Friday, July 31, 2009

Birth and healthcare reform

As President Obama pushes healthcare reform at a truly astonishing (and rather frightening) pace, there is one piece of the very expensive pie which is getting all but ignored: health care for pregnancy and delivery. Which is surprising, really, because it affects so many women (read: voters) and costs $86 billion a year (actual cost in the year 2006).

There are quite a few midwifery advocacy groups working toward including measures in the healthcare bill which would give women more choices, while also limiting costs. The savings could be as much as $9.1 billion a year if only 10% of women gave birth under midwifery care instead of in a hospital. Those are numbers that really ought to make President Obama sit up and take note.

Jennifer Block, author of Pushed, has written a well-researched overview of the current state of the birth advocacy efforts and their potential effects on healthcare reform. It is definitely worth reading.

And then, statistics in hand, please consider writing your congressmen. Ask them to include birth reform in their health care bill, allowing pregnant women access to midwifery care in all states (currently some states have criminalized lay midwifery) and regardless of insurance policy (Medicaid does not currently reimburse for midwifery care). Ask them to stand up for the rights of the birthing woman.

Yep, he gets it...

Jonathan: jumping up and down and shrieking about two inches away from me.

Me: Jonathan, please go somewhere else. You're making me crazy.

Jonathan: I'm driving you up the wall! :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Art lesson

I do a fair amount of reading about homeschooling these days. I'm drawn to a Charlotte Mason-esque philosophy of learning, but sometimes I'll read an idea and think "how wonderful! But will that really work? Will my child really do that??" CM had such high expectations of a child's ability, and sometimes I think that is fantastic and some days I think "yeah right."

Besides that, I'm trying to navigate learning/teaching with a child who is only four (younger than children in most CM schools) and yes, he is very much only four, but also displaying an amazing appetite for learning.

So it was with some caution that I decided to try learning about art. (Have I mentioned that I can't draw/paint/color anything but stick figures?) We ordered a couple of books of Dover Art Cards - small art prints that can be given to the child to study - and today we began.

I am astounded by what occured. Jonathan did exactly what CM philosophy predicted. :)

We sat down together and looked at our first print: Claude Monet's The Water Lily Pond; Harmony in Green.

I asked Jonathan to tell me about what he saw, and with very few assisting questions he described the picture in surprising detail. (Thomas repeated everything Jonathan said, which is great speech therapy as well as artistic learning!) Then we turned it over and I asked Jonathan to describe it again, which he was willing to do (!!!) and did well! We talked very briefly about the name of the artist and the name of the painting, and then we sat down with watercolors at the table, propped up the art card to use as inspiration, and this was the result:

From Thomas (notice the choice of colors!)

From Jonathan:

I'm over the moon with pleasure in their success, and more than that, his enjoyment of the whole process. Learning with the boys is so much fun!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Milk coupons!!!!!

Hurry to print yours before they're gone! I've NEVER seen this kind of coupon before, and with the quantity of milk we drink around here...yay!

(If you don't see the milk coupons on the second or third page, try using zip code 63090. And remember to print them twice!)

Thanks, Hip 2 Save!

4 year old perspective

Isn't it fascinating the things he chooses to photograph?

Monday, July 27, 2009

If you like Jamba Juice smoothies...

You'll like this coupon!

(Click on it for the full-size coupon.)

All You Grocery Challenge - week two recap

This week was a challenge! In fact, I almost caved in and over-spent my $50 grocery budget...but I didn't!

Because I'm stubborn like that.

I had spent most of my allotted money early in the week on produce at the Farmer's Market. And then Vons came out with a whole page of really stellar coupons on things I wanted to buy! Those coupons require a $20 purchase before you can use them, however, and I only had $7.70 left to spend.

Thanks to a really great try-it-free coupon, a wacky mac pasta coupon that doubled to make it free, a purchase of ziploc bags that we needed but don't count toward the grocery budget, and a whole stack of other coupons, it worked! $6.40 in grocery money spent for juice, cereal, chicken jerky, crackers, pasta, cheese, eggs, bread, and blueberries.

I'm so pleased with myself. :)

Crayon box

The boys have been collecting crayons for some years now, and it was definitely time for a more permanent storage solution. I covered a box in white paper and let the boys choose stickers from my old sticker collection (some of these were saved since I was a small child!)

I think the result is quite nice!

I think it is fun when a solution can also be a kid-friendly project. :)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rite Aid scenario

I think I've done the math correctly, and if I have, this is a $4 moneymaker scenario (and of course you get all the products as well!) Thanks to It's Hip to Save for the deal list that I based this on. She has all the coupon links so do go check out her post for specifics.


2 Kotex maxi pads $5 - $2Q = $3 ($2 SCR #41)

1 neutrogena make-up $5ish - $3Q = $2 ($2 SCR #232)

2 herbal essence hair care $6 - $4Qs = $2 ($2 SCR #114)

2 speedstick $4.74 - $5Qs = 26 cent overage

2 softsoap $1.78 - $2Q = 22 cent overage

1 daisy fuentes hair care $6.49 - $2Q = $4.49 ($4 SCR #108)

Use $5/$25 Rite aid coupon for $6.01 oop and get $10 back in SCRs.

