Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top Baby Names Of The Decade

Here is the list. Only George (unranked) and Rachel (#39) were born in the 2000's.

Of our kids from the 90's, Emma (#1), Nathan (#25), Luke (#38), and Jacob (#2) all made the list.

Brooke stands with George (and Kevin) as an "unpopular" name. Even Victoria (#43) made the list.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dinner With Dad - Is It True?

For some reason this school year, even now that soccer practice is over, we've gotten out of the habit of having dinner together. Victoria and I discussed this and are making a conscious effort to sit down together as a family several nights each week.

I recently finished reading the book Dinner With Dad, by Cameron Stracher. Cameron made a commitment to not only have dinner at home, but also to cook the meal about half the time. One idea I stole from him is the conversational tool, "Is It True?"

In this game, each person says 2 things that happened to them that day, one true and one false, and everybody else at the table has to guess which one is true. My 2 things today were:

"I ran with a new friend, Mike, who lives in North Ridgeville." or "I helped my boss buy 3 dozen donuts for our department to celebrate his 50th birthday tomorrow." We had 2 guesses for each, but the 2nd one was true ... I did run at lunch with a new guy named Mike who grew up in North Ridgeville but now lives in Lakewood.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Candy Buyback

A local dentist is offering to buy back Halloween candy at a rate of $1 per pound. Check out this article for more details.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Get it Clean!

I love my Shaklee Get Clean laundry detergent so much....I did ALL the dirty laundry in the house. It smells terrific and seems squeaky clean. And there are no harsh chemicals right next to my skin.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Support Our Choir!

Family and friends who would like to support Emma in Senior Choir may shop HERE.

Search our state, then the school district name, then Vocal Music. You need to put in her full name too and her grade (11).

They have some nice inexpensive products. Including a wipe off magnet chart educational tool for teaching little ones to eat a healthy diet.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

How To Get A Federal Government Job

I've been fortunate and kept my employment during the current recession, but I believe it's always important to keep your ears open. So when my alma mater, Case Western Reserve University, offered a seminar on how to get a job with the federal government, I made plans to attend. Here are my notes from that presentation.

The starting point for finding and applying for a job with the federal government is the US Office of Personnel Management website. There you will find much information about government jobs, including a link to USAJobs.gov, a monster-like job search site.

Applying for a federal job is somewhat demanding. Senate bill 736, sponsored by Ohio Senator Voinovich among others, addresses Federal Hiring Process Improvement.

One TLA (Three Letter Acronym) that is vital to the application process, is KSA, which stands for:

  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Abilities

More on KSA's later.

Step one is to create a MyUSAJobs profile / account on the USAJobs.gov website. Believe it or not, a good source for clarification of job descriptions is Wikipedia!

Remember to reference key words in your application & resume. Key words will be nouns and / or noun phrases.


  • start with verbs
  • use key words from the job announcement

The government uses software to compare applications with announcements, so using the same words in your application as were used in the announcement will make you a better match!

KSA's are mandatory. The job description may or may not be. Customize your resume / application to meet the needs of the job. If given the option, always send a paper resume.

On your resume - use an objective. These are less common now on private sector resumes, but on a resume for a federal job, base your objective on the job announcement. Federal job resumes can be up to 6 pages in length.

Other useful websites for job informatioin include:

KSA's are initially the most complicated part of the application, but can be simplified using the following format:

  • context - "In my position as ..."
  • challenge - "I was asked to ..."
  • action - What did you do?
  • result - What happened?

KSA's should range in length from 2/3 of a page to 1 1/2 pages.

Finally, once you land an interview for a federal job, create a script, practice and rehearse!

Good luck!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Luke Playing Soccer

Here are some pictures of Luke playing for his AASL team.

In the Medina 8/16 album, he's in pictures 8 (wearing blue), and 20, 39, & 43 (wearing white).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Things I've put through the machine: Part II

I must amend this post.

I have now additionally washed a wooden spoon and a bottle of prescription medicine.

