Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Cookie Rules


If you eat a Christmas cookie fresh out of the oven, it has no calories because everyone knows that the first cookies is the test & thus calorie free.
If you eat a Christmas cookie while drinking a diet soda, the cookie has no calories because the diet soda cancel out the cookie calories.
If a friend comes over while you're making your Christmas cookies and needs to sample, you must sample with your friend. Its calorie free...goes back to rule 1. It would be rude to let your friend sample alone and, being the friend that you are, that makes your cookie calorie free also.
Any cookie calories consumed while walking around will fall to your feet and eventually fall off as you move. this is due to gravity and the density of the caloric mass.
Any calories consumed during the frosting of the cookies will be used up because it takes many calories to lick excess frosting from a knife without cutting your tongue.
Cookies colored red or green have very few calories. Red ones have 3 and green ones have 5 ~ one calorie for each letter. Make more red ones!
Cookies eaten while watching "Miracle on 34th Street" have no calories because they are part of the entertainment package and not part of one's personal fuel.
As always, cookie pieces contain no calories because the process of breaking causes calorie leakage.
Any cookies consumed from someone else's plate have no calories since the calories rightfully belong to the other person and will cling to their plate.
AND we all know how calories like to CLING.
Any cookies consumed while feeling stressed have no calories because cookies used for medicinal purposes NEVER have calories. Its a rule.
So, go out and enjoy those Christmas Cookies ~ we only get them this time of year!

I can't claim credit for that brilliant piece of dietary rules...I copied it from an email my sister sent to me this morning.

However, let me reiterate and clarify a few things, just in case it didn't sink in..cookies have no calories if you eat during a movie, right out of the oven, with a friend, steal from anothers plate, are stressed, lick the icing knife, are broken or drink a diet drink.

This sounds like the beginning of a great new Christmas tradition to me...invite all your friends over to bake, decorate and consume. You eat off everyone else plate and no calories! And just to be safe...watch "Miracle on 34th Street"...better safe than sorry.

Changing from red to green was stressful...time to go find some Christmas cookies!

Happy Munching!!!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

9 more Days

Its only NINE (9) more days till Christmas.

Are you ready?

Are you wishing everyone you see a "Merry Christmas"? I don't know why happy holidays is getting spoken so much but we are saying Merry CHRISTmas.

I absolutely, positively, undoubtedly love this holiday more than all the others combined. I love the music, decorations, shopping, movies, wrapping, special food, church programs, and all the kids being home. Then there are the secrets, surprises and smiles.

I marvel at the fact that the Lord loved us so much that he sent his son Jesus to this earth. I think about Mary & Joseph and their reactions to the news the angel brought about the birth of the Messiah. I think about King Herod & his jealous, hatefilled heart. I think about the shepherds tending their flocks in the field when the heavenly hosts of angels appeared to them with the news of Jesus birth. And the Magi who traveled over long distances to bring gifts & worship the new King. The kids and I love to watch the "Nativity Story" in December. It is a great depiction of the story of Jesus birth. And even though it is a movie, it seems to closely follow the scriptures telling of the birth of the Messiah.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas & a very Happy New Year.

And as Tiny Tim says in "A Christmas Carol", God bless us everyone!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Traveling back to Mississippi & Black Friday Thoughts

The children and I have been in Georgia for the past 2 + weeks, helping Mom after her knee replacement surgery. We can all hook her up into the CPM (continously moves her knee to help with flexiblity & keep it limber), help with therapy, & the biggie...keep the floor clear of any junk that could trip her up. Sounds like a nursing course to me! They also brought their school books and finished math & our history course till Jan. Their last co-op till Jan. is next Friday, then school is officially out till after the New Year. Yeah...hooray...balloons & streamers falling!!!!!!!!!!

We have gotten lots of quilt piecing done and watched movies every night. Mom got out a couple of times during the 2 weeks and we got a little Christmas shopping done. Tonight we brought up her Christmas stuff from the basement since she is not stair climbing, and actually if she could, she couldn't tote anything up!

Yesterday we totally and thoroughly enjoyed too much food at my sisters house for Thanksgiving. It sure was good. And I didn't go back for seconds...too stuffed. Last nights dinner was "Fix your own" and I warmed up a piece of dressing, yum!

Greg and I got up really, really early this morning to go shopping. Did you believe that? Actually, we got up at 7:15. First stop was Target...not a creature was stirring, because they were standing in lines that wrapped around the inside of the store to get to the registers in the front. We put down the 2 things we had picked up and departed. That was insane. Next we went into Belks, got something Mom had pre-purchased (to get the door buster price) & left. Then Old Navy, they had a queue line set up, I wasn't standing in that either, did enough of that at Disney last month! We found a couple of things at Staples and then breakfast at Chick Fil A. Yummy chicken biscuit and sweet tea! Then we hit Greg's "toy" store, Northern Tool & Supply. My dearest found some tools, a rain barrel, blue jeans, work gloves, and some goodies for the kids. Then my "toy" store, JoAnn's. Fabric for the back of my quilt, flannel for gowns for the girls, and quilt batting for all our projects. Then I got an early Christmas gift, a sewing machine bag on wheels! It is wonderful, no more toting that bag to a class or to GA. I can wheel it to the car! And just for your info, we spent more at Northern Tool than at JoAnn's...Greg was shocked.

Shopping today made me very, very thankful that I do not work retail. Everyone I encountered today was nice & patient, but I know they were tired. I hope the restaraunts were busy too, cause the waiters need to make some money too! Especially Allen. Ya'll don't forget to tip your waiters in this recession, seems like folks are eating out but not tipping well. (Just my little "sermonette" as the Mom of a waiter!)

Tomorrow we are headed back to Mississippi. Next week starts the busiest week of our year. Its our churchs annual Living Christmas Tree. Greg & I will help with the tree lights, James is running one of the spotlights, Andy, Katie, Will & Amy are singing and Rob is playing the bass, I think Allen is working. We will be at the church Sunday, Wed, Thurs, & Friday nights and Sat & Sun afternoon & night. Busy, busy, busy!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving........now onto Christmas~! HoHoHo!

Friday, November 6, 2009

48 more days

Wow! 48 more days till Christmas Day! Actually, though, Christmas starts here the day after Thanksgiving. Since we will be in GA. with Mom that day, it will start at our home Sunday after Thanksgiving! I love to get down my zillions of boxes of Christmas decorations and start decorating. Zillions is probably a slight exaggeration but not much...just ask my box totters. They will tell you I've got alot.

The panicky, I've got to get busy feeling is slowly subsiding. I've gotten busy and made almost everything that needs to get made. We have been on a number of shopping trips and found some goodies. I have hit the big "let's get rid of this halloween candy and put out the christmas candy sales". (Come on, they are just wrapped in different colored foil...my kids won't complain! They will inhale) So the Christmas Stocking Stuffers are pretty much complete. But, now my closet looks like a war zone!

Tonight we are going on a family date night and seeing the new Disney 3D "A Christmas Carol" and out to eat dinner. It will be fun, we really like the 3D movies at the theme parks. And we will probably take some of that candy I just bought! Going to the movies is not a frugal activity and when the popcorn cost more than the movie ticket...there is just something wrong with that!

Tomorrow, we are going to our dr.'s office to help separate and pack pills for our Honduras Mission Trip in Jan. They are going to ship everything down early, since the airlines now charge for each suitcase you take. I think there are 236,000 pills to get done tomorrow! I've never done this, so it should be a challenge. We will also need to discuss all of our cooking utensils. We've always taken them before but with the airline charges, it will probably be cheaper to buy new ones down there and store them at the farm there. Then we can just use the same ones every year. I know that will be easier than toting those large rubbermaid containers into and out of the airport! Gotta work on the menu's too!

