Thursday, July 31, 2008

Today I went to a 50% off sale. And it made me cry.

Most of the time big sales are fun and exciting. For most of the people joining me at the sale today, it sure looked like they were excited.

I arrived a little after 10am, when the doors were about to open. People were lined up from the door and down the sidewalk.

I was the last in line when a reporter came along to take pictures and then asked if he could interview me about the sale.

"So what brings you to the store today?" he asked.

"Well.." (deep breath) "I'm here because it's my last chance to support my store."

And then I started to cry.

I hadn't anticipated the emotion that would arise when I went to the going out of business sale of my town's local, family-owned grocery store.

When we moved to this town over 8 years ago there was a different family-owned grocery, and we did a fair amount of shopping there even though the prices weren't competitive with big chain stores. That store closed it's doors just prior to the opening of a Walmart Super Center about 6 miles down the road from our small town. I guess they weren't interested in even trying to see if they could stay alive in the shadow of Walmart.

About a year later a new grocery store opened in the same spot. It was owned by two ladies who seemed to have a lot of enthusiasm for providing friendly small-town service for our community.

They did a great job. The store was always clean and inviting. They had very polite and helpful staff members. They invested a whole bunch in our community. And although a lot of the prices were higher than large stores, they had the same or very competitive prices on dairy, deli, and meats than at any other store I could shop at.

Did I buy all of my groceries there? No. But I had a significant portion of my regular grocery items that I did buy there, in an effort to support them while also being respectful of our own budget.

Apparently, I was one of the few.

People seem to turn out in huge numbers when this grocery store is giving out free hamburgers and hotdogs to celebrate their anniversary, and have no problem asking this business for donations to every event in town. But did they make it their business to do what they could to support them? Nope.

There have been articles in the local paper letting people know that without their support, our local grocery store would not be able to survive. As usual, this community seems content to let every good thing it has dry up and die off.

After struggling to hold on for the entire time they've been in business, today is their last day.

I didn't see any familiar shoppers lined up at the doors today. From the comments I got from the employees, I was the only regular customer in the place.

The crowd rushed in the door and grabbed carts and started weaving through the aisles with gusto. Since I was finishing up my interview with the newspaper man, I ended up just missing the very last cart available. (So I got to shop with a little shoppers basket slung over my arm. One of the employees told me he wanted to go snatch a cart away from one of the bargain hunters, telling them that one of their Regular Customers needed it.)

At the deli I decided to buy an entire 8 pound turkey breast, carved into lunch meat. The kind teenage boy that is usually working there was taking care of that, and it looked to me like he was having a pretty emotional day. Later I found out that his aunt is one of the owners.

A family business. Down the tubes. And at the last I knew, they had over $100,000 in debt because of this failed venture.


I overheard people sizing up the prices, calculating how much things would be after the 50% off. And then they would whisper, "I think this is still cheaper at Walmart..."

Yeah. There's the bottom line that I keep seeing in our society. "What's in it for me?"

To me, today wasn't about getting a deal, though some of what I bought was a good deal.

For me, today was a day to do what I could to help this business at their last breath.

So it was extremely disheartening. Nobody cares enough to try to keep the business alive, but they sure will turn out to pick the bones.

I cried all the way through the store.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Red Alert! An Awesome Deal Awaits!

I just found out about an amazing deal that is available for TODAY ONLY. Crystal Paine is offering a gigantic End-of-Summer Blowout Sale that includes over $100 worth of resources for only $5.97!!

Supermarket Savings 101 Course which is an awesome resource for helping you learn how to drastically reduce your grocery costs, without depriving your family

Simple Tips for Successful Home Management-vol. `

Simply Centsible Breakfasts

Simple Centsible Suppers

How to Start Your Own Business

Menu Planning Made Easy!

Homegrown Business

The Bread By Hand eBook

Momma's Guide to Growing Your Groceries

Thriving On One Income

and a bunch more!

This is a great collection of books for giving you some fresh inspiration in your home, and especially if you are looking for some practical ways to save money as well!

