Friday, October 31, 2008

Frugal Friday Linkage: Halloween Edition

It's that time again -- time for Frugal Friday Linkage. This is a collection of some of my favorite news stories and blog posts related to money and frugality, including a couple of links just in time for Halloween.

Enjoy, and be encouraged!

Frugal (Last-Minute) Halloween Costumes here and here and here ::, Child Fun, and

Frugal Halloween ::

Healthy, Frugal Halloween Treats ::

Free Halloween Coloring Printables ::

Fall Bloggy Giveaway Carnival (with many contests ending today!)

Be a Frugalist: Small Changes, Big Savings :: MSNBC Interactive

Tough Transition for New President ::

Free Sonic Wacky Pack for Birthday Club Members ::

Airlines Begin Cutting Fares for Holiday Travel ::

Run Your Kitchen like a Restaurant to Save Time and Money :: Sophie Stillwell on Associated Content

Layaway Gaining More Appeal with Shoppers ::

Recession Reality Check with Suze Orman ::

Remain Calm in the Face of Global Economic Turmoil ::

Bad Economy -- How to Protect Yourself :: CNN Blog

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hands on the Pumpkin

We made our Halloween pumpkin carving part of our school day by completing a Hands on the Pumpkin worksheet during the process. Doing the printable made the kids realize there was a "scientific" aspect of Jack-O-Lantern making.

To complete the worksheet, they had to describe the pumpkin and the act of carving, then do some estimating of the seed count. Completing the worksheet kept them occupied while I cleaned out all the guts, then each child designed their own Jack-O-Lantern face. Later, they did some creative writing about carving the Jack-O-Lantern, complete with drawings, and wrote the best parts of Halloween from a pumpkin's perspective.

Worksheets in the Yard

Feeling the Pumpkin Guts

Not very happy about this part of the process...

Feeling Seeds to Describe Them




Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Baby Rebecca Turns One!

How quickly we've gone from newborn baby...

... to big girl.

We had such fun celebrating sweet Rebecca's first birthday. The kids enjoyed playing in the park with so many of their buddies, and I enjoyed hanging out with the birthday girl (and her parents).

DeDe and Bruce, thank you for letting us share your blessing!

Gracie waiting anxiously for cupcake time

The Birthday Girl

Wonderful Friends

Because My Crockpot is My Secret Weapon


I am enamoured with my crockpot, and was therefore embarrassingly excited when BooMama began hinting at pulling together a Souptacular Crockpotalooza, which she has now decided to do -- tomorrow. I am a huge fan of soup this time of year, and my crockpot is my secret weapon.

Take today, for example. I knew today would be a very busy day filled with schoolwork and pants shopping for my gargantuan children and gift shopping because I procrastinated and a first birthday party and traffic because it is D/FW and running home to let the dog out and a quick costume change in the car and a fall festival and hurrying home again to eat and bathe and read and sleep. A busy day, to say the least!

In the midst of my hurry, a savory dinner comprised of cheap chicken thighs, the last few bits of celery, part of an onion and some bouillon was home bubbling away all day. When I returned home, all I had to do was add some dumplings to the hot broth, and a few minutes later, a super-easy, soul-warming, tastes-like-a-million-bucks home-cooked meal.

Because I am a certified soup-loving dork, I cannot wait for BooMama's Mr. Linky to become overwhelmed with the recipes I'm certain will keep us souped up all season. If you're looking for some new recipes, visit the BooMama blog tomorrow. If you have some recipes to share, then by all means, please take the button and link up.

** Oh, and We Are That Family is hosting a Blogoversary Giveaway with a $100 Chick-fil-a gift card up for grabs. Tell her how long you've been blogging/blog-stalking and get registered. Also if you win, you totally owe me a nugget 12-pack. I'm not kidding...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I nearly "frabbed" from all the laughing...

