Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Totally not related to Simple Life - Meet Super Montana

O.K., one of my friends just posted a picture of her son after her two daughters put hair accessories all over his hair. It was too funny. And it made me think of the day that Flower and Jelly Bean dressed him up as Hannah Montana.

Anyway, I present Super Montana (Oh, and try not to get sea sick. The filming was not done by a professional. Or an Adult. Flower and Jelly Bean were filming at the time.) Oh, and try and overlook the fact that the room is a complete disaster too.



video

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday - Employment and Education

I know times are tough, and there are people out there who don't have jobs and need them. And I don't mean for this post to come off as "just follow these simple tips and you'll get a job." But I think that these ideas can be helpful to people in a general sort of way. Oh, and big (((HUGS))) and crossed fingers to everyone who is job-hunting.

Anyway, these tips come from "Earning Your Daily Bread" on the Provident Living website.

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1. Identify your goal.

Explore career options. Create goals that appeal to your interests and that are based on your talents, skills, and accomplishments. Recognized that your ideal goal may take several steps to obtain.

2. Develop your skills.

Obtain the education and experience necessary to reach your goal. Use your education and experience to develop and refine your skills so that you can find the job that meets your needs.

3. Pursue the plan.

Involve everyone you know, including employers, organizations, and others who may have information or contacts to help you. Continue to develop new skills and talents to improve your employability.

4. Family Efforts.

Teach family members to value education, to work, and to develop skills and talents. Parents should begin teaching children at a young age the value of work by providing them with work opportunities.

Be an example of self-reliance. Help others with their goals of employment. When speaking of goals, be supportive, encourage planning, and assist as much as possible while encouraging self-reliance.


In all of your employment endeavors, give honest work for the pay and benefits that you receive. You will find great joy and satisfaction as you "earn your daily bread." (Genesis 3:19)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Update on my Just Do It

I am doing some things. Yea Me!

So far, I've:

  • Cleaned out the garage in preparation for moving things out of the storage closet.
  • Started the major purge, beginning with the guest bedroom.
  • Helped my sister plant broccoli and peas in our garden plot.
  • Bought my fitness journal, and started recording stuff.
  • Helped my mother in law move the last of her things from her old place from the new place.
  • Located the materials for the puppets.
  • Laminated a bunch of stuff for preschool.

Monday - Health

Get some sleep!

No, seriously. That is the topic for today. Some of my readers have heard this story before, but when I think of lack of sleep, it is what I always think of.

Anyway, Super was born at the end of September, 2004 (insert huge sigh that he is getting so big, o.k., back to the story). Flower had just turned 5, but and Jelly Bean was 2 years, 9 months. We were all thrilled to have a baby in the house again. Super was a sweet, easy going baby. As a newborn, he took short catnaps (like 10 minutes) about 3 times during the day. Then from 10 pm to 3 am, the boy was UP. Not crying or anything, but just awake, wanted to be snuggled, looked at, rocked, etc. OK, lots of babies get their days and nights mixed up. It would calm down in the next month or two. Except that it didn't. I tried everything to improve his sleeping habits and nothing worked. As he got older, he just got more and more alert during that 10 pm to 3 am stretch. He would usually drop off around 3:15, sleep until 6:15, and then eat, go back to sleep until 8ish. Would be sort of o.k., I guess, except that Flower and Jelly Bean would get up around 6:30 am, so for months, I was only getting 3 - 3 1/2 hours of sleep a day.

At first, I was exhausted. I'd catch little snippets of sleep whenever I could, but it never was much. Every day was a fog. And then I got used to it. Or so I thought. Ever so gradually, I found myself just wanted to stay in more. I didn't want to go out to the park with the kids. And then I wouldn't want to go see my friends. And then I just wanted to just stay in all the time. And do almost nothing. But I didn't think I was depressed or anything. It was just what I felt like doing. I thought everything was fine.

And then it happened. He started sleeping. At almost 11 months old, he started taking longer naps, and he started sleeping some during the night hours. Almost over night, I went from getting 3 hours of sleep to getting 7 hours of sleep (some of it was interrupted sleep, but hey, I wasn't going to complain about it!) And suddenly, I felt like doing stuff. It was like the clouds had lifted and the sun was shining again. It was only afterwards that I realized that being so sleep deprived for so long had caused me to become depressed.

Now, I know that we are all in different circumstances, and you might not be able to get all the sleep that you want or need. But I also know that I, and maybe you, don't always follow the adage "Early to Bed, Early To Rise, Makes a Woman Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise." I need to be healthy, wealthy, and wise, so I should probably give this advice my best effort and try and curb my late nights, and get to bed earlier, so that I can get up earlier, and have some time to myself to meditate, and gather my thoughts before I start the day.

So go to sleep! You'll feel better!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday: Humanitarian Aid

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me" (Matthew 25:34–36).

The righteous, who are puzzled by this declaration, ask: "Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?" (Matthew 25:37–39).

Then the Lord answers, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40).

===========

This week, look for opportunities to be of service to others. Be A Good Samaritan. And lose sight of your own problems as you help others.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday - Home Managment

Today's tip is have less stuff.

Like lots less.

