Friday, December 12, 2008
I have three children. There are each wonderful and wacky. Are they perfect? No. Am I a perfectly wonderful mother? No. But it doesn't change the fact that for many years, I wanted to be a mother of not just the three children I have blessed with, but at least one, and possible two or three more.
My road to being the mother of any children has not been an easy one. I didn't get married until I was 29, and then I had difficulty getting pregnant, and I had a miscarriage before Flower, Jelly Bean's pregnancy was full of scary complications and bedrest, then another miscarriage, Super's pregnancy was also spent with some time on bedrest and then he was born with a true knot in his cord (but thankfully, it didn't cause any problems), and then another miscarriage in 2006, and Christopher's stillbirth in 2008.
I find myself looking at women who have four, five, six children and my heart aches for the children that I lost. My heart longs to have more children, to be able to have another baby in my arms, another baby to take care of and another baby to teach me more about what life is really about. My heart is broken because I will never have any more children.
But it isn't that I don't love the children that I have, and I often feel bad for the time that I spend wishing that things had been different instead of taking that time to do something with my children, or learning something to be a better parent to my children. Sometimes I feel like I'm not being grateful enough for what I have. Sometimes I feel like it is time to just accept the reality that I do have. Sometimes, I know that I am not being the mother that I could or should be, and that if I had more children, I would be even worse.
And then Flower draws me a picture, Jelly Bean shares a chocolate bar, and Super laughs his wonderful laugh. And I feel so happy.
Life is never what you expect it to be, for worse AND for better. Life is all about learning about sorrow and joy. I've had my share of both.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Then we went to the local Museum of History (housed in the old Courthouse). Wow! What a great place! We had a wonderful time, and plan to go again. Today it was Christmas at the Courthouse, so there were crafts on each floor, music, and Santa in addition to the normal exhibits. We also got to go on a carriage ride. It would have been fun, but it was SOOO cold.
Then Flower had a Christmas craft party to attend, and Jelly Bean and Super napped. After they got up, I did my Town Day of shopping, although I concentrated on doing shopping at Walgreens and Kroger with my coupons.
I don't do a lot of coupon shopping because I find that I can do better by buying the store brands or shopping at Aldi's, but this week, there was a lot of coupons for things/brands that I use anyway, and I ended up getting some great deals. It took me awhile, which was a pain, because uh, I hate to shop. It wouldn't be cost-effective, but it would almost be worth it to me to pay someone to shop for me. But I was pretty excited about my deals. I ended up getting $20 off my original $35 at Walgreens, and $50 off my original $125 at Kroger. So I ended up saving $70 and only spending a total of $85. I could have done better, I'm sure, but it isn't worth it to me to do all the things that the hard-core couponers do.
I grocery shop at Aldi's for my stockpile and things that don't need to be name brand. I shop at Kroger for the other grocery items. Since I shop often at Kroger, they send me coupons on at least a montly basis, and often they are coupons that are specific to the items that I regularly shop for. And then, I will occassionally use a manufacturer coupon from the paper or the Internet. At Walgreens, I use the coupons from flyers/rebate book, etc., and manufacturer coupons.
I probably won't be posting much for the next few days. Mr. Simple is having surgery to repair a torn tendon in his shoulder on Monday, and my sister is having major surgery (liver resection) on Wednesday, and I'll be watching her girls for the next couple weeks.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Anyway, here's what our daily schedule looks like:
6:00 I get up and start my daily routine (read scriptures, pray, shower, get dressed, check calendar/lists, eat, and clean bathrooms)
6:45 Wake up the girls and they do their daily routine (pray, get dressed, get breakfast)
7:00 Wake up Super
7:15 Baby (he is 6 months old) arrives
7:30 Jelly Bean leaves for school on bus
7:30 Play with baby. Unload dishwasher.
8:15 Daycare child #1 and #2 arrive.
8:15-9:00 Children play. Feed the baby.
9:00 Daycare child #3 arrives. Preschool child #1 (or #2 depending on if it is MWF or Tu/Th) arrives.
9:00 Preschool and Homeschool begins.
9:00-9:15 Reading Time
9:15-9:30 Writing in Journals
9:35-9:40 Morning Snack
9:45-10:15 Line Time (singing/fingerplays, helper jobs, story, lessons)
10:15-11:15 Work Time (preschool has free choice and Flower has a list of things that need to be done that week and she can pick the order that she wants to do them in. She doesn't usually finish in the hour and works again in the afternoon for another two hours. She also does Reading & Copywork when the preschool children are doing reading and Writing.)
11:15-11:30 Outside or Playtime in the playroom. Baby eats.
11:45 Super leaves for Pre-K
12:00 Preschool child and Daycare child #1 go home
12:30-2:00 Daycare child #1 and #2 take a nap. Flower finishes school and does some cooking, sewing, woodworking, etc. Do Routine job for the day. (I don't do Town Day during the week anymore. I do it on Saturday.)
2:15-3:00 Baby Eats. Children play.
3:00 Jelly Bean and Super come home.
3:30 Daycare child #3 goes home. Baby eats solids.
5:15 Baby and Daycare child #2 go home.
5:15 Dinner. Kitchen jobs.
5:45-8:00 Times when we have various activities (but not every day). Family Time. Daily Chores.
7:30 Super goes to bed
8:00 Girls go to bed
8:00-10:00 Work on lesson plans for the next day or free time.
10:00 I do my evening routine.
10:30 I go to sleep.
- Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
- Winter’s Tale by Robert Sabuda
- Petunia’s Christmas by Robert Duvoisin
- The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco
- Santa’s Toy Shop by Al Dempster
- Baker’s Dozen by Aaron Shepard
- Santa’s Snow Cat by Sue Stainton
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess
- Night Tree by Eve Bunting
- Santa Mouse by Michael Brown (This book is from my childhood. I need to see if my mom still has her copy and see if she will let me “borrow” it for awhile.)
