Saturday, January 31, 2009

Have You Heard About H.R. 1?

Please note, I'm going to get a little "political" here and I'm not making any apologies. (If I've made an error, please feel free to discuss it with me, just be nice. I only look tough and intimidating.)

So there's lots of talk surrounding the CPSIA and its ignorantly broad wording (go here for a decent overview of it). Lead stinks. No I don't want my kids ingesting it, but I also don't want them to choke on food, so perhaps we should pass some new legislation testing every morsel of food for choking hazard potential. Pudding will never be the same. Ridiculous right? That's my point. Come on, Washington...

Anyway, that's not what this post is about.

Have you heard about H.R.1 The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that just passed the House? Unbelievable. If I understand this correctly...

At first I was just outraged that this bill would raise taxes for my grandchildren. No, you read that grandchildren. We are going to fix our economy by dumping more debt onto our grandchildren's shoulders. Nice. Surely I can't be the only one who thinks this is wrong? Shall I even go as far to say morally unacceptable? Aye carumba.

Upon further investigation, you will discover a myriad of noteworthy ways "we" are going to create all these jobs to stimulate our economy. Here are some fine examples I've borrowed from The Family Research Council and American Family Association:

  • $3 Billion for Prevention & Wellness Programs, Including $335 million for STD Education and Prevention -- Recent government expenditures in this area include a transgender beauty pageant in San Francisco that advertised available HIV testing and an event called “Got Love? – Flirt/Date/Score” that taught participants how “to flirt with greater finesse.”

  • The bill provides billions in reforming the health care system and working towards nationalized health care – with little to no debate.

  • $25 million to rehabilitate off-roading (ATV) trails (Pg. 45 of Senate Appropriations Committee report: "$25,000,000 is for recreation maintenance, especially for rehabilitation of off-road vehicle routes, and $20,000,000 is for trail maintenance and restoration")

  • $34 million to remodel the Department of Commerce HQ (Pg. 15 of Senate Appropriations Committee report: $34,000,000 for the Department of Commerce renovation and modernization")

  • $400 million for NASA scientists to conduct climate change research

Just to name a few.

Please consider contacting your Senators asking them to vote against H.R. 1. It's not just our future that depends on it.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Separation Anxiety

Ah, now that's better.


Buttermilk Substitute

Perhaps you have known this quick and easy tip for creating a buttermilk substitute for quite some time. Perhaps you have known forever. Born in the womb with superior culinary knowledge.

Not me. So in the off chance that there could be some poor, uninformed soul like myself stumbling around her kitchen avoiding recipes with buttermilk because it's just not something you keep stocked in your refrigerator, but there's a certain recipe that keeps calling your name, here's what you do:

  • Pour one Tbsp. of vinegar into one cup of milk. Stir and let it sit for a couple of minutes.

Congratulations, you are now the proud parent of buttermilk. Pretty painless, huh?

I personally found that putting just under a tablespoon worked better. Trust me, I taste tested and milk-flavored vinegar is not good. But go ahead if you want, just don't blame me for the singed nose hairs.

And I haven't priced store bought buttermilk, but I'm thinking that this might be a little bit cheaper too.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a cake that is calling my name...


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bye, Bye Wet Floors

In honor of our first real snow day, I thought I'd share a a little trick I like to use for wet shoes around our house for my very first Works For Me Wednesday.

We have such a hard time with keeping our floors dry during any kind of wet weather. I used to just lay towels all over the place, but that still didn't quite keep it all up. Then I discovered this little trick that totally works for me.

Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet and...voila, no more puddles on the floor as your shoes dry.

Check out more Works For Me Wednesday here.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Oh my, have I ever told you how much I love snow? At the risk of alienating myself and being threatened with bodily harm (again), let me tell you... I LOVE SNOW! I have no idea why. I just love it.

I still get butterflies in my stomach like a small school child over it. I check the weather forecast like crazy when they are calling for it. I announce it to the world when I see it.

Grilled cheese sandwiches with hot chocolate. Snow angels. Snow forts. Catching snowflakes on my tongue. Need I say more?

Even when I worked full time out of the home and had to drive in it I still loved it.

I love it! I love it! I love it!

So, here are some pictures from our first snow day. Too bad it all turned into ice and you could still see the grass. :(

The view from my front porch. Part of the river is covered in snow and ice.

We could not keep him from eating the snow, no matter how hard we tried.

And I don't think I'm the only who enjoyed it.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Fine Feathered Friends

Apparently these guys missed the lesson where you learn to go south for the winter. Because they are still here. And with the freezing temperatures we've had lately I have been feeling awfully sorry for them.

