Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I heart Craigslist

Not just because I just recently bought enough boys clothes on there to outfit my baby until he is 4 1/2 (and spent the whole weekend washing, sorting and finally packing them away into 9 storage containers, but because of the Best of Craigslist. This one is truly a gem.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Very telling

I just read this article where it was stated that since the media ban on coverage of fallen soldiers returning to the US has been lifted, that the majority of families have agreed (14 out of 19), which I find really surprising. I didn't expect there to be such willingness on the parts of families to share that moment with others...it shows a great generosity on the part of the families of the fallen soldiers.

But it was this paragraph that was most telling for me:

Media interest has fallen off sharply since almost 40 reporters, photographers and camera operators turned out to document the arrival of Myers' body. At a more recent casualty arrivals, the only media representative was a lone photographer from The Associated Press.

So much for showing the human cost of the war to the US...

I did think that this was a nice idea:

Even if no one from the media shows up, the Department of Defense films each casualty arrival for which consent is given and presents a recording to the family.

I would be thankful for something like that...although I would almost wish that you could choose that option without allowing other media.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My furry baby

So yesterday was PetSmart's annual pet birthday party. So we went and took Susie along...so guess who won in her size group for Musical Sits (like musical chairs, minus the chairs...last dog to sit and stay seated loses) and the over all competition? If you guessed Miss Susie, you're right!

So she brought us home a PetSmart gift card (I think it was for $5) and $50 dollars worth of free dogfood coupons...what a star! I totally felt like a pageant mother...makes me want to get into agility training with her...lols...setting my sights high...she wins two games of musical sits and I am dreaming of agility trophies...;-)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Homemade baby food recipe

Just thought I would share this recipe, since it was easy to make and I was stumped for ideas before I made it.

I have been making our baby homemade food since he started eating solids. Don’t get me wrong, he still eats Cheerios and other pre-made baby appropriate finger foods, however I will make up some pureed sweet potatoes, peas, beans, etc, and freeze them in ice cubes for him to accompany some meatloaf or whatever other table food he would be able to eat.

But I had gotten into a kind of slump, because he is now in the meat phase, and sometimes we just don’t have table food meat that is appropriate for him (too difficult to chew for a molar-less baby).

So I went to the supermarket and got a few jars of pre-made baby food for inspiration. And one was Turkey with rice and vegetables. So I got home, opened it, and figured out it would be pretty easy to make…and it came out so well, that I thought I would share this online, in case anyone else was looking for an easy baby food recipe.

Homemade Chicken, Rice and Vegetable Baby Food

3 pieces of chicken (I used drumsticks, but small chicken breasts would work well)
1/2 a bag of frozen peas and carrots (the small chopped carrots) (about 8oz)
½ cup of rice
1 large sweet potato, already baked and peeled

Put the chicken, frozen vegetables and rice in a crockpot with about 3 cups of water.
Cook on high for about 3 hours (or until the chicken is done). Turn off crock pot and let cool until chicken is cool enough to handle.
Remove the chicken from crock pot and puree in a food processor. Add the sweet potato to the chicken in the food processor and puree some more.
Return the pureed mixture to the crock pot and stir with pea and rice mixture until combined.
Voilà…done! Now all you have to do is package and freeze.

The measurements aren’t an exact science. You can probably add another baked sweet potato, change the amount of chicken and maybe have some more liquid…it’s up to you.
The peas are so soft after all those hours of cooking that they are close to mush, but will still retain their form. And the rice is very well cooked. The baked sweet potato is something I usually do when the oven is already on for something else…in this case I was making dinner in the over the night before, and threw a foil wrapped large sweet potato in as well. It can keep in the fridge a few days, so you could make that part in advance. Alternately, you could probably throw large uncooked slices into the crock pot and fish them out with the chicken to puree, but I thought this was the easier way.

I think I am going to use this same technique to make something with ham next time. Another ode to my crock pot!

