Thursday, October 30, 2008

What are you cooking lately?

We've been cooking a lot of pumpkin things - a couple of kinds of pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup. And a lot of gingerbread cookies. Flower loves to make gingerbread cookies (Betty Crocker recipe) as soon as autumn starts. I picked up the Wilson leaf/acorn cookie cutters last year on clearance.

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

How to get happiness - according to Laura

(Taken from "Favors the Small Farm Home" in Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Family Collection. This was Laura's first published article, originally written as an address to a local farmer's club meeting. On this occasion, though, she was too busy to give the speech herself, and so she sent the text along for someone else to read. The editor of the Missouri Ruralist was in the audience, and liked what he heard. He decided to publish the article, and got in touch with Laura. And so her life as a writer began.)
"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

Our Trip to St. Louis

We live about 3 hours from St. Louis, MO. When we were first married, we would go down every year for our anniversary, and we have done a couple of trips as a couple since we had children, but for some reason, we had never gotten down there with the kids. We finally went this weekend with the whole family. We had a wonderful day, and we have plans to go down in a couple of months to see the Science Center and the Arch. It is so hard for me to pick just a few pictures from our day, but I'll try. We went to the St. Louis Zoo and the Missouri Botanical Gardens.

At the front of the Zoo. You can't see us very well, but the leaves are finally starting to turn around here.

We sat on the front row at the Sea Lion show.
A bunch of monkeys escaped from the Primate House.

You could get so close to the penguins and the puffins. It was amazing.

Doing our own March of the Penguins

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.

Jelly Bean in the Woodland Garden

Feeding the fish in the Japanese Garden

A view across the lake in the Japanese Garden

Mr. Simple's Karate Kid impression
I can hardly wait until we go again. If you are within 3 or 4 hours of St. Louis, I would highly recommend going for a visit. There is so much to do, and many of the activities are free! My kind of price!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Doing Less?

I started blogging here because I wanted to talk about how I want to live a simple life with my family. But I'm starting to think that I'm all talk and no action.

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.

The Nature Center In Autumn

On Saturday, we went to the local nature center for their autumnal fetival. There was scarecrow-making, s'more making & cider, bubble wands, a number of booths recreating life from the 1700s (woodworking, tradesman, blacksmith, quilting, etc.), an observatory, the nature center building, the imagination grove (an area for children with a stream, a watch tower, a log cabin, trees, etc.) , and the pumpkin salon (you could decorate a pumpkin with things from nature)

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

Flower doing bubbles

Super chasing bubbles

The kids in an old canoe

Watching the basketweaver
Eating s'mores

Flower watching doll-making
Jelly Bean looking at antlers at the nature center
Flower looking at feathers with a magnifying glass

Flower in the cabin at Imagination Grove

Monday, October 20, 2008

Provident Living - A Way Of Life

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

A Visit to the Pumpkin Patch

We went to a pumpkin patch on Columbus Day. They had pumpkins, of course, but they also had a playground made out of hay bales, animals to pet, a trike race track, and a corn bin. It always makes me laugh how we live in a city of 150,000, but yet we can be out in the fields in less than 10 minutes.

Flower and her cousin - I love the harvester in the background
Super and his cousin (my sister has kids that are the same age as my kids, plus she has an adorable little baby daughter)

Flower on the haybale playground

Jelly Bean in the corn

Group shot - My kids, their cousins, and a couple of friends

The requisite silly shot - I always tell them if they do a nice one, I'll let them do a silly one.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's Nice To Be Nice To The Nice

(From M*A*S*H, I've seen every episode at LEAST four or five times.)

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.

Time Management Lesson from Laura

From "Make Every Minute Count" in Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Family Collection -

"There are just now so many things that must be done that we are tempted to
spend ourselves recklessly, especially as it is rather difficult to decide what
to eliminate, and we cannot possibly accomplish everything. We must
continually be weighing and judging and discarding things that are presented to
us, if we would save ourselves, and spend our time and strength only on those
that are important. We may be called upon to spend our health and strength
to the last bit, but we should see to it that we do not waste them.

'Oh I am so tired that I just want to sit down and cry,' a friend confided
in me, 'and here is the club meeting on hand and the ledge practice and the Rod
Cross work day and the aid society meeting and the supper at the school house
and the spring sewing and garden and - Oh! I don't see how I'm ever going to get
thru with it all!'

