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Stop the Maybes October 1, 2015

Filed under: Opinions No One Asked For,Thoughts — Meghan Hamilton @ 5:06 pm
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Yes. I am on another rant. I am coming to have strong feelings about the word “maybe.” The more maybes I encounter, the less I use that word myself. People like to hid behind it as a way of avoiding hurting or disappointing others. They use it as an excuse to avoid confrontation. How do I know? I’ve been guilty of it myself.

As I look back on my life, I realize that I’ve come to more disappointment by way of someone giving me a “maybe” as opposed to a “no.” When you tell me maybe, I have my hopes up that you will tell me yes. But more often than not, you simply don’t show up or follow through. If you had just said no in the first place, I would have gotten over my disappointment quickly and moved on. But you strung me along with your maybe.

This bothers me more than ever because you are often hurting my son’s feelings in the process. As a homeschooling mom to a seven year old, a lot of things I invite people to are for him. When four people tell me maybe they’ll be at the playground, I feel obligated to show up because I am the one who suggested it. At this point, Alex isn’t interested in playing there by himself. Neither is he particularly interested in playing with the preschoolers that are normally there. So, when you don’t turn your maybe into a concrete answer, we’re left with a fruitless trip and a disappointed kid. If you’d said no in the first place, I’d have found something else for us to do that would have been more fun than wondering if anyone was coming. Being left hanging is a far worse feeling than being told “no.”

Given that I can’t count on changing you, I think that I will change my attitude and reaction when receiving “Maybe” as an answer to an invitation.

  1. I will continue working on being a good example and stop using it as an answer. I want to give a concrete answer that means something.
  2. I will not be afraid to ask for a concrete answer. Don’t be surprised if I ask, “Does that mean yes or no? I don’t really want to be left hanging.”
  3. If I can’t get a concrete answer, I will assume you mean no. I am done showing up to things that need other people to make work and being the only one to show up. Don’t worry, I’ll probably let you know ahead that I won’t be there after all.

What about you? Does this word irritate you? How do you deal with “Maybe” as an answer?


I’m declining your invitation. September 28, 2015

Filed under: Personal Growth — Meghan Hamilton @ 8:00 am
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She can’t afford that berry, but she’s buying it anyway.

Periodically I receive invitations to sales parties. In my area, Pampered Chef, 31, and (until recently) Lia Sophia have a substantial presence. If these don’t ring a bell, perhaps you’ve heard of Tupperware, Silpata, or Party Lite. A local sales rep ropes you into convinces you to host a party for them. You beg ask all of your friends, family, neighbors, random people from the street and coworkers to come. A few people show up. The rep tells you how awesome the products are. You feel guilty and order a few items on the spot. For every dollar a guest spends, the hostess receives a discount on her own order and the rep gets a commission. The rep also strongarms insists you host your own party because it will be fun and you get a discount on the order at your party. If she’s really good, she gets you to sign up to be a rep also.

As much as I am poking fun at the business model, I will say that most of these companies do sell quality products. I would love to have more Pampered Chef items in my kitchen or 31 bags to fill with junk. I also enjoy the social aspect of these parties.

I do not enjoy my lack of self control when it comes to shopping. Long ago I became aware of my inner magpie. I WANT ALL OF THE SHINY THINGS!!!!! My rational mind shuts down and I just want to have the cool thing that is in front of my face. At a gathering where you know your friends are buying things, where you know that the friend who invited you is hoping this whole thing is worth her while, you feel a tremendous pressure to buy something. So I start down that slippery slope of justification.

I can’t buy nothing. I’ll stick to my budget of $20.00. Is there even anything in this catalog for that price? Ok. Maybe this $25.00 item. But that’s it! Oh. Well, I can also get this other thing. $50.00 isn’t bad. I see Martha over there spending over $100.00. I’m only spending a little bit.

And so it goes. Then a week or so later, that check hits my bank account. I don’t have $50.00 in it. I only have $25.00. So my bank charges me $36.00 for being too silly to turn down another pizza stone. Now my $50.00 check has turned into an $85.00 check and I won’t have any money to deposit for another week. So now bring on the fees for the account being overdrawn each day. You get the picture.

So what’s a magpie with limited monetary resources to do? She is going to decline your invitation to your party an stay in her own nest where there are plenty of shiny things that she has already collected.


Why I Chose to Homeschool September 21, 2015

Filed under: Homeschooling — Meghan Hamilton @ 5:44 pm

Learning about 19th century schooling at Old Sturbridge Village in MA.