The $5.97 price is only for today. Tomorrow it'll be $3 more, and it'll go up $3 higher the day after that. It's a good deal at any price, but obviously worth it to go ahead and get your collection today!

Check it out here!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Women Rise Up

I recently responded to a post on one of my egroups that I can't stop thinking about.

The post was from a pregnant woman, expecting her 11th child. She explained that her first 9 births were normal, safe births, and that her 10th baby was in a frank breech position, so they had a c-section. Now here she is pregnant with baby #11, and her doctors are telling her that it is incredibly unsafe for her to have a VBAC on this birth (only because of the one c-section, not because of any particular issues with this pregnancy), but it'll be as simple as pulling a tooth to have an elective c-section.

The woman has a family history of blood clots, giving her additional risks related to surgery. And, heck--she doesn't want to have a surgical birth! And here she is, being bullied by the people that are supposed to be taking care of her.

Women--hear me now. You have to SPEAK UP. As my midwife says, "Vote with your feet!" (stomp! Go! Don't go! Whatever it takes.)

As long as women allow themselves to get shuttled along through major surgeries and are denied normal, natural births, we will only continue to see more of this. As it is, most hospitals in the US are no longer doing VBACs under any circumstances, which is a crock of bull, because there is NO sound medical reasoning for this.

At the last point when I kept up with the stats, the chance of a uterine rupture during a VBAC was .05%. Not five percent. HALF of ONE percent.

In other words, there is a statistical likelihood of 99.5% that a VBAC labor and birth would be perfectly fine.

When you factor in the reasons why that half-of-one-percent of uterine ruptures do happen, it's typically because of the use of pitocin or cytotec or other synthetic drugs used to try to force a woman's body to do what it isn't ready to do.

And when you know that most uterine ruptures are not fatal, and not necessarily even dangerous, it makes the no-VBAC position even more ridiculous.

Women, and the men that love them, you need to remember that the buck stops with YOU. It is not enough to quietly obey your doctor, being sent down the chute like a lamb to slaughter.



Speak your mind.

Say NO when you do not want what's being handed out.

Learn the phrase "I do not consent" and repeat it until you are comfortable doing so.

Be prepared to walk away from your health practitioner if you are not getting the care you deserve, and are not confident that they will help you get the birth you want.

Look at your other options. Is there another doctor? A midwife? Another place you could go to for the birth? Have you looked into home birth? Can you just walk into a different hospital to have the baby at the last minute? ("oopsie! Thank you.")

Think outside the box.

In short, know that YOU ARE WORTH IT. Do not open your mouth and swallow their poisonous medicine.

If we do not advocate for ourselves and our children, who will?

Related post: They Are Not the Boss of You!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Free Stress Relief for Moms

A lot of moms are needing a fresh burst of inspiration these days, and I've got just the thing! Check out this page with great ideas for:

summer activities for kids

family-friendly summer recipes

summer exercise ideas for moms

and more!

It's all here, and it's all free. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Families Serving Together

After my recent post about our bad day at the food pantry, I discovered a great blog that features ideas for service opportunities for families. It's called The Family Quilt and it's really neat. Please go take a gander. Lots of good ideas there!

In late breaking news, I found out about another opportunity that might be a good one for my kids. Our local schools have a program to help children that might not have enough food on the weekends. (which is enough to make me cry right there) They have backpacks for each child in the program, and on Thursdays they fill them with foods that would be easy for the children to eat without cooking.

Sadly, there are many children in our school district that need this service. It breaks my heart.

While I can't change all of those situations, I might just be able to bring five kids in to their old school to help fill those backpacks once a week. The good thing about this job would be that the work starts when we get there, and when the bags are full, we'd be done and could go home.

Plus, if we're already at school, it's a good opportunity to pick up a couple of their friends to bring back home to play for awhile. I know that would be a big hit.

