Saturday, August 30, 2008

Trying to be frugal is sometimes so hard

I really want to be frugal and simple and move to the country and have a wood stove and a garden and a stream and build our own house and sit around and knit and tell stories and go on walks and chop wood and . . .

And then I remember - you know what, I don't even know how to knit (it's on my list, but I haven't gotten to it yet.)

I love the idea of self-sufficiency and simple living. I do. And the fact that we are far from rich makes the need to be frugal even greater.

But some days, I just want to buy something new just because it is pretty. Or most often, I want to buy some learning materials or something to help with our self-sufficiency (like a wheat grinder. Or that house in the country.) but we don't have the money to do it.

And I get frustrated. And annoyed. Especially when it doesn't seem fair (of course, like I tell the rest of the crew, life isn't fair very often).

But then I look around me and realize that my house is full of things. Some that I love and am glad that we used our hard earned money for, but many that I do not. Many of the things in our house I bought because I just thought I needed it, or worse, because I was bored and felt like I "deserved" to get something. I would usually try and justify my spending by saying "Well, it isn't like I was buying it for myself. It is for the kids/house/learning room, etc. And it was only X dollars." But if you took all of those X dollars over the years, I would have a lot more money now - money that could have been saved, and money that could have been used much more wisely.

Thoreau had a bed, a desk and a chair in his cabin. Now, I am sure that my family would revolt if I got THAT simple on them, but we could do so much better in terms of simplifying.

My goal for the month of September is to try and record all of our purchases. I'm hopeful that writing it down will help me be more intentional about my spending.

And I'm going to try and learn to knit this month too.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I have a bunch of books on my nightstand

and the one I picked up today was a book that has Thoreau's classics "Walden" and "Civil Disobedience". I read both of these years ago during my studies as an English major in college. I remember feeling a kinship with Thoreau back then, and just reading through the introduction of the book helped me remember why I love his writing so much.

The editor stated that Thoreau and many of the Transcendentalists "discussed, wrote, and lived their ideas instead of inventing machines, initiating commercial enterprises, or introducing legislation." I'm not at the stage of my life where I could be inventing machines, initiating commercial enterprises, or introducing legislation, and I'm not sure that I want to, or if I will ever be at that stage. However, I can discuss, write and LIVE my ideas. I love the "live" part of that sentence. It isn't enough to just talk about my ideas or blog about them or make lists or dream about what I want to happen. I have to act on my ideas and make them part of the way that I live.

The editor also says "from the point of view of many people in Concord, he was underemployed. While he objected to her superfluities, they depored what appeared to be a life of irresolution. In 1845, at thage of twenty-eight, he had after all done little for a graduate of Harvad College. Why was he not a clergyman, a lawyer, a farmer, a businessman, or at least a teacher?" Now, I'm not 28, or a graduate of Harvard, and I doubt that many of my neighbors are wondering why I'm not doing more with my degrees. But I wonder sometimes and feel somewhat guilty about it. I have a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in Technology (with certificates in Training and Development & Project Management.) Why am I staying at home with my children, teaching preschool two days a week, and babysitting two children full-time? Is that really a good use of my degrees? My graduate advisor would probably say no as would owners of my student loans.

But for right now, being a mom and preschool teacher and daycare provider feels like the right thing to be doing with my time, and I'm sure that Thoreau felt that going out to a cabin by a pond was the right thing for him to do, and after reading "Walden", I'd have to agree with him. So maybe at the end of my life, I'll be able to say "I did the right thing" too.


Thursday, August 28, 2008


This is my blog where I talk about how I try and live simply, frugally, and intentionally. I have an 8 year old girl (hereafter known as Flower) a 6 year old girl (hereafter known as Jelly Bean) and a 3 year old boy (hereafter known as Super). In my former life, I was a technical writer and then a software trainer, and I have my bachelors in English (1993) and my masters in Technology (2005). I've been at home with my children since September 2003.

On my other blog, Montgomery Academy, I'll talk about our adventures in homeschooling (which currently just includes Flower) and teaching preschool. I teach preschool out of my home to Super and 5 other little lovelies from age 2.5 to age 4 five mornings a week. Our homeschooling is a mix of Montessori, Charlotte Mason and Waldorf while the preschool is mostly Montessori for the Casa (3-6) level. All my Montessori training is self-taught, although I am constantly reading books, talking to Montessori teachers, and reading Montessori websites and blogs. I also recently started an on-line training class. I've been teaching preschool for 5 years now (almost 6!) and I feel very comfortable with the method and I love it.