The picture at the top is our house during the snow last year (2 weeks before Christmas)! It was pretty while it lasted. We don't get much snow here in Miss.!
And, when you build a snowman (or 2) in your backyard beside the pool, they need the proper clothing...straw hat and sunglasses or life jacket and goggles! I have got some creative children! And a backyard with alot of leaves! They just helped hold the snow together!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

60 Days

Wow! Its just 60 days till Christmas. I am already getting that "panicky, I am not ready" feeling in the pit of my tummy.

These months are so busy for us with homeschool, dance classes, church activities and just life! We also took a week off from reality and went to Disney.

Now, we have found out that my Mom is going to have knee replacement surgery. The kids and I will be packing up the schoolbooks and probably sewing machine (gotta work on gifts) and going to GA to help nurse! She was wanting to wait till the beginning of Feb. for the surgery but its just not going to work, knees have a mind of their own sometimes.

I know that everything will get done in the next 2 months and if it doesn't I am the only one who will ever know.

Its beginning to look alot like Christmas....everywhere you go.....well at least at Hobby Lobby!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tiki Travelers at Epcot's Food & Wine Festival

Tuna Roll-- Greg and Will liked

Beef Roll that all the girls loved. This was sweet and yummy!

Creme Brulee from France...Greg didn't know us girls were eating eclairs and mousse when he bought this!

Samuel Adams Beer from the USA. Lets just say, we wanted the cup. They would not have wanted my personal evaluation of this beer.

Funnel Cake from the USA pavilion. Powdered sugary goodness.

Amy's pasta dish from Italy.

This dish was from Marakesh and good but spicy...I don't remember the name of it.

This beef on the stick was served on Mashed Potatoes, really good.

Beef & Sweet Potato dish from Africa...this was my personal favorite!

The snails from France (to each his own)
We ate our way around the world at Epcot's Annual International Food & Wine Festival...not once but twice (different days).

Besides the usual food stands and restaurants that are in the countries all the time, Epcot brought in more countries with lots and lots of good food.

This looks like alot of food, but we usually ordered one plate and split it 6 ways. That way we could taste more and keep the cost more affordable. We did not split the Escargot...Greg & Will ate it. And Will wanted it the 2nd day too (he liked it and he liked the gross factor of eating snails!)

We don't have pictures of the chocolate eclair and the chocolate mousse that Mom, Amy, Katie and I found in France at a Bakery. It was absolutely delicious!

We also ate Fish & Chips in the UK, Nacho's & quesidilla's in Mexico and Potato Pierogi's in Poland (I had never had a pierogi before but I really liked it.)

Epcot is one of my 2 favorite parks at Disney (Magic Kingdom is the other). We spent 3 lovely days at Epcot and honestly, we went the third day just to eat more of our favorites. The last day, Greg gave us the option of picking 2 yummies that we didn't have to share. Oh my, those were hard decisions. The beef dish from Africa was my very favorite, followed by the beef roll from Japan, and the bakery delicacies from France.

And a commercial for the Food & Wine festival...its during the month of October every year. The dishes cost between $4 - $7 each (thats why we shared)!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Finally, the 2008 Christmas Gift

On Christmas morning last year, my children unwrapped a Minnie Mouse ornament. The attached note said..."Minnie says, see you in October!" Katie, Will and Amy were so excited. Amy has been to Disney several times, Katie and Will have never been. The time has come....we drive to Orlando on Friday!

We are staying in a timeshare in Kississimee about 10 minutes away from the front gates of Walt Disney World Resort. The clothes are packed, the food we are taking is prepared and frozen, we've got projects to work on in the car and books to read.

My Mom is going with us!

We are ready to roll.

There are just 2 little hitches in our plans but they aren't stopping us. My Mom has developed arthritis in her knee and has now gotten 2 cortisone shots to help with the pain...so we are taking Katie's wheelchair for Mom to ride in. This will be the first time I have been to Disney in 25 years and not had a stroller, but we have a wheelchair! And Amy got a runny nose yesterday and we went to the dr. this morning, she has an ear infection and upper resperitory infection. She also has an antibiotic shot in her hip and 2 prescriptions.

Walt Disney World here we come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Its Fair Time

Friday is the big day we turn in our entries to the Mississippi State Fair. The girls still have to finish the bindings on their small quilts and then they are ready. We've got to frame 3 cross stitch pictures, one that each of us did. And I have to hem a smocked jumper (its a fair entry and a gift).

After we turn in our fair entries on Friday, Tiki Travelers and their RV are hitting the road and driving to Starkville, MS for the MSU vs Ga Tech game. Greggie got us tickets on the 50 yard line. So hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, etc are all on the menu for this weekend!

Then we will be home for 2 1/2 days and then drive to GA to get Mom and drive to Disney! We are ready! This will actually be one of the few family vacations we have taken where Greg is "on vacation". I'll have to hide his blackberry so he can't read work emails! ( Shhhhhh, don't tell him) We are all excited and ready for this trip!

We are all decorated for fall...lots of scarecrows, pumpkins, and pilgrims and Indians. Here is a picture of my new Turkey...Greg got him for my birthday!

He is standing on the buffet in my dining room waiting for the big day!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Busy Fun Week

I've done several posts over at Mississippi Mama about coupons, and bargain hunting, etc. so come on over for a visit.

The big new this week was that I had a birthday, and as my loving 20 year old son told me...I am halfway to 100 (like I didn't know how old I was). I got lots of neat surprises starting with Katie, Will and Amy fixing me waffles for breakfast. Yummy! Then we took a school holiday and did fun stuff. Greg took us all out to Applebees for dinner. Here are some pictures from the day.

Now we've got the weekend. Homemade Pizza for dinner tonight and our homeschool groups Fall Kick- off party is tomorrow. Then hopefully we can get some tile work done. This is our last weekend at home for the next 3 weeks. We've also got to finish our State Fair entries because we have to turn them in next Friday!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Don't ya just love the picture? This was taken at 6 Flags over GA on our 1st date...surrounded by our 6 chaperones. All the boys got to hold their weapons so they stood still long enough for the picture. I would love to get another one of these done...we just have to find a place that does them and have all the children with us at the time. Hummmmm, this is gonna be hard!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Top Ten Rejected Names for Donna's New Blog

10. Landing a Man with Mac & Cheese
9. Making Chihuahua Cheese
8. 2 Quarters of a Century of Experience
7. 7 Kids and a Husband too!
6. Hangin' Out with the Sheets
5. A Georgia Peach in Mississippi Mud
4. Cucumbers and Other things you can stuff in a jar
3. Southern Nursing Home Living
2. Five Decade Diva
1. My First Days of Being Old

Great Weekend

We had a great weekend and it ended way too quickly.

Friday night we made Sloppy Joes for dinner and they were yummy! It is so easy to whip up and everybody likes them.

Saturday morning, Greg and I went on a "date" meaning we went out to eat breakfast and ran our errands. Our breakfast place was the new "Chimneyville" on Lakeland beside Lowe's. We both ordered a breakfast and brought at least 1/2 of each one home. My heavens, what plates of food. If the kids had been there with us, we would've had enough for all 5 of us. It sure was good. Then we hit Lowe's, Michaels, Penneys, CVS and Walgreens.

I have wanted my broom closet turned into a pantry for several months now and it was built on Sat. as a birthday gift to me. The kids did a great job of painting the inside white to lighten it up and then they helped Greg with installing the shelving and baskets. After the construction was complete, Amy, Will and I started organizing and filling it. Then we cleaned out some other cabinets and organized them also. I've said it before but it bears repeating many times....I love industrious, helpful children.

Sunday was church, lunch, cross stitch, nap and meeting at church. It was a nice lazy afternoon.