This is a problem in large blended families because:

1. You have LOTS of laundry to do
2. You have children constantly packing to go back and forth.
3. You have less time to check pockets and piles for items that actually don't need washing (like PS3 controllers and hair ties).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fieldtrip: Monsoon Lagoon

106: Number of round trip miles driven to Monsoon Lagoon
5: Times I was asked "Are we there yet?"
Zero: Instances of missing charges
$15.95: Per person entry fee
Priceless: Day care boys so exhausted they sleep the whole trip home and leave early the next day to go home and nap.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

George on Church

"This is where I get my sweetness." (George said yesterday as we pulled into the parking lot to drop Emma of at youth group.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Rachel - Swimming Like A Fish

8 year old Rachel has been participating on the swim team at her mom's this summer. Unfortunately all the competitions are during the day. I took a vacation day and took her to her final meet, the league championship.

There were 9 teams and a total of 508 swimmers of various ages. Rachel competed in 4 races. The 4x25 Medley Relay, 25m Backstroke, 25m Breaststroke, and 4x25 Freestyle Relay.

First up was the Medley Relay, where she swam the 3rd leg (breaststroke). She started in 3rd place and held her position, and her team finished 3rd.

Next was the Backstroke. There were 5 heats, 35 swimmers in all, in the 8 and under girls backstroke. Rachel was in the final (fastest) heat but she was in an outside lane, meaning she was around the 6th or 7th fastest time, coming into the race.

She started decent, swam hard all the way, and finished strong. It looked like she was 2nd, but when they announced the results, Rachel was the champion! Her time was 24.54!

Next came the Breaststroke. She was this time in the 2nd of 3 heats, against slower competition. She swam well again, winning her heat in a time of 32.65. She ended up faster than 2 swimmers in the final heat so she was awarded 7th place overall.

Finally she swam the 3rd leg in the freestyle relay. She started in 3rd, and swam well, almost catching the girl in first. However, the girl in 2nd also swam well, catching up to the girl in first. Rachel's team finished 3rd again.

They had a t-shirt stand and Rachel wanted a sweatshirt. I told her before her first race she had to be top 3 to get a sweatshirt. Well she certainly was, and not only did I buy her the sweatshirt, but I paid a little extra to get a sparkly puppy-dog pawprint on the sleeve.


Upon my surprise county child care inspection this morning, day care boys(ages 7, 7, and 11) were promised an ice cream treat on the way home from the park today if they behaved.

I told them when we left the park they would have a choice from a vanilla cone, a strawberry sundae, or a chocolate sundae(nuts optional.) We got to McDonald's about 12 minutes later. They still had not made up their minds. One asked for a chocolate cone and another a shake. I patiently repeated their choices, then one complained I was rushing him.

When we finally left, I heard one griping that I didn't take them to Hershey's(a local ice cream store with about 50 flavors and at least 3 different kinds of cones.) I'm glad I didn't. We would still be there making up our minds.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Things I have washed in the washing machine:

tube of SPF
Pokemon cards
race car
permanent marker
and most recently, a PS3 controller

Monday, August 3, 2009

Jam Time

I've tried my hand at making freezer jam the past two summers, both times using strawberries. This time thanks to the generosity of my brother-in-law, I'm using wild blackberries.

The first time I used the regular recipe. After seeing exactly how much sugar was in it, the following summer I tried this low sugar recipe. It didn't taste as good right away so it was kind of ignored down in our deep freezer. After about 6 months we gave it a try again and it was terrific. I'm not sure what was accomplished by letting it sit in the freezer but it was worth the wait. We got a terrific tasting low sugar jam.

This is the same recipe I'm using today with all the wild blackberries. I'll let you know how it goes.

Easy Low Sugar Freezer Jam

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bless me, Father

Last night while we were weeding the memorial garden at the soccer field George told me he wanted to go to the "confession stand".

I paused for a minute as that brought back some scary memories from my Catholic childhood. Then gave thanks that he wouldn't have to go through any of that. The "confession stand" is at the foot of the cross.

All he needed to know for now was that I didn't bring any money and it was closed anyhow.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What have I done to deserve this?

As mother-in-laws go, I have a pretty sweet deal. She cans. She quilts. She always remembers birthdays. She doesn't get involved in our blended family circus. She sends me sixteen year old vegetables(more on this story next week.)

But I must have done something lately that offended her horribly.

Last weekend, Kevin went to pick up an old Edison phonograph to sell and he came back with this cookie jar. When you open the lid it plays Joy to the World by Three Dog Night. LOUD! He informed me that she was thoughtful enough to install a fresh set of batteries.