- I Like Winter by Lois Lenski
- Frosty the Snowman by Jack Rollins
- Lights of Winter by Heather Conrad
- Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth
- Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Trees by Robert Barry
- A Pussycat’s Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown
- The Christmas Hat by A.J. Wood
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
- The Christmas Humbugs by Colleen Monroe
- Carl’s Christmas by Alexandra Day
- Ollie’s Ski Trip by Elsa Beskow
- The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer
- Buying Mittens by Nankichi Niimi
- The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore and illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Father had laid in a supply of provisions for the winter and among them were salt meats, but for fresh meat we depended on father's gun and the antelope which fed, in herds, across the prairie. So we were quite excited, one day near Thanksgiving, when Father hurried into the house for his gun and then away to try for a shot at a belated flock of wild geese hurrying south.
We would have roast goose for Thanksgiving dinner! "Roast goose and dressing seasoned with sage," said sister Mary. "No, not sage! I don't like sage and we won't have it in the dressing," I exclaimed. Then we quarreled, until Father returned, - without the goose! To this day, when I think of it I feel again just as I felt then and realize how thankful I would have been for roast goose.
This little happening has helped me be properly thankful even tho at times the seasoning of my blessings has not been such as I would have chosen. (Amen to that, Laura!)
"I suppose I should be thankful for what we have, but I can't feel very thankful when I have to pay $2.60 for a little flour and the price still going up," writes a friend, and in the same letter she says, "we are in our usual health." The family are so used to good health that it is not even taken into consideration as a cause for thanksgiving. We are so inclined to take for granted the blessings we posses and to look for something peculiar; some special good luck for which to be thankful. We are nearly all afflicted with mental farsightedness and so easily overlook the thing which is obvious and near.
Super, like many young children, has a tendency to list in his prayers many obvious things that he is thankful for (the sky, the dog, our house, his fire trucks) and I think that young children, as usual, are more in tune with the true meaning of things.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Primarily, we do one Advent activity (making ornaments for our Jesse Tree) during the week, and a different/more Advent activities on Sundays. We light an Advent candle during the activity each evening.
Like I said, we are making ornaments for a Jesse Tree. (Here's a link to a children's book about the Jesse Tree.) Most people make/buy a separate tree, and hang the Jesse Tree ornaments on them. We tried that last year, but it didn't work well for us. So this year, we are not going to put up any of our Christmas ornaments until Christmas Eve, and just put our Jesse Tree ornaments up on our Christmas Tree. You can buy Jesse Tree ornaments or make them from felt, embroider them, etc., but what we are doing this year is drawing them. We light the Advent candle for the week, and then we do a scripture reading, and then each of the children draws something to represent that event, and then we put the ornament up on the tree. Here's a link to the scriptures that we are reading and the main concept and a suggestion of what to use for the ornament.
Here's a list of other links for the Advent season:
Books (religious) to read during the Advent season
Tags of Comfort and Joy
Advent Log and Christ Child and the Manger
LDS Christmas Advent Calendar
LDS Christmas Advent Calendar 2
LDS Christmas Advent Calendar 3
Religous Advent Calendar in Felt
Waldorf Advent Spiral
Books and Crafts (secular) for the Advent season
But Rhonda from down to earth reminds me that small steps are best and that it will be worth it in the end.
What I'm saying is that taking small steps is the way to a brighter and simple future. Small steps are easier and less scary than grand gestures and if you make a mistake, it doesn't matter, you just fix it and move on. But the great thing about small steps is they lead to other things. They open up possibilities and show you that change is achievable. And if you follow the path those small steps open up for you, you'll turn a corner one day and know you're living simply.
Other small steps you might like to consider are: slowing down and taking time for yourself - even it's in little bits and pieces; growing some of your own food; baking from scratch - bread, rolls, sourdough, cakes, muffins etc.; reading your electricity or water meters; cleaning your teeth with salt or bicarb; shampooing your hair with bicarb; using a cotton shopping bag; making your own shopping bag; using cloth table napkins; keeping chickens; decluttering your home; making do with what you have; taking shorter showers; talking to your children about conservation - ask them what they know, they might surprise you; using a Diva cup, homemade pads or non disposable nappies/diapers; reusing; repairing; recycling; smiling, opening your windows (in warm weather); opening up your heart (all the time); talking to your neighbours; supporting local growers and traders; spending time with your family and friends; learning how to knit and sew; cutting back on what you spend at Christmas; growing herbs or fruit; and making a commitment to change and live the life you want instead of what is expected of you by your family, friends and neighbours.
Some of these things I've been doing awhile, and some I've been workin on this year, but my goal is by the end of 2009 (so that gives me a little over a year) that I'll be able to say that I've made improvements in all the small things that Rhonda listed. I have a Plan for 2009, but more on that near the end of the month.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Snow, snow, snow! We had our first snow over the weekend.
I'm grateful for the rhythm that our days have, especially now that I teach preschool and watch children every day. It makes things more predictable and calmer for us all.
my family. We had such a nice time during Thanksgiving working together and being together.
From the learning rooms ...
For the preschoolers, lots of new things out on the shelves. I always put new things out at the beginning of the month, and I also have some seasonal activities out too. For Flower, she is working with her new book, Usborne Book of Peoples of the World. We've also re-vamped her schedule so that she works on every subject every day Monday through Thursday and has Friday off for working on sewing and cooking projects.
From the kitchen ...
We are done eating Thanksgiving leftovers. We are having Chicken, Brown Rice & Vegetables for dinner tonight.