By the way...leftover sloppy joes used as the meat on nachos for Sunday lunch doesn't work real well...the meat is too sweet. Back to taco meat!

I have posted some recipes over at Mississippi Mama, so come on by for a visit.

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Blog Adventure

I am starting a new blog dedicated to cooking, crafting, and homemaking skills. Its address is www.MississippiMamaof 7.blogspot.com. This will be my girlie, Mom stuff blog!


Yesterday was a great "frugal" shopping day at CVS. I walked into to get 3 prescriptions filled and right at the front door was a 90% off table. I purchased 2 plastic outdoor tables, an outdoor table cloth, 2 rolls of rubber non-skid drawer lining, a playground ball, and 12 pairs of sandals/flip flops for $18. Oh yeah, also a long sleeved t-shirt for Will.

Then I went back to get 2 prescriptions that weren't ready earlier and they had added Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen, I got 5 bottles for .99 each.

Finding these bargains is exciting to me...my kids always need flip flops, they wear them everyday in the summer. And the average price of these was .69 a pair. That price is awesome!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And Even More Homeschool Myths......

Every homeschooler is a Christian. Nope! Folks homeschool for many different reasons and their faith is just one of them. There are many homeschool support groups specifically for non-Christians. And I know of some families that have not joined our group because we are a Christian group.

All homeschools are alike. So wrong!!!! There are traditional homeschoolers, relaxed homeschoolers and even a group called unschoolers. We would fall into the traditional group with a little bit of relaxed mixed in. We use a curriculum for each subject that we cover. But we do fit the lessons to our family. For instance, in Language right now Amy and Will are studying good sentence and paragraph construction. This is something everyone needs to know and is a skill they will use over and over. But, why do all the examples in the book when they also need to complete an assignment in Geography writing a short story. Combine the 2 and get them done at one time. As their teacher, I have that option. Unschooling is a whole new ballgame. From what I understand, they don't use any textbooks and learning is done when a situation arises that they need that knowledge. It just happens. To me, this is scary and I don't think we would get alot of learning done. I haven't figured out how you would present this on a college application or score reasonably well on the ACT.

All curriculum is the same. This is laughably (is that a word) wrong. There are so many curriculum choices available it is mind-boggling. Going to a homeschool convention is pretty confusing if you don't have any idea what you want or need. Everything looks great but not everything works for each child. I like to find out what others use and works for them. My friend Amy recommended Teaching Textbooks for higher math. Her son Josh used it and they really liked it. We bought it last year and Katie really liked it. All 3 are using it this year! For the "math challenged" Mom that I am, this is a blessing. Different Options: You can buy a whole years curriculum from one publisher complete with grade book and teachers manuals. You can do all of your schooling on-line, with textbooks. You can pick and choose language from one company, math from another, history from another and so on. The last is what we do. I personally don't like all the "fluff" that some boxed curriculums insist the kids need.

People begin homeschooling or pull their kids out of school for the same reason. This makes no sense to me. You can't lump a whole group of people into one category, its not that easy. We chose to homeschool in 1996. James had been in public school and then 2 years in a private school. He is my ADHD/dyslexic child. After Amy was born and I quit work, we couldn't afford the private tuition anymore. We chose homeschooling because if he had gone back into the public school system, they wanted to put him in a "self contained" classroom with other children with disabilites and not in a regular class like before. This wasn't an option for us because I wanted him challenged more and more expected of him, this wouldn't happen at school. So we started with James in 6th and Allen in 2nd (Amy was a newborn). And we kept going, and going and going. Then we married Greg and moved to Miss. I cont. to homeschool Allen and Amy and the "Jackson kids" cont. in public school. We chose homeschooling for Will with many of the same reasons as I originally did with James. Will wasn't applying himself, concentrating, completing assignments, etc. because of some learning issues and needed the extra one on one time. And hey, Katie came home because we wanted her too. The 3 younger kids are on the same schedule, we can travel with Greg, we can work at our own pace (with K that is accelerated, thats how she is grad. a year early), we can minister together, etc. So just within my own family are different reasons for homeschooling.

My dear sis-in-law left a comment on one of my posts that I forgot that homeschoolers were weird. But I think its true! Weird in the sense that we have chosen to be in the company of our children 24/7 and weird in that we do stuff together all the time. Weird in that we want to shelter and protect our children from some outside influences (gangs, drugs, school violence, peer pressure) as long as we can. And weird in that, I want to teach my children with a Christian, politically INcorrect curriculum. Our "weirdness" was the family norm 100-200 years ago. Many men and women were homeschooled and went on to accomplish enormous things. Many of the Founding Fathers of our country never sat in a formal classroom. So I don't mind being weird, its really a compliment!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

CHRISTMAS is coming!

Wow, have you checked the sidebar...100 days left till Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have you done anything yet for the Holidays...made a list, figured out a budget, stashed stuff away, secret surprises, looked at ornaments at Hobby Lobby, started on crafts, bought stocking stuffers, anything at all?

I have done all of the above but since my family reads this blog I can't give any details!

Its time! I enjoy Christmas too much to wait until Dec. to start planning and buying. I save so much money buying throughout the year.

The day before Thanksgiving or Thanks. morning, we will have the boys putting lights on the house and bushes. The weekend after Thanksgiving its time to deck the halls, mantel, tree, kitchen and even bathrooms! Have I mentioned I love Christmas?

And to further add to the fun and festivities of the season, our 3 oldest sons have Dec. birthdays! James will be 26 on the 18th and Rob & Andy will be 22 on the 22nd. So we will have birthday dinners and special desserts during Christmas week for their birthdays also!

More Homeschool Myths Debunked

Homeschoolers are smarter...humm, there are a couple of ways to look at this. There are incredibly smart children that homeschool, or attend private or public school. Homeschooling itself does not make kids smarter (God does that). As homeschoolers, our children can concentrate on a subject as long as they need to thoroughly understand it or complete the lesson and move on. I have read some wonderful family testimonies of children graduating highschool at 14 and college at 18 and making straight A's. It does happen. Homeschool children generally do score higher on standardized tests than public school students. I think they can focus better on the task at hand and not have worries about other things. But thats just my thought. But homeschooling doesn't mean you won't have learning challenges and difficulties. I've had 2 children attention problems, 2 that struggle with multiplication facts and 1 that has difficulty with spelling. But before anyone comments and says the public school could help them...know this, they were there for 5-7 years and it didn't help. The stuggles have lessened with homeschooling not gotten worse.

Homeschool families are perfect. NOT! Don't know where this one started but I don't know any family that is perfect. We generally get along better with each other than other folks but its because we are together all the time and we have learned to get along. If you watch the "Kids by the Dozen" or "18 Kids & Counting" shows on TLC, keep in mind its not realtime, the shows are taped and edited.

Homeschool children are all well-behaved and respectful. Generally, I think this is true. We do tell our children before group field trips to act respectful, listen, etc. Unfortunately, if any kids don't behave on a field trip then that tends to label all homeschoolers as rowdy. As a family, a number of times when we are out in public I've had people ask me if we homeschool. This has specifically happened 3 different times at National Parks. When we answer yes, they nod and say we thought so. This is followed by "they are so nice and they listen when others are talking."
However, I have also seen some real stinkers who are homeschooled. Children are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. My adorable 13 year old used to throw some huge temper tantrums. And by huge I mean kicking, screaming and rolling on the floor fits when she was 2 or 3 years old. If she was gonna pitch a fit, she did it right, nothing halfway for this child. Praise the Lord, that didn't last too long but it certainly was challenging at the time!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

9-11 We will Never Forget!