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

My view on taxes

I wanted to post a response to Indie Army Wife's post: In Honor of Tax Day, but am struggling with her comments section (but thankfully I am trained through dealing with Sarah's comments section always rejecting my comments too, so I have saved it...)...so I am posting it here:

I come here via Trying To Grok, and I just wanted to explain my point of view. I don’t intend to be combative, and I hope that my comment is received in the way it was meant: just trying to shed light on, well, I wouldn’t call it an “obsession with taxes”, but I think “healthy concern” would be more apt.

It’s not that I don’t want to pay taxes. I don’t want to live in a lawless society where I am responsible for making the road in front of my house, and getting a water supply to my house and dishing out law and order. I like deferring the responsibility for the upkeep of infrastructure to someone else in exchange for paying taxes. However, I do think that where we differ in opinion is the degree of services that taxpayers should be paying for. So you have listed:
Roads (Transportation), emergency services (I will bundle these under Protection which includes police, fire, court system, etc.), military (Defense), Social Security, tap water (Water Supply), electricity or gas (fuel and energy). So I would like to pay for all of those except Social Security (my logic with Social Security is that, we pay into that and that payment could go into private savings instead of the current public ponzi scheme..the caveat though, is how do we wean ourselves off this system without screwing those who faithfully paid into it over the years? I think I could agree to paying into it for another say 15-20 years with it tapering off for the last covered by it…I am just paying it to support those who would be left dry, because they trusted the government with this scheme…but I think everyone else from now on should take care of their own retirement savings.). So there’s one place we differ. I would also like to pay for public education, not because I feel it is a right, I just think it’s smart for a country to educate its population. I think the current system is a failure, but I do think that a publically funded system can work (probably best with vouchers). Then I think we have to pay for the general running of government. I personally support the recreation and sports spending, which I believe public and national parks falls under. I also think the government should take care of waste and water waste disposal.
But I don’t want to pay for Welfare (a certain very restricted safety net I might go for, but certainly not the current system in place). I also don’t support Public Healthcare for various reasons.
So if we go over the Federal Budget for 2010 I come out with this: (all numbers are in $billion)
Transportation: 249.5
Defense: 828.9
Protection: 340.9
Education: 918.5
General Gov.: 115.2
Water Supply: 63.9
Recreation + Sports: 50.8
Waste + Waste Water: 28.4 + 48.2
Fuel + Energy: 101.4

Now the things I don’t want to spend in the federal budget:
Welfare: 480.6 (let’s say I would be for 10% of this spending, so I will remove 48 billion) 432.6
Healthcare: 1,029.2
Social Security + other pensions, disability etc: 951.1 (Social Security only makes up 695 of that)

Total of budget I disagree with: $2,412.9B
Total I agree with: $2,793.7B
I just wanted to illustrate how the things I don’t agree with amount to almost as much spending as those things I do agree with.

I am sure there are a few other things in the budget that I have overlooked but would also agree to spending on. But this current ideal budget of mine comes in under $2,800B. I will throw in $200B for things I have overlooked (and it may be more than that). So I come to $3000B.

However, the total budget for 2010 is $6,143.70 billion, which is more than double what I agree with.

So it’s not so much that I don’t want to pay taxes, it’s just that there is a lot in there that I don’t agree with the spending on. But the majority of what you have listed, I definitely DO agree on (with the exception of Social Security). I would want to limit it the scope of public spending towards exactly those things that you have listed, which currently only seem to make up less than half our budget. It’s those things that you have termed the “myriad of other things,” that I am not interested in, and would rather cut from the budget.

And I know that this is a fundamental difference between Republican views towards public spending and Democrat views, so I am not trying to say that my view is better than yours. I am just explaining why I am unhappy with the amount of taxes paid, and what we get for it. And honestly, I can afford what I am paying now, so it’s not so much that which is the issue. But just because I can afford to pay more taxes, it doesn’t mean that I think it’s okay to do so. I mean, I probably could afford to go out to dinner every night of the week, travel more, buy my baby only new things instead of getting them on Craigslist, garage sales and thrift stores, etc. It’s not a case of what we can afford…it’s what I would rather do with the money. So the more money I have to pay into taxes, the less liberty I have to spend it on things of my own choosing.

