Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
I've grown a lot of plants in my yard over the past 8 years. And almost all of them have been successful. So I just sort of assumed that I'd plant it and it would grow.
But it didn't. The leaves just got drier and drier and they all fell off. Then the branches started to look all brittle. It looked pretty dead.
This fall, my MIL asked me about the lilac bush. I reluctantly told her that I thought that it had died. But I had left it in ground. I figured I'd leave it in until Spring. And maybe, just maybe, it wasn't dead. Maybe it just needed some time to adjust to its new home. It looked pretty dead though.
Spring began. The tulips bloomed. The roses started to grow again. The grass turned green. The birds came back. And yet, the lilac bush was still bare. I had hoped, but it looked like my hope was in vain.
I kept meaning to dig it up. One weekend passed. Then another. And another. And then, one day, I was over by the lilac bush and looked over. And what did I see, but little green leaves!! It was coming back! Then there was more leaves. It was alive.
And what do you think I saw this weekend??? Lilacs! Just a few little blossoms. But they were definitely lilac blossoms.
I had given up on the lilac bush. But there was life still in it. Way down there. Sometimes I give up too soon. And not just on lilac bushes.
Post Script - Things don't always work out for me though - with plants or otherwise. I pruned my hydrangea bushes after the first year. I read after I pruned that you shouldn't prune them. Oops. But it said that the blooms should come back the 2nd year after you prune. This year will be the 3rd year, and it isn't looking promising. SIGH.
Friday, May 14, 2010
I started my graduate degree when Jelly Bean was just a little baby. By the time she turned 1, I just felt like I was missing my kids' childhood (Flower was 3.) They were spending all day at a daycare center, and then 2 or 3 nights a week, Mr. Simple was watching them while I was at class. So I asked my boss if I could go to part-time. He said, Sure. I don't want to lose you. We'll give someone else the supervisory duties and you can go back to just teaching a couple classes. It was great. I spent the mornings with the kids, dropped the kids off at friends house in the afternoon and the kids napped while I went to work for a few hours. Did I say it was great? It was. It was close to perfect.
And then nine months after the perfect job set up, it was over. The university laid off tons of part-time people due to state educational budget cuts. My boss said it wasn't personal. (Sure felt personal to me.) He'd do his best to get me back in at the university. Soon.
I was laid off in 2003. And except for a short stint of working part-time evenings in 2006-2007, I haven't worked outside of the home since I was laid off. A couple of times over the years, I've really tried to get a full-time job in training/project management. I applied to all the large companies in the area. I registered with a couple of technical contract companies in the area. I sent out tons of resumes. I put my profile up on Monster, HotJobs, etc. Over the years, I've had 3 interviews. And since I was laid off, I've never been offered a job in my field.
But of course, I wasn't Not Working either. Since 2003, I've been teaching preschool. It started out as a fluke, and then turned into something that I love. In 2008, I started doing daycare too, and now I earn a fair amount from the daycare. Since 2008 until just now, I have had more daycare children than I have had preschool only children. In 2004, I had another child. In 2008, I started homeschooling. I had wanted to for a couple years before that. I am busy. And I've been able to teach all my children in preschool here at my home. I've been able to homeschool my children the past two years. I've been able to really be with my children. I can say that I haven't missed their childhood. And while it has been hard (really hard sometimes) financially over the years, I would say that I still was grateful that I was able to be home with my children these past 7 years. And of course, I was able to finish that masters degree too.
But lately, the huge amount of money that I owe on my student loan is haunting me. (It is currently in deferment, but it can't stay there forever.) It keeps me up at night. Part of why the amount is so large is because I had recently lost my job and we couldn't live off just Mr. Simple's salary. We should have planned for the possibility, but we didn't. Part of the reason that the amount is so large is because when I started the program, the university was paying my tuition, but when I lost my job, obviously, they weren't paying it anymore. We should have planned for the possibility, but we didn't.