When my family traveled to Virginia during Memorial Day Week, we made a trip into DC to visit the Smithsonian American History Museum. We saw many, many neat things...Archie Bunkers chair, the directional street sign from MASH, displays on canning and preserving food, Inaugural Gowns of Former First Ladies, Lincolns Top Hat, a covered wagon, reproduction of a home, Streetcars and automobiles, part of the Berlin Wall and this.....part of the supports of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. This small wing with the display was dimly lit and eerily quiet. Amy and I entered and wondered why everyone was so quiet. Then we read the description. No words were necessary or appropriate. A group of terrorists tried to destroy our country that day, but they didn't win.

Everyone was patriotic in the months after the attack. Many families were destroyed that day. Many lives were lost. Prayer vigils were held in all towns, in all states, all across the country. The country was united in its grief (I would imagine much like it was after Pearl Harbor).

We should never forget the brave men and women who gave their lives for our country. Who went to work that September morning and never returned home.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Disspelling Myths about Homeschoolers

In my 14 years of homeschooling, I have heard alot of assumptions that people have about homeschooling and wanted to de-throne some of them. So in doing this, I am giving my opinion and sharing about my family but every family is different so this isn't a universal opinion.

Myth #1
All homeschool Mom's have to be smarter than their kids in order to homeschool.

Absolutely not, it is a well known fact in my family that I am not the person to ask questions about higher Math. Above Algebra, I am lost. The kids can ask Dad. That is the reason we are doing math on computer this year, Teaching Textbooks is a wonderful tool for just this reason. There is one Abeka Math that I really like and all of the kids will do it before they graduate and this is "Consumer Math". Its insurance (car, life, health, home, etc., I worked for State Farm for 10 years so I know this), banking (checking, savings, loans, credit, etc), budgeting (we've all done Dave Ramsey), how to read a meter ( water or electric), and many other practical, you need to know this life skills. We all learn, everyday. Learning is a lifelong experience and what I don't know to answer a question they come up with, I can find out.

Myth #2
I can never homeschool my children.

My reply would be why not? Who taught them how to sit, walk, stand, talk, put together puzzles, behave in a restaurant or grocery store, be polite, table manners, tie shoes, color in the lines, go potty! This is mostly all learning done at home with Mom and Dad and older siblings. Why miss out of the fun of reading, writing, research, field trips, and being together. And if your kids are coming home and doing 2 + hours of homework everynight, then you are homeschooling. You just get the leftover attention and fidgeting from 8 hours of school.

Myth #3
My kids won't listen to me.

Hummmmmm, that is a family issue and not a homeschool issue. If your kids have been in school away from the home and you bring them home, you may need to "unschool" from the teachers, routines, books, etc. that they have been accustommed too and establish yourself in that role. Sometimes this is tough, but you can do it.

Myth #4
All homeschoolers wear denim jumpers or no makeup or don't practice birth control or whatever else you can come up with.

I don't own a denim jumper, there is not a homeschool uniform. Many families are dresses only for the girls, for their own reasons. There is nothing wrong with this. We spend our summer days in capris or shorts and winter days in jeans or sweats. Go with your convictions, not with what others are doing.
I wear makeup and its here to stay. Its my choice.
On the birth control issue, thats between Mom, Dad and God. I am not stepping into this issue. You do what is right for you. I personally am fascinated by the Duggar Family. They have 18 beautiful children and they are being raised in a Christ centered home. Mom and Dad work together to raise the family. Which is the way it should be, whether you have 1 or 2 blessings or 12+ blessings.

Myth #5
We all grind our wheat, cook from scratch, eat dinner together everynight.....ok, for us this isn't a myth but a fact.

We have been grinding our own wheat for over a year. The health benefits are huge. We cook most of our food from scratch, then again great health benefits. Eat dinner together everynight, 6 out o 7 nights per week, yes. The wheat grinding and cooking from scratch will have their own posts one day.

And now my very favorite.....what about SOCIALIZATION?

Do you send your kids to school to socialize or learn?
My kids are involved in youth Sunday School classes, choir, homeschool co-op classes, dance classes, archery practices, and field trips involving all ages. We don't sit at the kitchen table all day, every day doing lessons. However, given the multitude of opportunities available, we do pick and choose what to be involved in. You can do too many activities and not have time for school. My children are with children and adults of all ages and are learning how to relate to everyone. Not just to 25 or 30 other people their own age. Think about this.....since you graduated from high school, have you ever worked or socialized with a group of people your exact same age? I haven't. Even my college classes had guys and gals of all different ages. My kids are friends with each other. They play games, watch tv and work on projects together and most of the time, get along really well with each other.

I grew up in a unique time and situation...I went to the same high school that my dad and my grandmother attended. Yes, 3 generations attended and graduated from the same school. Many of my friends parents went to school with daddy. I even had a teacher that taught my dad, talk about weird! We grew up going to football games on Friday nights and worshiping in church together on Sunday Mornings. Most of our Moms didn't work outside the home and we ate dinner as a family every night. Usually somebodies Mom or Dad was keeping an eye on us and we knew they would report back to our parents if we stepped out of line. We were definately not perfect but you had to work really hard to do something wrong and get away with it. The world is not like that today. Everyone is going in all different directions and they never connect as a family. To me, that is really sad. Families also move alot, depending on jobs. This really didn't happen when I was younger. Its a sign of the times, but not a good sign sometimes.

Whatever you decide is right for your family...go for it! Your school decisions are your choice. I just wanted to talk about some "myths" I have heard that I knew were not accurate in our family!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Great Week in GA

Boy, did we have fun last week. The visit with Mom was great! We got in our trips to Trader Joes, Whole Foods, JoAnns, & Mall of Georgia. Oh yeah, we hit Walmart and Target and had lunch at Steak n Shake! Love those tiny fries and chocolate shakes.

At JoAnn's I got enough material for 2 quilt tops...this ought to keep me busy for a while. I also got the backing and binding material for a small quilt for Katie's Hope Chest. Now I just have to finish the last blocks for the small Quilt!

On Thursday we went to visit my friend Amy and her family. My Amy had a blast with Miss Amy's 3 day old kittens (4) and several month old kittens (different mama cats). I am surprised that we haven't found a kitten tucked away somewhere yet, but Hershey would not be a happy puppy with a kitten in the house. We got to sit in her living room, talk about homeschool stuff, watch the kids run in and out playing, and roast marshmallows over her gas range in the kitchen. Different I know, but we had a blast.

Thursday was also our 4th wedding anniversary. Mom and the kids stayed home and Greg and I went out to dinner. We went to Red Robin for burger (we split one), fries and onion rings. We were going to Grayson Park to swing on our swing (where Greg proposed) but it was gone...cut off the chains and stolen! That wasn't fair!

Friday, we drove back home and made our stock up trip to Costco in Birmingham. We also bought a new camera. Its so much fun to play with and we have gotten some awesome pictures.

Sat. we drove up to Starkville for the first MSU football game against Jackson State U. And it rained on us over 1/2 of the game. But we sat there and cheered and got really wet. MSU won 40 something to 7 (lost track of the score). We got some great pictures from our "God's eye" view of the game. Greg has some awesome football shots and we got good shots of Rob in the band. Then dinner out with the guys and a long ride back home.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Must Read


I got this link off Our Plain and Simple Life blog.

It is lengthy to read but very good.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Its Fall in Georgia

We are at my Mom's house in GA this week and fall is in the air. Its been overcast and around 73 degrees all week. Feels great but we didn't bring fall clothes. It will get hot again here before fall really sets in but this is a reminder of the cool days coming.

