Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Treating Sore Muscles

My children have suffered with sore muscles just as all children eventually do. Most mothers can only sooth their children with words sympathy and, perhaps, some massage to help. Only time will make their pain go away.

But not any more! After the birth of my fourth child I discovered what a help homeopathy can be in all sorts of injuries. What a relief to be able to actually do something to help their sore muscles get better faster. My children rarely suffer with sore muscles for more than a few hours.

I wrote an article on eHow regarding my method. Please rate the article if you read it. I sure would appreciate it.


How to Treat Your Baby's Croup Naturally and Actually Get Some Sleep

Hearing that barking cough and seeing the distress in my child’s eyes when croup attacks is hard to bear. I am so thankful to know how to treat croup quickly and effectively. Have a read here and be prepared for the next time you encounter croup in your children.


p.s. Please do me a favor and rate the article while you're at eHow. That'd help me a lot!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

7 Strategies for Saving Money on the Heating Bill

Our family awakened to a very chilly house on Saturday. I thought maybe someone had left a window opened in our adjoining bathroom. Nope. Our propane ran out - a grim reminder of how fast we’ve been going through propane trying to keep the house warm this winter. I cringe to think how much we’d be spending on heat if we kept the thermostat above 68. Of course, keeping the thermostat below 68 in cold weather has its challenges, too. But there are a few strategies which go a long way toward meeting that goal.

1. Water in the Bed

Many nights when I come to bed my feet are cold. Long ago my strategy would be to gingerly place my two frozen appendages against the hairy, warm legs already in bed hoping and praying that the sudden jolt of ice cold feet wouldn’t disturb my sweet husband’s deep slumber. Thankfully, it didn’t wake him too often. Now, however, I don’t have to even chance it.

When my cold feet demand it, the first thing I do when I start getting ready for bed is to fill an old-fashioned water bottle or better yet a 3 liter bottle with hot tap water, drop it into an old sweat pants leg, and then tuck it under the covers where my feet will be. I go about my nighttime routine and by the time I’m finished, the bed at my feet is nice and toasty warm. And it’ll stay warm for quite some time. My feet breath a collective sigh of relief when I crawl into bed.

An alternative is to heat up a corn bag and use that in the bed instead. By the time I’m ready for bed, though, I’m mighty tired. Heating up a corn bag would require me to go all the way downstairs to the microwave. The hot water faucet in my bathroom is much closer. So I usually use the water instead.

2. Fresh Socks

Another bedtime trick to keeping feet warm is to take off your current socks, get your feet nice and dry, and then put on a pair of fresh socks to wear in bed.

3. With Ma in Her Kerchief and I in My Cap

I’ve spend a lot of time as I wait for sleep to wash over me thinking about my cold hands. When sleeping, the two things that are uncovered on me are my head and hands. It is common knowledge that a great deal of body heat escapes through our heads. In an effort to conserve it I’ve tried wearing hats. They do work, but have a habit of coming off with any groggy tossing or turning. I finally hit upon a solution that does double duty - wear sweatshirt hoodies to bed. Not only are they very warm and comfy, I can pull up the hood if I get cold and it won’t fall off.

4. Cover Your Hands

I don’t know about you but my hands stick out of the covers when I sleep. They can get mighty cold at night. My strategy to keep them warm lies in how I make the bed. With just the fitted sheet on the bed, I lay a king-sized pillow case where the standard-sized pillows will be lain. Then I make the bed as usual. When I sleep I slip my hands beneath the overhang of the larger pillow case. Works every time!

5. The Onion Principle

Of course, there’s the classic but ever so helpful principle of dressing in layers. Thick tights or long johns and an undershirt are a nice foundation. Long sleeved t-shirts or turtlenecks and pants or skirt are next. Leg warmers work very nicely with skirts or dresses. On top of that a sweater or flannel shirt. Then a light jacket of some kind. Two or three pair of socks and a warm pair of knee-high boots work nicely to keep your feet and lower legs warm. I‘m a very warm-blooded person now but I didn’t used to be. And I never used to need more than this to keep me warm even with the thermostat set at 64. Some of my kids are so active that they would be happy wearing shorts and a short-sleeve shirt all winter long. But that makes me feel cold so I send them off to put on another layer.

6. Is There Room on Your Lap?

If sitting still make you cold, keep a small quilt or blanket to cover yourself when you’re not up and about.

7. Oasis of Heat

With little ones still in the house, we do try to keep at least the room where they spend most of their time somewhat warmer than the rest of the house. Seeing children playing happily in a nice, warm room makes me feel like a bertter mother somehow. We have a space heater that we use now. In the past we’ve used a wood stove. Lowering the heating bill at the expense of having higher medical expenses is not a wise choice. In addition, having an oasis of a nice, warm room is a real boost when we get tired of being cold.