I don't want to get overloaded with stuff, so for right now I'm just going to focus on getting our work at the food pantry into a good rhythm and see how I do once August comes and I have to do it without the oversight of the director. If that seems to work well, we'll see if we can add something else.

Friday, July 25, 2008


The other day as I was working at the computer, I heard my children upstairs having a conversation. It went something like this:

Child: Eeew! You stink! You farted! That was a big fart! Gross!
(*with five boys in the house, I can assure you that they looove all things fart-related)

Different child: Yeah! That was a big fart like mom and dads!

(!!!!! What are they saying about me?!)

My daughter: What?! WHEN have you EVER heard Mom fart?!

(a few moments of contemplative silence from her siblings)

Child: Yeah, that's true. Mom doesn't fart.

(they all verbalize their agreement. Mom has never farted. It simply does not happen.)

Different child: But Dad does.

All: Yep.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Helping Our Community...Whether it costs me my sanity or not

Back when I had mostly really young children, I looked forward to the day when we could do some community service or church service activities to bless others with the people-power that a family of eight can provide. Now that my baby is a strapping five year old, I think we've arrived.

The kids have helped take down chairs at church for well over a year by now, and I've been keeping my eyes open for other opportunities.

A few months ago when my ten year old son was playing baseball we noticed that the ball park was really littered up (mainly because garbage can bags were not getting changed often enough, so there was just a whole bunch of garbage all over the ground by the cans). I decided to be proactive. The next time we went to the ball park we can armed with grocery sacks and rubber gloves. I explained to the kids that I thought it would be cool if we could help out our community by picking up garbage for a little while as we watched their brother's game. My little boys were totally pumped up, like picking up garbage was the highlight of their life! (Simple pleasures are the best, they say!)

When we got to the ball field, the garbage cans had fresh bags and all the garbage around them had been picked up. Oh no! The kids were so disappointed. (seriously!) Until I pointed out that there was plenty of litter all along the fence lines, etc. So they were back in business, with my 8 year old saying to his brothers, "C'mon! Let's go help our community!!"

They were so cute.

Now that baseball season is done (thank you, Jesus) we've got a lot of time on our hands. And since we live pretty far away from all the homeschool classes, we don't have a single thing on our regular weekly schedules. And the local Emergency Food Pantry got on my radar.

I asked some questions, and found out that they had an urgent need for someone to work at the food pantry on Wednesdays for one hour.

So guess who volunteered?


The first week I went alone so that I could get a feel for the "lay of the land" and to figure out how I could get the kids involved there. After that week I started taking the kids with me.

At the food pantry, we do several things. First of all, here are the shelves that hold food:

There is actually a bigger area with more food, but for whatever reason, the way they do it is to stock these smaller shelves with all of the items that go into the back Emergency Food boxes.

There is a list that tells us how many cans of this and boxes of that should do into each box. The kids have really loved making a bucket brigade to pass along the box items from the shelves into the boxes.

Here's one of the boxes we put together: (my daughter, doing her Vanna imitation)

After the boxes are ready, they sit and wait for people to come and get 'em. Some weeks we've had just one person come in. Some days (like yesterday) we were swamped and were super busy the whole time. (In addition to stocking the shelves and making up the boxes, when people come in I have them do some paperwork and find out what their needs are. Often we help people get the food to their cars as well.)

My kids love this rolling cart that is often used so that people can roll their food out to their cars, rather than carry it. In addition to the box of stuff we put together, there are also government commodities that some people get. It can be a pretty big amount of stuff, and would be too heavy for most people to carry to their cars.

Unfortunately, the combination of rolling carts and little boys can be a stressful one. I am constantly having to get my boys to stop pushing the cart around the small food pantry area. There are also rolling dollies that provide a constant temptation to my little hooligans.

In the weeks that we have been going to the food pantry I have tried to improve my preparation level each time. Bring water. Bring a snack. (the first week the kids started telling me how starved they were as soon as they started seeing all the food boxes we were putting together for others....nice and embarrassing!) Bring an activity for down times. (If it's a slow day for people coming in, then there isn't much to do, which can be pretty boring.)