Abraham Lincoln lived in a one room cabin. According to the model at the Presidential Museum in Springfield, there was a bed, a trundle, a fireplace, a table and a couple chairs. Some books and some pots and pans. And that was for two adults, and two children.

I have SLIGHTLY more than that. LOL

I'm not saying that you need to pare things down to that level, although I really wish that I could. (Can you imagine how easy it would be to keep things clean?) But I think most Americans could live with a lot less.

I'm doing a MAJOR purge at the Simple Home. The goal is to get rid of everything extra, and to get rid of all of the low quality things. To make sure everything has a home, and that if there are too many things to fit in that home, then we don't need that many. Everything that stays will have a purpose. Horizontal surfaces will not be used for storage (particularly the ledge and kitchen counters). If something new comes in, something will have to go out, and only quality items that have a purpose will be allowed in.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What would you do if you didn't have kids?

That's what Super asked me tonight - after a particularly long, tired, week.

I answered "Well, things would be cleaner longer, and I'd probably work at a job that wasn't at our house. But I probably would be more sad too."

"Why would you be more sad?" he said.

"Because I wouldn't have you and your two sisters. And most of the time, you make me very, very happy." I said.

"But not when I break stuff?" he asked.

"Yes. I am not very happy when you break stuff." I replied.

Frugal Fridays - Resource Management

Today's tip is to buy less processed/boxed food. Start with just two or three less items, and work towards as few as possible.

The trade-off with buying less processed food is that you have to spend more time cooking it yourself.

Some of the easier things to start with -

1. Cake, etc. mixes. It is easy to create a cake from scratch. It doesn't take much more time than adding the ingredients to the mix.

2. Spaghetti sauce. I haven't bought spaghetti sauce from a jar in probably two years. It is really easy to make it yourself - two bigger cans of tomato sauce, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 2 T. olive oil, spices (garlic, oregano, basil, etc.), and dried onions. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. If you want ground meat in your sauce, brown it and then add it to the sauce after it boils. This makes up enough for about 10 servings, so I usually freeze the leftover sauce.

3. Chicken Nuggets. Cut chicken into nugget sized pieces. Put bread crumbs and any spices you want in a bag. Shake and then bake them for about 15 minutes (depending on how many you want to cook.) You could probably put flour and spices on the chicken chunks and fry them instead, but I never do that.

Thursday - Social and Emotional Strength

Today's topic is on Marriage and the tips come from the talk "When Marriage Have Problems" by Terry Baker.

Couples work through their differences at varying levels of effectiveness, with different methods.


1. Putting Each Other Down (the Worst Way)
This method is often characterized by physical fighting, swearing, and throwing things. It is accompanied by excessive selfishness and stubbornness, the idea that “my way is the only way and that I am obviously much wiser than my partner will ever be.” To make sure that the other person gets this point and believes it, the partner chooses an emotional outburst designed to put the other down. It’s easy to function at this level; it takes little practice.

2. Burying Feelings (a Little Better)
This method of resolving differences consists of pretending that problems don’t exist. But feelings buried alive usually refuse to die. They keep surfacing, disrupting us and those close to us. Some people suffer from buried feelings for decades. Unresolved resentment, anger, disappointment, frustration, and hurt can destroy physical health and ruin marriages and families.

Functioning at this level is a small step above level one because it does require some self-control. Those practicing this technique usually adapt it from such sayings as “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” This is sound advice on occasion. But when we repress important feelings, the one who feels hurt will continue to feel hurt, and the spouse will always be wondering in frustration what the problem is.

3. Compromising (Better, but Not Perfect)
This level is advocated by communication specialists. It is particularly useful, they say, in solving problems of limited family resources. It is similar to the process nations use to negotiate peaceful settlements.

Couples functioning at this level usually go through a sequence of steps. First, they recognize that a conflict exists and decide to negotiate a settlement. Next, during the negotiation period, each partner recognizes the other’s rights and tries to be sensitive to the other’s needs. At the bargaining session, each person states what he or she would like, and then demonstrates willingness to compromise and trade. Above all, both sides try to make the settlement fair and equitable.

This level of problem-solving is popular among many couples in the world today and is a definite improvement on levels one and two. It takes work, self-control, empathy, and a desire to place the relationship on at least an equal level of importance with our own personal needs and wants. But it lacks charity.

4. Being Charitable (the Best Method)
This level is based on gospel principles, especially charity—the opposite of selfishness. If we have charity, we have as much love and concern for our mate as we have for ourselves. We try to understand our partner’s feelings and needs; we value our relationship more than our own wants. The level and tone of voice we use in problem-solving is the same we would use if we were talking to the Savior.

When Paul defined charity (1 Cor. 13), he used such words as “suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. … Never faileth. … is the pure love of Christ, and … endureth forever”. What useful counsel for husbands and wives trying to overcome differences!

