Saturday, October 31, 2009

Couponing Progress = 0

Some of you dear friends are dying to know how my couponing is going.  Well, it isn't.  But that doesn't mean we haven't been talking about it around here.  For evidence, I submit Amy's school assignment for today, in which she was to write a paragraph using five of her vocabulary words:

Some people have a hard time discerning that they spend too much money. Others are cautious and conscientious about spending, and have a limited amount that they'll spend. Others would like to spend less but they can't comprehend the system of using coupons. It seems ominous to them and soon the desire to learn wanes to a lower caliber. From their perspective couponing is for ladies that live in big cities. So after she tries and fails, the average lady will become content with her grocery spending and her paramount concern will become finding a different way to save money.

Well done.  She went above and beyond the call of duty and used eleven of her words. 

I am not doing as well.  I can't get the hang of the schedule.  Grocery ads out on Wednesdays, drug store ads out on Saturdays, right? No. Wait. That would be Sundays.  Before I get my act together the next ad is out. And all those expiry dates. I have a hard enough time getting my church letter out on time once every other month

A friend sent me this link today. This one.  Some smart woman back east only buys what she can get for free or near free.  She spends, on average, $4 a week on groceries for her family of six. !!! We have six.  How does she do this?  How does she get anything free, coupons or no?  Say you have a coupon for 25¢ off spaghetti.  Even on triple coupon day that spaghetti is still going to cost about 25¢.  The manufacturers of the cheapo brands don't print coupons, and the way normal people (that's me -- I'm normal, right?) use coupons, it is cheaper to buy the off brand with NO coupon than it is to buy the name brand with.  I don't get it. 

And THEN, this woman has a members-only website where you can see all the deals, plus a forum with more deals.  It's only $1 a year, but how much money do you think she makes in one year just from this?  She's an enterprising soul.  Why didn't I think of that?  I'll tell you why.  It's because the inside of my brain looks like this:


...Most of the items on sale at CVS/Walgreens/RiteAid/Target are things I never buy.  Guess if I figured out how to get it for free, I'd buy it.  Okay, I'm not a complete dummy.  I did okay in college, and I did pretty well in math.  Maybe I'm only text-book smart, and not real life smart.  Is that it?  Don't answer that. Maybe I'm not even textbook smart anymore.

I never used to care much about coupons.  I thought they were kind of a bother, and not worth the trouble. But lately I have been praying for a way to add to the household income without leaving the house. Is the Lord showing me that the answer is not to get more, but to spend less?  I can go for that if he'll fix my wiring.

Maybe I need to start a local couponing club.  Anyone interested?  We could help each other figure this thing out.  Come on, friends, move on out here to the desert where it's nice and warm all winter, and we'll all get rich on couponing. Merlynn Randall, you are appointed president of our new club. We'll call it Cactus Clippers, or something like that.   (Help.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mountain 2, Monocogman 0

The mountain won again!  (My post about the first attempt is here.) The preacher and his cohorts tackled Spirit Mountain again on Monday.  Not only did they not reach the top, they found they were on the wrong mountain!  It might have been a good idea to read the guide book before setting out on a big trek.  My dear man did check some blogs and forums to see what other hikers thought would be the best approach to the mountain and the best path to take to reach the summit.  What he didn't count on was the other hikers not having a good sense of direction...

Ever try to live the Christian life without the Bible?  People do it all the time, choosing to read something about the Bible instead of checking out the real Guide Book for directions. Oh, how those little side trails can get us off the track, eh? This adventure was fraught with good sermon illustrations!   

The men set off at sunrise for a five-mile hike, expecting to reach the top in time for a hearty lunch.  They hit several dead end trails and some sheer cliffs -- great terrain if you are a free-solo fan, but not for these men who have a bit more sanity, not to mention the responsibility of a family life.  One false move in this wilderness can result in death.  "If the desert heat doesn't get you," says a Las Vegas and Southern Nevada hiking guide, "the sun, sharp rocks, twisting canyons, lightning, flash floods, prickly plants, rattlesnakes, scorpions, elevation, or mountain lions might."  Mildly funny, but true!  A snake bite or even a broken ankle can mean the end, so as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't have to be free-solo to be risky. The guys wisely turned around and made the descent, but not before setting a few boulders free.  (Don't tell anyone. The cactus-huggers might get after them for changing the landscape.) 

