Friday, February 27, 2009

Grosso Gourmeto

Sort of in keeping with my last post, I'm going to carry on the subject of foods.

Growing up, we mostly had inexpensive, healthy, home-cooked meals. As we got older, my sister and I helped out in the kitchen. We learned how to pick out vegetables and fruit at the grocery store with mom. We learned the basics. Knowing how to steam fresh veggies is only a success if you know how to pick out the best veggies available. Yellow broccoli is not going to taste as good as purple broccoli no matter what. Your dish can't be any better than the quality of the produce added.

Off topic. Re-directing.

Quite often my family would try new recipes. My dad cooked as much as my mom and he was usually a little more daring. Mostly this comes from having been in places like Thailand and other overseas locations. He would come back and teach us a new dish.

Mostly, I don't remember many flops. But there was this one time. Mom decided to do a gourmet, cold, black bean soup. She also made her famous banana pudding...but she cooked it in the microwave.

So my sister and I are looking at this cold soup. Hmmm. And its black. Hmmm. And then you put a big spoonful of sour cream in it and add some raw onions (ick) as garnish. Now, sour cream in cold soup does not mix in and become a creamy delight. Nope.

So we choked down a few spoonfuls. I don't think either of us made it through the whole bowl. But there was another all important rule that we were very careful to adhere to.

NO MAKING NOISES OR SAYING UGLY THINGS ABOUT FOOD. This was a very serious rule. You were allowed to say you did not like something. You were allowed to ask not to eat it. You must try it. And there were no rude words allowed. Yuck. Ewww. Gross. Disgusting. Ugh. Or any ugly faces either.

This was considered the height of rudeness and disrespect. The person sitting next to you might love this food -- and you have no business insulting them like that. And I admit that I have carried this rule over into my own household as an adult. Wasn't easy to train my husband either. But the kids were raised this way. The rule is explained to nieces and nephews and vistors alike. (But they don't have to try things at my house...only my kids do.)

Anyway, we got through the soup somehow. Sis and I are cutting our eyes at each other and making faces when mom is not looking. Dad is pretending not to see. Somehow, we make it to dessert time. LOVE mom's banana pudding. And we dig in and take big bites. Complete silence. We sit there and chew. And chew. Or at least we try to....but our tongues are stuck to the roof of our mouths.

Yes, I'm quite sure that my mother discovered the recipe for wall paper paste, made in the microwave. Thank goodness it was banana flavored or we might have broken all the rules.

At this point my mom starts cracking up. She did like the soup...but the dessert was rather too much. And she says we just don't know gourmet food. At which one of us (I can't remember which smart alec it was) returns with...."but we do know Grosso Gourmeto!!!"

This has become our family code word for "I'm not eating that!!!! No way! No how!!"

Luckily, we have not had many of those in our house over the last 22 years. Considering how often we try new recipes that is really rather good. I can only think of about 3 times we have actually left the table and went and got something to eat elsewhere.

The first time DH and I were newly weds. I tried this chicken casserole recipe. Don't remember what it was called but it had some cream of tomato and other soups in it. And it was cooked in the microwave. (You can already guess where this is going, can't you?)

It was disgusting!!!!!! The chicken was like rubber and it was just nasty. We shoved it aside after the first bite!! DH was very nice about it and put it up on the counter top to cool so we could ditch it, and took me out to eat. Sadly, when we returned home and I looked at the sparkling clean casserole bowl and thanked DH for cleaning up.... we realized the doberman had jumped up on the counter and eaten it all. YUCK!!!!!!!! And he didn't even get sick.

So, a piece of advice for those that are new to cooking. DO NOT COOK IN THE MICROWAVE. It's good as a reheater, or for bacon or baked potatoes. Otherwise, just don't do it!!!!! Plus there are studies out there how microwaving changes the structure of the foods and this might pose health risks. Google it if you are curious. Hasn't stopped me from using a microwave, but I don't use it as often for sure.

And back to the rule on not making faces or being rude.

Then came Mighty Mouse.

First, you cannot make her eat anything she doesn't want to. She will starve herself rather than put something in her mouth she doesn't want. We know for a fact she will last up to 2 1/2 days without food. Been there. Broken down after 2 1/2 days. Whoever said a kid will not starve themselves or go hungry over being made to eat something was WRONG. DEAD WRONG. There are kids out there that are strong willed enough to harm themselves over putting something they don't want in their mouth. And it has to be the one who doesn't weight enough to make it worth the threat of CPS being called after dropping 3 pounds and hitting failure to thrive weights. Not kidding. Boy have I been trained 100% in the opposite direction on thinking you CAN get kids to eat good food. How foolish of me.

We have been able to keep Mighty Mouse from using ugly words. But that's because she never makes it that far. If you present her with something she thinks she won't like the gag reflex kicks in. She immediatley starts retching and gagging. Not a put-on! The real deal. And no amount of threats or punishment stops this relex of hers. So we spend the time trying to get her to cut it out...while tears are streaming down our face from the sheer comedy of the tears running down her face due to the force of the retching!!!! What a circus!!!