These suggestions might help us use charity in solving marital problems:

a. Deal with personal feelings first. Intense feelings affect our self-control, which in turn influences our ability to be charitable and to communicate clearly. Therefore it is best to “cool off” first before we try to talk to our mate about the issue at hand.

b. Be sensitive to timing. Some times are better for discussions than others. We may need to wait until the best time comes. It is unwise to discuss important feelings when we or our partners are tired, pressured, or hungry.

c. Own up to the problem. In this simple but important step, we acknowledge that we are concerned and that we aren’t trying to blame the other person. Instead of saying “you make me mad when …” we could say something like “I have a concern that I’d like to talk to you about. Is now a good time to do it?” If the answer is yes, then continue.

d. Begin with a sincere, positive statement related to the issue. When we are angry, this is difficult to do—that’s why we have to be in control of our feelings.

e. Honestly and kindly state feelings associated with this concern.

f. State the concern in a tentative manner rather than using absolutes. By so doing, we acknowledge that what we are saying is only the way we see it and that our partner’s views are just as important as our own: Some tentative phrases are: “I wonder if …”, “As I see it …”, “I may be wrong but …”, “It seems to me …”, “In my opinion. …”

g. Be descriptive in explaining the problem. Avoid passing judgment. It is important here to be as specific as we can in describing the other person’s behavior, rather than making judgments such as “You don’t even care if we are late or not.”

After we are sure our partner understands both our feelings and our perception of facts about the problems, and after we have given our spouse a chance to state his or her own feelings and perceptions of the facts, then it is time to move on to the resolution step. Unfortunately, too many of us try to skip all of the above steps and just blurt out such things as “What are you going to do about always making us late?” This type of attack is dishonest—it nearly always makes the situation worse.

h. Make some suggestions, stating what you are willing to do to help accomplish those suggestions. This shows that you are not just a complainer but are willing to help make changes.

i. Be flexible. If your suggestions are not acceptable, be willing to accommodate your mate’s perceptions of how the problem can best be resolved.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just Do It . . . . . Slowly

O.K., another confession. (First she tells us about her fridge cleaning habits, now what?????)

I am GREAT at planning. I'm GREAT at researching. I'm GREAT at reading about things. I'm GREAT at setting up systems.

However

I'm NOT GREAT at doing things.

I tell myself it is because I don't have enough time. I tell myself it is because I don't have enough space. I tell myself it is because I don't have enough money.

And very little gets done.

Well, not nothing. Just nothing new. I get up, take care of the baby I watch, teach preschool, fix lunch, take care of the daycare children, fix dinner, do dishes/laundry/sweep/vacuum/clean, etc., get the kids ready for bed, and go to bed. I grocery shop occassionally.

I am busy. I am. But I use it as an excuse to not use my free time wisely. I feel like I am entitled to use my free time to blog/check other blogs and message boards/research about provident living, homeschooling, preschool stuff. I use it as an excuse to be complacent. To not get off my big ol' behind and exercise. Or to clean out the storage closet so I can use it for food storage. Or to get rid of all the clutter that I don't need. Or to make preschool materials. Or whatever.

I've decided that I've got to just DO it. Stop the excuses and just do it.

But not everything at once either. Baby steps.

But no more just standing in the same spot.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Why I should never clean under the fridge

O.K. I'm only slightly embarrased to admit that, in the almost 7 years that we have lived in this house with this fridge, I had never completely moved the fridge out of its little spot and cleaned under the whole thing. (I had also never vacuumed the "coils" underneath.) But a week ago, I got in a real cleaning fit, and I decided to finally do it. The dustball by the coils/vent/whatever it is underneath was seriously the size of a small cat. Ick. Then I moved the fridge and discoverd some dirt & small items that had fallen, and then a red sticky spot that was about 8 inches around. It appeared to be some sort of punch. I don't remember the last time that we had punch, much less red, so it had to have been there awhile. Amazingly, I found no ants or evidence that there had ever been ants under the fridge.

So I cleaned the floor, moved the fridge back, and felt super proud of myself for finally cleaning under my fridge.

And then this afternoon, I went upstairs to get something out of the kitchen. My shoes immediately starting sticking to the floor, in the area in front of the fridge. And there was a lid on floor. I opened the fridge, and apparently one of my darling children had spilled a whole container of juice (apple juice, so at least it didn't stain) in & in front of the fridge. And under the fridge. I hadn't cleaned it for 7 years, and now 7 DAYS later, there is a reason to clean under there.

So should I wait another 7 years to clean up this spill?

And The Winner Is . . .

Jennifer!

E-mail me your home address and I will get it sent out to you. To the rest of you who entered, thank you! (Mary, your "Love You" comment almost swayed the judge, but an unbiased method of selecting was ultimately used. LOL)

To those who didn't win, or didn't even enter, I would recommend trying to get the book from the library. It isn't really a how-to book. It is more of a journal of the author as they spend a year trying to live off their garden and other local resources. I really enjoyed the commentaries/recipes given by the teenage daughter throughout the book.

Wednesday: Food Storage - Gardening

OK, not only has storing food become "cool" in this economy, but suddenly gardening is considered the new hip thing. Suddenly, anyone who is anyone is gardening.

I grew up in the 70s when the LDS church recommended that every family should have a garden. My dad heard that tidbit of advice, and decided to move across town, to a house that had a full acre in the backyard. It was seriously cool to have that much space. And the first spring, he planted a garden (well, we probably helped, but you know how "helpful" four young children can be in the planting process). My recollection is that it that the garden was about 1/4 of the yard. We grew peas, beans, corn (we did live in Nebraska, so I think it was required to plant lots of corn), swiss chard, tomatoes, strawberries, and rasberries. We also had a small patch of wild rhubarb that grew on the side of the house. My dad also planted fruit trees, although to be honest, I don't remember ever harvesting any fruit from them (we lived in that house for 7 years.) We had a chest freezer and my mother canned, and so we ate lots of food from our garden.