My friend Heather, who blogs at Welcome to the Edge of Insanity, is chronicling her top ten most embarrassing moments. She's only on number nine, and seriously, I feel so sorry for her. And yet, that somehow doesn't stop me from totally cracking up at her misery. If you need a good laugh (and who doesn't?), head on over and enjoy.

Most Embarrassing Moment #10

Most Embarrassing Moment #9

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Initial Meeting

The kids came home early from their weekend away to meet the new pets. We didn't tell them anything about our new additions as we headed home, rather we quizzed them the whole drive long about whether or not they wanted animals, and what sort of animal they would want if we ever got one. (Ooo, we're sneaky!) Bub said he wanted a girl puppy (check!) and Gracie said she wanted a cat with a litter box (check!).

We came in the house still without having said anything, and they both had puzzled looks on their faces when they heard Sadie whining from her crate in our room. They ran looking for the source of the noise and were so excited when they found her. We took her straight out to potty and to play. They giggled at her romping, but still, the kids couldn't believe there was a dog in their yard. "I love her," Gracie exclaimed.

After a while, we brought Sadie back into the house and took the kids upstairs to meet Milo. Since he was still new to our house and to us, we penned him in the upstairs bathroom with his litter box and food dish as we went to church and to lunch. (Surprisingly, he'd not been skittish or one to hide, and had been using his litter box perfectly already, but with us out of the house, we didn't want to take any chances.) We opened the bathroom door and Milo meandered out into the gameroom, completely disinterested in his celebrity. He's such a cool cat!

Bub spent the afternoon and evening bonding with Sadie -- playing with her in the yard, walking her down the streeet to meet his friends. Gracie spent time with Milo, showing him her room, telling him she's his mama, dressing him up in baby doll hats. Both kids are well-suited to their new pets, and they even went so far as to say that we're really, really nice.

Gracie and Milo

Bub and a very sleepy Sadie

Saturday, October 25, 2008

We've adopted...

... some shelter pets! We are child-free for the weekend, so after sleeping in, James woke me up this morning wanting to go to the shelter. We've been talking about getting a cat, particularly since Gracie asked for one for Christmas, but we didn't plan to get one so soon!

We drove to a small local shelter that had about nine cats, six of them feral. Just for kicks, we asked to see the dogs, and all five of them weren't even adoptable. (Which makes me wonder why we weren't just told that instead of allowed in the room. Oh well.)

We next headed to the shelter in Fort Worth which has a generous selection of adoptable animals. We looked over the cats, debating between kittens and adult cats. James thought the kids would have more fun with the tiny kittens. I, on the other hand, was looking for an adult cat -- one already litter trained, really mellow, and ready to lay around with me on the couch.

In the cat room, all the cats were flipping out. Many of them were kittens wrestling with one another. Others were older and were crazily pressing against the doors of their kennels trying to get a scratch behind the ear. Tucked away in the corner was a a big mellow orange cat who was just sitting there looking at us like whatever. I immediately fell in love. At only eight months old, he's young enough to be playful, however he's big enough to not get squished when loved on by the kids. Meet our new cat, Milo:

Then, we went to the dog room. Though we weren't planning to get a dog (due to a little agreement that involves the installation of some wood floors), we still like to visit. We walked the rows and greeted the dogs. As we were leaving, I noticed a beautiful black lab puppy nearly tucked behind the door. She looked like a full-blooded lab -- she was so beautiful! I called James over to look at her and we asked the attendant if they knew why she was here. He said he thought she was probably the last of a breeder's litter who at 10 weeks was too old to sell. After admiring her through the cage, we asked to hold her.

We were taken to a bonding room and played with her for a while on the floor. She was so sweet and friendly. James thought the kids would like her, particularly Bub. I reminded him Bub's birthday is next month and mentioned maybe we should get her for him. He was sold -- I could see it in his eyes. To make the deal even sweeter, the attendant offered to sponsor 50% of the adoption fee since we were interested in more than one animal. He also reminded us that Milo was sponsored at 100%.