But this has been a good week. We had two new recipes that are keepers...unheard of in one week. Plus, the only retching this week was over an escaped green balloon on returning home from the grocery store. And that was the funniest yet. SCREAMMMM ..retch ...SCREAMMMMM ...retch, retch, retch ....SCCCCCRRREEAMMM.. retch ..fall to knees. And mom is trying to get her to stop, laughing her butt off and trying not to wet her pants because it is sooooo stupid!!! And the neighbors are standing in the yard staring and wondering why this child is screaming like I'm beating her. And I waited the next hour with my breath held wondering when the cops were going to show up. Not kidding. This little fit lasted an hour and a half.

Child needs a good dose of peas.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Autumn Asks: Have you ever wanted to do a family cookbook?

When my son was getting ready to graduate High School, he started asking me to write down his favorite recipes. I think his hand must have been broken. (Not.)

Anyway, his cousin, Miss Cell, was graduating also. Plus, he has two other cousins, Pinky and The Brain, that had graduated in the last few years also. The two boys have a mother that really cooks -- and I figured they had lots of recipes they would want from their mom.

So I started looking around for a company that printed family cookbooks. You always have people doing them for fund raisers, so I figured it would be easy. Not so. Most companies will only do large orders. I figured we would need 10-20 tops.

Finally, I ran across You can order as few as 4 books from this company!!

So I joined for the free trial month to try this site out. You send an email invite to all those that you want to contribute...and they type their recipes into the computer and its done. You can add a picture and a story or whatever. AND DID YOU CATCH THAT....THEY get to type in the recipe they are contributing??? Talk about cutting down on the work.

Disclaimer: I did most of the input, because otherwise most of our family wouldn't have contributed. So the theory of that is fabulous...but I make no promises your family will be compliant!

How it works: You pay a monthly fee to keep the site open for people to add. If you can get it done in a month...bonus!!! If not you will pay for each additional month you keep it available. I noticed that the price has doubled since I did this in 2006. Still reasonable in my mind as you can order as few as 4 books.

So you add your recipes. You can add dividers and decide how to divide the recipes up. You can add and white or color. You can design your own cover. You can have different kinds of bindings also.
Prices vary depending on what you add and whether you use color. I opted to do our cover, in black and white, and not put photos in the book. This kept our price down. The price of the books was VERY reasonable...but the shipping is steep since its a heavy box when you are done. We had 21 or 22 books and when I divided it all out it was about $21 per book, including the shipping. That is with 190 pages. So a 100 page book would have been about $10 a piece.

All three of my kids have one of these. And what is cool is that you can add a dedication/Introduction page also. And I can go back at a later date and get more if I want...the printer already has it on file so I just request the book.
This has become one of our most used cookbooks at home. I transferred all my hand written recipes into it. My copy is already wrinkled and stained. I love it. My son uses it. I hear one of cousins has been using it also (Hence a cry for help as the directions weren't clear enough. Whoops.).

We are already collecting recipes for the next go-around. Songbird and one of her cousins will be graduating in 4 years. I should have another book worth of recipes by that time. And maybe some of the other family members will participate now that they have seen what the final product looks like. And then again maybe not since half of them claim not to cook. Either way I look forward to our next family edition.

I have nothing but good things to say about the ease of use, delivery and the whole process. I highly recommend this company. If you have ever considered doing this - do it now!! You never know how much time we have left and what recipes will be gone forever if you don't get them down. I'm ever so thankful that I did our first edition while my father was still alive...many of his recipes are in our book!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Another country on the continent of Africa. I'd really love to go and see a handful of these places...especially Morocco - which is one of Algeria's borders.

The landscape...

Part of the Sahara is in Algeria. Aren't sand dunes the coolest? They make cool pictures anyways.

The food....
The arts...
Berber carpets being made by women.

The women....

And my favorite, the children....

Friday, February 20, 2009

Not Another Racism Post

I'm quite sure my friends get tired of hearing about racism. So, fair warning, this is a serious post...a sort of rant. If you are not in the mood skip this one.

Since adopting and becoming a interracial family, I have made it a point to learn as much as I can about racism. What it is. How to fight it. How to react. What to do. All that. Sounds kind of silly to a lot of people, but I found that about 80% of the whites I know don't have any idea that this is still a big problem in our country. We are literally able to go about our daily lives and never be touched by it in a significant way. We live in a bubble. And in this country, that is very easy to do if you are white. That is just wrong. That is white privelge.

So I read web sites. I read books. I watch programs.

I try.

I want the best of the world. I want the best for my daughter. I don't want to ignore or shrug off any racism she deals with in life. I might not be able to empathize, but I want to support, fight and sympathize as determined by what she needs of me.

To learn these things you need a voice of experience. Hence all the reading. Adoptee blogs and websites abound. For 4 years I have read them. And its not easy. Having anger directed at you for an issue you did not cause is hard. Having anger directed at you for the privilege of living in a bubble...once again something that was provided for me, not by hard. But it needs to be recognized and torn down.

I've fought the racist comments in my own family...even the "well meaning" use of word deemed unacceptable by other races. I've had these conversations with other adoptive parents. I talk to my friends about it. I point out to complete strangers when they say something that is racist. I'm not 100% right on ... but I am actively taking steps and striving. But you know what? I can always chose to step away from this and return to a world where race is not an every day issue. White privelge. That's wrong.

