Friday, December 30, 2011

This will probably be my last post . . . of 2011

Knowing me, and my life, I probably won't get back here tomorrow.  And I have a moment to post right now, so I thought I would.

2011.  It was an interesting year.  I lost a lot of weight in 2011, but I'll be honest, I've put a little back on. 

Which goes to the second thing of 2011.  Instead of illness this year, this was the year of injuries.  I was doing fantastic with exercise until May of 2011.  Great.  I was running and I was doing my Body Combat classes and my Body Pump classes.  Loved it. And then I got tendinitis in my foot.  And despite trying to cut back and using anti-inflamatories, it still hurt. All the time.  So I decided to take a little break from exercise.  Just for June.  And maybe July.  It would have been fine. Except that I burned myself at the end of July.  Then I couldn't exercise for another two months.  Now, it would be September.  And I did go a few times in September.  But then, I had outpatient surgery in October.  I'd really start again in November.  Except then, I got crazy busy.  So here it is the end of 2011, and I really haven't regularly since early May. Ugh. But I have a plan.  And I will get back to it.  I was so consistent in 2010 and half of 2011. I know that I can get back to my exercise plan.  And it is so much easier for me to follow a healthy food plan when I'm exercising.

The kids went back to public school this year.  That has been different.  I don't know if I'll homeschool again.  I miss it a lot, but I always said that I wanted to do what is right for my kids.  But I'm hoping that it isn't totally the end.  I mean, Super is only in first grade, so if it is the right thing for him, maybe we will homeschool at some point.  Speaking of the kids, maybe I should update a little about them.

Flower? She is 12.  And in 6th grade.  And a great kid, really.  But I definitely see glimpses of teenager-hood coming through.  And she bought herself an iPod Touch this Christmas.  And the texting has begun. But she still likes to hang out with her family.  And she still loves to read.  And she still loves to sing. 

Jelly Bean.  Hmm.   It has been a busy year for her.  She is in 4th grade and has homework for the first time in her life. She started competitive swimming in September and she practices 4 times a week.  She is moving up to the next level next month and then her practices will move from an hour to two hours.  I worry a little about burn out, but she LOVES it and says that swimming is the only thing that makes her happy, so for right now, we are going ahead.  She turned 10 this month.  I can't believe she is already a whole decade!

Super.  Maybe I should rename him Super Wild.  No, he isn't that bad.  Most of the time anyway.  He loves Super Heroes now. A lot. So his blog name is more fitting than it used to be.  He is forever jumping off things too.  And he loves to create things out of scraps.  He calls them "his inventions." He used to make "inventions" by connecting his toys together in various ways. Quite the creative little guy.

I don't have resolutions exactly for 2012.  But I do have a checklist/to do list/plans for 2012.  Is that the same as resolutions? I don't know. A lot of it has to do with SLITC and turning it into a business. And then most of the rest has to do with incorporating simple living even more into my life.  But a big item on my to do list is to learn to enjoy myself more.  Relax sometimes.  Laugh more. Try not to be so serious all the time.  Make more time for friends.  Make more friends.  And maybe sleep more too. :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

So tired my teeth hurt . . .

I said that in a Facebook post earlier this week.  And I was.  And I am.  I have busier this December than I would really like to be.  BUT there are reasons for the busyness.  It IS intentional, which to me, somehow feels better than when I just let my/our schedule get filled with too many lovely, but not necessary, things. 

But my December has filled with watching children (this isn't new), taking care of the Simple Family (also not new), trying to live a simple life (also not new) PLUS I am doing some freelance training for 2-3 hours most days (new) AND I'm trying to build a small business (new).

What small business do you ask? Well, most of my readers probably already know about it, but I'll share here now too.  I was going to wait until things were a little further along, but I am going to go ahead and share what it is AND what I envision it becoming.

Over the years, I have taught some class in "simple living" through those Women Living Wisely classes.  However, my friend Joy and I stopped offering them a couple years ago.  I, however, continued to get requests over the years to learn how to do things like preserving food or crocheting or making laundry soap.  I wanted to, but never really got around to organizing anything. 

Then in August, after yet another person said something to me about it, I decided, I am going to do it.  I'm going to start offering classes.  And so I started a Facebook page about it (You can like us at and titled it Simply Living In The City.  I called it that because it sort of went along with my blog here, but it also opened it up for me to talk about learning "simple skills" in any urban setting.  It is basically "urban homesteading" - but I am unable/uninterested in having chickens/goats/bees, etc. in my backyard so I don't talk about/teach classes on those topics.  And I decided to have a topic of the day, so each day I post something about gardening.  Or soapmaking. Or canning. Or sewing.  You get the idea.  I love hearing how other people are trying to live a Simple Life.  Their Way.

I decided to offer my first class on the third Friday of September.  I decided to do Preserving Food, since it was that time of year anyway.  I posted about the upcoming class on on the Facebook page. And my personal FB page.  And a local entrepreneur FB page.  And crossed my fingers.  And people came. 

