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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Knit at Night

Knitting at night makes it hard for me to custom-fit wristlets to "I" of GAIN. She's asleep! How do I try them on her if she's sleeping? They are not a big project to finish, but her sleeping inhibits my progress.

The strawberry patch is still producing a large bowlful every day. "I" read _Little House on the Prairie_ this year, by Laura Ingalls. In it, Pa says, "We'll be living like kings." I think that our strawberry situation could be related to this statement. We have to enjoy the strawberries (or corn, or green beans, depending on the season) while we can. If we can't, I freeze them. They spoil too quickly to store long.

"A" began the berry patch with only three plants in 2000. Now it's overcrowded in there like crazy! Here is a photo of the first pea flower of the season for us. We also have little green tomatoes. Last year, "I" asked, "Do you think this tomato is small? Well look at this! Do you think it is small? Well look at this!" And she asked about seven times, and yes, she in her sensitive nature about plants found a really small tomato!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

On the sticks

I'm still on the wristlets.

I wanted to make a note here that this evening, I bought milk at a drug store. My younger son wanted a drink from the water cooler, so we went to the back where the clearance items are. I saw a lot of hair color.

I used this evening to serve charity. I do not color my hair, but I know that people at the emergency shelter might want to. Highlights and coloring could help give someone a new outlook on life. I took one box, marked at 99 cents, to the check out counter. I had a coupon for $2 off one box of this particular brand. Since I was buying other things, I was able to use the coupon with no problem. I profited $1.01 and someone will profit with the luxury of new hair color.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Now to tell another side of my shopping on Sunday. First was the bag. The second side is that I like to get deals. My friend started me on the 'bargain game.' The best first step is to have an organized coupon binder -- see photo. Here are details of my latest dealings:

1. I re-used paper shopping bags. Some stores will give you cents off for re-using bags.

2. I used coupons for items that were on sale. These are almost always things that I normally buy. It would not be a deal to buy something that I would not use.

3. I saved $12 in coupons. Some weeks, I save more; some weeks, I save less. The figure I give does not include the difference between sale and full retail prices. Walgreens and SuperTarget and Target will take their own store coupons in addition manufacturer's coupons for the same item (couponer term for this is 'stacking').

4. SuperTarget coupons can be found and printed in their customer service. Go to 'Shop' -- You'll find a place for Target coupons by clicking this area.

5. Hy-Vee, Dahl's, and Fareway publish their sales on Tuesdays. The respective websites also carry the ads. Target, WalMart, and KMart release sales on Sundays. So you have Sunday and Monday to compare prices between all the stores. Kind of like a bidding war for particular items.

6. Kum 'n' Go gives free newspapers with $15 gas purchases. That is not much gas, sadly. Anyway, you can get free manufacturer coupons this way.

7. Walgreens has a monthly EasySaver catalog. They offer store coupons that you can stack with manufacturer coupons and have rebates, too. These are available in the stores and on their website. You can file rebates online.


Sunday, June 8, 2008


I have a various things to say. The first thing to say is that I used my knitted shopping bag for the first time this evening at Walgreens. I have been frustrated by shopping bags for years. I re-use paper bags at the grocery store, but when I don't bring enough to sack all the things I buy, I end up with plastic bags. We use a few plastic bags for our trash cans every week. The surplus bags go in a nifty dispenser tube sewn from a kitchen towel and eyelet trim that Mr. GAIN's dad commissioned Mr. GAIN's aunt to make.

The check out gal was surprised at how "expandable" (her word) my bag is. I am happy that I didn't have to take multiple plastic shopping bags home. And my bag didn't rip from the corners of the many cardboard boxes that I bought. My bag has a big advantage over a plastic bag.

Throwing empty plastic shopping bags out in the trash seems like a waste of a bag. Maybe twice a year we'll take surplus bags down to a food pantry run by Catholic Charities. I cannot imagine taking food home without a bag. Despite our "donation," I think the plastic bags multiply in their dispenser tube in my closet! We always get more from someplace -- argh! I may have to go deeper into this issue. I really liked not having the plastic around. My house felt beautifully free of extra junk when I unloaded from my shopping tonight.

The second thing I have to say is:
We had over 6" of rain in the gauge at 10:30 a.m. !!! It rained after that, too. We have water in the basement for the second time in our nine years here, so that tells you how saturated the ground is.

The third thing I have to say is that I finally took time to reflect on the death of an acquaintance today. She was a home school mom that I met soon after moving to Des Moines. A car hit her and she died instantly. She is survived by three daughters, a husband, and her parents and siblings. I haven't been to park day in so long that I don't know if she would even remember my name. But I certainly remember her. After the sadness kind of went away, I concluded that I should strive to be more like she was. The world could be awesome if we could all be more selfless, giving, friendly, caring, and positive.

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Home grown

Yumminess in a bowl, just picked, and sitting on my lap. Our kids are home grown. So is some of our food. My salads are. Karen had a very thought provoking post in her blog about cooking a meal from local food weekly. Check it out.