Yesterday I brought a fresh loaf of applesauce bread, coloring books, crayons, and a Mad Libs book. Foolishly I forgot the water. And a cattle prod.

Although there was so much work to do, (and their favorite kind--putting together the boxes) two of my younger boys were really boogers. They fought over the coloring books. They complained because the bread wasn't cool enough to eat. They did not want to work. At one point I turned around to find the 5, 7, and 8 year olds missing. (They had taken off to find the bathroom without telling me. I never let them go off on their own like that! Talk about stress...)

In short, it was very. frustrating. In fact, I had a momentary thought that I am just not going to do this. But of course, that was before I remembered that there is absolutely no reasonable excuse why my children cannot be helpful and well behaved for one hour a week of work at the food pantry. Heck--they do work at home, and they know how to behave at home. I have no idea what came over them yesterday to be so wretched.

So between now and next Wednesday I need to up my game. Will there be an incentive reward of some type for children that do their job at the food pantry cheerfully? Will they get some sort of punishment if they do not? I am flirting with the idea of letting them miss a meal or two and then see if they have a little more compassion for hungry people that need help. I probably won't do that, but when I was walking out of there yesterday it was sounding quite tempting to me.

I assured the children that I am NOT giving up on this. We have the ability to be a blessing to others, and an opportunity to learn to serve. Somehow, we're going to figure this thing out. What I'm telling myself is that if I stick with it, it will get easier, and the lessons and habits learned will be well worth the struggles.

That's true, right?


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Getting Organized for the New School Year

I know that not everybody visiting me here is a homeschool parent, but a large number of you are. So every now and then I have some homeschool-related goodie to pass along to you.

I just found out about a wonderful set of resources from Cindy Rushton that is designed to help homeschool moms get organized and be prepared for the upcoming school year. The set includes:

Full Ebook library
Mp3 Downloads for all audios (over $700 in workshops!)
Organization 911 Seminar Set
Let’s Get Organized Seminar Set
Free Gifts
Printable Planning Pages

You can check it out here.

There are always things to get for the kids at this time of year, but it’s important to remember that moms need refreshment and resources to help them do their job, too! Please be sure to take good care of yourselves, ladies. Burn out is no fun. Ask me how I know. :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Painter's Remorse

Our entire house (interior) was painted 8.5 years ago when we moved in. In the years since then we've had a plethora of youngsters in the house, thereby causing the walls to get looking mighty trashed. (this phemonenon was made worse by the fact that for some reason flat paint was selected for some of the rooms. Flat paint just doesn't clean nicely.)

So for quite some time now I've been thinking about repainting the house. The painting we did way-back-when is a nice medium pale yellow on the walls, with white trim. It's very peaceful and subtly cheerful, which was the look I was going for. We have dark red loveseats in our living room, and those look great with the yellow walls.

Well, I've been thinking about a bolder look. The other day we bought some paint and got to work. One large wall was painted a dark red, and it is looking really pretty good, although it is quite a change! I had this idea to use a variety of autumny colors on various walls in the living room and into the kitchen, which are open to each other.

So today I decided to paint a swatch on one wall of an orangey-yellow. And on another wall I did a swatch of a fairly dark sage green.

And now I am having painter's remorse.

The orange--it makes me feel like crying.

Seriously. Certain things about colors or placement of things in my home can bring me to tears. Probably because it's seriously bad feng shui or something, right? :)

The green isn't that bad, but it feels so dark.

My daughter mentioned that she was feeling overpowered with the colors, and like we were losing our peaceful, cheery living room. Which put to words pretty much exactly what I was thinking.

So, back to the drawing board.

I think that the red wall can stay, and that maybe a very small wall behind some cabinets could use the red in the kitchen. But I think that I need to go find a yellow that is light and cheery, while being able to hold it's own next to the red. Yellow has my heart. What can I say?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Do You Sew?