Shelters always need things like hair care products and deodorant, so this would be a great way to get donations for them!

Monday, July 20, 2009

All You Grocery Challenge - week one recap

When I first blogged about the challenge I said that I'd be aiming for spending only $25 each week. I'm going to change my mind on that one, because I think it is important for us to continue buying our produce at the farmer's market this month. That is not cheap, but it is healthy for us and better for the world we live in. So the new goal, taking into account the farmer's market, is $50 each week (plus about $20 for the family dinner, as mentioned.)

And you know, we're still going to come in wildly under budget for the competition. :)

Last week we did not go to the market, and we did not go out to dinner, so our total spending was $20.71. Sometimes having a busy week is the best thing for your budget - if you don't go out and you don't shop, you don't spend much!

We ate hamburgers from our freezer, tomatoes, peas, and a few beans from our garden, and peanut butter, rice and beans from our pantry. Fruits and veggies were leftover from the previous week's market trip (all gone now - I'm definitely ready for more tomorrow!) and we bought lots of milk. Seriously, milk is one of my biggest expenses right now with the two boys drinking so much of it!

I'm enjoying the opportunity to re-asses my stockpile, use some of it up, and make sure that I know what is all the way at the bottom of my freezer. :) After all, stockpiling is only frugal when it truly allows you to NOT spend so much money. I find that it is easy to get caught up in the mad search for deals, only to find that you over-spent in their pursuit. Taking a break for a month and using up what we have is a good discipline.

Is anyone else participating? How did you do this week?

Friday, July 17, 2009


Finding a way to teach Jonathan about crocodiles was rather a challenge. Frankly, crocodiles aren't very nice reptiles.

Jonathan colored a crocodile while I read some facts to him. (Side note: I had a hard time finding a simple fact sheet this time - there are too many types of crocodile and a lot of the information I found was conflicting.) We settled on this one because I didn't want to spend any more time looking.

Then he practiced writing "C" for "crocodile". I am loving these alphabet sheets, and am leaning more and more toward teaching D'Nealian handwriting instead of standard block printing. On my reading agenda for tonight: "D'Nealian Handwriting versus Circle-Stick Print" by Donald Thurber. I'm curious to see what he has to say. And in the interest of getting both sides, can anyone recommend a good defense of block printing?

We did a crocodile jigsaw puzzle together and then Jonathan played Five Hungry Crocodiles. While he did that I gathered a clothespin, some wiggle eyes, and green paper. And we made a crocodile of our very own! (Every now and then I have a surprising burst of creativity.) :) I think he turned out kind of cute.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I just went through the boys' drawers, clearing out the remnants of winter clothing and getting out all the summer shorts. Which led me to the odd realization:

all three boys wear size 2T shorts.

That's right. All three. Ages 4, 2, and 9 months. This might help explain why they've been mistaken for triplets.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Better known as Killer Whales and better still known as Shamu. :)

Today's learning time was spent on these incredible creatures and WOW they are beautiful and frightening!

I read some basic facts while Jonathan colored a couple of pictures: a plain coloring page, and one that notes different body parts.

Then we watched a couple of videos: the birth of a baby orca at SeaWorld, and a few minutes of swimming through the glass at an aquarium.

We also had a little lesson on the food chain and the facts of life and death. Jonathan was sad that the penguin died, so I followed it up with a talk about how in heaven, animals wouldn't ever need to kill each other in order to eat. He was quiet, but I think he was ok.

It also helped that in this one, the penguin gets away. Crazy penguin!

We finished up with an orca puzzle, and afterward Jonathan gave me a hug and said "I love you, Mom." I think he's enjoying our time together. I certainly am. It is good to have some focused time with Jonathan when I can really appreciate his four-year-old-ness!

(I decided to pay for a year's access to Enchanted learning - $20 - so that I could use their extensive resources without bothering with advertisements or too-small pictures. In the weeks that I've been doing this sort of work with Jonathan, Enchanted Learning is almost always one of my go-to sites for coloring pages and information, so I think that it will be a good investment.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 7: of paddleboats, fishing, campfires and roads.

Thursday morning we slathered sunscreen and headed out for playtime on the "lake".

The boys still talk about the paddleboats - we are specifically directed to thank God for "Uncle Steve and the paddleboats" every night at prayer time.

Thomas got brave and waded in the water a little bit.

And Jonathan got to try fishing!

I hope that we can manage trips to visit Uncle Steve reasonably frequently as our boys grow up. He's the sort of man who you really want your boys to imitate.

Mom, Mom, LOOK!!!!!

I heard this story later: when they caught the fish and were showing it, still living, to Jonathan, they asked him if he wanted to eat it or let it go.

Jonathan: "Eat it!"

Men: "That means that we'll have to hit its head on a rock and kill it; is that ok?"

Jonathan: "Yeah, let's kill it!!!"

I wondered if he'd regret it after the fact, but he never seemed to mind. It was all just one exciting and fascinating experience.

Mommy is naturally a bit squeamish about things like dead fish, but since I do not want my boys to be so, I looked, praised, exclaimed, and acted exceedingly interested. The fish really was beautiful, at least until it got cut open. At that point I hid behind the camera.