Last year was the first year that I tried to grow anything else but flowers in the garden. I have two very small garden areas. One is a raised bed that is 10 feel long by 2 feet wide. The other is about 5 feet wide by 3 feet long. I made a couple typical first timer mistakes of planting too much zucchini (I planted two plants. One would have been plenty.) and putting large leafy plants in too small of a space (the zucchni plants and broccoli). And the peas and beans were good, but took up quite a bit of space and didn't yield much.

But it was fun. The kids really enjoyed it. We ate what we grew (lettuce, zucchini, peas, beans, herbs, and broccoli), although we couldn't have survived on just what was in our garden.

My plan this year is to use our garden for berries and tomatoes, and to grow the remainder of our food in a plot behind our church. But I think the key to gardening is to just do it. Even if you can't do much, most people at least have the space for container gardening. Or check to see if there is a community garden in your community. We were at Jelly Bean's T-ball game last summer and discovered a community garden behind the church next door. The sign said that anyone was free to take whatever they wanted, but that they would appreciate people also returning to help with maintenance, or planting the next year. And I would recommend starting small. Don't go with a huge garden your first year. And buy seedlings instead of starting from seeds that first year - you'll have more success. Here are some tips and links about gardening from the Provident Living website.

My goal for next year is to be a complete LOCAVORE - growing as much as I can, and then buying everything else local (either from farmer's market or local co-ops - there are two within less than 50 miles of me. Local readers - the local co-ops' websites, Common Ground and First Fruits Produce Company are listed in my Simple Blog list) and preserve food - both in the freezer and canning. But my goal for this year is to learn more about becoming a locavore - learn more about gardening, more about what is available at the farmer's market and co-ops, learn more about canning and freezing. If you would like more information about eating local, you can click here, or you can click on the 100 Mile Diet link in my Simple Blogs list.

An Addition to the Homemade Cleaners

I went looking for a homemade dishwasher detergent recipe and found a super easy one.

Here it is:

Step 1: Add one tablespoon of Super Washing Soda to the dishwasher dispenser
Step 2: Add one tablespoon of 20 Mule Team Borax to the dishwasher dispenser
Step 3: Pour a little distilled white vinegar into the dispenser for the clear rinse gel.

Now, I'm a pretty die-hard Cascade gal, but I'm going to give it a whirl one of these days. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday - Education & Employment.

OK, some of my readers may know that I have a bachelors degree in English and a masters degree in Training. And that I'm using neither degree right now. LOL

I am currently working inside of my home as a preschool & homeschool teacher/daycare provider. I've been teaching preschool for awhile, but I've only been doing daycare for a little over a year.

Recently, Mr. Simple went to a conference in Galena, IL. Mr. Simple works at the local Fire Department as a Fire Inspector/Public Safety Officer and the conference was about, uh, something about fire stuff. He went to some classes, but he also was able to sightsee and do some golfing. I said something about how I wish I could get away for a conference sometime.

And then I thought about it, well, why not? So I'm starting to look now for a conference. It might be a homeschool conference, or a preschool teacher conference, a daycare conference, or work at home conference. Or the Hearts At Home conference. I'm planning ahead so that I have the money for it, and so I'll be able to get the time off. The one held in Hawaii is the frontrunner so far LOL.

So look at your work and interests and think about going to a conference to increase your education, and help with your employment, either current or future.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday - Health

OK, I didn't do that well on my exercise last week. (BIG shock, LOL) I did do better than the week before though. I exercise two days last week, and I have exercised yesterday and today. (I'm on a roll!)

What I wanted to talk about this week was Fitness. We had our monthly Women Living Wisely meeting and the topic was about Fitness (physical activity and healthy food). The presentation was really good and I learned many things, but the one thing that I took away from the evening was that the important thing about Fitness (and most things really) was that you need to find things that you will do on a consistent basis. The other thing that I keep thinking about was how I need to make a lifestyle change. I don't just need to look at this as something that I'm going to do for a week or a month or a year or even 5 years.

So I'm going to start a fitness journal (just a cheap spiral notebook). I'm going to record my short term and long term goals, my food intake and my exercise, my weight and measurements, and benefits that I'm noticing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday - Humanitarian Aid

Humanitarian Aid can take many forms - you can donate or serve in your local area, or for a global cause that you decide is important, or for those of my readers who may be LDS, you can check the Provident Living website, go to the Humanitarian Aid area, and then click on Current Needs.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints conducts humanitarian activities worldwide. From 1985 to 2008 Humanitarian Services provided more than $1.11 billion in total assistance to needy individuals in 167 countries.In 1996 the Church organized Latter-day Saint Charities as a non-governmental organization to facilitate humanitarian activities in selected countries.

Here are the current needs as of March 2009:
  • Single size quilts
  • Full size quilts
  • Puppets

Here is the link for patterns for the quilts and puppets. Our family plans on making some puppets this month.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday - Home Management

Today's tip is for recipes for going more "green" with your cleaning. I also find it cheaper to use items like baking powder and vinegar than buying lots of different types of cleaners, and it is also easier to add these items to my home storage.