We've had a great week so far. On Monday we met my sister and 3 of her kiddies at Mall of GA. The kids stuffed animals at "Build A Bear" to use for the Toys For Tots campaign this Christmas. Then we went and bought our Disney tickets. The store was having a 40% off sale on certain items but I couldn't talk the lady into 40% off tickets. She seemed to think that her job was more important than giving me a ticket discount...oh well, ya can't win 'em all. I did buy Greg a Grumpy dwarf t-shirt and it was 40% off! He loves the shirt and is planning on wearing it everyday when we go down there...hope we have easy access to a washer and dryer!

Then we went on our trek to Trader Joes (a cool organic grocery store for my Miss. friends who may have never been to one). We always miss the road to turn on so we end up going many miles out of our way and turning around and finding it. After our Trader Joes trip we went to Whole Foods (a bigger mostly organic grocery store). I had gotten coupons for free rotisserie chicken so Whole Foods cooked our dinner last night. I have stocked up on my organic soy & worchestershire sauce, hamburger & hot dog buns, and whole wheat spaghetti, elbow noodles & curly noodles. They were completely out of the cranberry sauce so I will have to get it next time.

And just because we hadn't packed enough into yesterday, Amy, Katie, and I went to Great Clips and got haircuts.

Today, we got all of our schoolwork done and went to visit my friend Lisa. It was great to visit with her and talk about the goings on in Grayson that I have missed. We got to talk about homeschool curriculum and our children. She and her husband have been good friends of ours for 10 or 11 years. Katie, Will, and Amy played the Wii Fit with her sons Nathan and David. And I got some good baby hugs and kisses from her almost 2 year old Andrew.

Tonight we are packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. The dining room table is covered with goodies. We love to participate in this project every year and try to collect stuff throughout the year for the boxes. If you have never taken part in this ministry you can go to Samaritan's Purse.org to get details. This ministry is run by Franklin Graham who is Billy Graham's son. We have done the shoeboxes for years and James chose this for his Eagle Scout project for Boy Scouts also. His final count on the boxes was over 270 (of these we packed 240 and the others were donated by different Sunday School classes).

Tomorrow its time for my trip to JoAnn's. Fun, fun, fun.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ahhhhhh, its the weekend!

I am so glad it is Friday.

Katie, Will and Amy started their co-op classes today with our homeschool group. Katie is doing an in-depth study of American History and Literature with lots of projects and notebooking assignments. She loves the creative part but probably not all the reading that goes with it. Amy & Will are doing Geography and Physical Science. The geography will have lots of art projects and the science will have lots of experiments. They love the classes and so do I!

Greg and I have date night tonight. That hasn't happened in a while so I am excited. Tomorrow morning we have a business meeting for a new venture we are involved in. And then a cook-out for lunch with all the partners. Can't really give you any details on the business cause I don't know alot yet. I hope we will have time to finish the schoolroom side of the kitchen after that, so we can finish setting everything up and move another small bookcase into the kitchen. Greg is cooking us dinner tomorrow night...Shrimp and Grits from Paula Deen's cookbook. We had it at "Uncle Bubba's" a couple of years ago and it was wonderful. He is going to try to recreate that yummy goodness for us!

And Sunday...we are driving to GA! Greg has to work all week and we will get school done but then we get to visit and go on excursions with Granny! I haven't seen my buddies in a year and its time to visit. We will also make a trip to Mall of Georgia. Mom has been buying animals at "Build a Bear" to donate to Toys for Tots and she has some coupons that have to get used. We are also buying our tickets for Disney World at the Disney Store! Whoo Hoo! It'll be lots of fun. We are also working in a trip to "Whole Foods" and "Trader Joes" to stock up our pantry. They do look at me a bit funny when I buy 10 packages of spaghetti noodles or 6-8 cans of organic cranberry sauce but I just keep on going. I gotta go where I can buy products not loaded with MSG or high fructose corn syrup.

Hope ya'll have a good weekend!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pay It Forward Giveaway

I got this idea from Deanna over at "A Plain & Simple Life" and thought it sounded like fun. I signed up for her giveaway and now I need 3 people to sign up for mine and keep this train rolling.....
The idea is to spread your talent and generosity/hospitality with one another.

:::For those new to PIF, I gather the names & addresses of 3 people wanting to participate.
I send each participant a handmade item.

In exchange, they gather from their own blogs the names & addresses of 3 people wanting to participate.
They make a handmade item for each and mail it off to them.
Each person participating is expected to continue "Paying It Forward" to 3 people on their blogs:::

So, in that spirit, I'd like to host one as well here. If you would like to participate, then please email your name and address to donnamj1@bellsouth.net.

I don't know what my give away will be yet. I will have to do some thinking on it. But I think this is a fun idea...who wouldn't like getting a surprise in the mail?

Monday, August 24, 2009


Do you ever have disappointments in your life? Do you ever think things will be different "this time"? Do you ever think "why did they act like that"? Do you ever look at your children and think "what in the world made you do that"? Do you expect people to treat you a certain way and they always do the opposite? Do you always act or treat other people the way you want to be treated? What is the Golden Rule?.....Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you.

Do you know that there is someone who will never, ever disappoint you?

Are you thinking?

Or did you know instantly who it was?

Our Lord will always be there for us. He will love us and give us the courage we need to face each day. Psalm 36: 5-6 He is our Rock and our Refuge. Psalm 62: 5-8 We can always trust the Lord. Psalm 20: 7-8 The Lord will give us wisdom . Proverbs 2: 4-8, 3: 5-6, 4: 7-8 & 10. Proverbs 17: 27-28.

The Bible is full of verses that we need to encourage us, guide us, shield us from tempation, and help us live our everyday lives. It is the book we should turn to when we need help with the worries and concerns of everyday life. It is also the book we should turn to when we need comfort and wisdom with our life's concerns. The scriptures listed above are some of the verses that have brought comfort and wisdom to my life. There are 1000's more that are applicable to any of your life's needs.

Find yourself a translation of the Bible that is comfortable for you to read. My personal preference is the "New Internation Version" but everyone is different and has different needs. You can find a Bible at the $1 store or spend hundreds on a top of the line Deluxe Bible. But the cost of the book doesn't matter if you don't read it and apply it in your life. A Bible sitting on the shelf or bookcase gathering dust isn't going to do you any good. Dust off the book and start reading. Psalms and Proverbs are excellent resources for comfort and wisdom.

After you begin reading the Bible. Pray and ask the Lord to show you how you can apply what you've read to your life and how can it help you handle relationships, troubles, etc. The Lord wants to help, you just have to ask.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Knives & Jelly

We have been watching alot of Food Network shows lately. Our favorites are Bobby Flay anything, Unwrapped, Dinner Impossible, Next Food Network Star, Chopped..........My (Donna) favorites also include Barefoot Contessa, Sandra Lee and Paula Deen (got any mayo & butter y'all). They all slice and dice and make it look so easy........its the knives!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They don't have dull, knicked, kitchen knives, but I had a collection of them. Some can be sharpened and we do it frequently, but some need to hit the garbage can. I also am somewhat picky in that it has to feel good in my hands. I have osteo arthritis and if the handle is too big or the knife too heavy, then I can't use it long. So it has to be just right.

Last week, we went to a kitchen outlet when we were on the coast with Greg. Greg and I found a set of 2 Henckels Knives that we both liked. He used his big Daddy bear knife to cut steak the other day and really liked the way the knife cut. Today, I used my smaller Mommy bear knife to cut the cucumbers for relish and like it alot! (It was just right...yeah I know that is Baby bears phrase, but just play along for this post) So, I think the dull, cheap knives are going to disappear and get slowly replaced by really good, not cheap, knives!

Chop, chop, chop!

We have also made lots of jelly this week. On Tues. & Wed., Amy and I made many jars of peach jam. And today Katie & I made a bunch of jars of strawberry jelly. We are each picking the best looking jars of our jam to enter in the state fair in October. Its about 6 weeks away, so we will be busy getting our entries ready! We would all love more blue ribbons this year!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Where to find the time.....