They are cold. They are hungry. And they keep coming in our yard looking for food. I happen to have a two year old who absolutely loves them. So...we feed them. A lot.

I like them for the most part. Except for their poop. Which happens to be plentiful. I have enough poop to deal with in my life. I don't need theirs.

And they are beautiful. Except when they attack each other. Then they just make me mad. I always throw the underdogs extra food. I don't subscribe to the survival of the fittest flock.

Okay, I always throw the female ducks extra food too. But that's just because we've got a common bond. Baby raising. Gotta look out for my sisters.

Then there are the Canadian geese. These suckers are loud. But they are pretty too. And I've never caught them picking on each other. They must do it behind my back.

There were probably about 100 of them at the river today. I'm still wondering why they aren't getting into formation and heading for warmer weather?

Now you see this feathery lady? She joined our crew this spring. She is not a duck. She is a goose, but does not hail from our northern neighbor. She's the only one of her kind. I thought we might be friends. Two lone girls in a hostile world. Then I got to know her.

Don't let her shy, demure pose fool you. She is bossy. And obnoxious. Especially in the summer when the windows are open and I'm trying to ignore the fact that I should be prying my eyes open.

Yet, I still have somehow become attached to her. Caleb named her "Honky Gonky". It was nice to see her again. Not to mention that she kept very quiet. I really liked that.

And here, my friends, is a picture of my three favorite turkeys. Gobble, gobble.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Whisper and A Seed

It's amazing how one whisper from the Lord can completely change my frame of mind. Not shocking from the One who formed the earth by words alone, I know. But I am amazed nonetheless.

Amazed that a seven word sentence from the Father whispered to my heart immediately awakens my spirit and casts off plaguing thoughts. Financial fretting. Loneliness. A bit of weariness. A spoonful of envy.

Sounds like I've been loading my plate from the enemy's buffet instead of dining at the Father's banquet table, huh? Let's just say I've been fighting a bit of discouragement and leave it at that.

But then, God speaks. Don't you just love the "But thens"? Also known as the "And yets." So then, God speaks:

Jo Ann, this is a year of beginnings.

And though I do not know what that really entails, hope and anticipation are planted.


I'm Confused

Wasn't the whole point of changing over to an artificial Christmas tree supposed to solve the problem of a shedding, live tree?

Saving myself and my vacuum from the tedious task of trying to get all the needles off the floor. Rescuing poor little feet and mouths from the sharp points.

So that come Easter I wasn't finding anymore evidence of our Christmas past. Wasn't that the point?

Then why am I finding these all over the place?

I want a refund.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Finally. Finally. Finally. I got my camera and computer to talk. And I am so. stinkin'. excited. I can hardly stand it. Finally I can share pictures of whatever I want.

Like a picture featuring a wonderful pair of toddler feet that I love so much. I could just kiss them. And if you remember my aversion to feet, you know there's something special about them.

Or I can show you Abigail's newest feats. Like pulling herself up, which she's been doing for about 2 weeks now.

Or maybe even Caleb's latest style, which happens to change almost daily. And yes, he calls it a style. When I asked what this style was he replied, "Adventure with my friend style." Please note, remember to use a rope as your belt when you want to have an adventure with a friend.

But instead, I think I'll just show you a recent random drawing from around our house. Drawn by none other than Richie. He said he can't draw the face of an elephant. I'm wondering if he's trying to send me a message...


Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Morning Workout

Some days, I just need a little pick-me-up. Something to get me moving. Energized and ready for the day. I saw this video on another blog and thought it may be just the thing. And lest I be accused of selfishness, here it is for you too.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Another Bubble Popped

After working in the criminal justice system for 6 years, I was ready to live in a bubble. A bubble consisting of life's pleasantries and joys. In complete oblivion to the messy, ugly world. After working in the criminal justice system for 6 years, that's just pretty much impossible. Not to mention the fact that I would have to become a hermit or something not to see the hurt in our world.

But, I still want a bubble to retreat within. Call me unrealistic, a fruitcake, whatever.

I recently had a bubble severely popped and I'm not sure things will ever be the same.

When I first started travelling home from college, there was a house that took my attention. Calling it dilapidated is being generous. But there was something very unique about this house. It always had laundry hanging out on the front porch. Always.

It became a kind of comfort to me and my friends as we crossed the mountain heading to our respective homes. All is good in the world as long as there is laundry hanging out to dry.

As Richie and I began dating, I passed this pearl of wisdom on to him and we always looked to see if the laundry was hanging. Richie recently came home and told me that he found out the story behind that house. And thus began the slow and agonizing death of my bubble.