All-purpose Cleaner
1/2 cup washing soda
2 quarts warm water

Sink Cleaner
Combine equal parts baking soda and salt. Scrub on sink surface. Finish with a quart of hot water in the sink and a cup full of bleach. Remove the plug. Wipe with a terry cloth towel.

Window Cleaner
Vinegar
Newspaper

Put a little vinegar on the newspaper and wipe the windows.

Floor Cleaner
1 cup vinegar
1 gallon of hot water

Furniture Polish
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice

Mix ingredients in a glass jar. Dab a cloth in the solution and wipe on surface. Seal remainder.

Laundry Soap
Water
1 Bar Fels Naptha Soap, Grated
5 Gallon Bucket
1 Cup Washing Soda
4 1/2 Gallons Water

Place grated soap in a small saucepan and cover with water. Heat on low until dissolved. Fill bucket with hot water, and add soap. Stir to combine. Add 1 cup washing soda and mix well. As it cools it will thicken. May be used immediately. Use 1-2 cups per load.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Frugal Friday

My tip for today is to use coupons*. Do you see that asterisk after the word "coupons?" It should be a REALLY big asterick. I do use coupons, but I only use coupons for brands that I MUST use. I buy all of my canned goods at Aldi's and anything else that I know that I can't get cheaper anywhere else. I try and cut down on using brand names as much as I can, but we do have some "have to" things like Angel Soft toilet paper, Cascade dishwasher soap, and Secret antiperspirant. I also use my manufacturer coupons to Kroger because they will double coupons up to 50 cents. (Check with your local stores to see what the store policy is on coupons.)

I will also use coupons if I can use the manufacturer coupon in conjuction with a sale or store coupon so that I'm spending less than I would if I got the store brand. I do this type of couponing the most at Walgreens. I use the website Money Saving Mom (it is in my Simple Blog list too) because she will show you what the deals are at Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid, and sometimes Costco and Wal-Mart, as well as some other random deals. Again, I really try to buy the things that we USE, not just get stuff because it is cheap/free. So I don't always get some of the deals that I see on coupon blogs because it just isn't worth it to me to make 10 trips to buy stuff so I can get coupons so that I can get the stuff I need for free.

I also use the coupons that Kroger sends me. I shop at Kroger for 3 main reasons - One, it is pretty close to my house. Two, they do double coupons. Three, they track the items you purchase, and then about every couple months, they send you pack of 10ish coupons for items that you buy regularly. I've got coupons on 3 separate occassions for a 24 pack of drinking water for FREE. Most of the time, the coupons are for at least a $1.00 off the item.

Oh, I forgot another reason I shop at Kroger. They have a store discount card, and I try to not buy anything that isn't discounted by using the discount card, or I have a manufactur or store coupon for it. Most of the time, I save equal to what I spent (so say I spend $75, it means I got $75 off in coupons and discounts.)

Oh, yea, another reason I shop at Kroger is that you can load coupons from Shortcuts.com and Proctor and Gamble right on to your card. That way, you don't have to print it out or cut it out, etc. I think I went to the Kroger website to set it up.

Maybe I should have labelled this tip - Shop at Kroger instead of Use Coupons, LOL. But if you live in an area that doesn't have a Kroger, you may have one of their affiliates (check on at Kroger.com). You also may find that it is cheaper for you, and the type of shopping that you do, to shop at another grocery store. I went to all of the main grocery stores in my area (Schnucks, Meier, Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Jewel-Osco.) and priced out the items that I would generally buy at a grocery store (as opposed to a drug store, discount store, or Aldi's). I took my grocery list and wrote down the prices of the items and compared it. It took me AWHILE, but I learned that for my family, Kroger was the winner, especially when you added in the coupons that they send and the double coupons, etc. But you may find that another store works best for the type of items you buy and the stores that are available, etc. I also will look at the sale papers and I will be willing to go to another grocery store if they have something on sale that that is a very good deal, particularly if it is an item that I am trying to use to build up for my 3 month/one year supply/once a month cooking.

So use coupons, but don't get too caught up in it, and it is easy to get caught up in it once you start. My goal is to buy the things that are on my master list as cheaply as possible, and using coupons can sometimes help me spend even less than normal.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday - Social and Emotional Strength

According to the Provident Living website, here are ten common challenges facing families.

1. Parenting Issues
2. Marital Issues
3. Divorce
4. Grieving
5. Out of Wedlock Pregnancy
6. Emotional and Mental Problems
7. Substance Abuse
8. Eating Disorders
9. Stress
10. Pornography

Lots to talk about in this area. I'll probably keep my goals in this area to myself, and just post about diffent topics. Today, I'm going to post part of a talk (Garth A. Hanson, “Building for Their Future,” Ensign, Dec. 2003, 39)that talks about how to help your children make good decisions.


1. Pray about decisions in family prayers, and encourage your children to pray about decisions in their personal prayers.

2. Find as many ways as possible to interact with your children at all ages. Establish basic practices in your family that will encourage conversation, interaction, and teaching opportunities.