George quickly decided it is a great place to store his Magnetix so this frog is singing repeatedly throughout my day. Did I mention how LOUD it is?

The fact that neither of them see anything wrong with a three year old singing about drinking wine bothers me too. Don't be too surprised if this frog encounters an accident real soon.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Tadpole's Promise: a book to break your heart

My husband brought home the most horrible book for sweet George from the library. It's called The Tadpole's Promise by Jeanne Willis.

At first it appears to be an inter species love story between a boy tadpole and a girl caterpillar. The caterpillar drags a promise out of the unsuspecting tadpole to "never change." Nature takes it's course. The caterpillar gets pissed off and wraps herself up in a cocoon to get over it. The tadpole is mourning for her. When she emerges she decides to forgive him. She flutters down to the edge of the pond to find him.

(WARNING SPOILER: highlight the next cluster of white text to see what happens) I had been hoping for a tearful reunion but she quickly encounters the tadpole(now unrecognizable as a frog) who promptly EATS her(now unrecognizable as a butterfly)!!!
I have to admit, my son is loving this book. And there are a WHOLE bunch of deep lessons to be found in it.

Check it out of your local library.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Explore: The Hickories

509 Washington Avenue
Elyria, Ohio 44035

Phone: 440-322-3341

Yesterday we were treated to a tour of The Hickories on Washington Ave. in Elyria. Amazing! Only a few dollars a person and you get to see such a beautiful home. The walls in the front hall were actually coated in gold leaf!

The front porch was my favorite.

Hickories Museum Tours

Tuesday through Friday, 1:00-4:00 p.m.

Saturday, 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Other times by appointment.

Admission: Adults $5.00

Ages 13-18 $3.00, Children 6-12 $2.00

(Children under 6 and LCHS Members FREE)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Money Matters - Consumerism

This week's topic in our church class on money was titled Consumerism. The leader had some simple instructions, starting with:

Spend Less Than You Make - step one to any successful money management plan

It Is Hard - especially if you have developed bad habits

No One Will Do It For You - this is a decision and exercise that we each must do for ourselves

Pay Attention -
  • Read something regularly (book, magazine)
  • List assets & liabilities
  • Find net worth (assets minus liabilities)
  • Track your spending
  • Prepare a budget
List Your Life Goals

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Laid Off - Now What?

No I'm not laid off, I still have both my day job and my 2nd job. But we are doding a "Money Matters" 6-week class at church and that was the title of last week's lesson. Here are the suggested steps.

1) Pray
2) Protect your family
3) Assess your situation
3a) Assets & liabilities
3b) Cashflow
4) Stop spending
4a) Quit Charging
5) Network
6) Explore all opportunities
7) Everybody over 12 contributes
8) Sell stuff
9) Avoid internet scams
10) Don't Wait

Hopefully I'll have time to expand on these but right now I need to read Matthew 6 to prepare for tomorrow's class.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Where has Sassy Beskey gone?

A couple of weeks ago George "named" his stuffed monkey. He told me he was Sassy Beskey. We had great fun over the next few days with this name. It is very much fun to say.

"Sassy Beskey, Eat your lunch!" "Does Sassy Beskey want a nap?" "Read a story to Sassy Beskey."

Well, yesterday George told me Sassy was gone. The monkey is now called Airplane Po. Not nearly as spectacular but it will do.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dave Ramsey Town Hall For Hope

I attended Dave Ramsey's Townhall For Hope last night at our church. Here are the notes that I took during the seminar.

For many years, we have experienced unprecedented prosperity.

The current situation may lead to a spirit of fear, which is not healthy. Pray!

Government interference is a dumb idea.

John Maynard Keynes & FDR came up with the New Deal
- Full employment can be maintained only with government involvement
- Government should promote public works projects and hire the unemployed
- Government must deficit spend

Many people believe the New Deal brought us out of the Great Depression. However, WW2 was actually more responsible - Pearl Harbor 12/7/41

Milton Friedman challenged Keynes, saying the depression was produced by government mismanagement.

Our hope is in capitalism.
- Political Freedom
- Economic Freedom
- Moral Restraint - serve your clients, do not milk them dry

Sometimes life is not fair. It can hurt or be scary.

