Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday Sound Out

From Chicago, home of the biggest ball of mud, it's Sunday sound out with your host who never sleeps, Dawn Meehan!

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! Except my readers from other countries. Not that I hope you guys had a bad Thanksgiving or anything. I just figure you probably don't celebrate Thanksgiving. But, just in case, any of my readers from other countries do, in fact, celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a wonderful holiday! OK, I'll stop talking now.

We went to my parents' house for Thanksgiving. My sister and her family were at her inlaws so it was a small gathering. Basically, my mom went nuts cooking an entire grocery store's worth of food, I ate until I nearly threw up, and my kids ran around the place like feral children who were being introduced to society for the first time. My mom did a great job of not stressing out as my children repeatedly broke the sound barrier although I have a feeling she might have downed a bottle of wine after we left. Just kidding, Mom. Thanks for dinner!

Now, here are the answers to this week's burning questions...

Hi, Dawn. I am into the third chapter of your book. My question is after the first few children, did you "plan" to have the rest of the brood? Did you go through a list of apprehensive "what-ifs"?
Honestly, we only "planned" to have 2. We only "tried" for the first 2. I never went back and forth in my mind, weighing the pros and cons of having more kids. I never made a conscious decision to have 6. It just sorta happened. Some days I'd like 6 more. Others, I'd like 6 less. Just kidding. Sort of. (Hey, I had all 6 home nonstop for the past 5 days. I've never heard so much fighting in my life. Give me a break.)

You make fun of St. Louis style pizza and yet you serve "flat" pizza to your guests?
Yeah, but there's a difference between "flat" Rosatti's pizza and St. Louis pizza (aka - a matzo cracker covered with ketchup and goo). :::running away before angry St. Louisians throw cracker-pizza at me:::

Well don't leave us hanging! Where's the finished project [cheer DVD] for us to see?? :)
Eh, you don't want to see that. It's over 20 minutes long and it's kinda boring. It was just for the girls so they could watch themselves over and over and over and over again...

Repeat after me, "I am NOT Superwoman. I WILL toss that cape. I CAN ask for help. I WILL ask for help."
I am NOT Superwoman. I WILL toss that cape. I CAN ask for help. I WILL ask for help. Now, can anyone help me find my cape?

I'm wondering why you didn't hire Austin to do it for you in the 1st place ;)
Austin? MY Austin? The kid who had 5 days to make up his missing homework assignments especially since he wasn't allowed tv and video games, yet still has incomplete work? That Austin? Oooo boy, that's funny!

Were there any Cheerios inside [the arm rests of Brooklyn's carseat] ? Or Polly Pockets?
Nope, but funny you should mention Polly Pockets. I did find a little plastic Polly Pocket shoe and an empty Sonic tots container, and a piece of string cheese in the back of my van the other day! They'd been there since the Mesozoic Era. I don't even know what the Mesozoic Era is. It sounds good though. I need sleep. about before bed drinking some Plum Wine !
If you insist. :::going to pour a glass:::

Can't remember if Brooklyn is still in bed with you at night, wriggling and disturbing your sleep?
I guess I never showed you guys the pictures! We bought Brooklyn her own bed a couple months ago. She slept in it without any problems at all for a whopping TWO nights! Then she decided it was too scary to sleep alone and she took over Lexi's bed. Sooo, thankfully, other than an occasional night, she's out of my bed. She's Lexi's problem now!

The girls' room...

Lexi's bed (now known as Lexi's AND Brooklyn's bed) on top and Brooklyn's bed (now known as the toy box) on the bottom.

Savannah's bed atop Savannah's and Lexi's dressers

Brooklyn's dresser

I die if it's 69 in my house. And get pissed off. I usually need it to be 70 or 71. And still need socks on most nights!
Thank you!!! I was really starting to feel like a weirdo for complaining that my house was 62. 62 is COLD! I can't believe how many of you keep your houses that cold on purpose. More power to you! I like a nice 68 degrees personally.