3. Regularly interview your children individually. Ask your child questions that will encourage him or her to discuss, make, and evaluate decisions. Such questions might include: How are your relationships with friends? Are you embarrassed by anything we do as a family? What financial and transportation needs do you have?

4. Provide appropriate advice as children make decisions in each stage of their development. Let them know how you feel about the choices before them and the possible outcomes. Provide less advice on less significant decisions as children mature so they can practice the decision-making process. Know that your children are more capable of making good decisions than you realize. Let them try what you’ve taught them.

5. Hold regular family councils. Invite all the children to participate in family decisions. Follow up on decisions made in earlier family councils by evaluating together the results of those decisions. Let the children see that their opinions matter.

6. Treat your children with respect throughout their lives. When you do so, they will respect you in return, even though at times they may cause you grief. Interacting and teaching without respect can bring negative results. Children who see their parents’ respect and sacrifice for them are more likely to honor their parents’ desires, which leads to better decisions.

7. Teach your children to gather good information. Encourage them to get to know teachers, Church leaders, and other adults. Then ask them to share that information with you as they make important decisions.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Another little change

OK, home management isn't really part of provident living, but this is my blog, so I'm going to talk about it on a regular basis. So Tuesday will be Education or Employment Day, and Saturday will be Home Management Day. I'll talk about cleaning, organization, schedules, etc.

I've got a giveaway folks!!!!

See this post!

Only 2 1/2 days to go. At this rate, I'll be keeping the book for myself. Which is o.k., too, but if you want this book for free, go comment!

Wednesday - Food Storage

For many years, members of my church have been encouraged to "prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings." (All is Safely Gathered In) Back when I was a child, it was recommended that you have a year supply of food. And that recommendation stayed in place until very recently.

In 2007, I decided to finally start my food storage. I was starting from scratch. As in, we could MAYBE live for a week on what we had around. But I figured that I could start small, and anything would be better than what I was doing. I had just managed to acquire a three month supply of canned supplies when the church's new guidelines came out. The main points are 1) Build a three month supply of food that is part of your normal diet. 2) Store drinking water. 3) Establish a financial reserve by saving a little every week and gradually increasing it to a reasonable amount. 4) For longer term needs, store items such as wheat, rice, and beans.

So I had done step one. Now I needed to work on the rest.

And I've done some - I've got some water saved. We have a little bit in savings. I haven't started on longer term needs.

But since I'm a big fan of not reinventing the wheel, when I saw a couple of my friends post about Food Storage Made Simple, I went and checked it out. And I like it. So I'm going through the the babysteps right now. Well, right now, I'm working on Step 1, to be more precise. They do have a planning step before that, which I have already done. If you haven't noticed yet, I'm a great planner. Follow-through, not so good.

I really like that step 1 is shelving because that is the whole reason that I haven't got started on my longer term storage. I've been paralyzed by what to get/make, where to put the stuff after I've cleared the area, how much to buy, etc. But no more. I am going to move the stuff to the garage, and I'm going to buy one plastic shelf. When I get more $$ and more long-term food, I'll get more.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Seriously?

I live in Illinois. Land of Lincoln. Oh, and two corrupt former governers. I thought that Ryan was bad, but I swear, just when I think it can't get any more ridiculous with Blagovich, then something like this shows up.

Blago Wants To Tape A Reality Show In Costa Rica

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!

Happy 100th Post to Me! - Enter the Simple Giveaway

100 roses

Well, this is actually my 102nd post.

Hmm, I should probably do a giveaway or some other bloggy thing to celebrate. Have to think on this. Check back later to see if I've put something together.

O.K., I've thought about it. I will give away a copy of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver.

To be entered in the giveaway, you have to comment (to this post) about the following questions:

Which provident living activity (health, education, food storage, social and emotional strength, resource management, employment or humanitarian aid) is the hardest for you to do? Why?

You have until Friday night to get your comments in! I'll post the winner on Saturday! Good luck!

Tuesday - Education

OK, so most of my readers either a) have already finished a degree and have already been there/done that b) are busy taking care of munchkins and don't have the time/resources to go to college. I am a & b.

So should I just skip Education Tuesdays? Well, of course not.

A quote from the Provident Living site says " When we have knowledge and wisdom, we are better able to discern truth from error and make good choices. Education and literacy are also keys to personal growth, preparation for suitable employment, building strong families, service to [others], and making a meaningful contribution to the society in which we live."

In Proverbs 4:7 it says "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom: and with all thy getting, get understanding."

So look to those things that are around you - your children, your family, and educate yourself about families. Or educate yourself about things that are interesting to you - gardening, the Civil War, car maintenance, whatever. Or learn about things that could translate into a career - computer programming, accounting, writing. And there are so many ways to do it. Find books at the library, find a workshop, take a community education course, meet with other people with similar interests, or maybe take a class at a community college or university.

I've already talked about my current goal for this area which is to follow the 9th grade curriculum outlined in the "Well-Trained Mind." In addition to this, I am taking an on-line course on Montessori education for preschoolers, and I attend our monthly Women Living Wisely meetings to learn more about Provident Living. We also have a book club through our church, but the meeting time conflicts with my teaching preschool, but it is something that I think would be interesting to get involved in someday.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday - Health

I know quite a bit about Health. Probably much more than an overweight, out of shape, 40 something person would appear to know. LOL

My schedule is fairly busy, and I'm at home, watching children, for much of my day. And I hate to be cold. And I'm particularly UNmotivated in the mornings to exercise, and I'm often busy in the evenings. So I rarely exercise. But this has GOT to change. I've recently lost about 20 pounds, and I've got many more to go, but I know the key to continuing to lose weight will be to increase (start? LOL) my exercise.