Of course she was a little hysterical. It didn't all have to be done
at once, but it showed how over-tired she was and it was plain that something must
give way-if nothing else, herself. My friend needed a little open space in
her life."

I need to remember to have a little open space in my life too.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Just so you know

the recipe for chocolate chip cookies on the back of the chocolate chip package is MUCH better than the recipe in the Betty Crocker recipe book. Betty has always come through for me, but today, Betty, Betty, Betty.

Of course, they were still good enough for us to eat - but definitely not good enough for us to share with our neighbors, like Flower wanted to do.

Tomorrow she will be making Pumpkin Bread (from the Betty Crocker recipe book.) She has made this bread three times using the BC recipe, and we know it is a winner.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Remembering Christopher

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Rememberance Day. I have sadly had three miscarriages (1998, 2002, 2006) and one stillbirth (March 28, 2008). So I have four little ones to remember on this day. But the one that I am remembering the most today is Christopher.

I found out I was pregnant in December of 2007. It had been two years since I had had my last miscarriage, and three years since Super was born. I had recently turned 41. I wasn't expecting to get pregnant. At first, based on my symptoms, I thought that it might be an ectopic pregnancy, but an early ultrasound determined that it was a normal pregnancy. I was diagnosed with placenta previa at 10 weeks, and was put on bedrest. Every day, I was just sure that I was going to lose the baby. The miscarriage in 2006 was at 13 weeks, and so I knew I wouldn't relax until I past that date. I had a dr. appointment at 12 weeks, and they did an ultrasound and said everything looked great, but that they wanted to do some bloodwork too. I had had this blood test when I was pregnant with Super, and it came back fine, so I wasn't really worried that the bloodwork would show any problems.

A week later, the OB's office called back and said that my numbers indicated that there might be a problem, and they referred me to a specialist. I went the following day. I was 13 weeks along. The specialist did another ultrasound and said that everything looked great, but it was really too early to tell if there were any problems by ultrasound. He said that the blood test indicated a 1 in 10 chance that our baby had Trisomy 18. I have a friend who lost a son to Trisomy 18 recently, so I knew that if it was true, it would be devastating. He recommended doing an amniocentisis because it was the only way to know for sure, but he left the decision up to us. We decided to do the amnio, but we couldn't do it until I was 16 weeks along, and that was 3 weeks away. We told our families about the strong possibility that our baby had Trisomy 18, and spent the next three weeks trying to prepare ourselves for it.

After three weeks of torture, I finally made it to 16 weeks. We went in to the specialist, and asked for an ultrasound before the amnio. The specialist said that if he had to make a diagnosis by ultrasound alone, that he would say that the baby was a normal, healthy BOY, but if we wanted the reassurance that everything was o.k., we would need to do the amnio. It was such a hard decision. We finally decided that it would be better to know for sure instead of wondering for the next 24 weeks and then finding out that he wasn't o.k. at the birth. The amnio went fine. The dr. said that it would be a few days before they got the preliminary results back. More waiting.

7 days later, I got the best call in the world. Our son was perfectly normal. I heard his heartbeat that day too. I was going to have this baby and it was going to healthy and happy and I was going to have the fourth child that I had always wanted. I could hardly believe it. My parents had come into town a few days earlier, and so we went out to eat that night, and finally told Flower, Jelly Bean, and Super that I was pregnant and that they were going to have a little brother! We sat around the table at the restaurant and talked about names, although we didn't come to any final decisions that night. I had a couple favorites and my husband had a couple of favorites. There was plenty of time to fight over the name :) I was just thrilled that the next half of the pregnancy was going to be uneventful.

A couple of days later, I went and had a pedicure and sat in one of those masssage chairs. The next morning, I woke up and felt strange. I hadn't felt the baby move yesterday, and I didn't feel him moving that morning. I tried telling myself that I was only 17 1/2 weeks and you don't feel movement that regularly, but I knew that something was wrong. I called my husband and told him that we needed to go to the dr. I called the dr's office and he agreed to see us right away.

I started crying before the dr. even came in the ultrasound room because I knew what we were going to see. And sadly, I was right. The dr. did the ultrasound and our little son's heartbeat had stopped, probably the day before.