First, let me say to all those who will say this...... being picked on, singled out for a feature, and made fun of for something...IS NOT RACISM. Racism is so much more than that. The fact that you have never been in that position does not mean it does not exist. Racism is soul deep and can be life destroying. Racism is being thought of and treated like you are less than human. You are sub-par. You are kept from things and oportunities based on nothing more than your skin color. You FEAR for no other reason than what can be done to you because of the color of your skin.

Now, many people will ignore what I just said. Because I'm white, I'm not talking with a voice of authority. It's all second hand. So, in order to get resistant, ignorant (not stupid, just didn't know) people to listen, you have to have a voice of experience.

And there's where it all breaks down.

In the last four years this is what I've run up against at almost every turn.

1. The victims are not responsible for being our teachers. Yes. This makes sense. Do you really think people of color want to spend all their time dealing with white people trying to learn about race? They already live under it...why should they spend even more time on this mess by teaching whites what they don't know? Can you imagine how you'd feel? Dealing with ignorance or hate is not a pleasant thing to do on the best of days. Especially when you did nothing to bring this on.

I'd also like to point out that the biggest changes are usually made by victims. They are vested in the outcome and will fight harder. The horrible death of Adam resulted in the show "America's Most Wanted" which removed many criminals from our streets. The victim made these changes. I'm sure that you can think of other examples to support this.

So no, the victims should not be required or expected in any way to be our teachers....but they are the most effective ones to make the changes we need. The victims also happen to be the experts.

Breakdown. And I don't see any fix for this one.

2. The adoptee's I have read (notice I did not say ALL ANGRY adoptees) that are against interracial adoption do not appear to be interested in solving the problems. They are having their say and trying to find others to relate to. They tend to be angry about the racism where they grew up and the lack of support from their white parents or peers. A good thing to be angry about. They tend to want all interracial adoptions stopped because of these conditions. And adoptee's that don't feel this way are often told that they are just burying the truth inside of them or lying to keep from hurting their parents feelings.

Then they turn around and use all the tactics, language, and finger pointing that they accuse the the whites of using. Things like "all adoptive parents". Isn't that the same as saying "all blacks or browns"? Lumping them all together and erasing individuality? They tell us we CAN'T learn. It's an ISM. I am a racist because I adopted a child of another race? I'm a racist because I disagree or ask questions about a brown persons actions or words that are the same as white racist use?

When I've ask how its different.....I've been called a racist and told I'm too stupid to understand or just flat out not capable because I'm white. But I'm asking. I WANT to understand. I WANT to be able to make others understand. I'm asking the voice of authority on this. And you know the most common thing I hear? Seeking power for colored people is not the same thing as disenfranchising whites.

So its about wanting power? Ok. All people should have power...or be on the same level with the same oportunities. Too bad that as I ask questions, their use of power is to respond in the same ways they complain about being treated. It's wrong from either side. It looks like they want to do to others all that has been done to them. All I'm seeing so far is abuse of power. And yes, I believe that non-whites ARE the authority or power on the topic of racism.

And yes, I'm very sure there are many whites that ask questions that are really being hateful and resisting. To drive away all the others that are actively trying to learn and make changes...and need to know how something is different when it looks just the same. Huge Breakdown.

3. After the name calling, being told I can not understand or change or whatever..... THEN there is the complaint that the whites always just throw up their hands and say nothing will ever change so why should I even try.

Knocked down at every turn. Treated in the manner we are told/know it is wrong to treat others. Dismissed as stupid or unable to learn. Treated with contempt.

On the other hand, walk away from it. Sink back into the oblivion of white privege.

What do you think most people are going to do?

As for me, I'll keep reading. I'll keep trying to fight the powers that be on issues that are racist. I will do my best to be vigilant in my area. I will do what I can to support my daughter and the things she will deal with. I will support whatever fight she wants to bring on - and how much involvement she wants me to have.

And its not enough.

PS - I will also do what I learned from these adoptees....I will use the delete button on comments that don't support my views. (Not.) Just watch your language please, its a family blog.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hurry Up...and Wait!

Why do we try so hard to teach our kids to be on time?

It seems like its always some kind of rush to get where ever you are going.

Like the doctors. You hurry up to get out the door and be there the 10-15 minutes they tell you to. And then you sit around and wait. And wait. And wait.

And the natives start to get restless.

"Why did we have to get here so early if they are just going to make us wait?"
"Is it time yet?"
"Do they know we are here?"

How do you explain to a pre-schooler that everything is as it should be?

Do you know what Mighty Mouses most asked question is right now? (Her father does not appreciate this very much either!!)


"Mommy, can I have lunch?"
"Sure, just a minute...."

Joining a line at the grocery store. Two people in front of us.

Waiting for the dentist to call us back.

"Can I have a snack?"

In the drive-through lane at the bank.

Picking up a prescription.

Standing in line at a fast food joint.

With the exception of doctors offices, most of these things don't take that long. So, what's the big rush????