I made a blog for Simply Living In the City (You can check it out at for recipes and tutorials and handouts and pictures and videos.  I'll be honest and say that I haven't been able to update it as much and as often as I would like, but that will be changing after the new year.)  I will blogging most days over there - but don't worry, I'll still post here.  I still want to talk about MY family and how we are living the simple life.  Or to post 700 pictures of our trip to Disney World.  :)

I taught a class in October about Making Your Own Dairy (so, so easy, and so, so fun!) and then November was Beginning Crocheting and Knitting.  Yep, I learned how to knit! I've made TWO dishcloths so far.  (Hold your applause, please!)  And on this Friday, I'll be teaching a class on Making Your Own Soap.  They are held every third Friday, and I've got them scheduled through next August.

And after that? I'll be offering the same type of classes, but at the local community college.  Right now, I'm offering the classes for free, but next fall, I'll be making money from it.  Not a ton, but that isn't REALLY my goal.  I'd like to cover my costs, and a little more, but mostly, I just want to help people learn how to do things like garden.  Or use a pressure canner.  Or make a t-shirt quilt.

And that's not all. (Oh, that not all! LOL) I will be also opening an on-line store! I am hoping to open in February and you can go there to get all sorts of "Simply Living" supplies.  Cast iron dutch ovens, water bath canner, gardening netting, organic yarn, yogurt cultures.  That sort of thing.  Right now, I have to go to several brick and mortar/online stores to get all the "Simply Living" supplies I need, and I'm guessing that plenty of people have to do the same, and so I wanted to create a place where you could find everything (well, most things) in one place.  I'll keep you posted on our grand opening, hopefully sometime in February 2012!

AND I'm working on a book.  I've been working on it off and on, and now I'm definitely on.  I'm writing and looking for a publisher.

So I'm busy.  And in case you hadn't noticed, it is also the holiday season.  I am trying to find snippets of time to work on gifts, so that fills what very little free time I have left. 

But I'm also intentionally slowing down soon.  From December 21st until December 27th I'm not working on ANYTHING but gifts and spending time with my family. 

But until then, yea, I'm a little tired . . .

Friday, December 9, 2011

Daybook: December 6th

I tried to publish this post on the 6th, but I was having all kinds of problems.  So you get my daybook post from the 6th on the 9th.  Better late than never?


I haven't done a daybook in who knows how long, so I thought I'd do one more before the end of 2011. 

I am thankful for ... that I've been able to do some freelance training lately.  It makes my day very busy since I am still doing preschool/daycare too, but I really, really enjoy doing training again.  I didn't realize how much I've missed it until I started doing it again. 

From the learning rooms ... Well, I just have the one learning room now since I just have the preschoolers.  We decided in the fall to have all three children go to public school.  I miss homeschooling, but I still feel like we have made the right decision for our family.  Anyway, we are learning about the letter G, the color green, Europe, winter, evergreen trees, and rectangles.

From the kitchen ... I made a semi-homemade apple pie the other day, and we made homemade french vanilla ice cream tonight to go with it.  I love making our own ice cream.  So, so good and I love knowing what exactly I am eating.  Not to mention the fact that I can make any kind of ice cream I want!

I am wearing... white turtleneck, blue t-shirt, and sweats. Wool socks. I am more dedicated to warmth than I am to fashion. :)

I am creating... lots of gifts.

I am going... hmm. I don't go out much lately. I keep really busy around the house between watching the daycare children and the freelance training and creating presents, and oh, lots of stuff. Stuff I still need to talk about here. Anyway, I don't go much of anywhere these days.

I am reading... The Seasons on Henry's Farm. It is about year on a sustainable farm that is close to my house. I'm not very far into it yet, but it is definitely my kind of book.

I am hoping... that there is more peace. In my life, in our family, in the world.

I am hearing... not much. I am writing this post in the evening after everyone has gone to bed.

Around the house... things are quite festive! I decorated early this year. I usually wait until well into December, but this year, Flower talked me into decorating the day after Thanksgiving. We are celebrating Advent this year, but in a very, very simple way this year. We are mostly just enjoying being together this month.

One of my favorite things... Well, not to be too corny or anything, but one of my favorite things lately is just living the Simple Life more. I am creating more and more things by hand, I am more self reliant, I am more frugal. Sometimes living the Simple Life makes me feel poor or resentful. But not lately. Lately, it makes me feel happy. And content.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Homecoming 2011

We live in Normal, Illinois (yes, I've heard all the jokes.  Yes, we allow abnormal people to live here too.)  Anyway, Normal is home to Illinois State University. ISU is also the university where I got my bachelor's degree and my masters degree.  And the university that I worked at for 5 years.  And the place where Mr. Simple got HIS bachelors and masters degree.  AND we also had our wedding reception in the student center ballroom.

So yes, we have lots of ties to the university.  We used to take the kids to the Homecoming Parade when they were small, but we hadn't been back for a few years until last year, and then I took the kids to the parade, and then I took them on a tour of campus, and then we even went to the Homecoming game! It was really fun.