Our dessert was home grown strawberry shortcake. All 6 cups of sliced strawberries came from A's garden. That was the only local ingredient, so we made a feeble attempt at "one local meal." I'll think more about the idea before planning future meals.

"A" has had these plants for perhaps seven years, and this is the first time they have produced a measurable quantity. We still have berries left over, and I even gave a pint to my sister when I visited her this morning.

Why are there plenty of strawberries this year? "A" thought there could be two reasons. First, most of the black eyed susans are gone. We gave a bunch of them away over the last two years. They could have been competing with the berry plants. Second, I sprinkled worm castings over everything early this spring. We had a lot of castings from the worms that I got in August 2007 from Arpeggio Farms in Mingo. You can see me crafting the worm bin -- aeration holes. The weather is also probably a factor, and so are the bees.

Ah, the bees. "A" crafted a beehive and got some honeybees on scholarship this year. We are pretty happy with them. Except when they drink the antifreeze that splashed on the neighbor's deck from his overwintered swimming pool pipes. They are fun to watch.

I also wanted to applaud the volunteers in my garden this year -- I spotted two leaf lettuces, two potato plants and one tomato plant. Thank you very much. I'll be busy Saturday with Home Learning Resources. If you can stop and say hello, please do. We can talk about gardening, crafting, or home learning!

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

On the sticks

Currently on the sticks -- wristlets for my youngest. Her current ones are tight.

I gifted three dishcloths recently for Mother's Day -- the traditional dishcloth from leftover Lion Cotton (remember the shoulder bag I made?), one with the Open Star 2 pattern, and a cloth with a four leaf clover against a lacy background. The photo from the pattern I found is what you see here. One of my children chose the yarn for my four leaf clover dishcloth -- it is very bold.

When I gave my sister (she's a big fan) her dishcloth, the Open Star 2 pattern, her SIL said that she would have to sit down with me to learn how to make her own dishcloths.


Monday, June 2, 2008

Things to do

Our school year is over. We have always dual enrolled our kids for at least art in the public elementary schools. After the most frustrating year out of eight years, I now publish a list of things that my kids' teachers need to do. Doing these things will make your role as an EDUCATOR who CARES ABOUT CHILDREN very clear to me. If you do not do these things, I will know that in your heart, you do not care about children. Because if you did care, you would not make them suffer by ignoring the following things.

1. KNOW THE LAW. To make it easy on you, here is an excerpt from the CPI Handbook:

"A child under dual enrollment may participate in academic programs or extracurricular activities on the same basis as any regularly enrolled student. A child under dual enrollment is also eligible to receive AEA services on the same basis as a regularly enrolled child. Iowa Code section 299A.8; 281-IAC 31.5."

2. Call me as soon as possible with schedule changes. My kids have been let down since 1999, expecting to have a fun class, only to find that they missed it. If you care about all children, call me. I always personally hand, or instruct my child to hand, my business card to you for your reference by the end of that first couple weeks. The card includes my child's homeroom assignment, class schedule, my phone number, and my email address. Don't lose it. Use the info on it.

3. Respect my child in actions and words. I have trouble emphasizing your authority to my child if you can't respect him or her.

4. Call me as soon as you can about behavior problems. I want to role play the situation at home, help the child come up with appropriate solutions, and reinforce later. Don't let situations just slide by until they escalate and you feel that you want to call the principal. Call me first.

5. Allow me to meet you in that first week of classes.

6. Allow my child to walk to your room with me that first week or two if the homeroom class will not be in a location near the dual enrollment class.

7. Create a safe space or meeting space for entering the building as well as for exiting and waiting for a ride home. Also have a safe place for waiting and joining the homeroom class before the dual enrollment course (p.e., art, etc.) begins. To me, this means that adult staff can see my kid waiting for me and leaving with me.

8. Principals, secretaries, and media center staff, please have procedures in dealing with my kids as soon as you know that they will be in your building. If they don't happen to match your software situation since you don't get full funding for them, then do something else to give them equal access like the law calls for. They need respect. They are people, no matter how much time they spend in your building. They need access codes, PIN's, etc. in order to be successful. I expect you to want their time in your building to be positive. Don't treat them like they don't count.

9. This goes for Learning Resource Center staff as well. Full-time kids have access to cheap photocopies and crafting items; my kids should have that option on the same basis. I just photocopy things that are different. I use the book binder for something that twenty other kids didn't make. Only one child made a book, and it's school-related. I labor over asking for things like copies for my kids -- "Is this reasonable? Do other full-time kids have this?" I don't go in and ask for "no extra charge" because I think I can get away with it. I do it because I think it's right and in line with the law. I pay the extra fee when I come for VBS, softball, etc.

10. Your grade reports need to come to me in a timely fashion. I would also appreciate having the children's artwork and any paperwork returned for the same reason. Regularly enrolled kids and their parents have enough of your respect to get their things back, so we ought to be treated on the same basis.