I am wearing ...
a blue sweatshirt that says Pfizer, Groton, CT that I got about ten years ago when I was visiting my good friend, Wendy who works for Pfizer.
I am creating ...
caps for the Caps to Haiti project and more Christmas presents.
I am going ...
to stay inside today. The snow is beautiful, but I don't feel like venturing out on to the roads today.
I am reading...
I am hoping...
that everyone enjoys their Christmas presents.
I am hearing ...
quiet again! Super is at his first day of Pre-K this afternoon, and the two girls that I watch are both sick today, and the baby is still on vacation.
Around the house ...
it looks a lot like Christmas! We decorated outside on Friday and inside last night. We also cleaned the house on Saturday, so the house looks clean AND festive.
One of my favorite things ...
is doing Advent activities with my children.
A few plans for the rest of the week ...
It's a busy week - Jelly Bean has Daisy Girl Scouts tonight, and basketball on Tuesday and Thursday, Flower has 4-H on Thursday, and I've got a church activity on Thursday. I still haven't figured out how we are going to get to all of those places on Thursday.
Here is picture thought I am sharing ...
Daybook created by Peggy at http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Outside My Window ...
Towards rhythm and beauty ...
I am thankful for ...
Super chasing bubbles
Monday, November 24, 2008
Oh, and I should say before I go too much further, that I really try and limit the amount of clothing that we have. It makes it so there are less clothes that I need to buy, and less clothes that I need to wash, and less clothes that I need to store. I usually go with the 7 rule - 7 shirts, 7 pants, 7 sweaters, 7 underwear, 7 socks The girls tend to have a mix of 7 skirts and dresses. For shoes, I do 1 pair of gym shoes, one pair of dress shoes (one for spring/summer and another for fall/winter), and Super usually has two pairs of dress shoes (one black and one brown), and one pair of boots. The season before, I look to see what each child has and what they need, and put it on a list and carry it in my purse so that if I'm out, I can look for what we need so I don't end up with lots of bottoms and no tops or whatever.
Back to Goodwill - I usually hit Goodwill once a month, generally the first weekend, but not always. I do spend at least an hour there. I will look through the housewares and add to our cloth napkin supply, look to see if they have any bedding that we need (I want to get flannel sheets for everyone. So far, I've got one set.), then I look through all the trays, baskets, wooden items, vases, etc. for preschool. I find the BEST stuff for preschool here. Then I look at clothes for the kids, shoes for anyone, clothes for me, and then the children's books. I've really filled out the Montgomery Academy Library this way too. I've found some classic, out of print, hardcover books here. I almost felt bad as I paid them under 50 cents for it since I knew that it was worth much, much more.
We have other thrift stores here in town and I probably should check them out too, although I think that for right now, it does suit our needs to just do thrifting once a month. I think that if I shopped more often than that I would end up buying things that I didn't need.
I also try to do my part to donate to Goodwill too, or at the very least to give our clothes and other things to others that can use them. I'm hoping that if I keep giving, that I'll keep finding great stuff. So far, my theory is holding true!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I go to our local Farmer's Market, held outside in the town square, almost every Saturday from May until October. I've been missing going out and looking at the vegetables, touching them, trying to decide what I want to eat this week, looking at the flowers and spices, talking with the farmers. Well, I saw in the paper that they were having a Thanksgiving Farmer's Market today from 10 am - 2 pm held inside the sports coliseum, so of course, we went. We had a great time - we saw many of the "regulars" and a few new people. We tried samples of local cheese, roasted brussels sprouts and chestnuts (YUM!), chicken noodle and minestrone soup, and pumpkin almond bars.
They were selling turkey, beef, chicken, eggs, spinach, apples, sweet potatoes, potatoes, salsas, ornamental and squirrel corn, garlic, turnips, honey, and cheese and there were several craft/art tables too. I came home with ornamental corn (I mentioned that I was a preschool teacher, and I use the corn as a tweezing activity. I wasn't looking for him to give it to me for free, I was just having a conversation, but then he said to just take as much as I wanted for no charge! I took two and thanked him!) honey, garlic, eggs, and sweet potatoes. I was tempted to get some cheese curds, peach salsa, and a pair of earrings, but I resisted the urge.
So while still basking in my naturalness, I decided to go to the mall. LOL. Those people that know me know that I'm not a big fan of going to the mall, but I wasn't in the mood to go home yet, and it was close and it had been a LONG time since I'd been to the local mall. I ended up getting some great deals - a plum pullover sweater at JCPenney for $3.43 (with tax) and 4 shirts and a pair of socks at Old Navy for $5.82. When I can get those kind of prices at the mall for new clothes, then I don't feel quite as guilty for spending the money and shopping isn't quite the torture that it usually is for me.
I must admit that I went shopping a few weeks ago and it WAS pretty tortuous until right near the end when I ended up in Gap Kids (which I haven't been in in probably 5 years) and I was looking at the clearance rack, and they also had an additional 30% off that day. I ended up buying 9 pieces for $60.03. It is all for the Simple Kids for Christmas presents. I felt pretty good about that deal too.
So in case you are worried that I live a completely natural, simple, organized life all the time, I don't all the time. I'd like to do a better job with it, and I write about it here to motivate myself, and to write down the things that we are doing in case it can be helpful to anyone else. But I have days when I'm stressed out, days when I'm completely disorganized, days when the house is a mess, and days when I don't feel like cooking, and days when I am crabby. Hey, I even went to McDonald's today!
