost leaves at different times. Sean & I would be raking about four days a week to try to keep up. This would go on for almost 6 weeks until they all lost their leaves. We'd have as much as one 96 gallon barrel of leaves plus 6 lawn and leaf bags each week.

Now that we're relatively treeless, I can enjoy the beauty of the leaves a lot more.

Blog Tagged Again

I was tagged (AGAIN) by Cheryl St.John.

This happens to be the same tag I got the last time I was tagged. You can read my old tag by clicking here.

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know when he or she has been tagged.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

So I'm officially saying--check the old post.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Andrew's 11 Year Old Pics

I thought these turned out great! I require the boys (and girl) to wear a dressy outfit/shirt and then they can switch into an outfit of their own choosing. Andrew picked his new 'drummer' shirt and we took his percussion kit so he could be photographed with the bells and the snare.

I can't believe how grown up he is getting to be. My sister commented that he's leaving the 'boyish' look behind and turning into a nice young man.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Pebbles Flintstone, Eat Your Heart Out

First off--check out the adorable piggy outfit. So cute I could eat her up!

I've tried for over two years to get this girl to let me DO something to her hair. In a surprise move, I put in the pony tail and barrette, showed her how beautiful she was and all day she admired herself in any reflection. She even 'said' we can do this again tomorrow.

Pebbles Flintstone--you should be green with envy. How darling is my girl?!?!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tips on Tuesday: Price Matching

I've been getting several price match questions. Yes, I price match. Yes, I think it is WELL worth the time and energy to do this. Yes, I think I save more than enough to continue to work the price match system.

Now, with the addition of the 3rd child, I'm not price matching every week like I used to do. However, I still make sure I match when I do my large shopping trips.

Who price matches? Walmart is the major name player. Depending on where you live, you can also match prices at Fareway Grocery, certain HyVee stores and Shopko (you must turn in the ad to the cashier to get the match--sort of a hassle, but doable for certain items). You can also use a price match at places like Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, Toys R Us and Babies R Us. For these places, you must show the ad and they will often beat the price by a percentage or a dollar amount.

Mostly, I price match groceries. I take all the ads that come in the paper and go through them. On a piece of paper, I write down the item I plan to purchase, the size, the store and the price. If I find a better price on the same item, I'll cross out the higher one and replace with the better bargain. I make my list the same way I would for a normal grocery trip, but use all the ads to put it together.

Then I will add the other items I need to shop for that are not on sale anywhere. When I go to Walmart, I put the items in the cart, but separate with a divider of some sort (or one of my reusable grocery bags) and put all the price match items in a separate portion of my cart. I check off items on my list and if I need to price match, I circle them so it's quick to spot.

At checkout, I load all the 'normal' priced items first. Then I place a divider bar and put all the price match items. When the checker reaches the bar, I let her know that every item remaining will be a price matched item. By then, I'm ready with my list and she calls out the item and I tell her the new price.

Some things to watch out for with the price match is the SIZE! Make sure you are getting the correct sized item or they will not match. With meats, if it is a 'value pack' in the grocery ad, you must get a 'value pack' of the same meat for the price match. My Walmart doesn't seem to care if the brand of meat matches, just the cut and quantity. Also, if the local store brand of milk is on sale, Walmart seems to price match any of their milks. So it is possible to get store brand items matched.

I take the ads along, but don't offer to show every item. They usually accept my list unless the checker thinks I've made an error (usually with meat quantities). Walmart is supposed to have a copy of grocery ads available for this purpose. Sometimes, I don't even take the ads. (I know, I can be a rebel when I want!) We also did a price match to get our Tracfone. For that, the manager of electronics had to see the ad and do the over-ride himself. Otherwise, I've done toys, groceries, pop, household items and cleaners--anything you find.

Hope that gives you a little encouragement to use the price match systems out there. I can save almost 1/3 of my bill by using price match.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Museum Fun

Made it to one of the museums on our 'Summer List' over the weekend. A new display was opening and Radio Disney was there in the afternoon. We had a great time and the kids danced and hula hooped to the music. Andrew kept doing trick shots with the bean bag toss.

The new exhibit is all about action and it's sort of like playing a board game where you are the pawn. You spin at each thing and do what it says (eyes closed, use your non-dominant hand, etc.) Nathan made sure he had 'safety gear' for many of the things. Here he is coming out of a safe.

Then there was a rock wall. Rebekah, the monkey, did really well. Supposed to be for ages 5 and up--ha! The two year old has it down.

There was a house with obstacles behind it. I had the kids get my picture (to prove I'm really around at these places and events) then I asked Nathan to peek through the window, too. He wasn't tall enough so all you could see were his fingers as he tried to pull up for the photo. I went over the top of the window and got a wonderful Kilroy shot.

Then we found the Van de Graaff generator and boy-howdy was that the funniest thing ever!! Sean put Rebekah on his shoulders and did the generator. Rebekah's hair went CRAZY!!! Check out these pictures. I laughed until I cried. (It was backlit so the photos were really dark. I lightened them as much as I could.) We have a video that is very dark. If I can figure a way to lighten it up, I'll add it, too.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Walgreens Savings Fri/Sat Only

Walgreen's is running the coupon again this weekend. (I'm guessing since the link was a bust last week for most of the weekend!) Great deal if you want any Free After Rebate items. You'll make money.

Click on the picture for the coupon.

Have fun!
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