OK, do you watch a lot of "Phineas and Ferb" or am I the only one that thinks of them whenever someone says "Yes, Yes I am."??
I watch so much Phineas and Ferb, in fact, that I snicker everytime my New York friends mention the "tri-state area". Oooo, oooo! Speaking of my New York friends.... one of my NY friends,
Beth Feldman from Role Mommy is coming to town! Wanna know why? Of course you do! Because she's got this book, See Mom Run and it's full of essays from awesome bloggers like ME! And the book tour includes a stop in Chicago THIS Thursday! So, anyone in the area, please come out and see us attempt a little stand-up at
The Comedy Sportz Theatre
929 West Belmont Avenue
Chicago, IL
Thursday, December 3
from 5:00-7:00

AND... that's not all! Some local contributors (including ME!) of Margaret McSweeney's book Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace will be on hand to sign books on
Saturday, December 5
from 2:00 - 4:00
at the Barnes and Noble in Deer Park
Deer Park Town Center
20600 North Rand Road
Deer Park, IL

Come to the book signing and support the work of Hands of Hope and Wings!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I think I may be a vampire. Although I don't have a hankering for blood or anything. And I'm pretty sure I don't turn to dust (or sparkle) in the sunlight. And I like garlic. Not sure about the stake through the heart or holy water. OK, so maybe I'm not a vampire afterall, but I can no longer sleep at night. I haven't slept well at night for so long that I cannot even remember the last time I slept a straight 8 hours at night. Most of the time, however, I could probably sleep all day. Wait, let me rephrase that. Physically, I could sleep all day, but realistically, with the 400 kids who are usually at my house, I couldn't possibly actually sleep during the day. But last night was especially bad. I lay in bed shivering for hours. Shivering! Me! The woman who awakes in a puddle of sweat, the woman who is always hot, the woman who can't stand to wear long sleeves or anything on her feet because it makes her too warm. Yeah, that woman. Yet, last night, I lay awake until after 3:00, just freezing.

I finally got up the energy to crawl from the relative comfiness of my many blankets and brave the iciness of my house in order to check the thermostat. It was 62.

Today, I gave my 329th "Do not touch the frippin thermostat under penalty of death" speech to the kids. Of course, all 6 of them unanimously agreed that "Notme" was the culprit. I'm buying a fingerprinting kit. Oh yeah! Who has the last laugh now, Notme?!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Introducing Bugsby

Join Bugsby the Book Worm on a magical reading adventure! Your children will love reading along and interacting with their favorite characters as they build early reading skills. Kids will fall in love with reading as they have fun listening to stories read aloud by their new reading pal, Bugsby.

Awhile back I did some reviews of both the Leapfrog Tag reading system and the Poingo reading system. Although I liked both of them overall, there were some features on each that I really disliked. The Poingo system had a nice pen and a good price, but there are only 6 books available with this system. The Tag system has a much wider selection of titles to go with it, but the tip of the pen is sharp and can tear up the pages of the book if your child presses down too hard, and it's a little pricier. With both of these systems, you have to go online to download books to the pen and the pen only holds a few books at a time.

The new Bugsby reading system by VTech has the best features, in my opinion. The pen is a nice chunky shape, easy for little hands to hold, with no sharp tips that can gouge the pages of the book.

There are 8 titles available with this system to keep your kids busy. And the best feature of all, is that each book comes with a cartridge that slips right into Bugsby's little backpack.

You don't need to spend hours online downloading software and information for each title. Just pop the cartridge into the pen and read/play with the book. When you're finished, store the cartridge in the included holder on each book!

On the VTech Kids website, you and your child can create your own Bugsby story online. It's fun to do and you'll get 10% off Bugsby products when you give it a try HERE!

VTech has a Bugsby reading system to give away to one lucky reader! What a great idea for a Christmas present! Just leave me a comment here and I'll choose a random winner on Monday, November 30. Good luck!

* I have been paid to work with VTech on some promotions and did receive a Bugsby reading system to try out, however, as always, I only give my honest opinions on products I review.

Money-Saving Tip #87

People always ask me, "How can you afford to have 6 kids, especially in this economy?" I'm frequently asked for money-saving tips. Oftentimes, my kids come up with brilliant cash-saving ideas that I never would have thought of on my own. For example, yesterday, Brooklyn showed me that the arm rest padding from her car seat can double as slippers. Because of her ingenuity, I just saved $15-$20 on slippers for Brooklyn!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm baaaaack!