Several people have asked me where I find the time to do everything, so I am going to try an answer that question.

First of all we homeschool. Homeschooling is a lifestyle and education choice that we have made for our family. This is the beginning of year number 14. The fact that its an education choice is evident. But, many may not know its also a lifestyle choice. We are together (for the most part) morning, noon and night. We eat 3 meals together, at least 6 of the 7 days. We run errands, do chores, play games, laugh, cry, argue and make up..sometimes all in the same day. The kids are friends with each other and with me. We are learning many things together such as quilting and canning. We usually get the school work done in the mornings which leaves the afternoons free for other projects or classes.

Second, the kids aren't involved in many different sports and activities daily. Katie and Amy take dance, one day per week. The only time this schedule changes is when its recital time and then its 4 days that week. They also take a homeschool quilting class for beginners, 2 mornings a month. They both love to sew and are learning alot in this class (me too!). Will is doing archery with a group of boys in our homeschool group. This is 2 afternoons a month. Our homeschool support group offers co-op classes for history/geography and science and all three are involved in those...2 mornings a month. Those are the outside activities. This leaves us time to do other activites together such as our food preservation classes we took at the county extension office.

Third, we set up a daily schedule for the kids and I. It has worked out great and we have freed up lots of time by sticking to our schedule. I even scheduled in reading and crafts. So I don't feel guilty sitting down and reading in the morning with the kids or sewing in the afternoon....its in the schedule! I used the book by Steve & Terri Maxwell "Managers of Their Homes" to help set everything up. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to be more organized.

This is what we have chosen for our family. I realize it may not be for everyone, but even one or two changes could help the busiest of households. So here are some of my suggestions......

How many activites are your children involved in? Baseball, soccer, football, basketball, gymnastics, music lessons, afterschool care, art classes, etc. There is nothing wrong with any of these, but too many is hectic. A question to ask yourself before you make any changes or add any activities to your childs schedule is...does little Johnny really want to play football (or whatever) or does Dad have dreams of little Johnny playing in the NFL and he is going to play football or else. If little Johnny is passionate about the game and lives, eats and breathes football, then that is the game for him. If he would rather pick clover in the football field, then let him lose in the backyard and save your money. Evaluate why you do what you do. Keeping up with the Jones' is exhausting and unimportant.

How many outside the home activites are you involved in? These also add stress to your life, even if they are wonderful activities. No, I am not saying that you should stop doing things you really love, but is it really worth time away from the home? If you are involved in several different ministries at church and you don't have time to cook dinner, then you probably need to re-evaluate your schedule. At this time in our lives, we are involved in 3 ministry opportunities. 2 are at our church and both occur in Dec. The first is our church's huge Living Christmas Tree Production, the first weekend of the month. Greg programs the lights for the tree and 5 of our children sing or play an instrument or perform in the ballet. We all love it, but it does take lots and lots of time. In fact, the first planning meeting for this years production is next Sunday night. The 2nd is our church's Christmas Store for families who need extra holiday help. The kids love shopping for the gifts with the money we set aside for this. The day of the store, I work in the giftwrap and Greg and the older boys help load the cars. My 3 youngest will tell you that shopping for the store is one of their favorite Christmas activities. These 2 busy-filled activites are the main reasons we have no school December. There just isn't time or energy for school this month. The 3rd ministry is our Mission Trip. Greg & I have gone to Honduras twice and this year we did a family trip to Oklahoma to help with VBS at 2 Choctaw Indian Churches. We had a wonderful time with each other and the rest of the team.

We are able to do many things together because we homeschool. They are a priority for our lives and our family. But, every family is different. If your children are in a public or private school, you may need to look at the extras that are on your calendars and evaluate why you are doing them. Do they need to sit in school all day then come home, go to football, eat dinner in the car and then head to karate or wherever. Do the kids really care about all the activites or do you as the parent want them in something everyday? Only you can make the decisions for your own family...but in doing so you are carving out time that could be used for something else.

Honestly, I look at schedules of people at church, family members and neighbors and wonder how they do it all. And these are some of the same folks who say to me...I don't know how you have time to sew or read or blog or cook from scratch, or take a walk. We all have our own lives and we have to live them according to our convictions for our family. The Lord made us all unique individuals and it would be really dull if everyone was just alike!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


On Thursday one of the kids said...aren't we going to do History this week? Its in our assignment book! HeeHee, I forgot to write it on our schedule, so we didn't do it. Oh well, we will make it up this week. I knew this would take some getting used to!

We are packed and ready to go to Biloxi in the morning! Gulf Coast here we come!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

First Week of School

Our first week of school is finished. It went great and we really like the new schedule. Here goes...7:30-8:00 everyone out of bed, get dressed, make bed & straighten room, 8:00-8:30 fix & eat breakfast, K & A clean out the dishwasher and reload, W feed and water the dogs & take out trash if needed, 8:30-9:00 bible reading, journaling, fun book reading, 9:00-10:00 Math (K is usually done in the hour, A & W usually need 1 1/2 hours, 10:00-11:00 K works on Physics, 10:30-11:00 A & W do Language. Then they start the computer classes of Spanish, Typing & Music Theory. 11:45-1:00 cook & eat lunch, cleanup, and tv time (usually watch a show we taped the night before or an episode of the Waltons). 1-? work on anything not finished in the morning or craft time..no tv. Will is working on some wood working projects to enter in the fair, Katie & Amy are working on cross stitch pictures for the fair, and I am working on a quilt top. Its amazing how much we get done when the time is scheduled in. Now, with that schedule in our minds....it will all change when we have to add in our co-op classes and homework in a couple of weeks. Then, we will have more afternoon work. I usually get up at 7 and make Gregs coffee and fix his lunch (if we have leftovers from the night before if not, he usually buys something). Then I start the morning routine.....exception, I haven't been able to sit down for the reading time, but I want to work that in. Usually, I am on the computer, reading email, checking blogs, and looking at facebook (thought I would really be honest with everyone).

I love Teaching Textbooks! It is an awesome computer program for math. Katie is doing geometry, Amy and Will are doing Pre-Algebra. You insert the computer disk and watch the instruction part of the class, stop the disk and work the practice problems, start disk and check problems, stop disk and do the math problems, then start and check the problems. He does an exceedingly thorough job of going through each problem step by step so you can see where (if) you messed up. And this is why it takes A & W 1 1/2 hours. Today, Katie told them that she fast forwards through the problems to the answer and only watches the explanation if she got it wrong....would have been nice to know this on Monday. I am watching the lessons with Amy & Will so I will know what he is talking about and how he presented it....I could learn pre-algebra this year too!

On Monday, we are packing up the books and dvds and computers and headed to Biloxi for the week with Greg. He has to go for work and we are going too! We will hotel school, swim in the hotel pool and hang out till he is done with work...then dinner out!

We always take pictures on the first day of school...........and we have to include the barefooted picture............homeschoolers can go to school with no shoes!

Hot Sauce and Margaritas

My first hot sauce. I am so proud.

My recipe was 1 pound of fresh peppers picked today, sliced and deseeeded. jalapinos, saracha, and poblano. I added 1 cup of white wine, 6 cups of vinegar, turmeric, salt, mustard seed, dry mustard, cummin, black pepper and 1 can of chipotole peppers in adobo sause. I ran all of the solids thru the food processor until it made a groovy pulpy sludge.

I reduced it by half by boiling it on the grill for 1 hour. It will be called "Greg's Pepper Juice"

I listened to big bad voodoo daddy the entire time! We had some scratch margaritas, tequila, triple sec, and lime juice shaken not stirred!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dieting Under Stress (no substitutions)

This diet is designed to help you cope with the stress that builds up during the day.