So although I am not a protestor in general, I appreciate the fact that these guys go out there and say they don’t want to pay more and more taxes. Taxes keep on increasing…more and more things are being taxed.

It’s not just federal income taxes. Los Angeles Country sales tax will increase from 8.25% to 9.25% next month…doesn’t seem like much, but it represents a 12% increase in taxation. That’s pretty significant. And I feel at the same time that the quality of what we are getting for our money is getting worse and worse. Probably the best way to compare this is to imagine this country as one big apartment building where you pay monthly rent for the upkeep and general services. And your rent keeps increasing, but the paint is peeling in the hallways because instead of repainting it every 2 years, it now happens only every 6 years, the pipes are leaking, mold is growing, the playground in front of the building is a dirty mess…you feel unsafe sometimes. So the service provided is of a lesser quality than it once was…but the rent still increases. I currently live in Alabama, and I have to say they have a better grip on the upkeep of infrastructure…but every time I go home to LA, I am so saddened by what I see: litter everywhere along the sides of the highway (15 years ago this wasn’t the case…it was always dirty, but not to this extreme), the streets are in a deplorable condition (it’s a city issue, not federal), etc. But taxes have continually increased: so obviously an increase in taxes doesn’t equal an increase in the quality of services.

I am not sure if you wanted a response from a Republican point of view, I just wanted to say that there is some logic behind the apparent whackadoodleness and I hope that you won’t take it as an affront that I have left this comment.

My little bunny

I'm on Facebook now, so I usually get my fix of photosharing there, but I couldn't resist putting up this recent picture of the little guy! He is just so squeezable, huggable, and such a joy...and he is already such a little boy: he doesn't like cuddling, pushes away my face when I try to kiss him...he's only 10 months old, but already growing up!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Apparently I'm a rightwing extremist now...

I’m self-employed…which means, I am one of those lucky people who has to calculate their own taxes and then send 4 big old fat checks a year to the federal government and 4 smaller checks a year to the state government. When I sent out my state taxes and federal taxes estimated payments this week it occurred to me that my check to the federal government was almost 10x that of the check sent to the state…and this just didn’t seem right…I mean, why are we sending all this money to the federal government, so that it can decide where and whom to appropriate it to? For some reason, this discrepancy never really bothered me before. But now it does…it really makes clear how much power the federal government wields over deciding how money gets spent in the individual states.

Every state is waiting for federal funds to come in on some project, so doesn’t it make sense to just say that every state needs that money that is being sent to DC…so why doesn’t it just remain in the state…and then local voters can have more of an effect on how the money gets spent, instead of having to vote to send some senators to Washington to beg to get their money sent back to their own state?

But according to this article, that makes me a radical on the right.

The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement officials about a rise in "rightwing extremist activity," saying the economic recession, the election of America's first black president and the return of a few disgruntled war veterans could swell the ranks of white-power militias.

A footnote attached to the report by the Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines "rightwing extremism in the United States" as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.

Part of me also believes that local government might actually like the fact that the federal government controls the purse strings, because when the local voters complain about not getting the infrastructure and program improvements they think are necessary, local officials can just nod their head in sympathy and say: “yeah, but it’s the boys in Washington…we can’t do anything about it.” And then the boys in Washington can turn around and say: “yes, we understand your plight, but there are others in more need than yourself. Sorry.” And there is no way for anyone to really check up on this. You can’t “follow the money” in Washington.

I think it would make for a more responsible local government and an overall more efficiently running country if money that was to be disbursed to the individual states, didn’t have to flow through Washington first, just to make it back to the states it came from…

But hey, I guess I better watch what I say, such thoughts are apparently deemed radical nowadays.