We must love people enough to allow them to fail. When people have no chance to fail, they also have no reason to do their best.

Perseverance leads to success.

Money is not like a cake, it is more like a candle. No has become a lost word.

Personal Responsibility
- Take care of your house
- Feed your kids
- Work

For some, prayer has become a code for I don't want to face reality.

You can pray while you are working.

The Bible says the diligent shall prosper.

Children of the Great Depression were permanently changed and became more responsible with money.

During the Great Depression, unemployment was 25% and the market was down 89%. Today unemployment is 8.5% and the market is down 57%. 2009 is not as bad as 1974 or 1982.

Investing & 401k
- 100% of all 15-year periods, the market makes money.
- Today's market is artificially low.
- Since 3/9/09, the last 7 weeks, the market is up 22%.

Where there is no vision, the people shall perish.

Continue to invest
- The market
- Real estate

(Opinion) Housing will lead us out of the recession
- Interest is under 5%
- On sale everywhere
- Pent up demand

- 60% have been in 5 states
- 35% have been in 35 counties

Baby Steps
- $1000 in the bank (short term emergency fund)
- Get out of debt
- 3-6 month emergency fund

Who to trust
- someone with the heart of a teacher
- not someone trying to sell

- No big banks
- Small community bank of local credit union
- For a better level of service

Invest in things that go up with inflation
- Growth stock mutual funds
- Real estate

Gold is a crummy investment. Gold is at a 176 year high.
- From 1833 to 2001, gold increased 1% / year
- From 2001 to now, gold increased 15% / year
- Gold is now volatile (like the .com bubble)
- Gold has not been a medium of exchange in a failed economy since the Roman Empire
- After hurricane Katrina, the medium of exchange was goods & services (water & gas)

Starting a business
- You know where you stand, as all the weak competitors are already driven out.

Jobs are a symptom of the recession, not the cause.
- New jobs alone will not solve the problem.
- Unemployment is only up 3.5%

Bible - Those who plow should do so in hope.

Three perceptions for those struggling with hope.

1) Get up, take action, get moving
- Your best (only) chance at success is you
- A great place to go when you are broke, to work!

2) Don't participate in loser talk
- Read & associate
- Dan Miller - 48 Days To The Work You Love
- Who Moved My Cheese
- The average millionaire can't tell you who got thrown off the island.

3) Learn to give again
- Money or time
- We could give the government out of business.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Quiet Easter Weekend

In about an hour we will become a family of 3. My 3 are with their mother until Tuesday. Emma leaves at 4:30 for a church trip. Nathan is visiting his grandparents in Florida. Jacob is with his father (I'm not sure how long).

George is stuck with us!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Ultimate "Blended Family"

This story, as reported on CNN, is pretty extreme and would not fly in our situation. This woman and her new husband moved in with her ex-husband. The woman and the ex have joint custody of a couple girls.

Other than financially, I can't see that this is a good situation for anybody. The girls must be very confused, one of them even remarked that her mom had "2 husbands".

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Birthday Dinner and Christmas Activity

In our large family, we can't afford to eat out at restaurants very often. We've mentioned here before but we do let each child choose a restaurant for their birthday and we go have a special meal as a family.

In the past couple years we got months and months behind, we ended up starting over in January with Emma. Well Nathan's birthday is coming up Sunday so we went on Friday night to Red Robin.

It was a good night, everybody seemed to enjoy their food and the staff came over and sang a silly birthday song intended to embarass the birthday boy.

Then tonight I stopped in at Pizza Hut but they had more drivers than business so I was able to take the night off. Brooke was at a sleepover with a friend, and Nathan & Jacob were at their dad's, so Luke asked if I would take him to BW3.

Victoria had a great idea for Christmas to make coupons so that each kid got some special 1-on-1 time with their parent. Luke's activity was a night at BW3. We ate wings (blazing and teriyaki), played NTN Countdown trivia, NTN Poker, and then another music based trivia game called Payback.

It's a 6-round game and the 6th round you get to wager some % of your points (like Final Jeopardy. I wagered 30% of my 15k points and missed on the question, "What Eminem song samples a 197x Aerosmith song? I was very frustrated that I didn't remember that Sing For The Moment is built on the core of Dream Weaver.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The "No Response Necessary" E-Mail Productivity Trick

By Jason Holland

Some days it seems like half your e-mail time is spent sending short replies to people to let them know you got their e-mail.