I'm baaaaack! Didja miss me? I have a good excuse for not blogging for (gasp!) an entire week! OK, well maybe it's not a good excuse, but it is an excuse...

Lexi had her cheer showcase last Sunday at which point I took the last pictures and video tape for the cheer season. Then I began to work on putting all the pictures and video clips together to make a DVD of the girls' highlights. I needed to have the video done by the end-of-season banquet yesterday so I could give copies to all the girls on the squad and the two absolutely awesome high school coaches who donated their time and talent to teach our girls. Seriously, these coaches were so incredibly terrific that all the cheerleaders were crying as they said goodbye to the coaches at the banquet yesterday because they're going to miss them so much.

So, I was busy working on this video, editing pictures, cutting video segments, and choosing music for the video. I went through the collection of music on my iPod and picked out a couple songs to use in the video. I asked Savannah what she thought about my song choices. She quickly browsed my library of music and said, "Seriously, Mom? Seriously???" She rolled her eyes and said something along the lines of, "You don't have any non-old people music!" She took out her own iPod and played song after song for me, telling me which ones would be good for the cheer video. Thanks to her, I now have non-old people music on my iPod by such legends as Lady Gaga, Iyaz, Ke$ha, and Miley Cyrus (or is it Hannah Montana?) I don't even know how to pronounce these names! How exactly does one pronounce a dollar sign?

Although I've taught myself how to make a video with Windows Movie Maker and consider myself fairly savvy, I had no idea how to get music from my iTunes library over to WMM.

After messing around for hours, I finally figured out I could put the cheer songs into a playlist, burn a CD with them, then rip the CD and import into WMM. <---does that sound like Chinese to anyone else? There's gotta be an easier way to do that, but alas, I couldn't figure it out. In the end, I got my music, pictures, and videos organized and started arranging them. I worked on it for a couple more hours then saved the project and went to bed.

The next evening, when I tried to open the project to work on it, it was nowhere to be found. Argh! My computer geek friend (always good to have computer geek friends!) said he could probably retrieve it for me, but I knew I couldn't wait until I had time to have him look at my computer so I started all over again. I worked for another 6 hours or so and had the video about half finished. I made absolutely certain I saved it this time. All's great. I have a couple more days to work on it. I'm halfway there. No problems.

The next morning, I had the brilliant (and by "brilliant", I mean "completely "UNbrilliant"!) idea to clean out and organize all my picture folders. I have about a bazillion (give or take one or two) large-file photos on my computer and I think they're starting to slow things down, so I condensed them, organized them, and put some on CDs and deleted them. A little later, when I opened my video project to resume work on the movie, guess what I saw. Yep, a whole bunch of little red Xs where my photos used to be. My idea to rearrange my picture folders and put all the cheer pics into the same folder? Notsogood. Again, there was probably a way to save the whole mess, but I was so mad and frustrated at this point, I just deleted the whole darn thing and started all over again.

Meanwhile, my power cord which had broken and was a little touchy, stopped working altogether. The only way I could use my computer was to hold the power cord "just so" while typing and moving pictures around one-handed. Every time my right hand cramped up from holding the cord, the computer would stop charging and I'd have to spend a good 10 minutes wiggling the cord around until I got it to start charging again. This is the biggest reason I didn't blog last week. What a huge pain in the butt it was to finish the video this way. I just didn't have it in me to try to push the cord in enough so that I could check mail or blog with only my left hand.

Thanks to my computer geek friend (have I mentioned how important it is to have computer geek friends?), I was able to get a good deal on a new power cord and it was shipped super-quickly so I'm back in business now! Oh and I did finally finish the video. Of course, when I went to burn the copies, after taking half an hour or more per copy, they didn't work. Every DVD I burned had a glitch and would stop playing at some point during the movie. Thankfully, Austin stepped in, transferred everything to his computer and burned the copies lickety-split for me.