Friday, November 21, 2008
Here are our DAILIES:
- Make Beds
- Tidy bedroom
- Wipe bathroom sinks/counters/toilet
- Wipe Kitchen sink/counters
- Plan/Cook Dinner
- Tidy learning room
- Vacuum a main room (either the Family Room or Living Room)
- Vacuum a main room (whatever room Mom isn't doing)
- Tidy a main room (alternate between Family Room/Living Room)
- Kitchen Job (either set/clear the table, unload the dishwater, or sweep the floor)
- Dust a main room
- Tidy a main room (whichever one Flower isn't doing)
- Kitchen Job
- Tidy shoes
- Sweep the entry way or Clean windows
- Kitchen Job
We tend to stay with the same daily jobs for awhile, but I know that many families change it weekly or monthly. We tend to change every other month or when it seems time.
Then, weekly, I get more specific (like if I list Chicken for lunch, I decide the week before what I'll make with chicken, like Chicken Noodle soup or whatever.) I look at recipes (I generally use Betty Crocker and Pantry Cooking and a few of recipe handouts that I've collected over the years. I look through the pantry, cupboards, freezer, etc. to make sure that I have all the ingredients for the recipes (at times, I will need to buy a vegetable or spice that we don't generally have on hand, although I've been known to substitute instead of buy something else.)
I try to cook things the night before, or get it thrown in the crockpot, or at the very least, set out the meat to defrost. Some days I do better at this than others, but I'm always grateful when I do. This month, I haven't been so good at doing this, and my family has had spaghetti or eggs or pancakes more often this month, and we have also eaten out once, which we REALLY try to avoid. Things just go smoother all around when I cook ahead of time. Sometimes it is just hard for me to remember that the night before when I want to relax, but I'm always kicking myself the next day at 4 pm when I've got kids coming and going, and we are trying to get ready to go to one of evening activities.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
A view of my kitchen from the back door.
Pantry door is behind the back door.
View of the pantry door - to the left of the dishwasher.
So I cleared out the pantry and found a new home for all of the things. Next I cleaned out a linen closet that I wasn't really using. And I started storing food, or as people tend to refer to it these days, I started stockpiling. My first goal was a week's worth of food, and then a month, and finally 3 months. I've seen people a lot of people who build their stockpile with coupons and spending very little money. I didn't do that. I'm not saying it is a bad way to build your stockpile - I just knew that it wouldn't work for us. Part of the idea to moving to a more self-reliant, provident life also meant eating more natural, simpler food, and many of the coupon items were for ready-made boxed food, food we didn't eat, or for name brands that I could get cheaper when buying the store brand.
So what I did was make a list of the vegetables that we eat on a regular basis (corn, peas, beans, and carrots), the fruits we eat on a regular basis (applesauce, pineapples, tomatoes - diced and sauce, and peaches), meat/protein that I could buy canned (chicken, tuna, beans), pasta (we like elbow, egg noodles, spaghetti, and penne), cereal (we eat oatmeal) and other things that I would need to build meals (brown rice, chicken and beef broth) condiments & sweeteners & sandwich stuff (ketchup, maple syrup, honey, peanut butter, jam) baking supplies (flour - wheat and white, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, chocolate chips, yeast, vinegar, molasses) spices (minced onions, basil, oregano, garlic powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and Worcestershire sauce.) and paper items (toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags.) For vegetables and fruits, I buy about 2/3 canned and 1/3 frozen.
Then I went to Aldi's to price out the items, and to Kroger to price anything that I couldn't find at Aldi's. I tend to buy almost everything for our stockpile at Aldi's, and then do my weekly shopping at Kroger and just a few items that I couldn't find at Aldi's. Weekly, I buy milk, eggs, and yogurt, some of my produce (I limit it to two types of vegetables and two types of fruit), and some meat if it is on sale, and generally chicken and ground turkey. I buy my organic produce at a natural food store.
Then I made a list of each item and how many I needed to have a three month supply (or a week supply of dairy and produce) and then a bunch of sheets that had the same items listed but a blank quantity. Then I can just look at the shelves and decide how many of each item I need to re-stock and write it in the blank spot. Then I take the sheet with me shopping so that I know how much to buy (I can also then, if I really want, figure out exactly how much I'll be spending on food this month. I did do this the first couple of months, but now I can pretty much tell how much it is going to be.)
I use the pantry upstairs to hold a couple weeks of canned food and the linen closet for the rest. I store the paper products in the garage, and the frozen vegetables/frozen fruit and baking supplies in the freezer. I also keep a month worth of meat in the freezer (8 pounds of ground meat, 8 pounds of chicken breasts, 8 whole chickens, 8 turkey breasts.)
There are two shelves not shown in this picture. This closet is narrower but the shelves are closer together and more shelves available, so I can get more in it than in the pantry.
I have another large closet (10 feet deep x 8 feet tall x 5 feet wide) in the basement that is currently holding our seasonal decorations and out of season clothes. In the next year, I plan on finding new homes for those items and putting shelves up allow one wall, and storing wheat, pasta, honey, and water. I'd also like to store the dehydrator, canning supplies and a hand grinder down there, as well as anything that I end up canning.
Of course, as always, this is just what is working for us, and you may come up with a totally different system that works better for you.
But if you think can't do it, really, you can. I had thought about it for years and always had reasons why I couldn't do it. And then one day, I decided to try. I started small, and then gradually built it up. I also concentrated on just the essential items for our family. My family wouldn't enjoy eating tuna fish every day for three months, but we would eat it once a week. I didn't get an endless variety of things either, just our favorites.
And although I do try and keep it stocked, there are times that it isn't kept completely stocked because we need grocery $$ to fix the car or get someone new shoes or whatever. (Right now, I only have a two week supply of corn and carrots. I had let the supply run down a little bit and it cost a little more than usual to replinish it, and I only had a certain amount that I could spend to build it back up. However, I should be able to get them restocked too next week.) It helps us to be able to accommodate those little bumps that appear out of nowhere in the budget, and I don't have to worry about not having enough money to feed everyone that month. It also helps me to be able to realistically budget our food money since I know how much each can/bag, etc. costs and how many I need to fill in.