"Thanks!" "Got it!" "Working on it!"

Of course, there are times when an important e-mail requires confirmation. But for the most part, it's just a courtesy.

So let's all agree to stop. It cuts down on productivity. And the time would be better spent writing and following up on e-mails that do require a response.

So here's what you do. Before hitting "Send," type "No Response Necessary" in the message or even on the subject line. (In Outlook, you can simply click the little red flag on your toolbar and choose that option from the dropdown menu.)

Ask your colleagues to do the same. Before you know it, that flurry of unnecessary replies will stop and you will have added hours to your workweek.

This article appears courtesy of Early To Rise, a free newsletter dedicated to making money, improving health and secrets to success. For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.earlytorise.com.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Focus On Marriage Simulcast

On Saturday Victoria and I attended the Focus On Marriage simulcast, held at our home church. We arrived slightly after the 9:30 start time and the sanctuary was packed. We sat about 4-5 rows from the back, and every row in front of us was totally full. The worship leader, Jeremy Camp, had already begun to sing.

The first speaker was Gary Thomas. Gary made several good points, including that once you get married, God becomes your Father-in-law.

At the break, Victoria and I got our picture taken. The film was sent out and by the end of the conference we were given a matted 5x7, a very nice keepsake from the day!

After that was Beth Moore! What a fireball! She said that instead of expecting marriage to be perfect, maybe good was good enough?

The last speaker before lunch was Dr. Del Tackett of the Truth Project. He spoke on creation, and how God said it was not good for man to be alone. He also compared the trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) to the family (Father, Mother, and Children).

Next we had lunch, which was brought in by Chick-Fil-A. We sat with Todd and Christine, a couple that I went to church with about 10 years ago!

After lunch, the speaker was Gary Smalley. Gary told some hilarious stories including how he wanted to find out if he would enjoy the device that allows people to hang upside down to stretch their backs. He rigged up his own apparatus by drilling holes in the soles of some old boots and attaching them to his garage door. Then once he got himself upside down he couldn't get out, and feared he would die until his kids came to his rescue.

Gary's points on marriage is that on our own, we are like dead twigs, unable to do much but by attaching to the Vine (Jesus), our twigs can blossom and flower.

The final speaker was Dr. John Trent, author of The 2 Degree Difference. He recommended we take what we had learned during the day and instead of trying to make drastic changes in our lives (and possibly not carry through), we make 2 degree changes that we can accomplish. He likened this to steering a car, where a 10 degree change may take us off the road entirely.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Turning Coins Into Millions

One day this week I grabbed a small handful of cash that was in the area under my dashboard in the car. There was a little over $1. I ended up buying a Mega-Millions lottery ticket with the numbers 7-21-32-50-52. I thought it would be really cool to win on a ticket bought with change!

The drawing was tonight and the winning numbers are 21-28-41-45-55. There's no prize for matching one number.

I guess I'll go back to rolling pennies and taking them to the bank. That's always a sure winner.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


If you follow my running blog, I don't know why since I haven't run in months. But you would be aware that 3 weeks ago while playing basketball, I hurt my arm which ended up being broken. Surprisingly though, the doctor who saw me decided not to give me a cast.

I did have to keep my arm in a sling and refrain from driving or typing with that arm. I also was limited in that I was not to lift more than 1 lb. I could, however, take the sling off to shower.

Well, my follow up appointment was yesterday and I am now free from the sling. I can wear my coat properly for the first time in 3 weeks! My (left) arm doesn't quite straighten out all the way, but it is pretty close. I also am allowed to pick up "whatever I'm comfortable lifting".

My follow up is in 3 more weeks.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Elyria Parks & Recreation Shutdown

Earlier this week, I responded to an ad in the newspaper seeking a soccer instructor for ages 4-7 for Elyria's late winter soccer program. As a coach with 7 years experience and my NSCAA State & Advanced Regional diplomas, I got an application and sent it in.

Before I even had a chance to follow up, I read this article covering Thursday night's city council meeting, which stated that "every part-time Parks staff member would be laid off — a total of 250 employees — for a total savings of about $500,000."