Hopefully, if we can apply these strategies a little more faithfully, our propane tank won’t run out again this winter.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How to Buy a Good Used Car for Under $999

With a big family and only one income, we don't have a Mercedes in the driveway or a current year model minivan. We buy older, used, but good cars for less than $1000. How do we find such treasures you ask? Popoften answers this question here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How to Minimize Mess When Your Baby is Nauseous

This is my first article appearing on eHow. Have a look and let me know if you've discovered other ways to minimize mess when baby is sick.


p.s. Please do me a favor and rate it while you're at eHow. That'd help me a lot!

Earn Money or Save Money

With only one of us earning money, our choice is simple: either we learn how to make do with the money we have or we have to make extra money. There are some ways we have found to make money at home. But our primary focus has been on stretching it.

Stretching money is a multi-faceted endeavor. Today I want to share with you my favorite websites that help make our money go further:

If we need something, we could earn money and buy it or go to Freecycle and get it for free! Freecycle is a wonderful source of all manner of free items. Its goal is to keep perfectly good items out of the landfill. People will post an email listing perfectly good items they no longer want that are available for free. All you do is arrange to go pick up and follow through! You can even request specific items. It has hundreds of local chapters. We've gotten many, many items from freecycle - couches, dressers, clothes, food, books, fencing, paint, a swing set, bricks, even a car - all free. It's saved us thousands of dollars in just the two years since we joined!

Craigslist is similar to a free, online classifieds newspaper. It, too, has dozens of local chapters. Anyone can post things for sale. We've gotten quite a few cars through it. They have a free section as well. No sense in making money at home if you can get it for free, right?

If I can't find a particular book, movie or cd that we want for free, Addall is my first stop. Addall searches ebay, amazon, and lots of other online stores for you. You can sort the results by price, title, or author. We almost never buy new anymore because of this great service.

We use eBay for hundreds of items we can't find through freecycle, craigslist, or addall. Expert searching (learn how here and here) is crucial to getting the best deals on eBay. So is bidding in the last seconds. Auction Sniper has been of immense help for that task. If time is not an issue, we search the completed auctions to get an idea of what price constitutes a good deal and how many times that item is likely to come up for auction. Then we will place bids based on that information. Most of the time we have to bid on several auctions before getting it for our low price. Recently, I've been bidding on a National Geographic DVDs. So far I've been outbid on 12 auctions. But I know, because of my research, that others have gotten it for my price. So I just continue to bid on new auctions for that same price. Eventually, I will probably get it.

Dollar Stretcher
For frugal inspiration as well as nuts and bolts help, I go to the Dollar Stretcher. They have so much good information there I could get lost in this site. Be sure to check out the topical index at the top of the page.

Next post I'll discuss how we are making money on the internet.

Thanks for droppin' by! Come visit again soon!


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Twelve Days of Christmas for the Large Family

When I happened upon the following YouTube video I laughed outloud. I've heard every single one of these comments! Have a listen!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I'm Superwoman! Not! Part 4

3. Let it be.

Even with passing the baton and lowering the bar, in our situation we simply could not get everything done to which I had become accustomed growing up. I had to make some tough decisions.
I took a look at every single thing I did. Which tasks could I eliminate without any harm? Could they be assigned to someone else? Could they be made easier or quicker? I concluded that some things could be eliminated altogether:

*Giving baths every night

Once a week is sufficient unless they've gone swimming or found a mud puddle, etc. Cutting out nightly baths probably saves me at least six hours a week.

* Folding underwear and matching socks

No one but the wearer will know that his underwear and socks weren't folded. Sometimes entire baskets full of clean laundry are worn and find themselves back in the dirty laundry all without ever being folded. This works for us because we are home most of the time. Your brother or sister doesn't care if your shirt is a little wrinkled.

* Not changing the littlies' clothes every time they got a little dirty.

Sure, I change them if they get wet or soiled or dirty enough to make something else dirty. But most days they wear the same outfit all day long. If it's not too dirty they'll wear it the next day, too. Since they stay home most days this works fine for us.

* Sorting the silverware

The kids do this job now. But when I used to do it I would just dump the whole basketful into the silverware drawer without sorting. No, it's not nearly as neat and organized. But everything is contained. And it's still relatively easy to find a fork when you need one.

I keep looking for more things that I can just let go. If you can't do it all either, are you willing to let some things go for your sanity?

Thanks for stopping' by! Come visit again soon!