Sooo, all is well. My video is done. Cheer is done. My computer is working once more. And next year when I open my big mouth and say, "I can make DVDs for everyone!", for the love of God, someone slap me!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Sound Out

It's Sunday. I'm answering your questions from the week. Then I'm going to bed. I may or may not have a glass of wine and stuff a wad of cotton in my ears to drown out my kids' incessant fighting tonight.

You always amaze me with your cakes?!Did you take any courses or something?
Thank you and yes, yes I did.

Do you use something,(like a picture), to help you design these cakes or do you use a pre-made pattern ?
For the pineapple one, I used a picture of SpongeBob's house and a picture of an actual pineapple and kinda combined them. Usually I use a picture of some sort as a guide for the cakes I make.

Um...That's a pretty FLAT pizza behind Austin's cute face. I thought y'all Chicagoans only ate pizza that rivals lasagne in depth!!! Please explain!

Yes, yes it is. That's Rosati's. Good pizza, but not CHICAGO pizza. We usually get that for parties because, when you're balancing a plate on your lap, it's easier to eat "flat pizza" than Lou's.

*gasp* You are admitting that you defaced a library book?!?!?

Defaced? Oh heck no! I increased its value by signing it! You know, because I'm all famous and everything.

Now that Austin is 15 (!), don't you think it is time for sidebar picture updates?
Yes, yes I do. In fact I was just talking to my web designer about that very thing!

I was shocked to see how grown up Austin looked in the picture you posted! How's he doing in school now that he's had time to adjust to the honors classes?
Don't ask.

So.. hows that going for you Dawn? Are they hanging up their coats yet?

No comment.

Too funny! How did you get Clay and Brooklyn to have such serious faces [in the video]? How many takes did that take?

Amazingly enough, I didn't even have to tell them to act bored. It was almost as if they really were bored with the whole coat hanging demonstration! Inconceivable, I know!

Clayton has the best laugh EVER! Thank you for the morning giggle!

Yeah, it's pretty contagious. If he ever figures that out, he'll be able to get away with murder.

ha! lol! would use it, but here in south Louisiana, you really only wear a coat once a year when there's a freakish below 80 day!

Now was that really necessary?!!!

Holy MOSES - Austin became, like, a real man-boy since I've seen him.

I know. :( They grow up so darn fast! But, on the bright side, he helped me hang up the Christmas lights outside because he's taller than I am and he climbed on the roof to clean out the gutters while he was up there! :)

And to those of you who still think there are no half gallons of ice cream in the world...

"Anyway, I wanted to mention that your SSO question from another reader about ice cream containers is correct. Most ice cream containers are no longer 1/2 gallons; rather, they have shrunk the size down to 1.75 or even 1.5 quarts!"

"Hate to tell you, dear, but the half gallon cartons of ice cream? They're only 1.5-1.75 gallon now."

HA! HA!!! In your face! Take that! I WIN!!! I mean, ahem, yes, yes, they do still make half gallons of ice cream. You just have to know what brands to look for.

And now, it's bedtime for me. Goodnight Seattle!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My New Invention

I have the best idea for an invention! Now, if I could only find someone to make my plans into reality! I think a lot of people could use this. I could make millions with it! Parents the world over would thank me for coming up for such a useful, helpful, sanity-saving invention! Let me explain...

Scene One: your 5-year-old



Can, umm, I have, umm, wait Mom, when are we, umm, when are we going to go to the store?

In a few minutes.

Mom, can I have gum if I'm good?

We'll see.

Mom, look at this! Mom? Mom, see what I can do?


Mom, can, umm, Mom, can you do this? hopping on one foot with other leg behind his neck

Not likely.

Mom, do you know where my puppy is?

Where did you put it? Look in your bed.

Mom, do you like my puppy?

Yes, I like your puppy.

Can I feed my puppy?

Only PRETEND food!

Mom, umm, what do puppies eat?

Real puppies eat dog food. Stuffed animals eat pretend food.

Mom, why is this white?

I don't know! 'Cause it's a white dog!



Mom, umm, I forgot what I was going to say. Oh yeah! Mom?


Umm, I forgot again. Oh yeah, Mom?