I'm glad that the boys got to see the cleaning, though. If they're going to catch fish, it is very right that they follow through the rest of the process, even the messy parts.

In the late afternoon, Gabe, Steve, and Josh packed children into backpacks and headed out on a hike to a firepit where we planned to cook hot dogs for dinner. Katie and I packed the car with food, equipment, and Josiah and followed awhile later. Steve had given us directions before he left, which sounded simple enough. He described some landmarks, explained a few turns, and ended with "just follow the road. You can't miss it."

We followed a dirt road past the first few landmarks without difficulty, then got worried.

I ask you, dear readers, do you see a road?

You can't miss it.

I'm so glad that Katie was with me, because if I had been alone I think I would have been a) frustrated and b) feeling like an idiot for missing the "can't miss it" road. But since Katie and I had both decidedly missed the road...

Well, maybe we were just both idiots. We turned around and retraced our path. Still no road. We went all the way back to the Ranch in the hopes that we could find Steve's dad and ask him where we'd gone wrong. Nobody was home.

So off we went again, creeping along at 5 mph, praying that our poor Sienna wouldn't get a flat tire or lose something important to the engine as we jounced over a road meant for jeeps, not minivans. This time when the road ended, we kept going. The sun was going down and we didn't want to leave our husbands and kids stranded without the hot dogs and wondering what had happened to us! We could see the landmark where we were supposed to end up, and driving across a meadow seemed only slightly more dangerous to the car than the road we'd just left.

The men were on the lookout and Steve came running to meet us when we were about 2/3 of the way across the meadow. He tried to send us back to the "road" that he insisted was there. I drove towards where he was pointing and informed him that the "road" was a ditch and we'd get stuck if we drove there.

We did.

Steve pushed us back out and we took off again, cross country, eventually making it nearly to our destination:

It was a great place for a campfire. :)

(No vans were harmed in the making of these memories.)

Now that I've lost everyone's attention

I'm actually going to resume blogging about our trip. Really. Day seven is forthcoming.

Natural childbirth just got a celebrity boost

Heather Armstrong of Dooce did an about-face at 30 weeks when she read Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein (probably better known for their documentary The Business of Being Born). Originally planning to request an epidural
two days before contractions started ... Give me the epidural and any other pain relief, maybe throw in a couple dozen shots of bourbon, oh and how about you just put me under general anesthesia and wake me up two days later
she ended up choosing a natural birth, in the hospital with the support of a doula. In her post titled The labor story, part one she writes,
I'm not going to get into the specifics and the really convincing and at times jaw-dropping statistics of it here, there are so many other places and people who can write about it better than I can, but I will say this: if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant, GO READ THAT BOOK. From now on when someone asks me what is the one piece of advice I would give to a pregnant woman, it will be: GO BUY A COPY OF THAT BOOK.
Since half of everyone reads Dooce, I'm betting that the publishers are planning a new edition and wishing it was on the shelves right now.

Thanks to Sarah Marie for bringing this amazing news to my attention!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

All You Grocery Challenge

Have you heard about this? All You Magazine is challenging us to a month-long grocery savings contest. The prize? A $1000 grocery card and a year's supply of Knorr side dishes!

When I first read about it, I MIS-read the challenge and thought it was to spend only $25 each week for a month. Wow! What a challenge! I'm on board!

Then I read it again and discovered that it is actually $25/week per family member.

That isn't nearly as interesting, since that is more than my normal grocery budget anyway. But I'm participating, because it sounds like fun, and I'm giving myself my own personal challenge of $25/week total (for groceries alone - we will probably continue to spend $20/week on our family dinner out).

Can I do it? Can YOU do it? :)

My freezer is stocked with meat, bread, and cheese. My pantry is stocked with canned and dry goods. And summer is a wonderful time for low-prices on produce, so I think it just might be possible!

If you want to join the All You Grocery Challenge, tomorrow is the last day to sign up. If you do decide to participate, leave a comment letting me know! We can encourage each other!

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Mommy, I want to learn about walruses."

Jonathan has almost entirely given up his afternoon nap. So we've been figuring out some new game plans for the afternoon while his brother is sleeping.

Today Jonathan requested that we learn about walruses. So we did! We found a fact sheet that was just right for his attention span, looked at a lot of pictures, and watched a National Geographic video of a mother walrus and her calf. These mammoth creatures are so gentle with their babies! Then we finished off the lesson with a walrus coloring page and spent quite awhile finding "just the right color" of brown. My son can be awfully specific about things. :)

Homeschooling my son is going to be such a different experience from that of my own parents. If I wanted to learn about walruses when I was a kid, we waited until we could go to the library, or we looked it up in the encyclopedia. Today, when Jonathan wants to learn about walruses, we can create our own little mini walrus unit right in the living room during nap time! We'll follow up his interest, of course, with some library books (but even that I can look up and request online!) It is a different world.

I can't resist one more walrus link: check out this one dancing with his trainer. Amazing!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Summer heaven

There is nothing like a sun-warmed ripe strawberry. From garden to taste buds in twenty seconds. Mmm.