After the discount of the sponsorship, we paid $35 for two animals that came with food samples and coupons, bowls, food mats, a litter box, immunizations, licensing, Home Again microchips, and vouchers for free rabies shots and spaying/neutering. We were already crushing on the dog, but couldn't pass up the really good deal! Meet our new puppy, Sadie:

The kids have no idea these two have invaded their home. We can't wait to see their reaction. It's nearly as exciting as Christmas!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Frugal Friday Linkage

Last week, I set up a little something called Frugal Friday Linkage and included a few of my favorite news stories and blog posts related to money and frugality. A friend really enjoyed it and asked that it become a regular blog feature, and since I'm a sucker for compliments and am otherwise devoid of interesting content, here you go. It's Frugal Friday -- enjoy!

Living Paycheck to Paycheck ::

Cosmetic surgery industry sags with economy (snicker!) ::

5 Ways to Spend Less On Halloween This Year ::

Last Titanic survivor sells items to pay bills ::

Get More Bang for your Kitchen Buck ::

Can the Bible help you budget? ::

What TV characters would make in real life ::

Spending surge pushes deficit toward $1 trillion ::

Recovering from Recession ::

Tough Times: The Emotional Toll ::

Shrinking Economy Puts Baby on Hold ::

Housing, personal finances will be better a year from now ::

Thursday, October 23, 2008

On becoming a butterfly

We watched this cool butterfly video today during school...

On Artistic Taste and Personality

While wasting a little time decompressing online, I ran across a quiz at Life Nurturing Education that determines personality traits based on preferences in art style. I'm always fascinated by how these random computer-generated personality profilers know me so well, and this quiz looked interesting, so I took it. Here are my results:

The artistic style tend to I lean towards is called Impressionism. "Impressionism is a movement in French painting, sometimes called optical realism because of its almost scientific interest in the actual visual experience and effect of light and movement on appearance of objects. Impressionist paintings are balanced, use colored shadows, use pure color, broken brushstrokes, thick paint, and scenes from everyday life or nature."

According to the HelloQuizzy test, my penchant towards Impressionism indicates that I'm balanced, secure, and realistic. What's more, "people that like Impressionist paintings may not always be what is deemed socially acceptable. They tend to move on their own path without always worrying that it may be offensive to others.

They value friendships but because they also value honesty tend to have a few really good friends. They do not, however, like people that are rude and do not appreciate the ideas of others. They are secure enough in themselves that they can listen to the ideas of other people without it affecting their own final decisions.

The world for them is not black and white but more in shades of grey and muted colors. They like things to be aesthetically pleasing, not stark and sharp. There are many ways to view things, and the impressionist personality views the world from many different aspects. They enjoy life and try to keep a realistic viewpoint of things, but are not very open to new experiences. If they are content in their lives, they will be more than likely pleased to keep things just the way they are."

Yep, that about sums me up...

Click here to see what your taste in art says about you!

photo credit:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sleeping Breaths

My mom was released from the hospital this morning yesterday morning (I don't even know what day it is!), and is spending the night at our house. Who knew the day would come that I would be up in the middle of the night counting her sleeping breaths just as I count my children's?

photo credit: Emii_Gee

The Bright Spot in an a Very Bad Day

My mom's medical scare orchestrated a very sweet meeting as my brother and his beautiful family rushed down for the night. Rae Lynn's early arrival (she's still not due!) coupled with our family vacation and very full returning schedule has thus far prevented us from making our way towards Oklahoma. Seeing my precious loved ones and meeting that tiny miracle was a beautiful bright spot in an otherwise overwhelming day.

How wonderful it was to have a squirmy little snugglebug spend the night! Rae Lynn is a sweet, peaceful baby. Such a blessing to us all...

Meeting for the first time

Daddy's Girl

A Cousin's Gotta Eat

Saying hello to Nanny
(...who looks like she's just been through labor!)

Beautiful Baby

Sleepy Girl

Daddy's Hands
This gives you an idea of her size.
At three weeks old, she's only now 5 pounds, 8 ounces!