And how do you explain to a child that they are going to spend about as much time waiting in this life as they do sleeping???? (At least that is what it feels like.) It worked with the older two...but Mighty Mouse is a whole different story. Even at four she questions why we hurry...just to wait? Why do we have to be on time...but the doctor doesn't?

At this point I spout at her that the average person over fifty will have spent 5 years waiting in lines. It's what we do. Hurry up and wait.

Then we have this long back and forth thing go on....kind of like that movie with Tom Cruise. What was it called? Jerry McGuire? Tom is in the car with the kid and a back-and-forth verbal battle begins...

For us it looks something like this:

Me: Did you know that the average 4 year old asks 400 questions a day?
MM: Yep - but did you know that 3.6 cans of Spam are consumed each second?

Me: Really? Did you know that 40,000 Americans are injured by toilets each year?
MM: And most toilets flush in E flat.

Me: Did you know that it takes a half a gallon of water for me to make your macaroni...and a gallon of water to clean the pot?
MM: Right. But did you know that a shrimps heart is in its head?

Me: Most lipstick contains fish scales.
MM: Only 6 people in the world have died from moshing.

Me: When did you start moshing????

Okay. So that's not really a verbatim conversation. But you get the idea. It's just nuts. And other people are stopping what they are doing to stare while we verbally spar. And I probably shouldn't enjoy it near as much as I do...but verbal sparring IS an art form. I just hope her teachers understand that concept when she begins school in the fall. I'm dreaming about those phone calls already.

I'm telling you, this one will end up getting the better of me a lot younger than the other two.

The only time I come out on top lately is when it ends like this:

But see. Even in her sleep she's still sporting the attitude.

The kid is just cool.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Autumn Asks: Battled any little gods today?

How often do we hear that those things that we love the most are our gods? Those things that we spend the most time doing. Those things that we spend the most money on. Those things that we think of the most.

I hate hearing that most of the time. It makes you stop and take a look at yourself. I very rarely am happy with what I see.

Currently, I am trying to slay my most high god.


I have to have it every day. I never miss on purpose. But can I say the same thing about praying...or more importantly, quiet time in the Word?

I will leave the house to go buy one at the corner store. I will scrape change up from the couch cushions.

And the love affair begins with the first crack of the cap. You know that sound? That sound is like magic. It makes you feel better immediately. When I worked in a law office our boss kept a fridge full for us. The office was built in a big square with the conference room in the middle. We could all pretty much lean out our doors and get anyone's attention we needed. But the funny thing (or sad thing actually) was that first soda crack of the day. The first person would pop that top and then there would be a stampede for the pop cooler. It was like a bunch of drug addicts. Messed up.

Well, along with an online friend, I determined that now is finally the time to get serious and fight this false god. I've cleaned up a bunch of other areas and THINK I'm strong enough to listen the true God and get rid of this. I adopted Heathers deadline of the end of February.

The date keeps creeping closer.

How am I doing? Well, I'm drinking it every chance I get. Of course. But I'm still determine that it has to go. The end of February.

Do they have withdrawal drugs for this? I get the shakes just thinking about it. Sweat breaks out on my forehead.

I'm reading every bad thing I can get my hands on to help out. Like how they just came out with the results that high fructose corn syrup tests positive for its a byproduct of the process of making HFCS. WHAT????? So along with the aluminum or plastic poison we injest from the container, now we know we are getting mercury too??

You'd think that would be enough to make me run away screaming.

Then there are all of the health effects...

1. Extra pounds....which leads to all kinds of possible disease.
2. Liver damage in the form of cirrhosis...the same risk that alcoholics face.
3. Tooth enamel decay. Even worse than eating hard candy.
4. Increased risk (15%) for kidney stones due to the high phosphoric acid.
5. Diabetes.
6. Heartburn and acid reflux
7. Osteoporosis - once again the phosphoric acid
8. High blood pressure.
9. Heart disease - due to metabolic syndrome
10. Impaired digestion from messing with the stomach acid levels.

So, its time. I mean, I'm working real hard on cleaning up the things I'm eating for the allergies and such. Shouldn't I get of the real poison too?

So, I'm going to do it. I am. And because my God is bigger than Coca-cola... I will succeed.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Autumn Asks: What Cartoon Family Did You Grow Up In?

It's not a trick question.

I grew up in a cartoon family.

Can you guess which one?

The Flintstones.

No kidding.

My dad was that big guy, loud, with the big nose. They had the same fashion sense too. Not kidding. Although dad usually ended up with some crazy stripes instead of spots.

See what I mean?

Dad's favorite sports? Fishing and bowling. Grew up very familiar with the bowling alleys. Mom and dad were always in leagues. I always stank. Still do. But still have loads of fun going with my kids.
Mom was always looking put together.

Remember when people "dressed" to do anything? That's how I found out I was busted once. Came home and she was "dressed". Asked her where she went. To the school. Seems she got a phone call from one of my teachers that was very concerned that I might be in a devil worshiping cult. True story. I'm laughing my butt off just thinking of it. Maybe I'll share at another time...and then again maybe I won't!