Tomorrow, I'll add pictures of my pantry and my "food closet" (which is what the kids call it LOL). And in a day or two, I'll try to add a copy of my food lists. And in another post soon, I'll talk about my monthly menus. This is an intregal part, for me, to having a three month supply. It doesn't do me any good to have all this food around if I don't have a logical plan of how and when I'm going to use it.
Friday, November 14, 2008
My goal is to only buy fresh produce that is in season. Some months (like December through March) that gets trickier than others. Also, my kids like to eat bananas and they don't grow well here in Midwest, U.S.A, so there are certain exceptions. But like I said, it is the goal. Next year, I also hope to do more canning so we can eat local fruit and vegetables that were picked when they were in season. particularly during the winter monts. I meant to do canning this year, but didn't have the time or the $$. Another goal to put on my list . . . (Boy that list is getting long! LOL).
I also buy organic foods, but only if they have had high pesticide load. I will put an (O) to the right of a particular food if I buy it organically.
Also, keep in mind that this in-season list is only valid for Midwest U.S.A and your in-season foods may be different. I found this list through the local county extension office's website, so you may want to check with your local county extension to find out the in-season foods in your area.
November In-Season Foods
- Apples (O)
- Bell Peppers (O) (I don't actually buy these. My family does not like peppers, and I do NOT buy food if my family does like it. We have enough food that we do enjoy that I don't waste my money buying food just because it is in season.)
- Potatoes (O)
- Sweet Potatoes
- Spinach (O)
- Literacy: Volunteer to read at a local school
- Education: Continue Reading plan
- Career Development: Conduct mock interviews
- Resource Management: Create a digital (document and photo) inventory
- Health and Physical Fitness: Learn about disease prevention
- Social and Emotional Health: Learn about communication
- Food Storage: Week 1 - salt, Week 2 - vitamins, Week 3 - chocolate chips, cocoa, vanilla, Week 4 - oatmeal
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Our goal is still 25 caps. They are VERY quick to make up, and you can use repurpose t-shirts or use t-shirt jersey that you may have on hand.
Also, if you don't want to make hats, they are also accepting receiving blankets now too. Go to the Mama-To-Mama website to get the specifics about the blankets.
"St. Martin's Day (or Martinstag or Martinmas) is November 11, the feast day of Martin of Tours, who started out as a Roman soldier. He was baptized as an adult and became a monk. It is understood that he was a kind man who led a quiet and simple life. The most famous legend of his life is that he once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying of the cold.
That night he dreamed that Jesus was wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. Martin heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clothed me."
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Daily - Morning Routine (Me)
- Read Scriptures
- Change Clothes
- Check Calendar
- Check Daily List
- Prepare Breakfast
- Clean Bathrooms
Daily - Afternoon Routine (Family)
- Do Daily Chores
- Prepare the kitchen for breakfast
- Check Calendar
- Lay out clothes for tomorrow
- Read Scriptures
Sort, wash and dry with the following categories:
- Red/Pinks, etc.
- Light Towels
- Dark Towels
Do the following chores every Tuesday in the kitchen:
- Wipe appliances
- Clean stove hood
- Clean top of stove
- Organize and clean one drawer
- Organize and clean one cupboard
- Organize and clean one pantry shelf
- Remove counter clutter and wipe counter
- Clean out refrigerator
- Clean top of refrigerator
- Scrub kitchen sink and faucet crevices
- Scrub dish drainer
- Balance Checkbook
- Pay Bills
- File Papers
- Plan Menus
- Plan stops for Town Day
- Plan Lessons
- Do any Internet Work
- Write a letter to a friend
- Clean desktop
- Clean one desk drawer or cupboard
- Put books in order
- Gather library books
Instead of making beds, strip them and take the sheets straight to the washer. Do any nappers’ bedding first and remake the beds as soon as the bedding is done.
Do regular Daily chores and dust and vacuum each room. Remake sheets with clean sheets. Reward with a break and a treat and then do deep cleaning.
Focus on one Focus Area at a time. Write them on your calendar.
Do all the tasks in an hour.
Dining Room & Kitchen – Clean all surfaces.
Bathrooms – Clean corners, cracks, and crevices. Entry Areas – Wipe down the walls and clean in the corners, etc. Straighten bookcases.
Bedrooms – Straighten closets and drawers.
Living Room and Family Room – Clean inside couches, under tables, behind furniture, etc.
Friday - Town Day
The night before
Lay out clothes and shoes for everyone.
The morning of
Load the crock-pot so you do not have to worry about supper. Everyone has to use the toilet before leaving. Plan the most necessary stops first so if the little children begin to meltdown, you can cut your losses and head home.
Try to eat at home or pack sandwiches and stop for a picnic somewhere.
When you get home
Put any little ones down for a nap first. Have the older children unload the bags while you put them down for nap. Then everyone else goes to Quiet Time.
Put freezer and refrigerator items away. Put everything else away. Get your salad veggies washed. Cut up the dry stuff and toss. Cut tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumber and other moist items at each meal. Rest.
The Next Day
Balance the checkbook again.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Me: Are you sure?
Super: Yes, I love for 5 years.
Me: Just 5 years? How about a million years?
Super: Yes, I love you for a million years.
Me: Thank you! I love you for a million years too.
Super: Mommy, you are lucky.
Me: Yes, I am. (Tears welling up.)
Super: And Mommy, I'm lucky too.
Me: (Gives him a hug to try and hide the tears)
I haven't always felt lucky in life, and I certainly haven't felt very lucky this year. But Super is right. I'm so lucky to have him - and all of my family and friends. Love to you all for a million years.