It was widely known that this particular home was in the business of producing moonshine. And when their moonshine was available for purchase, they had a special signal for their customers...they hung the laundry on their front porch.

POP! Another bubble bites the dust. Call me cynical, but I'm not sure I'll ever be able to look at a clothesline the same way again.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Plumber Man and God's Favor

The sound of a bath running and dishwasher going have never been so wonderful.

The Plumber Man came today and fixed the clog, found an unknown cracked pipe that he took time to repair, and got my new dishwasher working. Bless you, Plumber Man, bless you.

Plumber Man is the parent of one of Richie's players. I don't know Plumber Man's name, but he saved me and I am so grateful. Not only that, but it cost us under $30. We paid for parts only.

I am still in awe. Thank you, God.

You see, one of the reasons we waited so long to have the clog looked at professionally is that we didn't have the money to pay a plumber. So after ___ days (you don't think I'm really going to give away how many days it really was that I went without a shower do you?), it had to be done.

It could be easy to dismiss it as a parent getting in good with the coach or just a nice gesture, but I know otherwise. I know my Daddy God was taking care of me.

And Plumber Man may not know it, but God sent him our way. Thank you, Plumber Man and thank You, Lord.

*By the way, if you're local and need a plumber, have I got a recommendation for you...


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Of Clogged Drains and Wrong Dates

Ah, the things of life. What a ride it can be.

My kitchen sink is clogged. Or rather, my main pipe is clogged. Clogged with a large mass of shredded meat that someone put in the garbage disposal. Meat is not supposed to go in the garbage disposal. Remember that. Cling to it like your life depends on it. Or at least your nose. You'll thank me one day for the distinct absence of rotting meat odor in your life.

So what I've got are no clean dishes, just piles of messy ones. No clean laundry, just mountains of dirty clothes. No clean people, just smelly ones. And it's been going on for...

Nevermind, I'm not going to tell you how long I went without a shower. If I was living in the bush in Africa, it would be okay. But here in America, not so much. The old adage, Location is everything, has taken on new meaning in my life.

Anyway, I started my __st/nd/rd/th day of having clogged pipes and dirty everything around my house with a phone call from Samuel's speech therapist saying that she was running late and was wondering if it would be okay if she came in 30 minutes.

*HUGE silent pause*

"Oh, I had you written down for coming tomorrow morning," I lightly laugh while sinking to the floor. "Sure."

See, one of the great things about homeschooling is the flexibility. The flexibility to choose curriculum. The flexibility to schedule your day. The flexibility to stay in your pajamas (not that I would ever be caught doing that). The flexibilty to remain hidden for days if your pipes are clogged.

And that's right where I was. Enjoying my flexibilty - we'll call it that since I'm a glass is half full kind of girl. The boys and I managed to pick up the living room, vacuum, get dressed (I haven't put so much baby powder in my hair since I played an elderly lady in a church play several years ago), and eat breakfast before she arrived. Talk about motivation.

The appointment went well and I finally got a shower this afternoon at a friend's house down the street. Maybe, just maybe the plumber guy will rescue me tomorrow.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Kefir Project

So, 2008 saw major changes in the way our family ate and I plan to continue the trend in 2009. My first project of 2009 is adding kefir to our diet. Something that I did not know existed until a couple months ago. Something that makes me feel a bit hippie, granola, health nut-ish. Maybe a little science geek-ish, too. I am so multi-faceted. A regular Renaissance woman, I tell ya.

Kefir is a fermented milk drink. Yes, as in bacteria and yeast - think probiotics. It is similar to yogurt, but not as thick. It has a somewhat tangy taste. Some people like it straight, but I prefer it in smoothies. But then again, I am a closet smoothie addict. Pray for me.

I also think it's good when it sits in juice overnight. The only other way I've used it is in a soaked oatmeal recipe, but there are lots of ways to consume it. And it is quite easy to make. Okay, ridiculously easy. Not to mention that is really cheap to make compared to buying it. (Thanks for sharing the kefir grains, Mom!)

As odd as kefir may sound, it has numerous health benefits that I just can't ignore. I feel like my body can tell when I haven't consumed any within 2 days. One thing I have noticed is that Abigail does not spit up when I drink it regularly. She had symptoms of acid reflux around 1 month of age. When we switched to drinking raw milk her symptoms improved and now when I include kefir in my diet the symptoms appear to be non-existent. I thank God for bringing these resources into our path.

So many people have put together information on kefir that instead of reinventing the wheel, I'm just going to include some links if you would like to read more about it. (Yes, you may call it unmotivated or underachieving, but I'm going to call it resourceful.) And if you live close by, I will be more than happy to make you a smoothie to try...really, twist my arm. Please.