Mom was also very much a home maker. And she worked. But our house was always kept up so nice. Dinners were almost always home cooked meals from scratch. She was great about making sure we had balanced meals. A forgotten art nowadays. Plus she sews. REALLY sews. The coolest stuff. I think she even made our swimsuits some years.


She's tough. A tall Texas woman and military brat to boot. Don't piss her off. She has a mean streak. I come by it honest. Manners and etiquettte of a true lady....but watch out. Go too far...
And did I mention dad was loud??? Even his sneezes used to rock the chandeliers of the upstairs and downstair neighbors.
See that expression? It was not hard to push him to that point. For some reason I figured out how to be a pro at it. Livin on the edge.
That's actually a smile.

And then there was pebbles. Without the hair. Poor kid.
Yep. That's my cartoon family. I probably don't have to tell you how weird it was for me as a kid when this show came on. I actually didn't like watching it as it creeped me out. Still does.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Autumn Asks: Are You Raising Kids, Or Are You Raising Adults?

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis, At the Well had a post last week in which she made the comment, "We aren't raising kids, we are raising adults."

That has stuck with me and I have rolled it around in my brain - not being able to decide how I felt about that. Yes, we are raising adults....but kids are kids. I think I keep trying to make it a little too black and white. I think the true bottom line is that it is our job as parents to raise our children to be productive, self-sustaining adults (assuming there are no handicaps to consider).

More and more children are moving back in with their parents long after they have left the nest - or even never leaving!! There are legitimate cases for this. Maybe a single mom can't pay rent on her own so she likes having her son or daughter continue to live at home when they grow up and are a single adult also. Maybe there is a caregiver issue where the grown child is honestly providing care for the parent. But mostly, these returns to the home are not wanted. The parents say yes because it is their child...but in all honesty they DON'T want them there.

Then there are the young adults that go to college or join the workforce and still expect mom and dad to buy their clothes and other such things. Or pay their car insurance!!!! Expect being the key word. Things freely given are just from the parents - that's not what I'm talking about here.

So, as the mom of 3 I began to wonder how I was doing on this front. We have one out the door in college that we have learned a boat load of lessons on. Knowing many of you have children also, I thought I'd share 6 of the success and failures we have cut our teeth on so far.

1. Teach your kids to cook. Do you know, I have taught 2 adult women to cook fresh foods in the last few years? It's not that they couldn't cook at all -- but cooking was more often than not out of a can, bag or box. They had NO CLUE how to cook fresh vegetables. This woke me up to just how important it is for our kids to know how. When I was growing up, it wasn't that I had lots of cooking time at home, but I was put to work helping. At the very least I SAW my mother cooking real food. I knew it could be done and it didn't look real involved. So even if I didn't know how to cook something when I left home, I was not afraid to give it a shot because I'd seen it done. Now, my mother never made I have never tried even though I love them. See how this works??? Let your kids see you cook. And even better, make sure they can. My son will tell you that he is a hot commodity as boyfriend material because he cooks. His girlfriends don't know how!! Success!

When we neglect this one thing, we hand our childrens health over to big business. Boxed food. Canned food. Fast food. That equals out to one unhealthy young adult.

And on that same note, my son, who never had cavities growing up, just had 5. Yes, five (well, only 3 teeth, but 5 surfaces). The dentist just shrugged and said it was very common in college kids that had moved away from home in the first year. It's almost all nutritionally related. So there's another lesson for you. Tell your kids to be extra careful of their teeth that first year and make sure they are getting the nutrition. My son is now back to cooking after the shock of this. He claims that he is as vigilant as ever with his teeth and could not understand. That's when the dentist told us how common it was.

2. Teach your children about money. But that is not enough. Our son had financial classes in public high school. He also had Financial Peace for high school students. He had the knowledge on how everything worked. What he didn't have was the experience. So, within 6 months of moving out on his own he had financial problems. (That he has never asked us to help with - now that's raising an adult.) What we failed to do was open up a checking account for him and let him have real life experience of working out of and balancing the real thing. Sure, he had a savings account and a ATM card - that taught him nothing. FAIL!!

Next year my second child will be starting high school. At that point we plan on opening a checking account for her with her clothing allowance in it. We have a budgeted amount each month that we will put in there. I will also have her school lunch money put there. It will be her job to know what money she has and balance the account each month. This will be something we do with her. If she does fail, she will do it at home, where we can walk her through the consequences (NOT protect her from them) without it being as painful as it could be if she was already living on her own. NOW, the key to this is to make sure you aren't getting talked into giving extra money. The child needs to know how to stay within the limits of what they have. Just look at our economy and you can figure out why. Tell me this isn't an important skill in the years that are coming.

3. You must teach your kids about cars. Teach them to change the oil if you know how. At the very least make sure they are proficient at checking fluids and know when to go get the oil changed. Do they know you need to rotate tires? Tire changing can be huge also. At the least make sure they have the auto club number on their phone for help with a tire. Success on tire changing and Fail on the IMPORTANCE of checking your fluids.