I'm going to focus on walking for right now. I ran track in high school, and I would like to eventually compete in races, but I need to take one step at a time (sorry, bad joke.)

This week, my goal is to walk for 45 minutes five days a week. I will do it from 1:30 to 2:30 pm. This is a time when I am generally not doing anything besides checking on the computer or reading, etc.

OK, time for a little change

I am still going to post stuff about the Simple Family, and basically anything else that I feel like, LOL, but I'm going to put my focus on this blog on talking about Provident Living. Every day, I will post about one of the areas of Provident Living. So from now on, here is the schedule:

Mondays - Health
Tuesday - Education
Wednesday - Home Storage
Thursday - Social and Emotional Strength
Fridays - Resource Management (but Titled Frugal Fridays)
Saturday - Employment
Sunday- Humanitarian Aid

Like I said, I will also throw in posts about whatever I feel like too, and post them whenever I feel like it. Just to keep you on your toes.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Frugal Fridays

I'm pretty frugal. Most of the time, I look at it as a fun challenge, but there also is the fact that we sort of NEED to be frugal too.

So I'll be posting a frugal tip every Friday. Until I don't, LOL, since I tend to get started on stuff like this, and then drop off after awhile. Not every frugal tip will work for every family, and that's o.k.

So the first frugal tip is: Stay At Home. We only have one car (this will probably be my next frugal tip) and so most days, I am here without a car. It is easier to not spend money if you have to walk to the store.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I used to think I was smart

And in some people's eyes I was. The problem was/is that I wasn't smart, I was just really good at memorization.

I went to public school, and enjoyed school for most of my elementary school years. But for much of my elementary schools, I went to an elementary school that was well, very 70s. I went there from 2nd to 5th grade, and everything was very individualized, and project-based. During 4th and 5th grade, we had a project during half of the year, and all of our schoolwork was related to the project. In 5th grade, we picked an occupation, and then did schoolwork related to it. I picked an archeologist (seriously? Can you seriously see me as an archeologist?) and so I to create tools, a budget, detailed reports about what I was looking for, what an archelogist does, etc. It was a really great way to use academic skills in a real life way.

But then in 6th grade, we moved across town, and I finished elementary school at a "typical" school, and went to a "typical" junior and senior high. The high school I went to was supposed to be the best in town, and 98% of the students went on to college. I did three years of Math, 4 years of Science (including a semester of Microbiology), 4 years of Spanish, 4 years of Engish (including a year of AP English). I graduated with a 3.8 GPA. I did well on the ACT. I was offered scholarships at two different schools (and yet for some reason, picked a school that wasn't offering me a scholarship. What was I thinking?) On paper, and on tests, it looked like I was smart.

Even through most of my undergraduate classes, I did well. I was an English major, and so I read more of the English "classics" than other people. But my senior year was tough for me because all of a sudden, I was supposed to have an opinion on something. I was supposed to have read other things, from other areas, and make connections. I was supposed to be able to know how to argue my point. I still did well, but I was starting to realize that I wasn't as smart as I thought I was.

And then a couple years later, I went back to do a graduate degree in English. And I didn't do well. I remember always feeling like I was drowning and I felt like I was having a constant panic attack. Graduate school used very little in the way of memorization, and focused heavily on critical thinking and original thought. I quit after a year. Years later, I did finish a graduate degree, but this time it was in Technology with an emphasis on Training and Development and Project Management. I had been working as a Trainer for 3 years before I started the program, and the focus on the program was more on practical skills than theories, so I was able to do well in the program. But deep down, I knew that just because I got a master's degree, it didn't mean I was smart.

Almost everything that I learned from sixth grade on I was unable to recall because I had just memorized it. And the older I got, and the more people I met, I realized that I hadn't read SO many things that I should have - I never read Plat0, or John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion. I've never read The Declaration of Independence, Rousseau, or Karl Marx. And not only did I not read any of these classics, I didn't read Newsweek, the New York Times, or even the local paper. Well, I read the paper, but I mostly glanced at the front page, the Life section, and the classified. And that was only every two weeks or so.

I never learned grammar well, I never learned logic or rhetoric. Not that it would have mattered because I just didn't know enough about past or current events to be able debate about it, much less point out people's flaws in their arguments.

I never learned how to question things. Even in my favorite high school subject, Science, I just memorized the facts instead of ever asking "Why?"

I also didn't use my Spanish or play the piano much after high school and much of those skills are lost as well.

So I've decided that it is time to learn. Really learn this time. So I'm going back to school this summer. I'm not taking classes at the university or the community college. I'm not taking a workshop. But what I am doing is looking at the Classical Curriculum (I'll specifically be looking at the curriculum outlined in The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer) for 9th graders and I'm going to be studying those things - yes, even the Math! I'll be working on Vocabulary, Writing Exposition, Rhetoric, Grammar, books from the Ancients (5000 BC to 400 AD), Algebra, Latin, Drawing, and Piano. And then maybe next year, I'll do the 10th grade curriculum, and hopefully continue until I complete the 12th grade curriculum.