Many people have many different reasons for homeschooling. Some people aren’t impressed with their local public school but can’t afford private schools in their area. Some people want to bring more of their religious faith into the school day. Others find that their children don’t thrive in the public school environment and just need a quiet space to learn the material. There is a growing movement of unschoolers who eschew traditional curricula and guide their children in making their own path on their educational journey. Living near a military base, I meet families who have chosen homeschooling as a way to keep their kids’ educations consistent as there can be very different programs from school to school. For these families, choosing a home with school quality in mind is simply out of the question.

My primary reason for homeschooling is that I can tailor my son’s education to his needs and incorporate more of the things he likes into learning. For example, he excels at math, so he doesn’t need to wait for the rest of a class of 20 or more kids to learn a concept before he moves on. As to reading, he is at the slow end of average and he absolutely hates to read books. At home, we can move quickly through math, take our time with reading, and choose books or other reading material that will be more interesting to him than when a teacher has to choose books that will be acceptable across the broad range of interests in a full class. Choice of curriculum is great too. As daunting as it is to choose a starting point, it’s been great having the freedom to change when something doesn’t work. The 1st grade science book I got was not his style. He hated it. I wasn’t stuck with it though. I have a different book this year that he loves. Both publications teach the same material, but they have vastly different approaches to accommodate different learning styles.

Additionally, we have more time for fun. When you don’t have 20 or 30 kids to line up and keep track of to move from room to room, you move more efficiently. We can be done with our school work in a couple of hours and he can have lots of free time to play. We can go on more field trips because our schedule is our own. Logistically, a family can get out on the road more easily than 100 kids from a grade.

On the social end of things, my son is spending time with people of all ages as opposed to kids who are just his age. I’m also more available to advise him when he runs into arguments with his friends. He started in public school and the teachers/staff were unconcerned about helping kids through social difficulties. They had an anti-bullying assembly and left it at that. People aren’t born with good communication and problem solving skills. They need to be taught.

It’s not always easy. He argues a lot because what he loves to do more than anything in the world is to switch back and forth between YouTube videos about Minecraft and actually playing Minecraft. As the adult, I need to make sure he’s learning about other things as well. But since he can get his school work done pretty quickly most days, he has more time to do the things he loves than he would if he spent most of his day at a public school then still had to come home and do homework.

Do you homeschool? What was your motivation? Do you send your children to a traditional school? Why? I’d love to hear from you. Different education models work for different people, so I thank you for keeping your comments polite when comparing your choices to other options available.


Meal Plan Review September 15, 2015

Filed under: Cooking — Meghan Hamilton @ 7:28 pm
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My glorious freezer with about 3 weeks' worth of dinners.

My glorious freezer with about 3 weeks’ worth of dinners.

I’ve often read that meal planning saves a lot of money and headaches. I’ve made stabs at it before. When I try to start from scratch with my own ideas for meals, I get overwhelmed and give up before I even start. When I look into using published meal plans I run into costs I can’t justify or meals that are too complicated. We have allergies to wheat and dairy here, adding another level of cost and complication to following other people’s meal plans. So, I’ve been just making dinner plans at the last minute and not wanting to make it at all most nights.

Then about a month ago, I saw the link to 31 Days of Crockpot Freezer Meals floating around on social media. I was skeptical, but since I wasn’t making dinner, I had time to look it over. What was this??? Meals that didn’t rely on large quantities of bread and cheese! Recipes that fall in line with my family’s tastes! Recipes that have short lists of ingredients that are also readily available in my local grocery store! I must try this!!!

So on Sunday, I downloaded the recipes and convenient grocery list. I made note of the few substitutions that I would need to make and decided to omit one recipe altogether. That made 30 usable recipes. That means 30 dinners (and some lunches that I can get from leftovers) that I won’t have to worry about once I’ve assembled it all.

I spent over an hour at the store. I spent approximately $400. My total bill was $450 and change, but I needed things that were not on the dinner list. Assuming I do this again, I may spend a little less. I was out of a lot of seasonings and needed to restock. I won’t need to buy these again for several months. However, that savings may be offset by my desire to take some shortcuts. A lot of the recipes call for chopped carrots. When prepping 30 meals, peeling and chopping take a long time. If you can afford it, buy your carrots and onions already cut. My grocery store has them with the frozen vegetables. I did manage to buy onions this way as I knew that I wouldn’t survive chopping 7 pounds of onions. Next time I’ll do the frozen carrots too. Your grocery price could also be less as I live in an area known for high prices on everything. I could save a lot of money by driving an hour or so to another store, but I the potential savings is not worth the time for me.

That works out to 155 servings of dinner as most nutritionists would count a serving. I know that we often eat more than that. But as a family of three, each meal should be plenty as far as main dishes go. That works out to $2.58 per serving. Add in the cost of a few additional sides like rice, bread, salads, etc… The cost is quite reasonable. It’s well under $5 per person per meal. The cost goes up to $4.44 per person per meal if the three of us eat the entire thing each sitting. Some of these are meant to feed six people though, so in reality, our costs will be somewhere between those two numbers.