The other big one with cars is insurance. Make your kids pay their car insurance. You can have them on your policy and have them pay you. This does make it cheaper, and mom is less likely to tack on late fees. So let them be late - but make them pay it. This is one bill in life that should not be negotiable. Have them pay it from day one. It's part of the responsibility of driving. If they can't be responsible for this, what makes them responsible enough to drive in the first place? I can't tell you the number of kids that drop their insurance payment first time money gets tight after leaving home because it has NEVER been a priority - mom and dad handled that and never really made a big deal of it. Driving without insurance is criminal. If you can't afford the insurance you have no business driving. NO. BUSINESS. DRIVING. And if mom and dad don't make this a big deal, the kid will end up hitting someone while they aren't insured and ruining the lives of another family. Criminal. (Can you tell uninsured drivers are a pet peeve of mine???) This is more important that paying the car note itself. If the car isn't paid, they come take it away. That doesn't ruin another family. And ruined credit is not a ruined life.

4. You can tell a kid they can't ____________ as long as they live in your house. Then, don't be shocked when that is the first thing they do when they move out. The key then is to let it go and accept it. They did follow the rule in your house. Now its their turn. Do not harass them unless you want to drive them away. You may state your displeasure in a respectful manner, but don't treat them like a 13 year old - and don't do it every time you see them. They don't live in your house anymore - let them be the adult you raised them to be. You've had your say when they were growing up. Now its up to them to decide their own path. You can always pray about it - but don't treat them like naughty children over it.

5. Teach your child from the beginning that they will ALWAYS deal with people that will hurt them, talk about them behind their back, lie about them and try to harm them. There doesn't even have to be a reason. Now, you have to do this in an age appropriate manner. You are not trying to crush their spirit. But don't pass it off with something like "kids are cruel". Humanity is cruel. Don't give them a false sense that it all changes when they hit 18. That kid that is spreading stories about your child in the lunchroom -- is going to show up again in their break room at work...with a new face and tactic. It does not stop. The key is to teach them that it is okay to hurt...and then how to deal with it. It takes both skills to get through life without being hardened to the hurt or crippled by it. And it can come from within your own family as well as from strangers. That can be the toughest lesson of all. Success.

6. Teach your children that following the law and liking the law are not the same thing. Whether you agree with the speed limit or not, it is the law and you DESERVE a ticket if you break it. That's just an easy example - but you get the idea. You can do the right thing even when you disagree. If you are Christian it is required of you (unless it is actually something that goes against God). You do not have to like it. It's not even about you. Success...with lots of pain and anguish.

This also carries over into other areas of authority. Teachers. Preachers. Supervising adults. Authority is to be treated with respect even when they are wrong. When you have been wronged there are usually set ways you can go about contesting it. Follow those rules or protocols first. And sometimes, you don't win even if you are right. Move on.

We all want our children to grow up and be happy, healthy, productive adults. It doesn't happen just by loving them. You have to do the work. Most of the teaching makes twice the work than doing things for them and just letting them be kids.

Then one day, they are grown and out of the house. And you watch them get creative to solve their own financial problems. You watch them cultivate mentor relationships to learn the things they don't know. You watch them help others. You watch them be incredible adults.

And all the extra work is worth it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Frugal Eating - FAIL!

When I first started searching for frugal food blogs I was very excited. I was ready to roll up my sleeves and get to cookin' the good, healthy, cheap stuff. Let's go!!

And it never panned out. After six months, I give up.

It seems that it is impossible to eat cheaply with diet restrictions.

Can't have wheat? You're done. Add dairy to very done. And I have to have the expensive eggs.

Now, I know you can eat wheat free. I know you can do without dairy. But you aren't going to do it very cheaply. At least not in my area. And to make matters worse, I don't actually have a know, like diabetes or celiac -- I have funky toxin issues that won't put me in the hospital. I just get sick and break out in hives on my face and body and blisters on my hands and feet. So when I get frustrated I just eat what we can afford and stay sick.

But I'm tired of being sick.

I can eat corn, potatoes and white rice (not brown..its an allergy thing). It's just too bad that the pasta's and other such subs made from this stuff are 4x the price. I bought a corn pasta the other day and it was over $3 -- I could buy 4 bags of regualr pasta for that!!!!

My other big dilemma is location. I have never lived in a city where groceries were a monopoly. Seriously, it's Walmart or HEB. Walmart has the worst produce I've seen for sale. HEB is high priced. And there aren't any food health stores either. There is a little corner in the Drug Emporium with stuff -- but talk about sticker shock. Yes, I definitely miss my Whole Foods, Wild Oats and a slew of other choices (Aldi's!!!) in Omaha. Of course I could drive an hour and a half either direction and find whatever my heart desires - but get real. Between the gas cost and the milage on the car it is just not worth it. We only make that trip when we run out of our favorite ethnic type foods (greek, mediteranian, chinese, indian) - since we don't have ethnic markets either (except a Mexican one that is not too bad at all).

I am going to try and grow a garden this year. I'm very intimidated by the whole process but I'm working towards it. If I can get my husband to help out with getting it started this will actually happen. This would help the vegetable prices I am paying. But, did I mention I've been on meds since I was 3 because I'm allergic to everything that grows??? It will still cost me.

I also suffer from a lack of recipes. Steamed veggies and meat every night is BORING. Most gluten free recipes call for ingredients I don't have and at the prices here, won't get. Lack of availablity here is also a problem for "exotic" ingredients.

