Avoiding the Church Collection Scramble

We donate to our church. (We actually donate to two parishes since we attend two parishes [the local Novus Ordo parish and the further away Latin Mass Parish].)  I can guarantee you that our donation amounts have never been very high, but we still try to contribute something. The weekly church collection used to be very stressful.  I’ve eliminated this stress and I’m going to tell you how.

A totally stolen picture…

How can donating to a church can be stressful?  
I would forget a pen.
I would forget an envelope.
I would forget a check.
I would ready our offering ahead of time and leave it all in the car. Or home.
My child would have a screaming fit during the Offertory and need to be taken out so I’d miss the usher.
My child would have explosive poop during the Offertory and need to be taken out so I’d miss the usher.
And above all, it was one more thing to remember in my already overloaded mind, trying to get a bunch of littles out the door.



The key to eliminating this weekly stress from my life comes from the computer.  It’s called online bill pay.  My bank, probably like yours, sends checks to whomever I specify for

Another totally stolen picture

free. I don’t have to even pay for stamps. It’s a little bit difficult at first to enter the address in, but that’s a one time thing and then it takes two clicks to pay.  I mail each church our tithe  (Tithe is a strong word. We’re not anywhere near 10%.) whenever we do our bills.  It’s in the same breath as the two clicks to pay the electric company.

Problem solved.  I don’t have to stress. I don’t have to worry. I can concentrate on Mass. I can unite my intentions to the priest’s at the Offertory (or just try to keep my kids from screaming). And my churches still get supported. It’s a win-win!

Posted in Also Known As Logistics and Management in a Large Family, Knowing What to Do to Feel a Little Bit Less Like the Woman in the Shoe by with 1 comment.

Rain Talk

The prairies are dry. My area’s normal annual rainfall is about 13 inches.This is farm country, but the area is so dry that it is mostly dry land farming, that is farming without irrigation. There is simply no water with which to irrigate.  Rain is everything here.

We’ve had an extraordinarily wet year here.  It’s a blessing.  We all realize that although it’s been very wet this year, that we can never take this for granted, that the next year it might be really really dry.  In an area of dry land farming, rain can make you or break you.

Since rain is rare, it’s also an event.   Most people have rain gauges.  They usually get them for free, as swag from the bank or the gas guy, or whoever.  Rain gauges (with advertising) dot the landscape here.  And it’s with good reason.  The rain is very variable.  My (rented) field that’s a half mile away will get a different amount of rain than my house, or than the other field five miles down the road.  It probably all balances out to the same amount of rain, but it’s still interesting.

A popular morning-after pastime is to drive around and check all of your rain gauges in all of the various fields.  You then dump them out so that you have a true measure for the next rainfall.  You may even sneak a peak at your neighbor’s rain gauge (but you don’t dump them out).

Since rain is an event, it’s the standard polite conversation topic.  I have heard this conversation over and over and over between different farmers. I’ve even tried to participate occasionally.  I’m going to give you the script here, in case you ever come out here and want to fit in.  Change the details accordingly.

Farmer One: “Did you get any rain last night?” (He knows full well that Farmer Two got rain, but that’s how the conversation always starts.)
Farmer Two: “We got three tenths.” (It’s almost always expressed as a fraction with tenths as the denominator. They always talk in inches, but they hardly actually use the word inches.)
There’s a pause to let it sink in. “How about you?”
Farmer One: “We got a half.” (There’s the pause again.)
Farmer Two: “I heard that Smiths got one inch over by Johnsons’ place.”  (They both know the Smiths, whose father bought land from the Johnson family back in 1974. The Johnsons have all been dead since the eighties, yet their land will always be known as Johnsons’ Place.) (And there’s also the subtle I can’t let you think you got more rain than everyone.)
They might also give the rundown of how much rain they got in their various respective fields.


One tenth- I would totally fail the conversation!

One tenth- I would totally fail the conversation!


Although rain is the standard polite conversation, it’s also involves a bit of bragging. Rain talk is like locker room talk.  The one who brings the rain up is the one who has to brag the most. He asks the second person about it only to really brag about himself. He’s really deluding himself, because although he might have received more rain this time, next time he’ll receive less and it will balance out.

I don’t go out much, but whenever there was recent rain and whenever there are two farmers and wherever they are (the post office, the hardware store, etc.), they have this same conversation.  It’s a cultural phenomenon of the Colorado prairie, and I’m sharing it with you.

Posted in Culture Clashes of a Jersey Girl on the Colorado Prairie, Touring Eastern Colorado by with no comments yet.

How to Fix a Spiral Bound Book With A Missing Cover

I homeschool. I don’t write too much about our homeschool adventures because I’m learning as I go.  I’ll make an exception here and tell you how I figured out to fix a spiral bound book with a missing cover.

I have a love-hate relationship with spiral-bound books.  Your homeschool, like mine, may include several.  After making their way down the line (or down a few lines like this hand-me-down book I’m talking about today) you may loose the cover or pages.  We’re fixing it.

Gather your supplies.  You’ll need:
* the spiral book
* a scissor
* scrap ribbon pieces
* a cheap three prong folder (These are maybe 25¢.)