I discovered this fantabulous site today and wanted to share it with all of you crafty people. I am not a seamstress, but this site *almost* makes me want to try to be. Lots of really cool projects there.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


One of the things I've been doing to try to entice myself to exercise is to get various workout DVDs from netflix. After watching an episode of Dance Machine and seeing a guy in his 60s do some pretty sweet hip hop (he said he learned how to do it from his Hip Hop Aerobics classes) I decided to try it myself. I ordered up a dance aerobics DVD, and yesterday was the day to pop it into the player and give it a try. I even invited my husband to join me. He has trouble following the very simple routines in the Leslie Sansone walking workouts, so I figured it would be entertaining to watch him try to do dance aerobics.

I wasn't disappointed.

Not only was my husband having a hard time following the fast pace of the routine, but I felt like a very uncoordinated dork myself. I used to think I had some moves, but the African dance aerobics showed me otherwise.

The good part about this is that not only did we get exercise (I figured that even if we were doing the moves wrong, as long as we kept moving that was good) but we also got the added health benefits from laughing our heads off.

And then I put that stinkin DVD back in it's envelope. Heading back to netflix tomorrow, thank you very much. I now know that I would like to stick with Leslie Sansone instead. She doesn't make me feel like an idiot.

Happily, today's weigh-in showed that I have lost a few pounds in the past several weeks. Hooray for that!

Friday, July 11, 2008


Since there are so few shows to watch these days, I have looked for some new ones. I discovered the new mini series Hopkins, which is a documentary-style show about the real goings-on at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. If you enjoy medical dramas, you'll love Hopkins. The real life aspect of it makes it extra cool, and the music is outstanding. Lots of drama, good and bad, plus the behind-the-scenes lives of many of the doctors. Very cool show!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Working on the inbox

I've been working on decluttering various areas of my home and life--cabinets, business inventory, and now my email inbox is getting a clean sweep. I've been concerned about my inboxes for awhile. My main email address had well over 500 UNREAD emails in it this morning, plus 69 pages of emails in the main inbox (not counting folders). This means that I had about 1700 emails just sitting around for whatever reason. I like to think that I delete emails appropriately, so to me that meant that I must have a lot of items in the old inbox that needed some sort of attention. I get lots of business-related emails at that address, so those sometimes sit and wait while I need to make some decisions. Once something goes off of my first page, it's as good as gone. I'm very much a visual organizer. If I see it, I can take care of it. (usually) Once I don't see it, it's as if it never existed in the first place.

Well today I managed to get my inbox down to just 300 remaining messages (there's only so much time in the day for these things....) and less than 50 unread messages. I found that I had A LOT to delete (mostly stuff that I like to read, but only do read if I have time to, which is not often), and some stuff to file or take action on. Now I have an ACTION NEEDED file, which may or may not help me, depending on whether or not I remember that such a place exists. (reminds me of my former URGENT file in the kitchen which I rediscovered months after I had started using it. amazingly, all of the urgent things had survived just fine without my attention...)

Hopefully someday soon I will get my inbox down to just the current messages, and get it down to zero by the end of each day. It would be really nice to get rid of that visual and mental clutter.

And once I get through that.....I guess I'll start doing the same thing on my other two email addresses......

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

My friend Kim

My friend Kim is a crafty gal. Her house is full of the coolest, most unique crafty artsy items I have ever seen.

Several months ago Kim invited several gals over to her house for a craft night. Since then it has become a monthly event that I always look forward to. A couple weeks ago Kim taught us how to make these adorable bird houses using an old license plate, a spoon, and some barn boards. They are even cuter in person than the picture shows.