Breakfast 1 grapefruit
1 slice whole wheat toast, dry
6 oz. skim milk

Lunch 4 oz. lean broiled chicken breast
1 cup steamed spinach
1 cup herb tea
1 oreo cookie

Afternoon Snack Rest of the Oreos in the package
2 pints Rocky Road Ice Cream
1 jar hot fudge sauce
Nuts, cherries, whipped cream

Dinner 2 loaves garlic bread with cheese
Lg. Sausage, mushroom & cheese pizza
4 cans or 1 lg. pitcher beer
3 Milky Way or Snickers Candy Bars

Late Evening News Snack Entire frozen Cheesecake eaten directly from freezer


1. If you eat something and no one sees you eat it, it has no calories.

2. If you drink a diet soda with a candy bar, the calories in the candy bar are cancelled out by the diet soda.

3. when you eat with someone else, calories don't count if you don't eat more than they do.

4. Food used for medicinal purposes NEVER count, such as hot chocolate, brandy, toast & Sara Lee Cheesecake.

5. If you fatten up everyone else around you, then you look thinner.

6. Movie related foods do not have additional calories because they are part of the entire entertainment package and not part of one's personal ful, such as Milk Duds, Buttered Popcorn, Junior Mints, Red Hots, and Tootsie Rolls.

7. Cookie pieces contain no calories. The process of breaking causes calorie leakage.

8. Things licked off of knives and spoon have no calories in the process of making something. For example, peanut butter licked off the knife while making a sandwich.

Foods that have the same color have the same number of calories. Examples are spinach & pistachio ice cream, mushrooms & white chocolate, NOTE: chocolate is a universal color and may be substituted for any other food color!

Bloggers note: I wish I could take credit for coming up with and writing this wonderful diet but I got this in an email many years ago. I have no idea who wrote it, but they have a brilliant mind! Many years ago, someone brought doughnuts to my dads office for us. We told her that the doughnuts didn't have any calories...they were all in the holes...and she believed us! No, she wasn't blonde. She went on and on about how she had never heard that and would have to tell her friends. She finally caught onto the joke when we were rolling on the floor laughing. Then we all dove into the doughnuts! (yep, unfortunatley that is a true story...I am just leaving out the name to protect the innocent and gullible)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sweet Pickle Relish

Pickle relish is on my ever expanding list of items not to buy at the grocery store because all the major brands contain High Fructose Corn Syrup. I have found some good organic brands but they are all at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's and the closest stores are 3 hours away. So, I decided to plant some cucumbers this year, just to have enough to try making our own pickle relish. I found a recipe that looked good in my "So Easy to Preserve" book from UGA. Yesterday was relish day.

The recipe called for 4 cups cucumbers, 1 green bell pepper, 1 red bell pepper and 1 onion. I chopped these all down in the food processor and followed the rest of the recipe. The vegies had to soak in water and salt for 2 hours and that was the longest step of the recipe. Cooking them with the vinegar and spices only took about 10-12 minutes. Then it was put into canning jars and the water bath canner.

After they cooled we put one jar in the fridge to have today on our hamburgers. In one word the taste is YUMMY! I made some more today and put it in pint jars, cause a 1/2 pint just won't last long around this house.

I have 1 jar that looks perfect...enough relish, enough juice, etc. It will be entered in the State Fair this year. Hope the judges like it!

Note: Chopping the vegies in the food processor made it a fine relish. We like the consistency but it is smaller than the grocery store brands. Might try chopping one batch by hand and just compare the 2. This recipe is a keeper!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

the end of July

The end of July brings many mixed feelings. It is our end of Christmas in July. I have more movies than month, so that just doesn't seem right. But we had fun watching all the old movies. Yesterday we watched "White Christmas" with Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye. Why don't they make singers like that anymore? Man, Bing could sing! We've also watched Home Alone 1,2,&3, Santa Clause 2 (can't find 1), the Christmas Story, Peanuts Christmas, Jingle all the Way, Flintstones Christmas, Here comes Santa Claus, Jetson's Christmas, Little House on the Prairie - 2 different Christmas episodes, Frosty the Snowman and the animated Grinch. I am not sure what is on the viewing list for tomorrow, but it will be good. Still need to see Rudolf and Muppet Christmas Carol. I have collected these for 25 years, so we have alot!

It is also the end of our vacation from school. we have done alot of planning this week and written most of it down. Some lessons are planned till the Tues. before Thanksgiving. This is a first for me. We did this over 3 mornings and spread the school books out and got it done. Yeah, for us. I say us, because the kids sat and helped me with everything. We have also tried to schedule out our days which is proving to be a bit more difficult than I imagined. We have different schedules for a couple of days, which don't fit into the norm. Still figuring that out.

We are going to try our hand at making sweet pickle relish this weekend. My cucumbers are producing great quantities and they are going to turn into relish. One of them weighs 1 3/4 pounds! This is a further attempt at exorcising High Fructose Corn Syrup from our lives. I have found some organic relish that we like, but our one organic store here doesn't carry it. So, we are trying to learn a new skill.

Before the torrential rain hit today, we pulled up the green bean plants in one of our square foot gardening boxes. They were not at all productive. We replanted with more bean seeds. Then the deluge hit. Hopefully all the seeds didn't wash to one end of the box. I would still like to grow enough beans to can and eat through the winter. But, if not, I will buy them at the Farmers Market and can them. They are locally grown and will be better than anything else I can buy at the grocery over the winter. We went and bought some today and had them for dinner tonight...yummy!

Time for reading and bedtime. Tomorrow is another day!

"They" voted for Change

Do ya really think that everyone voted for "Change" had any idea what they were doing? I hope not! We are in serious trouble if this things passes. Making the government bigger and more powerful is not going to help us at all. I enjoy the freedom to pick my own doctor, for us to discuss any medical tests that need to be done because there is a medical need, and to get the test, treatments, etc. in a timely manner. What are they going to do IF there is a H1N1 pandemic? Deny certain folks health care because of their age, their political party, the state they live in, their income, or whatever they feel like that day? Personally, I am going to make sure we have fever reducers, cold & flu meds, upset tummy meds, etc. in my home pharmacy cabinet for the fall & winter. I have tried to read some of the Health Care Proposal, its pretty much impossible to understand. We've got a great radio show here in Miss. that dissects some of this rhetoric and passes it on to us (thanks Paul Gallo). The following is an article my sister sent me yesterday about 5 freedoms we will lose if this passes..........