A few cautions when implementing this plan:

  1. Make sure you actually have the freezer space. I don’t. I’ll be putting both of my slow cookers to use to cook up what didn’t fit into my freezer so that it lasts longer in the fridge. As we don’t mind leftovers around here, this won’t be a problem. But next month, I’ll do this in two-week batches as opposed to one month all at once.
  2. Another thing is that this takes a large chunk of time up front. I spent about eight hours on meal prep. I broke it down over two days. So plan accordingly. (This is where shortcuts like pre-cut veggies may be worth a few extra dollars.) Again, two week’s worth will make more sense to my life. I will also see how long this lasts us. I anticipate that we will still want to eat out a few times or will have enough leftovers to last through the next day.
  3. Lastly, if you don’t like leftovers or have more than four people you are feeding, look over the recipes and make adjustments to the amounts/grocery list. Some of the dishes are meant to feed four people and some are meant for six or eight people. This works for us, but not for everyone.

To summarize:

  1. Time Savers: Buy pre-cut onions, carrots, peppers; Buy chicken in 1 pound packages rather than bulk packages.
  2. Money Savers: Buy veggies in bulk and chop them yourself; Buy chicken in bulk (depending on your store’s pricing policies – check the prices); Buy chicken thighs instead of breasts.
  3. Recipes are allergy friendly, low sodium, and low cholesterol.

***Edit*** I want to make sure everyone knows this is the link to the original site I found the meal plan:


Booty Shorts, Bikinis, and Body Shaming July 14, 2015

Filed under: Opinions No One Asked For — Meghan Hamilton @ 12:58 am
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I’m guessing that most of these people are trying to stay cool on a hot summer day.

Recently I have been a part of some conversations about the state of tween and teen fashion. All involved mothers discussing either their own children’s tastes and preferences or those of others they’d recently seen. The first conversation involved our town fair. Some women were commenting on how the teen girls, and those even younger, showed up with their butt cheeks hanging out of their shorts. The next conversation that got me thinking happened at the beach and a mom friend mentioned how her 11 year old daughter doesn’t fit into the children’s bathing suits anymore due to her height. Yet many of the women’s styles aren’t appropriate and she didn’t want her wearing a bikini.

One of the differences between the conversations was that the first one took a tone that these girls ought to be ashamed of themselves for showing so much skin. The second one took a tone of concern that an 11 year old isn’t emotionally ready for the attention that her changing body is going to attract if she bares it all.

Several thoughts are going through my mind right now. Firstly, in my ideal world, people could go naked if they so desired. It gets very hot and humid in the summer and it seems silly to wear any clothes at all on some days. Baring skin should not be an automatic invitation for sex.

My second thought is, we still live in a society where bare skin sends the message that we are inviting sexual attention. It’s not right. It’s not ok. But it is the current reality. We live in a society that tells overweight people they are gross if they aren’t covered from head to toe. We live in a society where we tell thin people they need to eat a burger. Collectively, we don’t really know what normal looks like and we are quick to jump on a person who doesn’t fit our individual image of normal.

So what are we supposed to do? STOP COMMENTING ON PEOPLE’S BODIES!

Did you get that? Just stop! It is none of your business what I wear or don’t wear. It is none of my business what you wear or don’t wear. I would hope that you wear something comfortable and appropriate for the activities you engage in, but if you don’t, I’m fine with that. Build an igloo in the buff, but realize that you risk hypothermia. Wear a parka to the fair on a hot summer night, but realize that you risk hyperthermia. Beyond that sort of thinking, I don’t care and I have nothing to say about your bikini, your sack-like dress, or your booty shorts.

Do you have children? I do. I need to help my son navigate this world where the culture is telling him that he has the right to comment on people’s looks and is supposed to assume that a girl whose butt cheeks are hanging out of her shorts or whose breasts aren’t completely covered wants sex. There are girls I care about that need to know that even though their minimal clothing shouldn’t inherently send a message about wanting sex, it probably does and are they prepared to deal with that?


Celebrate accomplishments. Realize that a female in minimal clothing is probably just trying to deal with the temperature. Inform your children that the clothing a person wears may not be sending the message that is being received and it’s really best to get to know a person before deciding if they want sex or not.

And for the love of humanity, STOP COMMENTING ON PEOPLE’S BODIES!