I realized that this probably meant the instructors, so I called the department and my fears were confirmed. The program was going to be cancelled, and the entire department was pretty much being shut down.

This is very discouraging, as my kids have been involved in many different sports through the parks and recreation department over the years, including basketball, volleyball, swimming, and tee-ball.

I asked my contact at the department why this was happening, because it seems to me that if the soccer program had 30 kids paying $30 each, the $900 collected would more than pay for the instructor and the utility bills for the recreation center. He replied that it had to do with "union rules."

Sure enough, there was another article in today's paper, describing that the city could not cut union jobs or union pay, unless all part-timers were let go first: "The union contracts require part-timers to be cut first, which means the Parks and Recreation Department, which relies most heavily on its part-time staff, would be unable to open a single recreation center or operate any of its hugely popular sports programs. "

The most frustrating thing, again, is that many of these parks and recreation department programs would seem to pay for themselves. But by not hiring any skilled part-time instructors or referees to help run the programs, they cannot occur.

Can the union workers run the same programs with the same success? Possibly, but I'm guessing it won't happen because they don't have the specific knowledge or skills to run the sports programs.

It seems like the union jobs are being protected, at the cost of shutting down the parks and recreatioin department, which provides very important positive activities for the children of our community.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Linkedin & Facebook

Here is a great article from the Washington Post on the value of social networking sites.

Sunday Sledding

Sunday after church I took a vanload of kids (including babysittee Delaney) to the Oberlin Reservoir for sledding. I had never been there but another family had suggested it and I drove past it on accident on Saturday.

I think it is my new favorite sledding location. It's less than a 15 minute drive, and the hill is big enough to be fun but not so big that it takes too long to hike back up. And the hill is wide (the entire length of the bank of the reservoir) so there are plenty of good tracks to sled down.

Someone had left a big hunk of cardboard, and Rachel was the first to try what I called an "old fashioned sled." She enjoyed it but said it was too bumpy. George really enjoyed it and called it his "paper sled."

As a bonus, we saw some people ice-fishing out on the reservoir itself.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

To Your Good Health

The Family of 9 has managed to stay remarkably healthy this winter. Surprising considering the huge germ pool in our house (children in our home attend 7 separate schools, plus church activities with total different groups of kids.) In my perusal of the web I found an article citing the top 10 places germs hideout. I pass this info on in the interest of health.

10. Cutting Boards
9. Vacuums
8. Gear shifter
7. Elevator buttons
6. Yoga mats
5. Escalator hand rails
4. Water fountains
3. Keyboards
2. ATMs
1. Waiting rooms

One thing they don't mention is video game controllers. These things are G-R-O-S-S. I saw a boy who will remain nameless, reach in his pants and scratch and then go back to playing the game. YUCK.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Value of a Good Duffel Bag

I read a book a while back called Life in the Blender. One of the tips the author talks about is the issue of the kids "stuff" going back and forth. Her family had a large duffel bag they kept by the front door. It was for the things that needed to go back to the other house, or for the things the children want with them at each house.

I tried this for a few weeks with a bin that things could be tossed into. It had a lid and I kept it on the porch. This way it was the last thing the kids saw before they left and they could scoop out their possessions and be on their way. This seemed helpful but died a quick death when bio mom claimed "spiders are on the rise and I don't want spiders on their stuff."

My daughter has a friend who has to move back and forth each week. One week at mom's then one week at dad's. I asked her how she managed her things. Her solution is a super big suitcase. She keeps everything in there. All her clothes, toiletries, and personal items. She claims this is working great but I think it's sad she has to live out of a suitcase.

So, stepson got a duffel for a Christmas present and I noticed he had it packed to go back to mom's house. I'm not sure what was in it but I think it's great that he's finding a solution that works for him.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

First Prayer Requests

Last week as I was praying George in at night, he said he had something to pray for. I was pleasantly surprised and asked what it was. He said, "The wall." You can click that link if you don't remember what that's all about. For me, I just don't want to get into it again.

The next night he wanted to thank God for blankets. Especially the big boy quilt Grandma made for him. And the last time I tucked him in he prayed for his bears, Blueberry and Rainbow Bear.