Monday, November 10, 2008
I'll try and get some pictures up soon, but until then, here is my household management binder system.
Suggested Binders for a Household Management System
In addition to my Household Management Binders, I also have a file crate. The crate contains 52 weekly folders, and 4 seasonal folders and some of the household binders. I use one file folder upstairs to store the activities and invitations for the following week, and I also put things in it that need to be filed downstairs. Then on my planning day (Wednesday), I transfer the things for the next week and I file the things from the past week. I store my Household Management binders in a variety of places and I listed here where I store them.. In my binders, I have lots of page protectors and I place the information in them usually instead of printing and three-hold punching the things for each binder.
Planning Binder (stored in tote bag)
To start your Household Notebook, begin with the basics: planning and time management. I put in my monthly calendars, any additional schedules, seasonal activity lists, my file folder, journal, etc.
Faith Binder (stored in church bag)
This binder contains church magazines, proclamations, brochures, handouts, talks, etc.
Phone Binder (stored in phone book drawer)
The Phone Binder is a place to put class rosters, take-out phone numbers, club directories, emergency phone numbers, etc.
Family & School Binder (stored in file crate)
Family is where the heart is--and deserves its own binder. This binder tracks information needs of family members and family life:
- personal information page for each family member
- clothing sizes tracker
- master occasions list (birthdays, anniversaries)
- gift suggestion list
- birthday party ideas
- recommended Web sites
- list of DVD/videos to rent
- list of books to read
- library information
Families with school-aged children will want to add a school divider to hold:
- school schedules and holiday list
- lunch menus
- carpool schedule
- school information page
- school reading lists
- summer programs information
Housekeeping Binder (Stored in file crate except for chore checklists)
The Housekeeping holds information central to house and home. Cleaning, entertaining, decorating and household storage information are stored here. Consider these ideas for the Home Management divider:
- household cleaning schedule
- seasonal chore checklists
- children's chore checklists
- home inventory
- home decorating ideas
- party planners
- car maintenance schedule
- stain removal guide
- recycling locations
- home storage inventory
- yard sale checklist
Food Management Binder (Kept in the kitchen)
In the kitchen, this binder helps plan meals, create menus, and track inventory in pantry and freezer. Use this section to hold grocery shopping lists and price lists, weekly menus, etc.
Money and Finance Binder (Kept in file crate with the exception of the bills/purchases list)
Use this binder for information to help keep track of household finances with budget pages, inventory sheets and household information. Here are some examples of the kinds of information that can be included behind this binder:
- budget/spending record
- bills to pay
- credit card list
- online service/online account information
- home inventory
- insurance information
- utilities/services directory
- warranty information
- vehicle records
Health and Fitness Binder (Kept in file crate with the exception of food journal)
Organize family health care with a Health and Fitness divider. Have a medical emergency? Grab the Health and Fitness Binder on the way to the Emergency Room. Visit to the pediatrician? Use this section to record illnesses, medication and medical history. Types of information to file in the Health and Fitness binder include:
- food journal
- first aid kit checklist
- medical information sheet for each family member
- emergency directory
- medical authorization form
- prescription drug record
- insurance information
- pet health records
Travel and Activities Binder (Kept in file crate)
Time for fun! The Travel and Activities binder covers the extra-curricular activities that make life worthwhile. Hobby, church, club, sports, volunteer, vacation and travel ideas are included here. These sections will vary from family to family, but here are some ideas:
- picnic planner
- travel packing checklist
- before-we-leave checklist
- camping checklist
- vacation idea list
- house-sitter information sheet
- PTA newsletters and rosters
- Scouting or PTA materials
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
From the Latin word, novum, meaning “nine”. November was the 9th month of the Roman calendar.
Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius (November 22-December 21); Sagittarians are good-natured and friendly. They are interested in everything and everybody.
Weather Report: On November 20, 1979, a blizzard struck Cheyenne, WY, producing 19.8 inches of snow in 24 hours.
We return thanks to our mother, the earth
Which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams,
Which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs,
which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the bushes and trees,
Which provide us with fruit.
We return thanks to the wind,
Which, moving the air, has banished diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and stars,
Which have given to us their light
When the sun was gone.
We return thanks to our grandfather He-no,
That he has protected his grandchildren from
Witches and reptiles, and has given to us his rain.
We return thanks to the sun,
that he has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit,
In whom is embodied all goodness, and who
Directs all things for the good of his children.
- grey skies
- frosty, brown grass
- bare trees
- cut cornfields
- dark afternoons
- the Full Beaver Moon (13)
- winter squash
- hot cider
- hot chocolate
- pies - apple, cherry, pumpkin, berry
- turkey and all the trimmings
- homemade cranberry relish
- National American Indian Heritage Month
- Daylight Savings Day Ends (2)
- Election Day (4)
- Martinmas (11)
- Veterans Day (11)
- National Homemade Bread Day (17)
- World Hello Day (21)
- National Game and Puzzle Week (23)
- Thanksgiving Day (27)
- verify that the pantry and 3 month supply of food/supplies are stocked
- verify that there is an adequate (perhaps 3 month! LOL) of Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate with Mini-Marshmellows Hot Chocolate
- prepare the car for winter and holiday travel
- inspect/replace holiday decorations
- finish Christmas gifts
- clean carpets
- write/assemble Christmas cards
- clean dining room and clean crystal, silver and table linens
- stock medicine cabinet with cold and flu medications
- In November by Cynthia Rylant
- Apple cider making days by Ann Purmell
- My goose Betsy by Trudi Braun
- Squawk to the moon, little goose by Edna Mitchell Preston
- The way home by Nan Parson Rossiter
- Catching the wind by Joanne Ryder
- Black crow, black crow by Ginger Guy
- Mousekin's Thanksgiving by Edna Miller
- The Turkey Girl : a Zuni Cinderella story by Penny Polluck
- nature center
- polling center
- paper weaving
- lanterns for Martinmas
- pinecone people
- clearing out the garden and planting fall/winter plants
- a grateful tree
I've always looked at sewing/weaving/crocheting, etc. as more of a skill and something that I can do that can bless my family and help us be more self-sufficient. I also have never been one to do a lot of "crafts" with my children. I am a big fan of clay and paper and scissors and ribbons and yarn, but not necessarily having a project that they had to put together in a certain way. I've taught my girls to fingerknit and Flower knows how to handsew and machine sew. I looked at these "crafts" as a way to spend time together as a family, a way for them to learn practical skills, and a way to them to do things in an organic, natural way.