Umm, what's my puppy's name?

I don't know. Did you give him a name?

Mom? Umm, Mom, can I have a sucker?

Yes (Maybe it'll shut your mouth for a few seconds. I didn't say that out loud, did I?!)

Mom, will you get the candy down for me?


Mom, Brooklyn won't let me, umm, Brooklyn won't let me have any.




Mom, can you set up Wii for me?


Mom, look at this! Mom, are you looking? Mom, see what I can do? Mom, umm, should I play bowling or baseball? Umm, Mom, look at me! Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom!!!!!!!!!!!!

Calgon, take me away!!!

(Actual audio from Clayton which has been transcribed for your reading pleasure)

Scene Two: your 15-year-old

Hey there! How was school?


Do you have a lot of homework?


How did you do on your math test?

I dunno.

How do you think you did? Did you know the answers?

I guess.

Weren't you cold walking home with just your sweatshirt

grunt/eyeroll combo

OK then. Nice talking to you.

My invention will take half a preschooler/young child's words and transfer them to a teenager. Voila! Now you have two kids who each speak an appropriate, middle-of-the-road amount of words. This invention could conceivably work for husbands and wives as well! Oh the possibilities are endless! Think about it! Husbands who can say more than a dozen words a day and wives who can say less than 40 million words a day! It will revolutionize relationships everywhere!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Coat Hanging 101

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Sound Out

From Chicago, the city that had its first day of summer this weekend, it's Sunday Sound Out starring the ultimate winner of the fun-filled game Balderdash, Dawn Meehan!

How are things going with you and Joe? I would love to hear how everything is at your house and how I can pray for you both and the kids specifically.
Things suck, but I'm doing what I have to do for me and the kids. But it's ok because God is amazing and can use any situation for good.

How much one on one Mommy time does she [Brooklyn] have now?
We have all morning, just the two of us. Sometimes we run errands, sometimes we go to the library, sometimes we go back and snuggle in bed while watching Little Bear tapes. We always read 50,000 books and usually play dolls. She's very cuddly and sweet and I'll miss her when she goes to school.

Look at how organized your videos are! Was this the 30 seconds following straightening them? Mine NEVER stay that neat for very long!
Yeah, I'm a little insane about organizing stuff like that. The more things in my life that I can't control, the more obsessed I get about organizing my house.

Advice: How does one keep preschoolers from trying to sit on the bagging area. It's some sort of gravity field, some of impossible temptation....
Duct tape them in the grocery cart.

Dawn,they don't make half gallons of ice cream anymore.Lise
Of course they do. Every store I shop at sells store brands of ice cream in half gallon boxes.

Does your library have self-check?
I think so, but I've never used it. There's never a line to check out books, so I've not looked into the self-check there. The last time I was at my library, I grabbed my book off the shelf and signed it to the library! Hee hee
Speaking of, you can still get a signed copy of Because I Said So

How do you use your own bags in self check?
Honestly, the self check-outs I usually use are at Jewel (local grocery store) and they have a mini conveyor belt that leads to a bagging area (that isn't a scale). After ringing up my order, I just move down and bag my groceries in whatever bags I want to use. And unlike 98% of all humankind, I know how to use the order divider so the next person in line can start ringing up their order while I pack mine.

Dawn - I'm very excited to take my family to this amazing show [Zing Zang Zoom circus]. I'm having troubles entering the MOM code for the discount. Can you provide any more information as to which spot on the ticketmaster screen we enter this. I'm fairly computer savvy and have tried a few possibilities and it will not show the discount price. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Meghan would be happy to walk anyone through the process to ensure you get your discount. Feel free to email her at

We celebrated my oldest son's birthday this weekend. Well, at least some of us did. My mom is mad at me so she refused to come. Apparently she talked my grandmother out of attending as well. sigh The rest of us had fun though. Our close friends stayed late while we played Pictionary and Balderdash and had a terrific time. I hadn't laughed so hard in a long time. The kids were absolutely hilarious. It's nice now that most of them are old enough to join in the games.

Here's my big 15-year-old who now towers over me.

The 14 inch tall cake...

frosted orange...