I can't eat much soy so tofu is out. I do use it in a couple of dishes - but it is not a good sub for me. Has to do with thyroid problems I have and how soy makes it worse.

Our menu planning is not very frugal either. We do plan every week. But, when you have a husband that had food withheld when he was growing up and remembers being hungry all the end up with an ultra-controlling eater. He does check what we have before he starts deciding what he is going to eat(menu planning is a family affair). But if he wants something, that's it, that's what we are having. Because he can. It's his house. It's his money. He can eat what he wants. (And he is more than happy to cook these things ladies, he's not making me do it if I don't want to.) Now, I do get to throw some meals in there also and can try to balance it out a little. But, if he's been gone and returns home...he always changes the menu to eat those things he didn't get while he was gone - and marches right off to the store to get what he needs. Messes everything up.

So, we have a budget of $125 per week which is mostly spent on fresh fruit and veggie and meat. That's a little under the average for a family of 4 (occasionally 5). And I still think its way too high. Food budget has always been the thing I excelled at saving money on pre-diagnoses.

And just to add insult to injury, now it comes out that high fructose corn syrup is full of mercury. One of my issues. And here I was thinking it was probably fillings in my teeth. So now, the love of my life, Coca-Cola, is also poisoning me.

I just don't know if its worth going on. Bury me now. The funeral should be very affordable after what the family will be saving by not having to feed me.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Autumn Asks: Ever Feel Down?

I read a post the other day by Marie at A Year From Oak Cottage. It was mostly about how sometimes we feel down, along with other tid-bits about her life.

I'm in one of my down cycles now. I can't tell you why. It happens ever so often. It used to happen regularly when my husband was in the desert and away from home so long. That doesn't happen as often as it used to now and I'm very thankful. Maybe this is just some kind of habit carry-over from that time. No clue.

So, even though I really can't put a finger on why I get low (I don't say depressed because I think that is too strong of a description even though it is very similar in some ways.) her post was very helpful to me. It's worth the read if you want to click over.

Here is the stuff that stood out the most:

Life, it seems, is full of little dramas . . . highs and lows . . . the good and the bad. I thank God for the lows, for without them I would never see and appreciate the highs. I also thank him for the bad because it helps me to appreciate the good.

I thank God for the lows? I had never thought about that. I just wonder what is so wrong with me that I would even have the lows. It's not like I have a hard life. We are healthy and have all we need to live just fine. I find it embarrassing even. We all know one of those people that is always low or depressed for no real good reason. I don't want to be one of those - so I usually don't say anything at all when it happens.

Without these lows I wouldn't be able to appreciate the highs? Very good point.

Oh yes , it is sometimes hard to do so, and it may not be until afterwards that the real appreciation comes, and I am oftimes tempted to say . . . why me Lord? But then again . . . I stop and think, why not me? Who am I to think that I should be immune to all the rocks that life would sling? The Lord trys those whom he loves.

Why not me? Who am I that I should be immune. Wow. So true. I have it so good in so many ways, it seems I should have these lows just to even things up! LOL!

The Lord tries those whom he loves? The natural man in me does not understand that. But truly, if you look back on your life, how many times have the bad situations developed something in you that has really made you a better person? I'm willing to bet it was most of them.

So I guess its time to stop contemplating going to the doctor for a happy pill and start dropping to my knees and thanking God for the lows.

I'm definitely going to need some help on this one.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Autumn Asks: Is Being Unforgiving the Same Thing as Not Loving?

For if you forgive men their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if you don't forgive men their sins, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

I don't know.

My New Year's Resolution this year is simply Love More. This keeps coming up all over the board game I call Life. Right now one of the Bible studies I am in just finished concentrating a whole week on Love. It was a quiet week for me (verbally) as I processed this information and God did his work.

I don't think I have an unforgiveness problem. It's actually easy to forgive. The hurt is done, the anger subsides, I forgive and confess. I purge the person from my system 200%.

I am not angry. I don't require, wish for or think of retribution. I don't stew. I don't care (and many times don't even remember) what they did anymore.

I have handed over the hurt (yes, I actually visualize myself crumpling up the hurt like a piece of paper and placing it in God's hands) and I erase it.

What I have come to realize is that although I have forgiven...I have also completely withdrawn any and all love. They literally don't exist. I don't wonder how they are doing. I don't pray for them hardly ever. Rarely do I think of them of my own accord.

I've dropped them off the face of the earth.

So while the incident is is the person.

Total lack of love. Absence of love.

And Jesus says love.

I'm thinking that the lack of love is every bit as bad as being unforgiving. Maybe its just the opposite side of the same coin even?

Things that make you go hmmmm.....

Monday, February 2, 2009

Autumn Asks: Are You a Frugal SNOB?!?!

Besides the fact that all my cool friends have blogs....the reason I started reading them was to get idea's on how to be more frugal.

Our frugal journey began before the economy started tanking... but after the housing market downturn. Knowing we were only going to be here 3 more years and seeing housing values drop, we started thinking ahead to when its time to sell and move on. Add to that our huge credit card debt....for the first time ever....and two car payments, and we were so far out of our comfort zone that we got serious.