As of this fall, two out of the three of my children plan on returning to public school, at least for a year. As of this fall, I will only have one homeschooler (Jelly Bean), one preschooler, one toddler, and one infant. It makes me feel that now that things are changing at home, that maybe it is time for me to change too. Maybe it is time for me to try harder to get a full-time job outside of my home. Maybe I should try harder to get a job in a field that I have a degree in. Maybe it is time for me to get another part-time evening job.
Mr. Simple and I have spent the last 3 years paying a fairly big chunk of $$ on getting out of other debt. In one more year, the only debt we will have is the mortgage on the house. In one more year, we could put that money towards my student loan. It would take longer than 4 years to pay off the student loan debt. Not to mention, something just feels wrong about paying on a degree (did I mention it was a lot of money?) when I am not working in the field? When at least right now, I don't want to go back to work full-time in that field? When most of that money that would be paid by Mr. Simple? I mean, obviously it has to be paid. I'm not saying that I shouldn't pay for the debt back.
We felt like it was the right thing for me to finish my degree. It still feels like it was the right thing. Maybe one day, I'll understand why, but maybe, I'll never know why. But I really wish that I could have finished without having to go into debt to do it.
And what I really wish is that I could have it all. I wish I could find some job - designing curriculum or doing occasional training sessions - where most of my work was able to be done at home, and that I could do that work in evenings and weekends. It would give me enough money to pay off the loan in 5-7 years and be able to also contribute to our family. But that I would still have time to be able to homeschool my children, and that I could also have 2-3 preschool only children to teach, not for money, but because I love it.
But I usually don't get "it all." I know that the job scenario I described above is not realistic. I'm going to have to figure out a solution. I keep thinking about it. I've thought of some possibilities besides just going back to work full-time in my field or just staying home and using part of Mr. Simple's paycheck to pay it off. I've made some pro/con lists. But I haven't figured out the solution yet. Yet. I'm still working on it though.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Saturday, May 8, 2010
According to the Sustainable Table website, the following foods are available in early May in Illinois:
Friday, May 7, 2010
But now, quite a few of the morning chores are done by the girls. (FYI Flower is 10 and Jelly Bean is 8.) I generally alternate who I ask to do which chores, but not always. Mostly, it is just "Flower, you may go do X. And Jelly Bean, please go do that." Here are the types of chores that they usually do:
- Unload the dishwasher
- Wipe down the bathroom counters and the toilets
- Clean the mirrors in the bathrooms
- Sweep and swiffer the bathroom floors
- Sweep and swiffer the dining room and kitchen floors
- Transfer clothes from the washer to the dryer
- Take the trash out
- Vacuum the living room, hallway and upstairs bedrooms
And lest you think that I'm just sitting there eating bon-bons while I direct them, I'm usually doing things like folding clothes, putting clothes away, loading the dishwasher, changing diapers on the toddler and the baby that I watch, making bottles for the baby, wiping the counters down in the kitchen, putting stuff away that doesn't belong in the living room or kitchen, vacuuming the preschool area, and doing any of the things that the girls don't get to, etc.
And why don't I do more of this at night, you may ask? Well, the toddler and baby leave around 5:15, and then we eat dinner, and then at least a couple nights a week, we have an outside activity. Super gets in bed by 7:00 pm and the girls are in bed by 7:30 pm. On some nights, I need to do prep for preschool/homeschool the next day. And I have to be in bed by 9 pm because I get up at 4:45 am so I can go to the gym. So oftentimes, I just don't have much time to clean in the evenings. Plus, if I do it in the evening, I would probably start it after the kids went to bed, and I don't want to deprive the girls of their opportunity to be helpful LOL
We usually start chores at 8 am, and the goal is to get everything done by 9 am. Most of the time, we get the chores done around 8:45 am. Most of the time, the girls don't even complain about doing their chores. I'm not lying! I don't know what has come over them, but I'm just keeping quiet and being grateful!
