Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Things Like This Don't Happen Here

Chardon High School Shooting: 2 Dead

But unfortunately today, they happen everywhere.  And even in your own community.  You can't run from it.  This isn't our high school.  But it's in a neighboring community and only about 15 miles down the road.  It's close enough that you know families in that school or people in the community.  It's close enough that you realize that YES these types of things can happen here.

Chardon High School is considered one of the better public schools in the area.  It's a mix of people from different socioeconomic back grounds.  To have a student bring a gun to school and gun down 5 class mates is unthinkable.  But you have to think about it.  Even if it didn't happen in your area.  It can happen.

We can't live in fear but we have to live in awareness.

The shooter was allegedly a bullied kid with a bad home life.  He had problems.  He was at Chardon High School to pick up a bus that takes him to a school for "at risk" kids.  Clearly people knew he had some issues.  But can you ever really know the extent of those issues?  Lots of kids are bullied and they don't bring guns to school and kill kids.  Why was this kid so desperate that he felt he had to kill someone?  Were there warning signs missed?  Or was he just touched by evil and no one could have seen this coming?  I'm not sure we'll ever know the answers to these questions.

How safe is your child's school?  Would they know what do to if a gunman opened fire in the school?  Chardon High School and law enforcement did a fantastic job under the circumstances.  They had drills for this type of situation and the teachers and students jumped into action and did what they had trained to do.  Law enforcement quickly jumped into action and secured the site so that EMS could get in quickly and help the injured.

I remember having fire drills and tornado drills when I was in school.  We never had to have a drill for an "active shooter".  As sad as that is, clearly it's necessary in today's school climate.

My heart breaks for the families of the dead students.  And my prayers go out to the injured, the students at the high school, and the entire community of Chardon.

Luckily my kids were shielded from most of this yesterday.  But they did see a small piece of news on a television at an after school activity.  They had questions and we answered them the best we could and in a way that would make sense to a seven and ten year old.  We've been leaving our television off and won't have it on for a while.  I don't want to scare them but we also know that this is their reality today and we need to discuss it in an age appropriate manner.

For more ideas on how to talk to your children about violence, see the Washington Post article The Answer Sheet: How To Talk To Kids About Violence

For some ideas on how to keep your kids safe at school see What Parents Can Do To Keep Kids Safe At School from the National Crime Prevention Council , Strategies To Keep Schools Safe, and Educators Guide to Cyberbullying, Cyberthreats and Sexting by Center for Safe and Responsible Use of the Internet.

It happened here.  It can happen anywhere.  I pray it never happens again, but in the mean time, we need to teach our children to be aware, to not be afraid to tell if they hear or read someone making a threat, and probably most importantly we need to teach our kids to be kind to everyone.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Grocery Store: My Nemesis

(Microsoft clip art)
I keep trying to get our grocery bill under control.  I tend to buy most things at one store.  Running to the grocery store, big box store, and specialty store doesn't work for me.  I find that the grocery is fairly comparable on price and buying most things at one store saves time and money on gas (we live in the country and NOTHING is close by).  Things like toilet paper, paper towels, etc. are cheaper at Sam's Club but I can't always get there.  My weekly grocery bill for 4 people (1 of whom has special dietary needs) usually runs between $150.00 and $250.00 depending on cleaning supplies, paper products and how many "special foods" the Little Man is out of.  I try to find coupons but I don't spend a lot of time on it.  Most coupons are for processed food and we don't buy too much processed food (we do buy some but try not to make a habit out of it).  I do shop the weekly fliers though and other than chicken, I only buy meat that's on sale.

I did my menu plan yesterday and here's what we'll be eating for the week:

Friday - Tuna Melts (needed  1 can of tuna, English muffins and cheese)
Saturday - Pork Tenderloin (already have on hand) and veggies
Sunday - Dining out
Monday - Tacos (have ground turkey and cheese; needed taco shells)
Tuesday - Chicken Caesar Salad (needed everything and I only purchase organic chicken.  I'm a chicken snob).
Wednesday - 15 bean soup (have everything on hand)
Thursday - left overs

So it doesn't look like I needed much, but I needed lunch items, fruit, breakfast items, juice, yogurt, crackers, coffee, coffee filters, bread, milk, pantry items like stock etc.  They were also having 10 for $10.00 sales so I stocked up on items I use all the time.  10 for $10.00 on canned tomatoes, canned beans, and canned soup.
The Little Man needed lunch meat for school and I have to buy prepackaged lunch meat due to cross contamination at the deli.  2 packs of lunch meat = $10.00 (We only buy lunch meat that doesn't have nitrates so it costs more)
GF Mac and Cheese (2 boxes) = $7.00
GF, nut free cereal - $4.09
GF cookies = $5.99
GF bread = $6.39
GF, nut free cake mix = $5.15 (I'm out and I need to keep this on hand for unscheduled school parties)

As you can see the allergy safe items alone come to  $38.66.  It's a lot of money.