We had only known that everything was going to be o.k. for four days. Four days. It was so unfair.

The dr. couldn't tell certain what the problem was, but it wasn't from doing the amnio, or sitting in a massage chair, or anything like that. It most likely was a problem with blood flow to the placenta.

I gave birth to our stillborn son on March 28th, 2008 at 5:09 am. His name is Christopher. I miss him so much.


On Saturday, October 11th, our local hospital held a memory walk for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Rememberance Day. Flower, Jelly Bean, Super and I walked with signs on our backs that said "Walking In Memory of Christopher." There were, sadly, many other families walking with us. We walked about a mile, and then all of the people released a balloon. It was so moving to see all those balloons flying upwards. We watched them until we couldn't see them anymore, and then we walked back to the hospital and they had a service in the garden. People could read poems and share memories. Flower read the following poem:

Little ears,
Tiny toes,
Oh, I forgot, his sweet little
I never met him,
I will never forget him.
little baby

I'm still sad about losing Christopher. I think that the thing that I'm most sad about now though is not just losing him, but losing the chance to be a mom to a little baby, and watching a new life begin, and seeing Super be a big brother, and the girls holding him and being my little helpers, and just getting to watch another child of ours grow up. I'm sad that I didn't get to know him. I'm sad that the only way that I can visit him is at the cemetery.

But I will always be his mom, and I will always remember him. I love you Christopher.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How to find happiness and other great thoughts

Rhonda Jean says over at Simple/Green/Frugal Co-op,

That is what worked for me. I want you to find your own happiness. I can’t
tell you what will make you happy, only you know that. I can tell you that
happiness isn’t one thing. It’s a whole lot of tiny fragments that you find
every day that add up to a deep feeling of contentment and knowing you’re doing
the right thing. And I know that you won’t find true and enduring happiness in
any shopping mall, I can only encourage you to look in places unexpected, and to
show you through my blog that it is easy to live well outside the modern
perception of what makes a good life.

I’m not telling you to give up your job if you work outside the home,
I’m not telling you to live as we do. I am saying that whatever you do, fashion
it to suit yourself so that it gives you a life worth living. If you are working
hard at an outside job make sure you give yourself time to enjoy what you’re
working for. If you’re working at home, be mindful of happiness and what’s
around you, not just getting the job done.

Many people are stressed in their day-to-day lives and worried about their
future. I think that is sometimes because they don’t feel in control of their
own lives. Prices are rising, the climate is changing and often it all seems too
much. But don't let that stop you, don't be scared into standing still, because
that is the very time you need to do something. If you can gain independence by
changing in some way, do it. I felt a growing independence when I started
learning how to look after myself and I realised I did not need to shop to
provide all I needed to live. When I knew that I could step away from what I was
expected to do and instead do what I wanted, I started to build my own unique
life. I moved away from the life prescribed for me by outsiders, I took my life
by the throat and gave it a good shaking. In a sense, I grew up. I stopped
listening to what I was being told, I identified how I wanted to live and then
worked towards it, and that, my friends, has made all the difference.

A life worth living. Sounds like a good goal.

Food Management and Menus for the week of October 13-19th

I try to eat local if possible, foods in season, organic for certain things, and food from the Super Foods list. I also try to have a variety of canned and frozen fruits and vegetables in addition to the fresh fruits and vegetables.

So at the beginning of the month, I look at my list to see what is in season here in Illinois. So for October, here are the fruits and vegetables that are in season: apples, bell peppers, berries, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, grapes, greens, herbs, lettuce, okra, onions, peas, plums, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, spinach, and squash. I buy the in season things each week (well, the things that my family likes from the list) fresh, preferably from the local farmers market, but the local farmers market closes in October.

Then I check the organic list, and buy organic for the fruits and vegetables with a pesticide load of 60 or above. So for the in season foods, that is apples, bell peppers, strawberries, grapes, and spinich. I also buy these foods fresh.

Then I look at the Super Food list and put them on my list if I don't already have them for the week too - beans, blueberries, broccoli, oranges, garlic, nuts, oats, pumpkin, spinach, tomatoes turkey, and yogurt. I buy the blueberries, spinach oranges, garlic, nuts, fresh. I buy the broccoli frozen, the oats, beans, pumpkin, and tomatoes in a can. I buy yogurt from the refridgerator section.