The scenery is gorgeous (if you like brown -- hey, it's a nice fall color!).  Check out the rest of the hike info at the Monocog Blog.

There is a way that seemeth right unto a man,
but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Proverbs 16:25

Friday, October 23, 2009

Speech Co-op

A while back, some of us evil homeschool moms decided to form a speech co-op.  You know how it is with evil moms.  We get together and plan stuff for our kids to do, stuff that they will hate.  Learning stuff.  Stretching stuff.  Character stuff.  You know.

We had our first session a couple of weeks ago.  The same children who protested and accused us mothers of being evil and wicked walked nicely into the auditorium and acted as if the whole thing was their idea. They actually had FUN giving short impromptu speeches in front of their friends!  Gasp!  We ended the session with several children very excited about the next class, coming up with all sorts of ideas about what they would present to the group for future sessions.

Fast forward two weeks.  I don't get to showcase Elisabeth very often.  She is my (usually) quiet child, very creative, but different from her sisters.  She is the one who has to work harder at music. It doesn't come naturally for her, and she wants her OWN talent.  Something different from everyone else.  Well, I think we may have found something.  The assignment was to recite or read a short story or poem.  The kids were to work on five things: confidence, clear speaking, volume, eye contact, and expression.  Each class session they are evaluated in those five areas, and each mom gives each child one thing to improve upon.

She did well.  I expect someday Betsy will become a Sunday school teacher. 

(Turn up the volume.)


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Alley Spooks

So. There's my husband walking down a dark alley last night, in a suit and tie, deceptively looking like a rich man waiting to be mugged. 

A voice in the dark says, "Where are you going?" Two men are standing in the shadows. 

The husband thinks, "Oh... this is not going to be a fair fight," but he keeps his cool.

The same voice says, "I have something for you, Pastor." 

(How does he know my husband's a pastor?  Does he glow in the dark or what??)

He reaches into his pocket and pulls something out. 

It's too dark to see what he has, but it's probably a knife, right?  That makes the story better.

My husband says, "I don't need anything." 

The guy says, "What's that on your head?"  He then says, "It's not my knuckles." ???

It was an angel, I know it was.  I've never seen one, but it must have been an angel.  Would an angel sit on a guy's head?  Or maybe it was a halo? That would explain how he knew my husband is a pastor.  ?? 

Husband says, "Well, guys, I am on my way home, and I have four little girls waiting for their daddy to tuck them in, so I've got to get going."

The man
says, "Will you shake my hand?"  "Sure."  They shake.  The man's name is Brian.  And my husband keeps walking.

So what was the point?

I don't know. 

I'm just glad to have him home safe!

The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
Psalm 34:7

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Free Sheet Music

This post is for all you music moms. Alison and Amy play violin and flute and a bit of piano  in a teeny chamber group with some older ladies once a week.  These ladies once belonged to a local community orchestra, and my girls have been introduced to some interesting composers and to some unfamiliar but delightful music.  This has sparked some Google hunts for free sheet music files.

Recently I discovered this wonderful internet place,  Hemingway's Studio, and already we have saved mucho bucks on sheet music.  I don't know if you have ever done a search for free sheet music before, but it often results in pages and pages of links to other pages with links to other pages where you might find what you are looking for, after you register.  The owner of this site got frustrated with that and decided to put it all in one place.  At Hemingway's Studio you can find free, public domain, pdf sheet music  in a wide variety of genres, for all kinds of instruments, plus audio files, a few video files, free pdf's on music theory, composer bio's, and lots more.  The index lists composers in alphabetical order with their works.  The title column tells you which instrument the piece is written for, and occasionally you will see "Good for beginners" as an added note. 