  • I first heard about kefir at Passionate Homemaking here.
  • A site dedicated to kefir.
  • Some articles on its benefits can be found here, here, and here.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Wonderful World of Skype

Hip, hip, hooray! Hip, hip, hooray!

I cannot even begin to say how thankful I am for
Skype - where you can "talk to the world for free". This is one of the ways my family has been able to communicate with my lovely sister (pictured below with my niece) who recently moved to Eastern Europe.

It has been such a blessing to see all of their smiling faces while we try catch up with each other. I can't say that I am always that thankful for technology, but this is one instance where I can shout praises! *grin* I am so thankful to have this resource during our separation. What must it have been like before computers? Wow...

So today, I am thankful for Skype because I can talk to my sister in another continent for free and see her while we chat. I am thankful for their smiles and the comfort it brings to me when I see them. I am thankful for their continued safety and provision. I am thankful that they have been obedient to God's call on their lives.

And seriously, if you have a webcam and some loved ones that don't live nearby (like my whole family!), Skype has been great. It has been fun to have the kids talk with my mom and other sister as well. What a fun way to stay in touch!

You can see what others are thankful for at GratiTuesday over at Heavenly Homemakers.


Friday, January 9, 2009

At The Dinner Table

While visiting my mom over Christmas, we enjoyed quite the variety of foods. Asian, Puerto Rican (of course), Italian, Mexican, and many more. One night my mom made bratwurst and sauerkraut.

Now, there was a time when I wouldn't have touched the stuff, but my taste buds are apparently diminishing with age, so it's good now. At least that's what my grandaddy used to say. Anyway, it was really yummy and everyone seemed to be enjoying.

Caleb had his food carefully arranged on his plate ranked in order of what he would eat first to last, based on likeability. I have no idea where he gets picky eating from. Nope, no idea... So as he was sharing what order he would eat his foods in, he explained that "Sauercrap" would be first. Because he did not like sauercrap.

Sauercrap? I know buddy, there was a day before my taste buds grew dull that I thought the same thing. You know, there are days when I wonder how in the world I'm supposed to be mature and not laugh at some of the things that come out of these kids mouths. *grin*

Seriously though, I am thankful for the innocence that remains in him and that he had no idea why the adults at the dinner table busted out laughing.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Kicking Passivity to the Curb

pas·sive/ pas·siv·i·ty - acted upon by an external agency; receptive to outside impressions or influences; lacking in energy or will; tending not to take an active or dominant part; exhibiting no gain or control; receiving or enduring without resistance; existing or occurring without being active, open, or direct

I have an issue with passivity. I have an issue with admitting that. What can I say? The truth hurts and when I admit that, it reveals a side of me that I want to pretend doesn't exist. I'm a go-getter, not a slacker. I'm a warrior, not a wimp.

In more ways than one, I can so relate to Paul in Romans 7:15 when he says: For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. Ugh. I certainly have days that I just don't understand. The battle that goes on within is so intense. As deep calls unto deep, passivity squeezes in with ferocity.

So, I am hoping to unleash myself from passivity this year. How's that for not having a resolution for the year?! Man, I'm not even good at being unmotivated. *grin* I'm not sure what it will look like, but it must be done. I am sure that a lot of it will not feel so good to my flesh. Which is always a good thing.

When I looked up the definition for passivity, I was a little surprised by it. I guess just because it hit the spiritual nail on the head so much. Lacking in energy or will, check. Tending to not take a dominant part, check. Receiving or enduring without resistance, check.


It's beyond time to shed this thing.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Cheese Head

Cheese has a way of just making things better doesn't it? Samuel seems to think so.

Although I have to admit that I was recently surprised by his unique take on its functionality. Yeah, that's right, I used the words functionality and cheese together. I told you, I like living on the edge.

Samuel hit his head while playing with Caleb this morning. He came into the kitchen holding his head and groaning. As he expressed his pain by saying, "Ow," repeatedly, I saw it on his face. I saw it in his eyes.

Focus and determination.

He was a man child with a purpose.

The refrigerator door flies open, he pulls out a drawer, and...slaps a slice of cheese against his little noggin.

Did you know that a cold piece of cheese holds pain relieving qualities? Maybe I'm the only one who didn't know. I tend to be the last to know about these types of things.

Got a headache? Slap on a slice of cheese. Splinter in your foot? Slap on a slice of cheese. Flat tire? Slap on a slice of cheese.

Slap on a slice of cheese. It might just become my 2009 motto.