Thrifty Thursday - Onion Peelings Get a Second Life Get a Second Life

I keep a container in the freezer in which I put onion and carrot peelings, and leftover bits of vegetables and chicken or beef pan drippings to make broth. When the last of the ketchup is gone and before throwing the bottle out, I add 1-2 Tbsp of hot water, cap and shake well. I add this to the freezer container, as well. Once the container is full, I defrost, simmer an hour or so and strain. Works great as a soup base or anything calling for broth.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I'm Superwoman? Not! Part 3

2. Pass the baton.

Even with the bar lowered there is plenty of work that needs to be done in a household of twelve! That's where the children step up to the plate to help. When they understand their help is needed (believe me, their help is needed!), and as they actually provide needed help, the children gain the understanding and sense of fulfillment that they can contribute meaningfully to the lives of others.

Everybody from the 2yo and older are have opportunites to contribute. The children who are 12 and older do the cooking and laundry. Our 9yo does the vacuuming. It doesn't mean he vacuums every time the carpet is dirty. But he's learning and improving as is the cleanliness of our floors. Our 5yo is our chief dishwasher unloader. She does a good job with a little help. She doesn't always get all the silverware in the right places in the drawer. Big deal. She's improving and that's what's important. Even the 2yo has jobs - regularly taking her disposable diaper to the trash as well as any other small task that comes up! It's important that everyone, including her, be contributing. Eventually, they'll all be great at their jobs and the house will be really clean. Until then I've learned to be happy with partially clean!

Thanks for dropping' by! Come visit again soon!


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I'm Superwoman? Not! Part 2

1. Lower the bar.

We do not live in House Beautiful. We have spots on the kitchen floor that sometimes don't get cleaned right away. Our socks and underwear are not folded. Sometimes entire loads of clean laundry are never even folded before the clothes get worn again and of course find their way right back into the laundry. Really, is it necessary that underwear be folded? Other than the wearer, who's going to know if it isn't?

We do not eat together at every meal. For breakfast and lunch many of the older kids fix their own food and eat it at their convenience. This is one practice that I have mixed feelings about. But it is reality in our household. Each of the older children has been assigned the task of fixing and feeding each of the "littlies" (the children under 8) thereby eliminating the need for me to fix breakfast or lunch. That right there saves me about four hours a day in the kitchen.

We eat very simple meals. Hamburgers, baked beans and carrots. Baked chicken, baked potatoes, lettuce. It's never a Ritz Carlton menu. This allows the oldest 5 including my 10yo to take turns making dinner relieving me of those duties.

There are almost always dirty dishes in the sink, more at some times than others. If I made it my goal to have a clean kitchen at all time I would be in the kitchen most of the day. If the dishes make it into the dishwasher by bedtime I'm happy.

The kids don't get to go to everything they want. I have to carefully pick and choose which errands I can combine including chauffeuring kids to activities. True, our children aren't as involved as those from a smaller family might be. But the advantages they gain far outweigh this minor disadvantage.

Stay tuned for more in this series...

Gotta run! Come back and visit soon!


Monday, January 7, 2008

I'm Superwoman! Not!

Over the years I've learned to smile when people ask “So how many children do you have?” I know their reaction to my answer will probably be one of the following:

1. A look of horror crosses their face as they crassly declare, "Better you than me!"
Thankfully, this one doesn't happen too often. When it does, then I'm the one who gets the look of horror on my face. How can anyone think so poorly of the blessings of children?

2. They flash back a confused smile. "What? You're kidding!" Once I assure them that I am serious they react as in #3.

3. Their jaw hits the floor as they blurt out, "Ten?!?" Often the comment follows “You must be superwoman! How do you do it all?”

The answer is I don't! There's no possible way one woman could do all the laundry, cleaning, cooking, refereeing, hugging, chauffeuring, potty training, counselling, etc. involved in raising ten children. I gave up trying years ago.

So how do I manage? And thus begins my first series...


Saturday, January 5, 2008

Strategy for Lowering the Thermostat

One challenge in the winter is walking the fine line of keeping the heating bill low while keeping the peace among the natives. One of my sons has a circulation problem and his feet and hands get cold really easily. He's always the first one to voice his objections to the relatively precipitous fall of temperature in the house. So my strategy has been to cook the frog slowly.

You know that story about how to cook a frog? You put him in a big pot of cold water and let him swim around happily in there while you turn the heat on low. Slowly the water temperature rises but the frog is oblivious because the water heats so slowly he doesn't notice. Before long it's time for a frog dinner! In like manner, at the beginning of the cold season I leave the thermostat at about 72. The next week I turn it down a degree. The following week I turn it down another degree. I continue like this until someone in the family comments about how dreadfully cold it is. I tell them to put on more clothing. LOL. If I still get comments and I'm feeling magnanimous I might turn it back up a degree and leave it there for a week. Then I try again and turn it down and see how it goes. If I don't get comments I know they can tolerate it okay. And so it goes until I keep getting comments and cannot placate them. Then I turn it up a degree and that's where it stays until warm weather hits at which time I employ the same strategy in reverse.