I'm so in awe and very grateful to be his mom.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Third Time's a Charm

Last Thursday after her third attempt, Emma passed her driving test!!!!

She passed the driving portion the first time but was having a lot of trouble with maneuverability. Here in Ohio she has to maneuver a car through a series of cones and then back it up on the same path. If you bump cones you get points off. If you knock a cone over, you fail.

She has over 6 months of experience but when she asked to take the van out alone on Thursday night, I still said no. It was dark and she was asking to go somewhere she wasn't really familiar with.

I did let her go around the corner 3 times so far to pick up her cousin and bring him back here.

This is a very exciting new stage of her life. I remember her first car like it was yesterday....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Elementary Quiz Bowl

Victoria, George, and I picked up Mom yesterday and drove to South Central to watch Luke and Brooke participate in their 5th and 6th grade Quiz Bowl match.

There were 3 preliminary rounds with 4 different players each from each team. They buzzed in and answered questions for 10 minutes. The 4th round was again 4 players each with the advisors choosing their best players from the previous 3 rounds.

Luke, being a 6th grader, was on the team last year but this is Brooke's first season. Brooke was selected to play in the first round. She was one of the first to buzz in, misspelling abbreviation (abbreveation). She later got a question right, from this year's literature book, Island Of The Blue Dolphins. Brooke's team won their round 13-4 (over a much smaller school). She definitely did well considering it was her first match.

Luke was in the 3rd round team and got 14 questions right (and 2 wrong) in leading his team to a 19-6 win of their round. He added some humor to the match a couple times.

First was by buzzing in early as the questioner had said, "Two men played 5 games of checkers. Each won ..." and answering, "They didn't play each other." Luke loves riddles and had heard this one before.

Later, the other team missed a math question and Luke was trying to buzz in before the mediator had cleared the buzzer system. He held his buzzer higher and higher in the air, pressing the button the entire time, with a determined look on his face. This look was replaced by one of shock when the buzzer system was reset and Luke's teammate's buzzer light came on instead of his.

In the final round, Luke got 7 right (and 4 wrong) and their team won by a final score of 62-26. It was fun to see the kids participate and do well. One of the hardest questions of the day was, "Name 7 things you can wear on your feet that start with the letter S?" Do you know the answer?

Before taking Mom back home, we stopped to visit Aunt Margie & Uncle Tom and watched President Obama's Inauguration on TV. Then we tried to have lunch at Ella Mae's, but it was closed so we took the only other option in town, McDonalds.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Do it like Daddy!

Today we played fort, read books, painted, stamped, and made cookies. What a busy morning!

When it came time to tuck him in I was trying to take some shortcuts with the story. He looked at me with his confused face and said, "You're not reading it like Daddy. Go back and read it like Daddy!"

Friday, January 9, 2009

Somebody is Getting Away with Murder

In December, somebody unplugged BOTH the sump pump and the battery back up. The drain tile filled up and we ended up with about a 6 foot in diameter circle of standing water under our wool Berber carpet. We're still dealing with that mess.

Last night, YET AGAIN, I found a big lump of gum in the dryer from somebody's laundry.

Once, somebody ate the remote. The buttons were actually chewed off.

Somebody also picked the stuffing out of a chair cushion and tossed it under the computer table.

These are just a few short examples of what goes on in this house. One of the downfalls for parents in a large family is not knowing who to blame. If we only had one child I'd know exactly who did it. Sometimes I feel like I'm living with a bunch of liars. It is a rare day that anybody admits to anything.

All I know is that I want the social security number for this "Somebody" so at least we can start deducting them!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cheesecake Factory

We ate out at the Cheesecake Factory last Saturday for Emma's birthday. The kids each get a turn picking a restaurant for their birthdays. It's really the only time we all eat out together unless we are traveling. We knew this would be our most expensive outing (no kids menus even!!) to date so the kids were warned to drink water and have a dessert partner.

It was loud and crowded. They finally seated us in a nice secluded little alcove in the back after an hour wait. The kids liked the murals on the ceiling. Our waitress was a total doll who came from a family of 9 kids. She was excited to have us, or maybe she was only excited to have the guaranteed 18% gratuity the restaurant tacked on to our bill, who knows?