The guy behind me in line kept making comments.  "You must have a large family".  "Wow, that's a lot of food items".  "I'd hate to have to put all that away".  "Do buy all this food every week"?  I wanted to turn around and say "Hey buddy, mind your business and worry about your cat food and canned soup and leave me alone".  But I didn't I just smiled.  Until he said "WOW, THAT'S MY FOOD BUDGET FOR THE MONTH".  I decided at that point to just ignore him.  Why was he looking at my register anyway??

So how much was my bill today?  $281.73

Yea, that's a lot.

But I also bought toner for the printer today.  Would I normally buy this at the grocery?  No.  But we needed it and I'll explain my school of thought in a minute.  Toner came to $45.00 and add on another $10.00 to that for toilet paper and tissues.

I had a few coupons and I also had 20% in Food Perks (points earned for groceries by using the grocery store gas station) to redeem.  My 20% discount was $56.35 so it made buying the toner at the grocery a better choice than driving 10 miles to Wal-Mart and saving $2.00 per box and wasting gas in the process.

After coupons and taking 20% off of my order for Food Perks my total came to $226.30.

I certainly didn't put the Extreme Couponing Ladies to shame.  But I also got lots of fresh, organic food unlike their processed food.  And I stocked my pantry with canned goods that I won't have to purchase for a while.  There's nothing I can do about the allergy friendly food.  Normally we don't need this many items but he likes these things and he does have to eat... safely.  I'd make his bread but he doesn't like mine.

The sales receipt says my total savings with sale items, coupons and Food Perks came to $93.81.  I also earned $.40 in Fuel Perks which brings my current total up to $1.20 off per gallon the next time I fill up the car.

I don't know if all these "perks" are worth it.  I like the other grocery in town better, but there are no perks and they are just as expensive as this one (if not more so and there aren't many sales there either).

So I'm hoping that next week will be an extremely light week for grocery shopping since I stocked up this week.  I'm going to try to shop my pantry next week and keep that grocery total as low as I can.  And I'm going to try to keep track of all of this here so I can see what I'm accomplishing (if anything).

And I hope I don't run into that nosy man again next week.  He has no idea what it's like to shop for a family and one that has a child with special needs too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Trying To Return From Sicktown

(I'm not making colorful pancakes but these look really fun.  Picture found on the internet)

Oh my word, this has been a terrible virus.  It started out as a sore throat, exhaustion, and an achy body.  It's now morphed into a terrible head cold (still tired and still achy).  I spent Friday, Saturday, Sunday (minus church and a quick trip to the grocery), and most of Monday in bed.  Thank goodness the boys were off of school Friday and Monday.  I'm sort of up and about today.  I got the boys off to school and am doing laundry (Thank goodness the cleaning girl is here today or my house might be condemned).  I was going to make pork tenderloin yesterday but wimped out and ordered pizza instead (and of course still had to make the Little Man's safe pizza but was thankful that I have some Dr. Shar GF pizza crusts on hand to make it easier).

Today is Shrove Tuesday so we are having chocolate chip pancakes, hash browns and bacon for dinner.  The boys are super excited so I plan on resting most of the day and saving my energy for dinner prep.

Since today is Shrove Tuesday that means tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.  It's a day of strict fast and abstinence for healthy adults between the ages of 18 and  60.  This means that there is no meat or animal products of any kind to be eaten and one small meal should be eaten and nothing more.  For those Catholics 14 years and older, meat should be avoided (but no fasting for 14 years and younger).  I'll be making vegan chili for dinner tomorrow.  The boys will love that (she says sarcastically).

Over the last few days, we've been talking as a family about the things we are doing or giving up during Lent.  Here's what we've come up with so far:

1.  We are adding money to our mission box from Catholic Relief Services.  We've had this box since last year and have been adding to it all year but we'll ramp that up during lent.

2.  No T.V. Tuesday.  As a family we'll be giving up television on Tuesdays.

3.  We'll be attending the Stations of the Cross every Friday evening at church.

4.  Using the  Resurrection Tree.

Then each of us decided on things that we would do on our own during Lent.  I won't share what hubs or the boys have decided but here are mine:

1.  Pray more.

2.  Finish reading the Catholic books that I have started.

3.  No Facebook Wednesdays (I thought about giving Facebook up completely during Lent, but I use it for food allergy research and I'm afraid I'll miss something important that could affect the Little Man's health).