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

Austin thought the cake was cool, but didn't eat a single bite. He doesn't actually like cake. Maybe next year I'll decorate a cheesecake or a pie for him.

Austin didn't eat the cake, but as I sat here typing this, I noticed Clay get out of bed and walk through the kitchen 3 times. I finally went to see what his deal was and why he kept getting up to go to the bathroom. Know what he was doing? Every time he walked through the kitchen, he reached out and grabbed a handful of cake on his way back to bed. Stinker!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Campbell's Winner

The winner of the Campbell's soup/V-8 V-Fusion gift pack is...

Denise ~ Paper Ponderings said...
Great idea...sign me up for a flu pack!!!

Congratulations! Email me at with your shipping address.

Zing Zang Zoom

We went to the circus last night. Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey's Zing Zang Zoom show. It was tons of fun! We hadn't been to the circus for 11 years and the time before that, I was a kid, so it was like umm, slightly more than 11 years ago. If you guys go to the circus, show up early! You can go down on the floor and meet the performers, watch the clowns, try on costumes, see the elephants paint pictures with their trunks and sign up to win a painting. While I was trying to take a picture of my kids (exhibit A), a clown walked by and grabbed my camera. He proceeded to take random pictures (exhibit B, C & D). LOL!

The show was a ton of fun! Zing Zang Zoom combines old fashioned circus fun with magic. The ring master/magician was awesome (even if he had abnormally white teeth. I'm talking "Ross-white", glow-under-black-light white here!) He made an elephant disappear and he walked on the ceiling, among many other cool magic tricks I'm still trying to figure out.

If you plan on going to the circus, make sure you use code MOM at Ticketmaster to get a 4 pack of tickets for $44!

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Exhibit D

Costumes that people can try on


Jackson's and Clay's favorite part

Not sure why this guy kept saying "sugar" in Spanish

You can't see the ringmaster's teeth glow from here

I taught her everything she knows

I received free tickets to the circus in exchange for sharing the discount ticket code with my readers. I was not paid for my opinions. My opinions are mine alone.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Remove Item From Bagging Area!

I think it's high time for a Public Service Announcement about self check-outs. Most stores around here now use some sort of self check-out systems. I understand the reason why. It's a lot cheaper to have one employee overseeing 4-12 self check-out stations than to have 4-12 employees manning their own registers. I personally like to use the self check-out machines. Wait, let me rephrase that. I like to use the machines as long as there's no one in front of me. That's where this PSA comes in because some people need a little instruction when it comes to using these machines. Then there are the people who should probably not even be allowed to leave their house or drive, let alone use a self check-out. Grrr... But since those people are likely beyond all help, we'll just concentrate on the ones who simply need a little lesson. And since I'm that annoying person standing in line, tapping her foot impatiently, sighing loudly, and rolling her eyes, I feel it's my duty to inform the rest of America just how to use these machines.

There are many people who refuse to even try these machines for a variety of reasons. Maybe they're angry that these self check-outs have replaced actual people who are now out of work. Or perhaps, (and this is a big one) they're just scared of looking stupid or doing something wrong while trying to check out. Another reason that some folks avoid them is that it brings flashbacks of their high school job and they find themselves in a cold sweat, muttering "Paper or plastic" in their sleep just thinking about it. And finally, there are the people who are certain that robots are taking over the earth.

For those of you who insist they'd rather have interaction with an actual living, breathing person while paying for your groceries, I'm here to put things in perspective. The last time I got in a check-out lane with an actual cashier, this is how it went...

ME: Hi!
CASHIER: bored and talking to his buddy about his plans for the weekend completely ignoring me
Do you have your customer card?
ME: Yep, here you go.
CASHIER: Did you find everything ok?

Why do they ask this? Why??? "No, I didn't find everything I needed. That's why I'm still wandering around the aisles, asking for help. Can't you tell?" Or let's say you really did have trouble finding something. "I couldn't find the molasses. It took me half an hour and 2 employees to discover where it was hidden." What is the cashier going to do about it? Tell a manager? Suggest reorganizing the aisles to his boss? Insist on more employee training so they can better help the customers? Nope. If you tell him you had a hard time finding an item, he'll say something helpful like, "Oh."