Here’s how to do it:
1. Loosen folded “spine” of the three prong folder.  Basically, you want to make it able to have a thickness at the folded part and not be just flat.
2. Use the holes on one side of the “inside paper holder” to tie the spiral book into place.
3. Use the holes on the other side of the “inside paper holder” to tie the spiral book into place.
4. You now have a new cover on your spiral bound book!  (It’s sure cheaper than buying a replacement book.)

Here’s a recap of how to recover a spiral bound book with pictures:

Step one: Gather supplies and loosen the "spine" of the three prong folder.

Step one: Gather supplies and loosen the “spine” of the three prong folder.

how to cover spiral bound book

Step Two: Tie the spiral book into the prong holes of the folder on the front side.

spiral bound recover

Step Three

spiral bound recover

Step Three: Tie the back of the spiral bound book into the back of the folder, putting the ribbon into the holes for the prongs. (Using the assistance of little fingers helps to hold the knot in tightly.)

spiral bound recover

Step Four: You will have a new cover on your spiral bound book. Label it if you desire. Of course it’s not professional, but it will keep additional pages from coming unbound, it will stay nice on the shelf and it only costs about 30¢.

spiral bound recover

Here’s the finished product. Take a look inside a random page.

Posted in Homeschooling in Our Little School on the Prairie, Laura's Cheapskate Secrets and tagged , , by with no comments yet.

Deer Trail Gives Me Hope

There is a housing boom in Denver.  Whether it’s because of legal marijuana, California’s high taxes or that people just like looking at the mountains, the population of Denver is increasing and they are building more and more houses all over Denver and its suburbs.  Bidding wars have been common. Driven south because of the high prices, Colorado Springs is also experiencing a housing boom. Denver and Colorado Springs sit in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  There really can’t be too much expansion west. This leaves us east, and it’s only a matter of time before   this housing boom is also impacting Colorado’s prairies.

Have you ever heard of Deer Trail, Colorado?  Deer Trail is a small Eastern Colorado has-been railroad town about halfway between here and Denver.  Deer Trail is along the I-70 corridor, about 30 miles west of Limon.  Their claim to fame is that they are the site of the World’s First Rodeo.  Deer Trail has that horror-movie-esque type landscape that’s too common in these prairie towns. Unlike the town of Hugo, which has made great strides in getting rid of its has-been areas, Deer Trail is overrun with decaying buildings.  However, the west side of Deer Trail fills me with hope, the hope of houses and people.

I have often lamented about our rural area.  Lincoln County is so rural that it’s not even considered rural.   We are the frontier. The USDA considers Lincoln County FAR, that is Frontier and Remote, Level Four, which means that the majority of the population lives over 60 minutes from an area with 50,000 residents. This is why we have no Wal-mart.  This is why I must travel for real doctors and real stores. This is why our school district is bigger than some whole counties in New Jersey and yet less than 200 students attend the local school. Now that ALCO has closed, I must travel for about everything.

I have also theorized that the predominant problem out here is lack of people.  Lincoln County residents don’t have less babies than anyone else in America, but we do not grow by people moving to our area.  As a matter of fact, people move away (and I really don’t blame them. Truth be told, I’d move if I could.)

If you build it, they will come, and they have come.

If you build it, they will come, and they have come.

But Deer Trail is different.  Deer Trail has found a way to capitalize on the Denver housing boom.  Someone there had the foresight to start a “development” (my Jersey word) on the west side of town.  If you build it, they will come, right? Well, they’re coming to Deer Trail. Maybe they’re not coming in droves, but Deer Trail is getting a share of Denver’s population boom.  I mean, look, look at these houses!  People live in these houses. Increased houses means increased people and increased people means…. I don’t know… Wal-mart? A grocery store?

bennett colorado

Bennett Colorado is the last outpost. (And why do they make those kid holder carts with the smallest grocery area ever?)

As it stands now, Bennett Colorado is the last outpost.  Situated along the I-70 corridor, Bennett has a King Soopers.  OK, so King Soopers doesn’t automatically make Bennett a thriving metropolis, you might say, but it goes a long way towards that.  The King Soopers has brought a McDonald’s, a truck stop, and a Tractor Supply Company.  Big deal, you may say. King Soopers provides a butt load of jobs and automatically knocks Bennett out of the food desert category.  They have fresh yummy produce there, a contradiction to the Eastern Plains.

Let’s face it. I’m a non-expert.  I’m just a Jersey girl turned Colorado prairie farmer’s wife with a edjamucation from good ole’ Rutgers in a field that has nothing to do with economics or urban planning.  I just can’t help but think that Deer Trail gives me hope. I hope that the population of Deer Trail will continue to increase, as a lower cost alternative to the Front Range crazy housing boom. Maybe this population growth will even spread into the creepy town of Agate. Maybe it will even spread to Limon. Maybe we’ll get some real stores in this rural area. Maybe we’ll get real vegetables and real doctors. Maybe we’ll get some real culture, like a real POPS concert. Maybe the Denver population boom is a blessing to us rural folks.  Maybe…

As I said, I don’t know much, but Deer Trail gives me hope…

Posted in Touring Eastern Colorado by with no comments yet.