> 5 Freedoms You'd Lose in Health Care Reform
> by Shawn Tully
> Monday, July 27, 2009 provided by <http://www.fortune.com/>
> FortuneonCNNMoney.com
> If you read the fine print in the Congressional plans, you'll find that a
> lot of cherished aspects of the current system would disappear.
> In promoting his health-care agenda, President Obama has repeatedly
> reassured Americans that they can keep their existing health plans -- and
> that the benefits and access they prize will be enhanced through reform.
> A close reading of the two main bills, one backed by Democrats in the House
> and the other issued by Sen. Edward Kennedy's Health committee, contradict
> the President's assurances. To be sure, it isn't easy to comb through their
> 2,000 pages of tortured legal language. But page by page, the bills reveal a
> web of restrictions, fines, and mandates that would radically change your
> health-care coverage.
> If you prize choosing your own cardiologist or urologist under your
> company's Preferred Provider Organization plan (PPO), if your employer
> rewards your non-smoking, healthy lifestyle with reduced premiums, if you
> love the bargain Health Savings Account (HSA) that insures you just for the
> essentials, or if you simply take comfort in the freedom to spend your own
> money for a policy that covers the newest drugs and diagnostic tests -- you
> may be shocked to learn that you could lose all of those good things under
> the rules proposed in the two bills that herald a health-care revolution.
> In short, the Obama platform would mandate extremely full, expensive, and
> highly subsidized coverage -- including a lot of benefits people would never
> pay for with their own money -- but deliver it through a highly restrictive,
> HMO-style plan that will determine what care and tests you can and can't
> have. It's a revolution, all right, but in the wrong direction.
> Let's explore the five freedoms that Americans would lose under Obamacare:
> 1. Freedom to choose what's in your plan
> The bills in both houses require that Americans purchase insurance through
> "qualified" plans offered by health-care "exchanges" that would be set up in
> each state. The rub is that the plans can't really compete based on what
> they offer. The reason: The federal government will impose a minimum list of
> benefits that each plan is required to offer.
> Today, many states require these "standard benefits packages" -- and they're
> a major cause for the rise in health-care costs. Every group, from
> chiropractors to alcohol-abuse counselors, do lobbying to get included.
> Connecticut, for example, requires reimbursement for hair transplants,
> hearing aids, and in vitro fertilization.
> The Senate bill would require coverage for prescription drugs, mental-health
> benefits, and substance-abuse services. It also requires policies to insure
> "children" until the age of 26. That's just the starting list. The bills
> would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to add to the list
> of required benefits, based on recommendations from a committee of experts.
> Americans, therefore, wouldn't even know what's in their plans and what
> they're required to pay for, directly or indirectly, until after the bills
> become law.
> 2. Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living, or pay your real costs
> As with the previous example, the Obama plan enshrines into federal law one
> of the worst features of state legislation: community rating. Eleven states,
> ranging from New York to Oregon, have some form of community rating. In its
> purest form, community rating requires that all patients pay the same rates
> for their level of coverage regardless of their age or medical condition.
> Americans with pre-existing conditions need subsidies under any plan, but
> community rating is a dubious way to bring fairness to health care. The
> reason is twofold: First, it forces young people, who typically have lower
> incomes than older workers, to pay far more than their actual cost, and
> gives older workers, who can afford to pay more, a big discount. The state
> laws gouging the young are a major reason so many of them have joined the
> ranks of uninsured.
> Under the Senate plan, insurers would be barred from charging any more than
> twice as much for one patient vs. any other patient with the same coverage.
> So if a 20-year-old who costs just $800 a year to insure is forced to pay
> $2,500, a 62-year-old who costs $7,500 would pay no more than $5,000.
> Second, the bills would ban insurers from charging differing premiums based
> on the health of their customers. Again, that's understandable for folks
> with diabetes or cancer. But the bills would bar rewarding people who pursue
> a healthy lifestyle of exercise or a cholesterol-conscious diet. That's
> hardly a formula for lower costs. It's as if car insurers had to charge the
> same rates to safe drivers as to chronic speeders with a history of
> accidents.
> 3. Freedom to choose high-deductible coverage
> The bills threaten to eliminate the one part of the market truly driven by
> consumers spending their own money. That's what makes a market, and health
> care needs more of it, not less.
> Hundreds of companies now offer Health Savings Accounts to about 5 million
> employees. Those workers deposit tax-free money in the accounts and get a
> matching contribution from their employer. They can use the funds to buy a
> high-deductible plan -- say for major medical costs over $12,000. Preventive
> care is reimbursed, but patients pay all other routine doctor visits and
> tests with their own money from the HSA account. As a result, HSA users are
> far more cost-conscious than customers who are reimbursed for the majority
> of their care.
> The bills seriously endanger the trend toward consumer-driven care in
> general. By requiring minimum packages, they would prevent patients from
> choosing stripped-down plans that cover only major medical expenses. "The
> government could set extremely low deductibles that would eliminate HSAs,"
> says John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a free-market
> research group. "And they could do it after the bills are passed."
> 4. Freedom to keep your existing plan
> This is the freedom that the President keeps emphasizing. Yet the bills
> appear to say otherwise. It's worth diving into the weeds -- the territory
> where most pundits and politicians don't seem to have ventured.
> The legislation divides the insured into two main groups, and those two
> groups are treated differently with respect to their current plans. The
> first are employees covered by the Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974.
> ERISA regulates companies that are self-insured, meaning they pay claims out
> of their cash flow, and don't have real insurance. Those are the GEs and
> Time Warners and most other big companies.
> The House bill states that employees covered by ERISA plans are
> "grandfathered." Under ERISA, the plans can do pretty much what they want --
> they're exempt from standard packages and community rating and can reward
> employees for healthy lifestyles even in restrictive states.
> But read on.
> The bill gives ERISA employers a five-year grace period when they can keep
> offering plans free from the restrictions of the "qualified" policies
> offered on the exchanges. But after five years, they would have to offer
> only approved plans, with the myriad rules we've already discussed. So for
> Americans in large corporations, "keeping your own plan" has a strict
> deadline. In five years, like it or not, you'll get dumped into the
> exchange. As we'll see, it could happen a lot earlier.
> The outlook is worse for the second group. It encompasses employees who
> aren't under ERISA but get actual insurance either on their own or through
> small businesses. After the legislation passes, all insurers that offer a
> wide range of plans to these employees will be forced to offer only
> "qualified" plans to new customers, via the exchanges.
> The employees who got their coverage before the law goes into effect can
> keep their plans, but once again, there's a catch. If the plan changes in
> any way -- by altering co-pays, deductibles, or even switching coverage for
> this or that drug -- the employee must drop out and shop through the
> exchange. Since these plans generally change their policies every year, it's
> likely that millions of employees will lose their plans in 12 months.
> 5. Freedom to choose your doctors
> The Senate bill requires that Americans buying through the exchanges -- and
> as we've seen, that will soon be most Americans -- must get their care
> through something called "medical home." Medical home is similar to an HMO.
> You're assigned a primary care doctor, and the doctor controls your access
> to specialists. The primary care physicians will decide which services, like
> MRIs and other diagnostic scans, are best for you, and will decide when you
> really need to see a cardiologists or orthopedists.
> Under the proposals, the gatekeepers would theoretically guide patients to
> tests and treatments that have proved most cost-effective. The danger is
> that doctors will be financially rewarded for denying care, as were HMO
> physicians more than a decade ago. It was consumer outrage over despotic
> gatekeepers that made the HMOs so unpopular, and killed what was billed as
> the solution to America's health-care cost explosion.
> The bills do not specifically rule out fee-for-service plans as options to
> be offered through the exchanges. But remember, those plans -- if they exist
> -- would be barred from charging sick or elderly patients more than young
> and healthy ones. So patients would be inclined to game the system, staying
> in the HMO while they're healthy and switching to fee-for-service when they
> become seriously ill. "That would kill fee-for-service in a hurry," says
> Goodman.
> In reality, the flexible, employer-based plans that now dominate the
> landscape, and that Americans so cherish, could disappear far faster than
> the 5 year "grace period" that's barely being discussed.
> Companies would have the option of paying an 8% payroll tax into a fund that
> pays for coverage for Americans who aren't covered by their employers. It
> won't happen right away -- large companies must wait a couple of years
> before they opt out. But it will happen, since it's likely that the tax will
> rise a lot more slowly than corporate health-care costs, especially since
> they'll be lobbying Washington to keep the tax under control in the
> righteous name of job creation.
> The best solution is to move to a let-freedom-ring regime of high
> deductibles, no community rating, no standard benefits, and cross-state
> shopping for bargains (another market-based reform that's strictly taboo in
> the bills). I'll propose my own solution in another piece soon on
> Fortune.com <http://finance.yahoo.com/magazines/fortune/index.html> . For
> now, we suffer with a flawed health-care system, but we still have our Five
> Freedoms. Call them the Five Endangered Freedoms.
> Copyrighted, Fortune. All rights reserved.