My Favorite Quick Bread Recipe June 1, 2015

Filed under: Cooking — Meghan Hamilton @ 5:49 pm
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I think this may be my first cooking blog entry. And it probably won’t be a regular thing, but I thought I’d post this one. My family has a growing list of food allergies and this is a snack that often disappears in less than twelve hours. I like it because it’s easy to make as is, and easy to alter for different flavors. They say variety is the spice of life. I’ll start with the base recipe, which is rather cake like. Then I’ll throw a few variations we’ve enjoyed and how to choose a gluten free flour if you need to.

Basic Quickbread

2 cups all purpose flour (Wheat based or Gluten Free)

Optional for Gluten Free version *1 1/2 teaspoons Xanthan Gum* (SEE NOTE about Gluten Free Cooking before adding this.)

1 cup sugar (brown or white)

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk (or dairy free substitute)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 teaspoons flavor extract of choice (vanilla, almond, lemon, etc…)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a loaf pan.  In a large mixing bowl, add dry ingredients (If using white sugar, add here. Brown sugar should go in with wet ingredients.). Mix well. Add in wet ingredients. Stir thoroughly.  If a few small lumps remain in your batter, it’s okay. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the loaf. Allow to cool then slice and serve.

*GLUTEN FREE cooking tip* 

  • Check your flour. If it has xanthan gum, guar gum or some other kind of gum in the ingredients, you do not need to add any more. More and more companies are putting it in.  If you make your own or it doesn’t have it in the mix that you bought, I recommend this one from Bob’s Red Mill.

Cinnamon Bread

  • Just add 1 tablespoon (more or less to taste) ground cinnamon to the dry ingredients. I like to use vanilla extract and brown sugar with this version.

Lemon Bread

  • Substitute 1/2 cup lemon juice for 1/2 cup of the milk (Use 1 cup total liquid).  Use 2 teaspoons of lemon extract and white sugar with this one.

Orange Bread

  • Substitute 1/2 cup orange juice for 1/2 cup of the milk (Use 1 cup total liquid).  Use 2 teaspoons of orange extract and white sugar.

The sky is the limit! I plan to try an almond version with almond extract and chopped/slivered almonds added in. I would also like to add chocolate chips. The basic recipe also lends itself to savory breads, but we have a craving for sweets around here, so I’ve yet to try it. What have you tried lately?


Going to Bed Angry May 26, 2015

Filed under: Family,Personal Growth — Meghan Hamilton @ 3:46 pm
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A popular bit of advice people like to give to newlyweds is, “Don’t go to bed angry.” I’m not entirely sure where this originated or how many people actually follow it. I long ago abandoned it. It doesn’t work for my marriage. In fact, a lot of standard advice doesn’t work for my marriage. Perhaps I don’t have a standard marriage. But let’s just stick with this one topic.

Let me break it down for you. I am a strong willed person. You aren’t likely to be able to talk me out of my opinion or a decision I’ve made. My parents and sister recognized this early. They generally state their dissenting view and then leave it alone.

Fast forward to my adult life and marriage. Craig recognizes my strong will and even appreciates it. He doesn’t want me to bend to his every whim. Given his psychiatric challenges, constant bending to his will could be disastrous. So what does this have to do with going to bed angry?

Well, another thing about my personality is that I think about things. Often I let them stew in my brain and in my heart. Instead of dealing with it in the moment, I sit on things. In some ways this is good. It often lets me see that I don’t have anything to be upset about and I can let it go. Sometimes it gives me time to be able to better articulate what I’m feeling. The flip side is that it gives some subjects time to boil over.

If my thoughts and feelings are the pot on the stove, then the time of day is the dial for that burner. You see, that control gets set at high once I get to 6:00 or 7:00PM. If I have not dealt with the contents of the pot by then, it easily boils over and my ability to think and speak rationally is lost. The two main ways to make it stop are to go along with whatever I say, or silently let it boil itself dry.

Sometimes, if I’m just asking for the dishes to be done, Craig is perfectly willing to go along with it to shut off my fit about not having enough help with stuff.  Other times, I am demanding he change his entire personality and there is no room in my mind for any compromise or change on my part. So of course he doesn’t go along with it. In those cases, he lets me bluster and rant and rave and cry until I give up and go to bed.

I go to bed very very angry. I go to bed sure that I am going to get up in the morning and file for divorce.

But do you know how I wake up? Even if I’m still tired from the previous night’s rage, I wake up with the understanding that I was over reacting. I may still have a legitimate issue that we need to work on together. But when I am in that place of rage, we can’t work on it. I need to be in a place of calm to do the hard work this relationship sometimes needs. If I lose that calm, it’s generally due to fatigue. You know what cures fatigue? Going to bed and getting some sleep.

So, I say, go to bed angry. Maybe you’ll get just enough rest to calm down and have an adult conversation with your spouse the next day.



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