Thanks for droppin' by! I gotta run now but come back and visit me again soon!

One razor per year!

I was just listening to the radio show "The Best of Clark Howard" on WWWT in DC. One tip I gleaned from it was a way to extend big-time the useful life of a razor blade. All you have to do is rinse it off with hot water after use, dry it off on a towel, and then blow dry it! Simple! Imagine how much money our family can save just by doing this? Let's see. We use 5 per week at $.15 each x 52 weeks = $39. In 10 years it would cost us $390 to have smooth faces and legs! If we follow this simple little trick we can save $382.50! If you use only one per week you would save $7.65 ($76.50 in 10 years). Sounds great, right?

On the other hand, your return for your time isn't great. It's going to take you probably 30 seconds to rinse and dry your razor. That's 3.03 hours per year to save $7.65 ( a mere $2.52 per hour) not counting the cost for electricity. Couldn't you find some other activity that would save you more than $2.52 per hour spent?

If you have lots of time on your hands this might be worth it, especially if you want to decrease your landfill input. But if time is tight for you, this is NOT worth your time.


Keep Warm with Corn!

Wintertime – time to break out the corn bags! What? You've never heard of corn bags? It's one of our ways to keep warm when the wind is sucking out the warmth in the house without spending a fortune on the heating bill. And they are really wonderful first thing in the morning to keep you warm while the house heats up. We've also used it for sore necks or cramping stomachs.

Here's how you can make your very own corn bag. Get some kind of sturdy cotton fabric. You can buy new if you want but using old towel, heavy shirt, sweatshirt or sewing scraps. Or if you want pretty, you could buy something from the local thrift shop on dollar day and cut that up. You can make your pad any size you want. We like them to be long enough to go all the way around the neck and hang down in the front some. Cut 2 identical pieces of fabric the shape you want it. Sew around 3 of the edges. Turn it inside out. Pour some dry deer corn, filling 75% full. If you fill it all the way you won't be able to bend it very well. Sew it closed by hand or machine.

If sewing isn't your thing, just heat a ziploc freezer bag filled ¾ full. Just be sure to put a cup of water next to the bag to prevent the grain from catching fire. (Wrap it in some kind of cloth to use.) Another alternative is filling a tube sock ¾ full and tieing it shut.

To use it your sewn grain bag, just spray it once or twice with water and stick it in the microwave as is for 2 minutes. Shake before using. The heat will last at least 20 minutes, especially if you put it a sweater or some such over it. Once it starts to cool off just repeat to heat it up again.

I learned from this great website ( that deer corn is a better grain to use than rice which is what I used to use. It's got really detailed directions and pictures.

These bags are also great for keeping your feet warm when you go to bed at night!

Thanks for droppin' by! I gotta run now but come back and visit me again soon!

Come on in - the coffee is brewing!

Hi. Welcome to my blog! I'm glad you've joined me for a little one-way chat! Come on in. Pull up a chair and have a nice, hot cup of coffee while I share with you some of the things I've learned through the years and what life is like for a mother of ten children. LOL. Yes, I really do have ten children. Nope. No twins or triplets. All one by one. No, no adoptions either. All with the same father. No, I'm not Roman Catholic. Uh-huh. Not Mormon either. Just a Bible-believing Christian who believes that children do not cease to be blessings past number two. So now you know a few things about my situation. What topics exactly will this blog explore?

First off ,all things baby! There's no getting around it – I am a baby lover! Just ask my kids - I always admire every baby I see. And having one in the house for the last 22 years has been such a tremendous blessing to me! Of course, I've learned quite a few things about them along the way - practical things like how to handle a total blow-out diaper when you forgot the diaper bag and other important babyhood emergencies, how to make your baby go back to sleep within 20 minutes when he wakes up with croup two hours after you've gone to bed, the fastest, surest way to cure diaper rash, how we avoided ear tubes. You know, stuff like that.

But I have lots of other avenues to explore with you: homeschooling a large family, home management tips and mistakes, my approach to health and sicknesses, surviving raising five boys, surviving raising five girls! Approaches to saving money, of course, has to come up. Nobody has ten children and doesn't know how to save money! Staying married to the same man for 25 years and still loving it – now that's a rarity in this day and age. My journey of getting healthier and thinner. Sign language. Raising a child with Down Syndrome. Depression. Home birth. Homeopathy. Organic gardening. Lots of paths to explore together.

My husband will be dropping by from time to time on my blog but he's a great guy and tells the funniest stories.

I'm sure I'll post about all kinds of things – recipes, reviews, funny stories, opinions - basically whatever suits my fancy. And I have lots of fancies!

Well, thanks for droppin' by! I gotta run now but come back and visit me again soon!