Last week we downloaded Pleyel's Six Easy Duets, Op. 8, for two violins, and some others for violin and flute.  Just saved $8.  This afternoon I printed out some Brahms piano waltzes for Amy to play around with.  Saved another $9.  Since then she went to town and downloaded several more familiar pieces to which we didn't have the music.  And since we don't have a decent music store in our town, we also saved on shipping!    

I just love having good music in my home.  ...Better start recording my kids.  One day not too far in the future, the house is going to be mighty quiet.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

September in Review

How did October get here so fast?  While many of you are delighting in autumn leaves, pumpkins, bonfires, hot cocoa, and fall decor, we are finally turning off the air conditioner!  My DH put an extra blanket on his side of the bed last night.  Two of the girls had hot chocolate for breakfast.  Emily grabbed a jacket for her bike ride this morning.  After all, it is only 70° out so far.  As for me, I think they are all crazy -- I am finally cooling down!  Emily has lived here for all but three weeks of her life, so she is a real "desert rat", but the rest of us have had six years to acclimate.  Looks like it is working for everyone but me.  ...Maybe I'm just a grump, huh?  No, not today.  Today I am thankful!

Well, September wasn't all that exciting.  Actually it  was wonderfully uneventful!  It was hot.  The kids did school and played music.  Amy got her top brackets put on. 

Here are the highlights:

Betsy made clothes for her new Build-a-Bear bunny.  The mother (that's me) measured incorrectly for the skirt that Betsy is sewing here, so it didn't fit.   I found the last scrap of that same purple fabric and quickly whipped together another skirt, this one with four gores, and a couple of matching scrunchies for Cuddles's ears.  The disappointed child was appeased.

I cleaned out the freezer for the first time in five(?) years , okay, maybe two years, and somehow there wasn't room to put everything back in!  How does that happen? There were benefits, though.  Three cups of blueberries had to be used up.  So Amy made blueberry buckle. (Yum!)


Emily worked on kitchen fractions, adding with carrying, and subtraction with borrowing.  I am dating myself, I know.  I think they call it regrouping now.  Do you like how they change the vocabulary every few years so that parents look like they don't know what they are talking about?

Amy got stuck on exponents.  Solution?  Worksheets.  In math we no longer go on until there is mastery.  I created a  monster when I let her forge ahead in math, and now we are paying for it.  Worksheets are great. And homeschooling is great.  We just stop where ever we are in the text book and do free worksheets until she gets it.  More worksheets here.  And here.

Our mountain-biking pastor (that's my husband) wowed the kids (and himself, lol) with his Kings Kids devotions on Ezekiel 10:13, "O wheel!" Did you know a wheel has three parts, just like God does and like we do?  And did you know different wheels have different purposes?  A wheel even has a testimony!

And, we experimented with rag curls.  I used old nylon tights cut in approximately 6" strips, cut down one side.  That way they could be folded over the ends of the hair.  They worked great on Emily's fine hair, but Betsy's super thick hair was still wet in the morning!   That was disappointing to a little girl who would live in a make-believe princess land with lots of flowers and pretty things.

Some friends gave us their Wari game (also called Mancala if you change the rules a bit), and all of the strategy-lovers in this house are wondering why in the world they got rid of it!    There are many variations of this game, easily found on Google.  When I was a kid we played this with two half-dozen muffin tins placed end-to-end, and a bunch of marbles.  Free games are great!

This month all four of the girls entertained the special people at our local nursing home.  Hooray!  They were ALL brave this time!  If we can just get Amy into strings we'll be the next Eden String Quartet, lol.  I LOVE this.  It makes my heart just swell with joy when my girls all play together.  Betsy and Emily are making tracks now, ever since Daddy laid down a new practice rule.  Yay, Dad!   The bookmobile ladies were there again this month, and the lady in charge featured my girls on the library website! What fun!

Well, I think that's it for September.  October is going to be packed with a 15th and a 6th birthday, special company, special meetings at church, playing outside (yay!!!), and the start of our homeschool speech/public speaking co-op.  See you around!

Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness,
and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
  And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and declare his works with rejoicing.

Psalm 107:21,22

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