So I have my favorite blogs that I follow that are based on living simply and frugally.

Recently, there has been a rash of rude comments on these blogs.

Yes, step away from the mainstream and here it comes. But say it wasn't from people that aren't from other frugal people? What?

So did I miss something? Are there some written in stone frugal LAWS that these people are breaking? I had no idea there were frugal police lurking out there just waiting for you to make a mistake.

Please people. So Jr. High. SO Jr. High. SO JR. High. SO JR. HIGH.

Some recent examples:

On one of my favorite blogs the author was blasted for using name brand food and personal items. Nope, I'm not kidding. Like you can't be frugal if you touch anything name brand. Well, I'm here to tell you, I'll use John Wayne toilet paper (rough and tough) before I replace my Coke with generic cola. So what if someone has a favorite brand. If they are sticking to their OWN food budget, who cares? Ever heard of personal likes and dislikes? We are allowed. Even if we are "frugal". And the author was NOT whining are asking for advice on how to cut her grocery bill...she was just sharing what her list looks like.

And lets face it...some generics are gross. Why buy something your family won't eat? How frugal is that?

Another author was questioned for her excessive purchase of non-disposable water bottles. She stated that they wanted to get out of using the packs of water from the store and start carrying their own. That's frugal and eco freindly. But a reader had to question her on the AMOUNT of bottles she bought (which are the newer, safer bottles without the poison plastics, etc). Now, it was done in a respectful manner - except for saying how she couldn't help but think that was excessive - and her budget looked aweful high this month. Why not just ask in the comment how she came up with her number? The author did do a post on the answer - and part of the answer is she ended up with more than she went in for as it was cheaper to buy in a family pack so she has 3 more than she calculated she needed. And yes - she had a formula and good reasons for her number. Commentor - it doesn't matter how respectful you're saying you are being if you use inflammatory and accusory words. It's much more polite to just ask the question why instead of adding the judgement in.
Another woman felt the need to explain to a nasty commentor about their trip to Disney World. A trip paid for in cash. A trip that was greatly reduced in price as the husband had returned from serving in the desert, away from his kids and wife, for an extended length of time and Disney has special deals for these Vets.

I'm sorry - why aren't you allowed to take a vacation if you are frugal? When did this become outlawed? Why should this woman feel guilty for providing a cash vacation of pure fun for daddy and his kids?

I recently came across a blog of a family that moved into Amish country and are living off the grid. As in NO electricty. As in an outhouse. As in a gasoline powered washing machine. As in a windmill to pump the water into the house. Fascinating reading!!!!! Yet, you would be surprised at the verbal attacks on their family. Some say this is abusive to their children even!

Now, you are not going to find me going electricity free (I sure wonder how she charges her laptop!!!). And indoor plumbing is a must for me...especially the bathroom part. But I'd rather cheer for this family for being self sufficient that blast them for it. No, they are not hurting our economy by not having a elecricty or water bill. They are polluting less and relying on themselves more.

Why do people feel the need to tear down others that take a different path from them? Is it jealousy? Is it to make oneself feel more superior to the other?

And where is this elusive set of frugal rules we are supposed to follow? Apparently following your own families needs and desires is not allowed.

Another of my pet peeves...the people that make nasty comments about buying new clothing. If you have a clothing budget, and you stay within it - who cares? Now, if I'm complaining about not having money to buy groceries and I'm spending too much on new clothes...that's a problem. But if you have a set clothing budget and you stay within are being frugal. And trust me, I'm an expert on finding new clothing at thrift store prices...I have a talent for it. I don't know why. Actually, I think its something my mom passed down to me. And having said that - I do buy things at thrift stores and have no problem buying used clothing.

Then there are the coupon people. As in, the coupon haters. Ok - so don't use them. I'm here to tell you that I use coupons on some things. And GASP, I will buy something I don't normally buy with them. So am I kicked out of the frugal club?? You see, with a teen that wakes up 22.5 seconds before she needs to run out the door to catch the bus, and only gets enough lunch money to buy about half her lunches a month...if I find an amazing coupon for some quick trash that I know she will eat, I will buy it. Now, I have rules. The item cannot cost over $1 after the coupon(and I can't be able to simply make it for less). They must be used for school breakfast and lunch...not snacks or weekend fare. This means she gets alot of one time things. Most really good coupons are for a brand new product they want you to try. And yes, I know this is not good healthy food. The alternative is that she doesn't eat at all. And I also have to admit this is not a weekly kind of thing. AND I still stay within my grocery budget.

I could probably go on at least this much more, but I think you get the point.

Being frugal is good.

Frugal is personal and defined by each person/family. It is not a one size fits all thing.

Unless someone is complaining or asking for help with their frugal methods, don't make negative comments -- but do ask sincere questions if it helps you in some way (like you'd like to do this but don't understand everything). Leave the judgement at the door.

And back to my New Years Resolution -- Love and support one another. We are all trying to do better with our finances or our resources or be more eco friendly. It's a journey. A PERSONAL journey. Let's build each other up - not tear each other down. Someone doing things differently is NO THREAT to you.