But I've been reading the SouleMama blog for over a year now, and have considered putting her book in my Amazon cart on more than one occassion because her definition of crafts seemed to be more in line with my idea of crafts. Well, Amanda has just launched a new blog called Mama to Mama.
Here's a quote from her introduction on Mama to Mama:
There are so very many reasons why we craft. We craft out of necessity, we craft out of love, we craft for pleasure. And we craft, sometimes, to bring a little peace to our lives, to our hearts, and to our everyday moments. Taking that just a step further, we can - and do, like so many crafters before us - turn our crafting into peace for the world beyond our homes. The simple act of creating something with intention and heart - for someone in need, can have a beautiful effect on the lives of others. We can, indeed, do something to create a more just and peaceful world...all with the simple, mindful and crafty work of our hands.
The first project is the Caps to Cap-Haitien Project: A Partnership with Konbit Sante, that will provide newborn jersey caps to be distributed in Safe Birthing Kits in northern Haiti. The project is to make hats out of t-shirts or cotton jersey material. She provides the hat pattern on the website.
Our goal is to make 25 hats - including one out of the material that I was going to make a sleeping gown for Christopher. It seems right to use it for a hat for another little one.
Monday, November 3, 2008
And here is Super, Jelly Bean and Flower.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Another one of our fall and winter favorites is Chicken Noodle Soup. I never use a recipe for it. I just throw in a bunch of chicken broth (or water and chicken bouillon), egg noodles (up to the level of the liquid), some minced onions, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, canned chicken, and a cup of whatever kind of frozen vegetables we have around. Boil until the noodles are soft and the vegetables aren't frozen. It is super simple, and I always have the ingredients on hand, and my family eats it up. Can't beat that.
We are also getting back into hot breakfasts - oatmeal with maple syrup and brown sugar (only from scratch for us. We love real maple syrup.) pancakes and waffles. Mr. Simple made chocolate chip (with mini chocolate chips) pancakes last night for dinner, and Flower is going to make us pumpkin pancakes this weekend. Oh and my sister brought us yummy chili a couple nights ago too.
So what are you eating lately?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
"There is a movement in the United States today, wide-spread, and very far reaching its consequences. People are seeking after a freer, healthier, happier life. They are tired of the noise and dirt, bad air and crowds of the cities and are turning longing eyes toward the green slopes, wooded hills, pure running water and health-giving breezes of the country.
A great many of those people are discouraged by the amount of capital required to buy a farm and hesitate at the thought of undertaking a new business. But there is no need to buy a large farm. A small farm will bring in a good living with less work and worry and the business is not hard to learn . . . I am an advocate of the small farm and I want to tell you how an ideal home can be made on, and a good living made from, five acres of land.
Whenever a woman's homemaking is spoken of, the man in the case is presupposed and the woman's home-making is expected to consist in keeping the house clean and serving good meals on time, etc. In short, that all her home-making should be inside the house. It takes more than the inside of the house to make a pleasant home and women are capable of making the whole home, outside and in, if necessary. She can do so to perfection on a five-acre farm by hiring some of the outside work done. However, our ideal home should be made by a man and woman together. First I want to say that a five-acre farm is large enough for the support of a family. [A] great part of the living can be made on that size farm from poultry or fruit or a combination of poultry, fruit and dairy.
It used to be that the woman on a farm was isolated and behind the times. Now rural delivery brings us our daily papers . . . The telephone gives us connection with the outside world at all times . . . Circulating libraries are scattered through the rural districts . . . The interurban trolley lines being built throughout the country will make it increasingly easy for us to run into town for an afternoon's shopping or any other pleasure.
Yes, indeed, things have changed in the country and we have the advantages of city life if we care to take them. Besides we have what it is impossible for the woman in the city to have. We have a whole five acres for our backyard and all outdoors for our conservatory, filled not only with beautiful flowers, but with grand old trees as well, with running water and beautiful birds, with sunshine and fresh air and all wild, free beautiful things.
The children, instead of playing with other children in some street or alley can go make friends with the birds, on their nests in the bushes, as my little girl used to do. This little farm home is a delightful place for friends to come for afternoon tea under the trees."
I would so love a little five-acre farm home. It is my goal. I'm hoping to have one in the next five years. I hope that all of my friends will come out and have some of the eggs, fruit, and milk from the Simple Farm and spend some afternoons under the trees. Until then, I'll try and find ways to be as self-reliant as we can, and get out in nature as often as we can, and be as happy as I can here in the city.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
You could get so close to the penguins and the puffins. It was amazing.
Super looking at some big fish
The Botanical Gardens is made up of several different gardens.
Here are the three little Simples on the throne at the Ottoman Garden.
A butterfly on a flower.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
For example, I heard a talk (Julie Beck, "Mothers Who Know" Ensign, November 2007) about a year ago about mothers. One of the things that the speaker said was that mothers who know do less -"They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all." I thought to myself - Yes, that sounds right to me. It fits in with my plan of living simply. Not to mention, we just don't have the money to do many outside activities.