Tiny Tummy

Tiny Toes

"An harmless flaming meteor shone for hair..."
-- Abraham Cowley, Davideis (bk. II, l. 803)

"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well..."
-- Psalm 119:13-14

Contented Child

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hospital Homeschooling

On Monday, we began our week begrudgingly by picking up the house and inching our way slowly towards schoolwork. The weekends go by far too fast! Just as we got about the business of our day, we got a call from my mom's friend Mike who said she'd been rushed to the hospital with symptoms of a heart attack. We packed up our school work and headed across the Metroplex, getting lost a couple of times along the way. (You'd think I'd know my way around here!)

Originally, it was thought she was having an adverse reaction to a flu shot, but some blood work revealed there was indeed something going on with her heart. She was taken back for an angiogram, and while the procedure revealed some blockage, adding stints would make things worse. Evidently, the blockage is located in a more minor artery (says me, who knows very little about cardiac medicine). In my understanding, if a stint is placed in this minor area, it could cause blockage or inflammation in the more major artery, leading to far worse circumstances.

At this point, the plan is to treat the blockage with medication in an effort to avoid surgery. She has to take the rest of the week off work, and otherwise, no restrictions have been imposed. Officially, yesterday was considered a very serious "warning sign."

Once we knew all was well, and mom was secure in her room, we pulled out the school books to get some work done. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that it can be done anywhere. One of the downfalls is that it must be done. Regardless, the kids were good sports, and they did their best in a challenging environment.

Writing spooky stories as part of Language Arts

Do glove balloons count as art?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fun Fall Festival

Saturday afternoon, we attended a local Fall Festival where the kids got more time in a petting zoo. This time, though, they were allowed in the cage for personal time with the livestock. They could have stayed there all day, so I ask you, is it time to relocate to a farm?

They also enjoyed a huge bouncy slide, pumpkin decorating with soccer teammates (see our friend Harry?), cake walks with a guaranteed win, and a hula hoop contest. I just love all the fun of late in this glorious weather. Fall is my favorite season of all!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

If the Hood family played soccer...

Fall weather brings out my inner Red Riding Hood.
Fortunately, it was my day to bring soccer snacks.

Kids and Critters at the Texas State Fair

Our Friday was spent at the Texas State Fair. We were given free parking and admission in exchange for our attendance at a 4-H presentation, which was quite informative and lots of fun. We watched a milking demonstration presented by a for-real farmer who kept calling us home-skewul-urs. Every time he'd refer to our little group, the elementary school children we were paired with would crane their heads to look for the third eye or spare appendage on each of our little ones. We were part of the show!

In all seriousness, the Kids and Critters presentation was really well done. The presentation was interesting, the farmer was funny, the guides were kind and patient, and all in all, our accommodations could not be beat. The shows and exhibits were as good as ever, and we had a fun time getting to know some new friends. We're definitely planning to participate next year.

The Obligatory Pose by the Welcome Sign

Kids and Critters Presentation and the Children's Barnyard

After the presentation, we were being escorted back to the building to have our picnic lunch. On the way there, we paused to see Boris III, the prize pig of the fair. He weighs in at 1212 pounds and is quite impressive in a big disgustingly piggy way. The kids really enjoyed oohing and ahhing over him, and I didn't mind until Boris stood up and a shocked Bub shouted,

"Hey Mom, what's wrong with his butt?"

I soon regained my composure, despite the snickering amongst my fellow crowd members, and we left to have our picnic. After lunch, we met up with my friend Lisa and her handsome sons to share a ride on the Texas Star, the largest Ferris Wheel in North America.

Everything's bigger in Texas

Family Fun

New Friends

The Dallas Skyline

Little Hands on the Farm...

... aren't so little anymore.
(It's officially our last year on the tractors.)

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls...
The Backyard Circus


Instead of being the bee-you-tiful tightrope walker,
Gracie opted to be a scary lion

Howdy, Folks! I'm Big Tex.

Fair Fare

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