We gobbled down about 6 baskets of the bread while we were waiting for the food. I had totally forgotten about the bread. The kids could have all split meals too if I had remembered the bread.

Kevin, George, and Rachel shared 2 Old Fashioned Hamburgers with fries. Nathan got the gigantic Classic Burger. Rachel ate one bite of her burger and a handful of fries. Nathan ate about 1/2 of his burger and most of the fries. It was a bit pink in the middle which he was not used too.

Brooke had the Grilled Cheese served on egg bread with fries. The sandwich was about 8"x6". She ate one half and a handful of fries.

Jacob and Luke split the Pepperoni Pizza. Jacob did not care for it but Luke claimed it was "definitely worth waiting for!"

Emma and I both chose pasta dishes. Emma chose the Pasta Da Vinci without the Chicken(Mushrooms, Onions and Garlic in a Delicious Madeira Wine Sauce Tossed with Penne Pasta and Parmesan)

I got the Louisiana Chicken Pasta(Parmesan Crusted Chicken Cutlets Served Over Pasta Tossed with Mushrooms, Peppers and Onions in a Spicy New Orleans Style Sauce.) There went my purely vegetarian diet but it was out of this world. The portion was gigantic so the leftovers served as Sunday's lunch for me and Sunday's dinner for Emma.

Cheesecake all around for dessert. Kevin and Rachel, Me and George, and Nathan and Brooke all split the Original cheesecake. Emma (who didn't share because we have an uneven number and it was her birthday) opted for the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle(Layers of Chocolate Cake, Chocolate-Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake, Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate Ganache.) Jacob and Luke split the Oreo cheesecake. Jacob was the only one with any complaints.

The bill came to about $150 once Kevin added on an additional tip. Amazingly, the daughter in question never even offered her thanks.

Monday, January 5, 2009

One week of dinners for 4 from Aldi

You will spend about $50 for these 7 dinners. That's about $1.80 a dinner not taking into account the leftover food. You will have a stack of precooked breakfast sausage, a couple servings of turkey ham, 1/2 bag chicken nuggets and at least 4-6 hamburger patties/buns leftover for the next week. Also a stack of precooked breakfast sausage.

This menu includes meat at 6 meals. You can save a lot more by substituting spaghetti for one of the more expensive beef meals.


Riblets, corn, applesauce, instant mashed potatoes.

Chicken nuggets, instant mashed potatoes, applesauce, carrots.

Stew meat with broth and sour cream, bread and butter, lettuce, peaches.

Turkey ham, mac and cheese, green beans, pears.

Hamburgers on buns, French fries, peaches.

French toast sticks, sausage, pears.

Chicken Kiev, mashed potatoes, green beans, applesauce.

Shopping list

1.29 sour cream

1.99 bag lettuce

.99 each 2 boxes instant mashed potatoes

.95 each 3 jars applesauce

1.29 each 2 cans pears

1.29 2 cans peaches

.49 each 2 cans green beans

.49 can carrots

1.69 French fries

.49 can corn

3.80 turkey ham

4.99 stew meat

2.69 rib pork patties in BBQ

3.99 chicken nuggets

.99 each 4 chicken Kiev

6.99 hamburgers

3.89 sausage

.35 box mac and cheese

1.99 French toast sticks

.79 bread

.85 hamburger buns

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Banned Substance List

Most of you who know me know how I loathe our children possessing gum. All fellow graduates of the Mean Mom School will concur. If I see it, it goes straight into the garbage can. On Halloween, I weed through the bags and send all I can find to the Exs' houses.

I am very much in favor of the United States joining Singapore and making gum illegal. I have cleaned it out of my dryer and off our wood floor. I have cut it out of carpet and hair. I have scraped it off the walk and off the bottoms of children's shoes.

Gum is not the only substance that has damaged our property.

My loving sister saw fit to gift a couple of my children with plastic cylinders of slime for Christmas. One blue and one pink. And these are not preschool aged children mind you. One is 9 the other is 11.

The pink one is already dried into my 9 year old's cream colored carpet. The blue one came through with my 11 year old's laundry in a Sesame Street towel. It hardened like cement in the dryer.

Farting goop is being added to the list of banned substances at our house. Gum and silly putty are already on the list. If you give any of these items to our children, be forewarned that they will be in the trash can before your car leaves my driveway.