What you need to do is either use the self check-out or have a little fun with it. When the cashier at the grocery store asks if you found everything ok, just tell them, "I had a really hard time finding black shoes in a size 7, king size sheets, and tires for my van." When he looks at you blankly and says, "We don't sell those things, ma'am," just reiterate, "See what I mean?! Even you can't find them!"

Then, as the cashier continues to joke around with his buddy, he absently puts the eggs on the bottom of the bag and tosses a big ole can of sweet potatoes on top of them. This is followed by a loaf of bread and finally topped with a half gallon of ice cream.

Plus, the self check-outs come in handy when you're buying something like Gas-X, tampons, condoms, foot fungus cream, and wine (what? I think you'd need wine if you had your period, gas, and crud on your feet!) Those self check-outs are looking better and better, aren't they?

So, here's my advice for those of you contemplating making the jump to the self check-out.

1. If you've never used a self check-out machine, don't give it a try for the first time on a Saturday. Go at midnight when no one else is around for you to tick off to make you flustered.

2. If you have 4001 items, skip the self check-out.

3. If you have 23 coupons, skip the self check-out.

4. If you intend to pay for your purchases with 32 pounds of coins, skip it.

5. If you lack a brain the capacity to hold an item and move it across the scanner, the ability to read simple instructions on a screen, or any semblance of common sense, just skip the self check-outs.

OK, you're ready to proceed. These machines aren't magical. You don't simply wave the package around in front of the machine and voila, the machine magically tells you how much it costs. The machines work by reading a bar code of information located on the package. That means you have to actually put the bar code toward the scanner. See how that works? If you move a can of soup across the scanner 15 times and it doesn't do anything, think about turning the can around so the scanner can read the bar code! Don't laugh. I've been behind this person many times.

After scanning your item, you need to put it in the bag or on the conveyor belt. The bagging area (or the conveyor belt) is a scale. If you ring up a tube of chapstick and put a 5 pound bag of flour in the bag, the machine will flash strobe lights, start smoking, and an alarm will sound, signaling an armed guard to escort you to grocery store prison. Don't be like the idiot who tried to scan a $3.00 bar code for a flat screen TV at Walmart. Not only will it not work, but you'll look like an idiot and may wind up being talked about on my blog.

You also don't want to lean against these scales because umm, they're scales! They'll register your weight leaning on them and yell at you to "remove item from bagging area!" and once again, the armed guard will have to take you away.

How do you ring up fresh produce? I may or may not have been afraid to use the self check-out for this very reason, once upon a time. Not long ago, an old woman in front of me tried to scan her bunch of bananas at least 40,000 times before I pushed her out of the way, punched in the code and threw the bananas in her bag helped her.

You need to put the produce on the scanner screen (which is also a scale) and key in the code. Most produce will have little stickers with the code. You know those cute little Chiquita stickers on your bananas? They'll have something like #3082 printed on them. Just punch in that number. The machine will weigh the bananas and charge you accordingly. If you have, oh say, an eggplant and it doesn't have a sticker on it, just follow the directions on the screen. You can look it up easily. Most things are listed alphabetically and as long as you have a clue what you're buying, you should be able to look it up with no problems.

There's really no reason to be insecure or embarrassed about using these machines because as long as you can read and follow directions (Yes, I know that eliminates probably 75% of people. Not MY readers, of course; other people!), you'll have no problems. And if you do run into a problem, blame it on the machine! Anyone who has used these, knows they have occasional glitches. Sometimes the sale price doesn't ring up correctly, or the item isn't in the database. Then there are the times the machine yells at you to put the item in the bag even though it's already there and you find yourself arguing with a machine that you're certain is laughing at you. These things happen. All you have to do is wait 45 minutes for someone to come help you. I guess you really need to cut the helper cashier person some slack though because she has to deal with idiots who can't follow instructions all day long and she's probably more than a little afraid of having some disgruntled customer throw canned peas at her head. Now, if only the nice grocery store would mail you a paycheck for all your hard work...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How to Manage the Flu

The folks from Campbell's sent me this package a couple weeks ago and it just happened to arrive while I had all 6 kids home sick. What awesome timing was that?! Chicken soup and juice! It was just what I needed. I'm thinking it was supposed to be a nice school lunch kit with the lunch bag and water bottle, but I personally used it as a "Get Well" care pack. What's more comforting, when you're sick, than chicken soup?