I keep the following foods in my three month supply of canned foods - peas, green beans, carrots, corn, pineapple, peaches, applesauce, beans, chicken, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, beef broth, oatmeal, potato pearls, and pasta.

I keep the following foods in the freezer portion of the fridge - broccoli, corn, green beans, peas, ground turkey, turkey breast, whole chicken, blueberries, rasberries, strawberries, and fruit juice.

Oh, and Jelly Bean has a milk allergy, so most of the food that we fix does not contain milk products. If there is traditionally milk in something, I substitute soy milk.

So for this week, we are having:

Breakfast - blueberry muffin and yogurt Lunch - tuna salad and wheat bread, orange, and lettuce salad Dinner - oven fried chicken, applesauce, fresh peas, and pumpkin pie.

Breakfast - oatmeal and a banana Lunch - red bean and rice, cornbread, apple. and broccoli Dinner - spaghetti with marinara sauce, plum, and canned green beans.

Breakfast - banana pancakes Lunch - PBJ on wheat bread, carrots, peaches and yogurt Dinner - pumpkin soup, apple, and frozen peas.

Breakfast - eggs with wheat toast Lunch - chicken salad on wheat bread, applesauce, broccoli Dinner - rice and beans, peaches, frozen beans.

Breakfast - oatmeal and blueberry yogurt smoothie Lunch - macaroni and cheese, orange, and fresh carrots Dinner - greek chicken soup, apple, cauliflower.

Breakfast - oatmeal and a banana Lunch - chicken salad on wheat bread, apple and broccoli Dinner - turkey and biscuits, applesauce, canned carrots.

Breakfast - french toast Lunch - calico beans, orange, carrots Dinner - ground turkey, peaches, canned green beans, and pumpkin spice bread.

What are you eating during these beautiful days of Autumn?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Being Resourceful - Kids Room Style

If you read my last post, you know that I would love to have the family use natural fibers, have natural toys, and natural, well, everything, but that we are not there yet. But I do my best to dress everyone and furnish our home as nicely, but as inexpensively as I can.

So today, I am bringing you pictures of Super's room. I do want to clarify that the paint color is NOT what I asked Mr. Simple to do. I said a nice cornflower blue or something, and what it turned out to be was painter's tape blue, but I've tried to embrace it.

Super's bed.
I bought the captain's bed at a friend's garage sale for $65, and the comforter and throw blanket were given to me by my sister since her boys were going to using a different theme (dinosaurs). The footboard is the foam part of a mini-couch that we didn't use much and it is inserted in a fleece sleeping bag that my sister gave to me along with the comforter and throw. The rug was in the dollar section at Target. The sheet and pillow case were given to me from a relative.

The bookcase we had been using in our office and brought it up to his room. The rocker was a birthday present to me the year that Super was born. The frog blanket on top of the rocker I made when I was 14 that my mom had me make for "my future children", and the blanket on the arm is a gift from Project Linus.

The car mat is actually a piece of material. My mom backed it with another piece of cotton, and sent it to Super for Christmas one year.

The left side of his closet - current season of "hang up" clothes. (underwear, socks, and everyday clothes are in the drawers on the bed.) The white bookcase had been out in the room when it was a nursery. When we got the brown captain's bed, we put the white one in the closet to store his toys. The top shelf has trains and cars and small construction vehicles. The second shelf has fire vehicles, and the bottom shelf has big construction vehicles.

The right side of the closet - the clothes are his out of season clothes for the next season. I don't have enough room in the girls closet to do this, but this makes it SO much easier when it is time to get the spring/summer or fall/winter clothes out. The green tub has his dress-up clothes. The blue tub has Rescue Hereos and tanks, etc. that were given to him recently from our neighbor's son who had outgrown playing with them.

So for the furniture and bedding, etc. in the room, I spent a grand total of $66. Not too bad.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Living Simply?

I know it is no secret to most people that it is my ideal to live a simple life. And living a simple life sounds like it would be, of course, simple to do, once you decided to do it. But the problem I keep finding is that living a simple life, or at least my ideal simple life, isn't simple to do, and it isn't necessarily an inexpensive life either , at least not initially.