And then maybe, just maybe, I'll be smart. But I'm not doing this so that I can look/feel/be smart. I honestly just want to really learn these things. I do REALLY enjoy learning. I always said that my dream job would be to be a researcher and just work 40 hours a week in the library, learning about this thing and then that thing. I discovered way back in 5th grade that my dream job is NOT to be an archeologist. LOL

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What Was Lost Is Now Found, Part 3

There once was a three year old girl who lived with her mother and father and four year old brother. The girl was cute and sweet, but very precocious too. She didn't get in trouble much, but when she did, she got in a LOAD of trouble.

One day, the mother took the girl and her brother shopping. They went to a store in a large mall in a very, very, large city. The mother was looking at clothes. The boy stood there patiently by his mother. The girl looked at the mother. The girl looked at her brother. And then she ran. She ran and ran. She ran out of the store and started going to other stores.

Meanwhile, the mother had discovered that the girl was gone. She asked the boy if he knew where his sister was, and he said "No, mommy. I'm sorry." The mother frantically looked for the girl. Minutes passed, and the mother still couldn't find the girl. Nobody seemed to want to help the mother find the girl either. The mother paused for a brief moment, and a woman came up to her. She said, "Have you lost a child?" The mother said "Yes, I have! Have you seen her?" The woman said "No, but I will go look for her." The mother gave her a description of the little girl. The woman said "You stay here and wait to see if the girl comes back." And the woman went off searching for the girl.

By this time, the girl had been gone for quite a while. She had wondered in and out of stores inside the mall. Finally, she decided to go outside and then went to a shoe store that was only accessible from the outside of the mall. The girl wandered through the aisles of the store, and a store worker finally came up to her. The clerk asked her if she would like some candy, and the girl said yes. The girl followed the clerk to the back room to get a sucker.

Just then, the woman who was searching for the girl came into the store. She walked up to the desk and asked if they had seen a little girl. Just then, the woman saw the girl in the back getting some candy from the other store clerk.

The woman took the girl back to her mother. The woman told her the story of how she found the girl. The mother asked her, "But how did you think to go to the shoe store when it was only accessible from the outside? And why did you still ask if they had seen her when you didn't see her in the store?" The mother thanked and thanked the woman. The mother told the story many times to the girl over the years and told her about her "guardian angel" who had found her that day.

And the girl grew into a grown up girl, and had her own children. She still thought about the woman sometimes, especially now that she was a mother and thought of how her own mother must have felt when her child was lost.

And then one day, the grown up girl was at a park with her husband and three children for an Easter Egg Hunt. There were so many people, many more than she had thought would come. She was watching her nine year old daughter collecting eggs while her seven year old daughter and four year old son were playing on a nearby slide. Every few seconds, the grown up girl would glance over at the slides. And then suddenly, the seven year old girl was at her side. The grown up girl said "Where is your brother?" and the seven year old said "He is still on the slides." The grown up girl went to the slides, but her son was not there. The grown up girl and her husband started calling for the boy and ran in different directions to find him. The grown up girl paused for a moment to look around, and a woman came up to her. She said "Have you lost your child?" The grown up girl said "Yes, have you seen him?" The woman said no, but she said that she would look for him. The grown up girl gave her a description of the boy, and the woman went off looking for him. The grown up girl asked that his name be announced over speakers. When she still didn't see the boy, the grown up girl decided to walk down the sidewalk and see if the boy had walked back to the car.

By now, it had been 15 minutes. The grown up girl was getting frantic. She thought of how she had been lost when she was young. She had been lost for much longer than 15 minutes. But it was a different time. People were different now. And it would be so much easier now, out here in the open, with all of the people at the park that day, for someone to just walk off with him.

The boy wasn't at the car. The grown up girl started walking back towards the park. The grown up girl started crying. It was too much for her to take. And then she saw it - the woman was running towards her. The woman started yelling "He has been found. He is with your husband." The grown up girl cried harder and started asking "How did you find him?" and then just thanked the woman over and over again.

If you haven't already guessed, this story is about Me. I am the little & grown up girl in the story. We lost Super last Saturday at the town's Easter Egg Hunt. I am still having nightmares about losing him. I'm still having him sleep with me every night so that when I wake up, I can see that he is here.

He was found by Mr. Simple wandering at another area of the park. Super started walking back when he heard his name announced, and then he saw Mr. Simple. The woman saw Super walking with Mr. Simple and gave Mr. Simple the 3rd degree to make sure that he really was his dad and not some person trying to act like his dad.

So on the way home, we talked with the kids again about what we should do if we get lost or if someone tries to take us. But I also told them the story about how I got lost one day and how a woman helped my mommy find me, and how many years later, a woman helped Super's mommy find him.

So thank you to the two women in my life that helped me - when I was lost, and when I had lost someone. I don't know the women's names, but I'll be forever grateful to you both. Foremost for helping with the situation, but also to help remind me that there are wonderful, caring people in the world. Thank you for the two guardian angels that were sent to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.