Campbell's has 13 new kid friendly chicken soups, including Disney Princess, Cars, SpongeBob, and Goldfish pasta. Each of these new kids' condensed soups contain 24% less sodium than the regular Campbell's condensed chicken noodle soup and all of the kids soups meet the government criteria for healthy foods, with controlled fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

And especially when you're sick and getting dehydrated through vomiting and/or fever, it's important to replace those fluids. We went through a ton of V-8 V-Fusion juice a couple weeks ago. We all really love this juice to begin with, but while the kids were sick and not interested in eating at all, I knew they were getting fluids, calories, vitamins, and fruits and vegetables through the V-Fusion.

Campbell's has a flu pack lunch pack with 2 bottles of V-Fusion, 3 cans of Campbell's condensed chicken noodle soup for kids, a lunch bag and a reusable bottle for one lucky reader! Just leave me a comment here and I'll choose a random winner on Friday. Good luck!

My New Assistant - Brooklyn

Brooklyn has done some redecorating. How very, ummm, colorful! Yes, it's very colorful, Brooklyn. Thanks for not drawing on the furniture, at least.

Ohhh, they're important notes? Oooo, what do they say, Brooklyn?

Oh yeah. It's a good thing I've got you to help remind me of all these important things! :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nearly Sunday Sound Out

From Chicago, where our river flows backwards, it's Sunday Sound Out starring the old woman who lives in a shoe, Dawn Meehan, and with musical guest, Perry Como.

I would love to know where you do your grocery shopping at? I only have 4 kids so its a challange for me everytime I shop. I would love to know where you grocey shop and do you budget etc....???
I do almost all my shopping at Aldi. I'm not very good at clipping coupons and running from store to store to get the best deals. I just don't have the time or patience for that, but Aldi has the overall cheapest prices that I've found. When I started shopping there, my grocery bill was cut in half. Literally. They don't always have the best selection of fresh produce however, so I do tend to fill in the gaps with a few things from Jewel now and then. I used to be very good at sticking to a budget, but I've gotten lax over the years. I'm just getting back to that system now. I don't own a credit card which makes it easier - if I don't have the money, I can't get the item. Period.

Question - What are your thoughts on the Swine Flu vaccine? Had you considered it before it hit? Having lived through it, would you have vaccinated or just suffered through it?
I wasn't planning on getting the kids (or myself) the vaccination, but according to my pediatrician, I no longer have to make that decision since the kids have already gotten the flu. Honestly, it wasn't bad for my kids, but then again, my kids don't have any other health issues, immune problems, or asthma either. I did almost take Lexi to the ER one night because of her high fever and wheezing, but that was about it.

Where's the photo of you and Savannah dressed up? :)
I haven't dressed up in 20-some years. Why dress up when you can just make up your own costume with

But here's my DAUGHTER...

Should I be concerned that Jackson dressed like a girl and Savannah dressed like a dude?

if you haven't already, go take a look at today's online Chicago Tribune and scroll down to the business section. There's a picture of someone who looks alot like you and a young boy who looks alot like Clay sitting on a couch with a laptop...Just wondering if it is you and if there is another article about you in the Trib today?
Yep, that's us, but there's no article about me in the Trib now. They must've just used the photo they took a couple years ago because it fit their story. You know, because I'm so amazingly photogenic. Snort!

I forgot to announce the winner of the Zing Zang Zoom circus tickets giveaway! The random winner is...

Chasity said...
Oh, what a wonderful giveaway! I've never taken my boys to the circus, what a treat for them that would be. Thanks.

Congratulations! Email me at for details on how to get your tickets! And it's not too late for everyone else to get a discount to the upcoming Chicago shows. Just use coupon code MOM at checkout for a 4-pack of tickets for only $44 at Ticketmaster!

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