4.  Read the bible daily.

5.  Give up potato chips.

6.  Give up yelling (I mostly do this to the boys, but I also yell at bad drivers in other cars).

7.  I told the boys this morning that I'm giving up head colds, but I think that one is really out of my control.

For more ideas on things you can do during the Lenten season, see Danielle Beans post 40 Ways in 40 Days.

So happy Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday to you.  And happy 40 days of Lent.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sore Throat, No Sleep, Look Out Friday Here I Come

UGH.  The school called on Wednesday to come and get the Little Man because he had a sore throat and a stomach ache.  I took him to Urgent Care since his pediatrician would have been closed by the time we got there.  Normally I wouldn't have reacted so quickly but we just got a letter home from school saying that strep was rampant so I figured I better be on the safe side.  Strep test came back negative and the Doc said that it's just a virus.  I knew I'd get it.  We waited in the waiting room for 30 minutes (weird since we were the only ones there) and he was lying on me the whole time and breathing straight in my face.

So yesterday, I got it.  My throat hurts, I'm achy, I've been awake since 3 AM.  This doesn't bode well for me or for anyone else around me today.  Luckily the boys are off of school today so I don't have to get out of my P.J.'s.

Oh and the Little Man is F.I.N.E.  He's mended.  It appears that his was a 24 hour sore throat virus.  You know I won't be that lucky....

In other news, the Valentine's Day party at school went off without a hitch.  The kids seemed to like the games and the Little Man made it through reaction free.

The Little Man makes his First Communion in May.  Due to all his allergies, especially the wheat allergy, we are working with the priest to come up with a safe plan for him.  There's no host that he can take, but he should be fine receiving the wine, he just needs his own cup.  Taking the Blood of Christ from the communal cup would not be safe for him so that's what we have to work out.  The priest is being very helpful so I don't anticipate any issues.

For a while there everyone kept saying "We offer a low gluten host".  My response was always NO.  He's not allergic to gluten, he's allergic to wheat and the host is still made with water and wheat starch.  I confirmed this with our allergist on Tuesday when we were there.  The allergist said it's still not safe because the proteins are present and he would still have a reaction.  He also confirmed my insistence regarding getting the Little Man his own cup.  Even though the possibility of a reaction would be remote, it could happen if there is back wash and particles from a host end up in the communal cup.  These were things I pretty much already knew, hence my insistence of no low gluten host and getting him his own cup.  But I wanted to to confirm all this with the allergist just to be sure that I wasn't being over protective.  

As soon as the husband gets up for work, I'm heading back up to bed.  It literally hurts to sleep but at least I can get all cozy under the covers.  I just hope that the boys realize that mom is crabby and doesn't feel well and I hope they are on their best behavior.  I mom can hope, right?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Boys and Uniform Shirts

Today was school shirt day for the laundry.  I hate school shirt day.  No really.  In fact I hate it so much that I skipped it last week.  My boys (I have a feeling it's MOST boys) are hard on their uniform shirts.  It looks like they took the shirt and spread lunch on it, added some art supplies and then took the shirts outside and wiped down the black top with them.  And no, I'm not kidding or being overly dramatic.

To wash the shirts it's a several step process.  That may or may not work.

*spot treat really bad spots immediately with stain remover.

1.  First wet the shirt and then scrub it down with Fels-Naptha laundry soap.
2.  Get a tooth brush and more Fels-Naptha and scrub down the really bad stains.
3.  Wash the shirts on "stain wash" setting with Oxy Clean and detergent.

This all may or may not work.

4.  If stains persist, spot clean with bleach.
5.  Rewash.

This all may or may not work.

No, soaking with Oxy Clean will not work.  I've done it.  And I'm lazy so sometimes they've soaked for a few days.  Didn't work.

If all this doesn't work, throw shirt out.

So today being "uniform day" and me dreading it, I took a trip down the laundry aisle at the grocery and found Oxy Clean Max Force Gel Stick at the store.  I felt that it probably wouldn't work and that I was throwing $4.00 out the window but I was willing to try it.

I treated each shirt with it and washed on "stain wash" as usual.  It actually did pretty well.  The stains came out of all but two shirts.  I spot treated those with bleach and rewashed but those stains still didn't come out so I'm not going to blame the gel stick.  One shirt is still wearable but the other will have to go in the trash (this is why I only buy $5.00 uniform shirts from Old Navy or K-Mart).

The gel stick didn't really make the job any easier but it did work pretty well and made the job less messy.  BUT it doesn't appear that the stick will last very long.  Fels-Naptha lasts me YEARS before I need to buy another bar and although it may be a little more work, it works just as well.