Kim also makes some fabulous, unique purses that are made of galvanized (I think) tin and old children's story books. I am the happy owner of one of her super-cool purses, and it never fails to draw attention and comments everywhere I go. I have been after her for more than a year to get these purses out in the public so people can buy them. This week she opened her own etsy store and started a blog. Go check 'em out. She's such a cool person. You won't be disappointed. :)

After"taking the high road" two seasons ago by not watching The Bachelor, I decided to watch The Bachelorette this season because I was interested to see if guys would make fools of themselves over a woman like the girls do when they are on The Bachelor. Well, it wasn't exactly the same, and the idea of a bunch of guys in a competition to win a woman seems to me a recipe for disaster when some types of guys are involved. However, I am happy to say that very early on I decided that Jason and Jesse were the two best guys there, and Jesse has been the guy I thought was the best catch of the bunch. Happily, DeAnna saw it too. I was sorry to see Jason hurt, because he seems like a real, quality man, but I'm sure that with all the publicity he'll find someone that's right for him before too long. I hope DeAnna and Jesse manage to have a truly happy life together. It was fun to see their relationship develop. (even though I still think that show is a crazy way to find love)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Try, Try Again

So in May I worked on losing weight. I was pretty dedicated to my goal for maybe two whole weeks, not so much for the last two weeks. Still, I did lose weight. Around 7 pounds, I think. Which was a good thing, because all it took was one trip to my mom's house for me to gain every bit of it back. Nice.

Although I know that I could go all kamikaze and make weight loss my huge focus for a few months, and could probably get rid of a lot of my extra baggage, I know that isn't sustainable. I really want to find something that fits into my life in a realistic way, so that I can continue with it. I'm pretty sure that I don't have the time or dedication to get back to looking like I did when I was 19, but I'd like to see where I could get with what I can do.

So now here we are in July. Time to try to rev myself up again. My challenge to myself is to simply do SOMETHING exercise-wise every day. I have Leslie Sansone walking DVDs, Joyce Vedral weight workouts, aerobics videos, a rebounder and a rebounder workout video--all of which I actually enjoy, can do, and have all of the equipment for. I am hoping that if I can just pick one and do it each day, that I will see some good results. (couldn't be worse than doing nothing, right?)

Today I did a 2 mile walk that included some cross training with Leslie Sansone. it was my first time using this video. I didn't really like how it changed from the walking to the weights, so I probably won't do this one again. (netflix has a bazillion Leslie Sansone DVDs, so I just keep sending for new ones)

What works for you?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Prepare to Laugh

I always enjoy Sweet Juniper, but this post made me laugh til I made a spectacle of myself. Check it out.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Floatie Swim Suit Safety Reminder

I wrote this post several years ago, and now dig it out every year and re-post to share with people each summer.

We have an Easy Set pool at our house. It's a pretty big one, and we have floatation swim suits for our three youngest boys to wear, although we keep the pool shallow enough that all of them can walk around in it and still have their heads above water. Last year when I bought the suits the baby was one and the better quality suits did not come in his size, so I got a cheaper one, which he had continued to wear this year.

The other day the kids were playing in the pool while my husband and I sat on the deck watching them and chatting. Our youngest, who is now 2, lost his footing in the pool and very quickly was floating face down in the water. Fortunately my husband saw it right away and got to him within just a few seconds, so everything turned out ok.


The problem is that this suit was not designed to flip a child over onto their back if they needed to rely on the floatation! Our baby was helpless, face down in the water. He would have actually been safer with no suit on at all, since he would have been able to stand to his feet after losing his footing.

It only takes a very few moments for a little one to drown. I am so thankful we were right there with our eyes on the pool happenings.

We tossed out that suit and today I went and bought him one of the better ones, that are designed to keep a kid floating on their backs. Here is the difference between the two suits:

The kind that flips a child onto their back has a float in the front of the suit that is longer than the one in the back.

The kind of suit that put my baby into the pool face first is a kind that is designed for children who need a floatie while learning to swim. The floats are all around the suit and are the same size all the way around.

Just thought someone else might appreciate the reminder. Go check and see if your little one's floatie suits will flip them to their backs in their moment of need.

Finally Reunited With Her Children After Six Years

This is a pretty -wow!- kind of story. This woman has been held hostage for six years, and was finally able to escape and be reunited with her children. I cannot imagine missing six years of my child's life. wow.