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Well, here is a list to help get you started by just cutting down the number of things that you have in each category. Or maybe things that would be less painful to give up than say, your stove or something. LOL
101 Physical Things That Can Be Reduced In Your Home
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Well, here we are and it is May. It isn't Summer yet. And I'm trying to look ahead and make things different.
Well, maybe not different exactly. Because both girls will be doing Swim Team this year, and Super is going to be doing T-Ball, so that part of our schedule will stay basically the same. I thought long and hard about having the children involved in summer activities. And I decided that for OUR family, that it is a good fit. But what I can control is how organized about those activities, and what we do with the time that is not involved in sports.
We are still going to do the Library Reading program, but we are not going to Story Hour, and I'm going to be very selective with the Reading Program activities that we go to. We are not going to do Running Club. We aren't going to do any day camps. We aren't going to any playgroup/kid get together activities. I'm not going to do a structured learning time (although we are going to still have some preschool materials out this summer, and the girls are going to continue doing Math during the summer.) But I'm not doing like Bug Week for preschool or anything like that. No circle time. No Helper Jobs. Just the materials. They can use them. Or not. We are not going to watch television. We are not going to watch movies.
So what are we going to do? Well, we are going to spend a lot of time outside. That is for sure. We'll play on the playset. We'll play in the pool. We'll work on the garden. We'll walk on the Trail. I'll read stories. We'll crochet. We will go to the Nature Center. We will go to the Zoo. We will go to the Park. And we will work. Chores will continue. Projects will be done.
And I want to do look beyond our family too. Simple Mom is talking today about 10 ideas to Inspire Community Connections. She talks about things like having a block party or baking for a cause or being part of a solution to a community problem. And I'm not sure yet what we will do, but I want to do at least one thing that helps my children feel connected to their neighborhood, their community.
And in terms of me not falling off the Simple wagon, well, I've been making some changes to eating more simply lately (and healthier), and I anticipate continuing that. I'm exercising. I'm clearing my house of lots and lots of extra "stuff". I'm starting my garden. I go outside, often, and just look at things.
I'm sure that it won't be the perfect Simple summer. But I'm hoping that it is a Good One. Maybe even a Great One.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
I was reading on (In)Courage, and this is what she had to say about Spring Cleaning, and it helped me look beyond just cleaning to clean. Get rid of things just to get rid of them.
"Spring cleaning is merely a band-aid unless you frequently take some time to evaluate your inner life and heart. This is because holding on to clutter is merely a symptom of a deeper heart issue -- and this is the place where the root needs to be nurtured and fertilized. And sometimes pruned.
As we manage the stuff in our homes that God has entrusted to us, the question for all of us is this -- "Where do I put my trust?"
Do I put my trust in the stuff around me? Do I hold on to things because, all glory to God, I'm able to find a use for them around my home or they add beauty to our environment? Or do I hold on to things out of fear?
• Am I scared to sell our plethora of unused children's clothes given by my mother-in-law because it might damage our relationship?
• Even though our unloved Christmas china would sell for a pretty sum, am I holding on to it because I feel like it defines who we are as a family?
• Do I hold on to my old high school notes, the souvenirs from my European trip in college, and the ticket stubs from our honeymoon because if I let them go, I'll forget that they were important?
This isn't to say having stuff is bad. It's not. Many, many times the material things in our life truly are blessings, and in light of these things, we must be thankful. God blesses us richly. Heck, nine times out of ten, He blesses us beyond all we ask or imagine, with things we don't even need. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.
But while on Earth, we constantly need to be mindful of our status here as stewards, not as owners. And stewardship means to manage well.
Let's manage the stuff that truly is a blessing with honor and integrity, to the glory of Him who gave it in the first place. And the things that are no longer a blessing for us -- let's bless someone else by giving it away or selling it.
Because with spring cleaning, that's all decluttering really is -- thanking God by fully enjoying His blessings in our life, and passing on everything else so that it can bless someone else."
So here's to being thankful and appreciating the things that are truly enriching our lives, but here's also to blessing others with those things that don't. And remember, things are just things, but people are real.