I think I'll keep the gel stick for the really tough jobs but still continue to use the laundry soap as it's much more cost effective.

No one asked me to review either of these products.  If you're a boy mom and you have tough stains to get out, then you know I'm just sharing my findings as a PSA.

If you have any products that work well for you please share them here.  I'm willing to try anything.  And if it makes this task easier, then so much the better.

The pictures below don't do justice to the mess that these boys make of their shirts.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Mid Week Check In

Hi it's me.  I did a menu plan this week, but never got  around to posting it.  I made a minestrone soup last night that wasn't a big hit.  You're not missing much.

Today I've been working on one of the activities I'd like to use with the boys during Lent (Ash Wednesday is February 22, 2012 so Lent is right around the corner).  This year I want to use resurrection eggs.  I found a really cute resurrection tree at Secrets Of A Super Mom.  I'm not sure that I'm that crafty or creative so you can still do this activity without the tree.  You can find more examples of Resurrection Eggs at catholicicing.com.

I also need to clean both upstairs bathrooms today.  If I get all that done, I will feel like I actually accomplished something.

One thing I think I'm not going to do anymore (maybe I'll give it up for Lent...) is read the news.  The news lately is completely depressing and leaves me with a heavy heart.  I have real concerns for the state of our country.  At least one headline shocks me every day.  I know that no great civilization can stay on top forever but I feel like we are just nose diving to the bottom as quickly as we can and laughing all the way there because we are too ignorant to see it coming (stepping off soap box).

The boys school also started a rosary prayer group every Wednesday before pick up.  I'm planning on going there today too.   Saying the rosary more is one of the things that I chose to work on in the new year and this fits right into my plan.  Plus last week it was just me and the man running it, so I don't want to let him down.

We had a small "just the four of us" party for the Older Boys birthday last Sunday and this Sunday is his "extended family" party.  I have most of what I need bought already but there are a few last minute items that need to be picked up.  So the rest of the week I will be getting that together (I'm only doing appetizers and cupcakes so it's not that difficult).

I'm also doing things for both boys Valentine's Day school parties next week.  I already have the treat bags put together for Older Boys class.  I just need to come up with a few more games for the Little Man's class.  I didn't sign up for games but no one else did either.  I opted to do it because then I get to be in the class room and make sure that everything is kept safe allergy-wise.  So far I have Sweet Shoppe Bingo but I need a few other ideas.  I'm rolling around a hot potato type of game but I'm working with 14 boys and 2 girls and not too sure how well that will work.  I did a hot potato game with a blow up ginger man for Christmas one year and they ended up beating each other with it and eventually popped him.  I'll take any suggestions that you can give me for safe, boy friendly games PLEASE!

Well that's all for now for the mid-week check in.  Hope you are having a wonderful week too!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

10 Years Ago Today...

This little guy came into our lives.

I can't believe my older son has hit the double digits.  Where does the time go?  It seems just like yesterday when he was born.  I remember every second of being pregnant with him and every second of the day he was born.  After that things tend to get hazy.  The years fly by and you forget things.  That's one of the reasons I started this blog.  I want to remember every minute.  And if I can't, at least I can come back here and reread the day to day happenings in our lives.

10 years old.
3 more years and he'll be a teenager.
6 more years and he'll be driving.
8 more years and he'll be heading off the college.

We have our children as "ours" for such a short period of time.  I'm trying to enjoy every minute of it
Happiest of birthdays to you, 10 year old boy.  I love you with all my heart and am so proud of the young man that you are.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Living With Food Allergies

The Living With Food Allergies Blog Carnival can be found over at The Allergic Kid.  There's lots of great information this month.
Thanks to Libby for hosting!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Saxophone

Do you have a child that plays the saxophone and you don't play an instrument?  I do.  I played the flute (too many years ago to even mention).  We didn't have reeds.  So when he came to me today with a broken reed and a new reed and needed help, I was confused on how to put the new one in.  Took me 10 minutes to realize that I needed help.

I found this guy on YouTube and he explains how to put the instrument together in easy to understand instructions (even a non musical mother got it).

Sometimes YouTube can be very helpful.  Thank you Mr. Hornsmasher John (I don't think that's his real name) from hornsmasher.com

Oh and here's another FYI, we are coming into the Lenten season and I found paczki at the grocery store last night.  Get 'em while you can. The Little Man can't have them due to allergies, but I've already eaten quite a few (I'd try to make allergy friendly ones, but my record with these types of things has been dismal).  He does get a kick out of THIS webpage though.  Who wouldn't like staring at big donut while listening to polka music? (or maybe it's just us...)