I'd like to have us all wear natural fiber clothing and only have the basics of what we need and to make most, if not all of our clothing. BUT, I have enough clothing for everyone right now with some small exceptions (like snow boots, and there again, do I have the kids wear leather boots, or do I get the ones made of with waterproof/non-natural material with plastic soles?) Does it make sense to sell the clothes that we have and only make about $50 and then buy cotton material and wool yarn, and patterns, notions, etc., which will cost much more than $50? Not to mention that I don't really have the time in my life to be making our clothes right now. Or do I just realize that it isn't really possible to live the ideal right now and just fill in with an handmade outfit or two here, and a crocheted hat or scarf there?

I'd like to be able to have a three month supply of food, including wheat, sugar, and salt. I've do have close to a three month supply of canned food, but that's as far as I've gotten, due to a) finances and b) available storage space. Now I could always do better with spending our money more wisely, but frankly, we are pretty frugal right now out of necessity and there isn't a whole lot left over to do a major purchase of food. And the storage issue? Again, I'm sure that I could do better with eliminating items and clutter from my home, but the only place that I see as being a real viable storage option is our downstairs storage closet (10 feet deep by 5 feet wide). However, it is currently housing holiday decorations, a few tubs of misc. stuff that I'm not willing to part with yet, and a tub of out of season clothing. These tubs could go in the garage, but then I'd have to either get some shelves or to shelving system like this, and we're back at the finances issue of not having money to get shelving. So do I spend money that I don't really have right now for shelving and for food, or do I just realize that I can't live my ideal right now and just pick up a pound of wheat here and a pound of sugar there?

I really want to be able to be more self-reliant when it comes to our food needs. I'd love it if we could have a big enough garden to grow all the food that we love and will eat, and be able to have a freezer to preserve some of the harvest as well as canning supplies to preserve some of the harvest. We don't have a huge lot, and it is sodded, but I could do more with square foot gardening, but I still don't know if I could do enough beds to live off of the food from our garden. And, of course, I'd need to buy the materials for the beds and the seeds, and gardening supplies that I don't already have. And I'd have to buy canning jars and canning materials. And a freezer. And a Kitchen Aid. With a food processor attachment. And a wheat grinder attachment. And a meat grinder attachment. And, of course I don't have the money for that. So do I spend money I don't have to get it or do I just try and realize that I can't live my ideal right now and grow a little more, and can a few jars, and freeze a few bags and borrow my sister's Kitchen Aid on occassion?

Of course, the answer is to just do a little more instead of doing it all right now. That's always the answer to so many things in life. But patience has never been something that I have done well. Once I decide something, I want to figure out a way to accomplish it. Preferably quickly. But I need to learn to enjoy the journey and all its ups and downs instead of just looking at the end goal. Simple, right?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Super Turns 4!

Flower and Super's birthdays are at the end of September, so it is always a week of cake, presents and fun, well, Jelly Bean sometimes doesn't think it is so fun (her birthday isn't until December, which to her, seems like forever)

Anyway, here's some pictures of Super's Day of turning the big 4! (There aren't any pictures of Mom crying because Super is no longer her little baby, but there should be!)

Mom appreciates that he is still excited about getting underwear for a gift!

Super LOVES Fireman Sam!

Wearing part of his cake

I told you that Jelly Bean didn't think it quite as much fun

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Visit to the Cheese Farm

Flower had a field trip with her Brownie troop at the end of September and we all went along.
We got to see them making cheese and milk a cow and feed a calf. Oh, and sample their cheese curds. It doesn't sound good, but oh. my. goodness. they. are.

On the hayrack ride
Flower milking the cow - she was the only Brownie to do it successfully
Jelly Bean feeding a calf

Super hanging out

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Flower's Birthday

I can hardly believe that my first born child is NINE. She is a joy - well, most of the time anyway.

Here are some pics from the day:

She wanted to go to our new favorite restaurant

wearing her "crown"

Jelly Bean - it was wacky hair day at school so she had pink hairspray in her hair

Super - being himself LOL O.K, maybe a little more wild than usual

Playing with Flower's birthday present

Happy Birthday Flower! We love you!