But yet, we seem to have enough to have cable TV with many channels and a DVR recorder. Now we honestly don't watch it much, and the children don't watch anything but educational television, but we do watch it some. And the cable company is not stupid either. They offered us a "great deal" if we packaged our phone service, our cable modem, and the cable TV all together. But if we decide to drop any service (like the TV) then the prices for the other two services go up to more than the three together. So we keep it because it costs us less than if we didn't have it. And so we watch it. I can rationalize all I want, with any number of excuses, but we should still probably be watching less/almost none/more selectively and using that time doing something together.
However, although we could be watching TV, the thing that is really making me think lately is that we are doing too much. It started out innocently enough. The girls were both in girl scouts and meet a couple of times a month. Then Flower started going to church activity for girls that meets twice a month. And then Flower and Super wanted to do swimming lessons. I couldn't afford private lessons, but we could do parks and rec lessons, and it is only $25 a session. Oh, yea. Make that $50 for both of them. Oh, and a session is a month, so it will be $50 for November. And $50 for January. And $50 for February. And since Flower is homeschooled, it is extra important to me to have her get some exercise. Swimming is twice a week. O.K., busy, but we are managing. Oh, yea. it wouldn't be fair if Jelly Bean didn't do anything. So Jelly Bean is doing basketball. For $60 a session. At least a basketball session is two months instead of one month. Basketball is twice a week. Thankfully on different days than swimming. Flower wants to do 4-H. It's only once a month. It's o.k., I say. And Flower really should be learning the piano. She's 9 and hasn't taken lessons yet. But we can't afford it.
And that was when I thought "Can we afford what we are already doing?" Not necessarily financially, but in terms of the time that we are spending outside of the house? Do we need to do all these activities at once? And we need to do all of them right now?
Julie Beck told mothers the answer up there. I don't need to and probably shouldn't choose it all. So why do I always feel like I need to? Why do I feel am a bad mother when I choose less? And why can't I enjoy myself more when we do less? Because it always sounds good in theory to spend time "reading, laughing, singing, talking" but the reality is that my children fight. A LOT. And I can only stand so much togetherness before it erupts into me yelling and separating them and then there is no togetherness and I'm left feeling like a failure.
But again, I need to give up the excuses and just do it. Live with less. Do less. Because the benefits, one day, will be worth it.
This nature center has a celebration every season and we try and get out there for each celebration, as well as get out there just to go to the center and walk the trails. The nature center is about 20 minutes from our house, and it is always good for the kids to be able to get out and really roam in nature. Our home is part of a new (6 years old) subdivision where the houses are close together, and there aren't many trees, and small back yards, and lots of white plastic fences. So I try to get my children out in nature as often as I can. Our community has a trail that goes through town, and most of it is wooded, and we are less than a mile from it, and so we try and get there when we can, although we should use it even more.
Anyway, here are some pictures from the day:
Super in the straw
Jelly Bean trying on the scarecrow head
Jelly Bean and Super standing by the scarecrows
Monday, October 20, 2008
The wisdom of living providently has been recognized since ancient times. Joseph encouraged the Egyptians to store grain during the seven “fat” years against the lean years to come. From the ancient Greek storyteller, Aesop, comes a fable about the ant and the grasshopper, which illustrates in a very simple way the principle of provident living. In time of plenty, the grasshopper took no thought for what he might need when the winter came. But the ant worked busily, preparing and providing for a time when food would not be so plentiful. The ant could look to the future with confidence, while the grasshopper—if he thought about the future at all—could only hope for the best.
But living providently is more than just putting aside food for future need. It encompasses all areas of life. If we want to face the future with confidence and peace of mind, we must prepare ourselves in six areas: literacy and education, career development, financial and resource management, home production and storage, physical health, and social-emotional and spiritual strength. When we strive to prepare in each of these areas, we can enjoy peace of mind as we face the uncertainties of the future.
This quote is from an article that was published over 20 years ago. It was published when many people thought that it was "radical" to store food or at the very least silly, and a waste of time, space and money. Now it seems like storing food is the new "hip" thing to do.
But this quote says two important things - First, we need to store during times of plenty so that we aren't caught unprepared when things change. So hopefully, people have been storing food for the past few years, and aren't trying to start now during this time of high food prices and an uncertain economy. Second, provident living isn't just about storing food. It is a way of life. We need to focus our lives on building skills in many areas, not just food storage, so that we can live a more self-reliant life.
I meet with a small group of women every month. The name of the group is "Women Living Wisely" and we discuss/learn about different things from each of the six areas. We have talked about food storage, but we have also learned about yoga, stress management, ways to increase our creativity, quilt-tying, organization, adult education, and crocheting, just to name a few. I'm still a long way from being self-sufficient, but it has been helpful for me be able to meet with other women and learn from them and take small steps toward that big goal.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Flower on the haybale playground
Friday, October 17, 2008
Today, Mr. Simple came home at lunch time. I was hosting playgroup, and so there were many children running around, as young children are known to do. Mr. Simple said that he would just go out and get some lunch. I asked if he would pick me up some lunch too, although I was mostly joking. I wouldn't have minded if he did, but it wasn't necessary. I was going to be serving lunch to the children soon, so I could just eat what they were eating.
But Mr. Simple did bring me back lunch. And he brought me back a tasty green salad with grilled chicken. But the best part was the peas. Rarely are there peas in a restaurant salad or even on most salad bars (are they still called salad bars anymore? That term seems so 80s or something.) I know, because I look. Because I love peas in my salad. (And if you haven't tried it, you should give peas a chance. Sorry, I couldn't resist!)
So I'm sitting here eating a yummy salad given to me nicely from nice Mr. Simple. Thank you, Mr. Simple. It was nice.