This year, we didn't have time to attend the Homecoming game, but the kids all wanted to go to the parade again.  So here are some pictures of ISU Homecoming 2011!

My little Redbirds! They are spelling ISU!
The ISU Marching Band.  They always win lots of national awards.
The Homecoming King and Queen at the top of a fire engine.
Normal, Illinois is also home to Mitsubishi Motors US plant.  This is a picture of the Mitsubishi Electric car - called the Mi-EV. 
Oh, and a tractor.  You can't have a parade in Illinois without having a tractor in it :)
The Prairie Pipes & Drums band.  This was SO cool in person.
I have almost my whole life in college towns.  I've lived in THIS college town off and on (mostly on) for the past 20 years.  I must say, I do prefer living in a college towns too.  And it is weekends like this that make it really fun to live in a college town too.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Halloween 2011

OK, I know that it is December, and I'm posting about Halloween.  What can I say? I had a huge backlog of pictures and I wasn't able to blog that much this fall.  Anyway, most years, we do a bunch of Halloween activities, and this year was no exception.  In fact, this year, we even added one. Often, the kids change costumes for the different activities, but this year, Super was the only one who changed his costume, and he only changed it once.

And in a sign of things to come, SIGH, I didn't manage to get a picture of Flower in her Halloween costume because she didn't come to a couple of the things we did because she was at other activities, or she was off with her friends. I suspect that next year, she doesn't even dress up.  She is growing up so fast.  Anyway, this year, she was dressed up as a diva.  She had a sequined dress and she wore a long blond wig and boots.

Anyway, this year, the kids dressed up for Trunk or Treat, Farmers Market, and on the 30th, we did something new and we did trick or treating at the downtown businesses.  On Halloween, I went out trick or treating with Super and Jelly Bean.  Mr. Simple handed out candy, and Flower went with 3 of her friends.

Oh and this year, Mr. Simple and I went to a costume party too! It was so fun!

Here are some pictures:

Super at home after Trunk or Treat.  A knight with his sword!
Now you can see the knight's face.  The sword and helmet were from his dress up bin, and we got the knight outfit from the thrift store for $1.
Super at one of the local business.  He decided to wear his helmet down for this shot.
Jelly Bean.  She was a skater girl.  We bought the wig for $4, but the rest of the things we already had or got at the thrift store.
Jelly Bean and Super in front of the house on Halloween.  Super changed his costume for Halloween Night.  He is a storm trooper.  He got the helmet for his birthday, and the costume was from his dress up bin.
And here I am in my mask.  I was a butterfly and I had sparkly butterfly wings too.  Mr. Simple was a butterfly catcher.  :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Walk To Remember - 2011

Our local hospital runs a Pregnancy and Infant Loss support group, and every year, during October, which is Pregnancy Loss and Infant Remembrance Month, they have a Walk To Remember for the families.  It is a one mile walk from the hospital down the Nature Trail to the city's outdoor amphitheater.  After we get there, everyone releases balloons.

There were 165 people at the walk this year.  It is one walk I wish that there were LESS people :(  We have gone to the walk every year since 2008.  I blogged about it last year here.

Super walking on the street before we got to the trail.  His sign says  "I walk in memory of Christopher"
Flower with her balloon
Super with his balloon (the red one, his favorite color) and I'm behind Super and my balloon is the blue one
Letting the balloons go
As the balloons started to float up
Higher and higher
Super and I

We love you Christopher and we will ALWAYS remember you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It just isn't Fall without THIS festival!

OK, I had to update to Google Chrome to post now, and I'm SOOO not used to this interface. Anybody else recently update to Google Chrome?

OK, back to "regular" posting. The third weekend of October, we went to our FAVORITE autumn celebration. We have been to this festival every fall since 2008. It is at Sugar Grove Nature Center, which is about 20 minutes from our house.

Flower drinking cold apple cider.  It was fairly warm this year at the festival.  Some years it is  hot, some years it is cold, last year it was wet.  I'll take fairly warm.
Super and Jelly Bean decorating our pumpkin.
Our Pumpkin "Nerd" He has a bow tie, braces, and  glasses.
My three cuties! I love Fall!
Super on the covered bridge.
Super and Jelly Bean walking over to the Imagination Grove area.
Super climbing up to fort.
Super up at the top of the fort.
Another shot of the three kids.  (That sweater that  Flower is wearing? Ithas been in numerous fall pictures on either Flower or Jelly Bean for the past 2-3 years.  I love clothes like that!)
Jelly Bean starting Flower on the zip line.
That is Super hanging at the end of the zip line and Jelly Bean is watching on the left.
Jelly Bean heading down the zip line.
This is the end of the "festival" pictures.  Don't fret - I still have pictures to share here of the Walk To Remember and Halloween from this past October, and then maybe, I'll go back to more writing and less pictures.  Or maybe not.  It is certainly faster to post pictures than having to think and write about something :) No, I will get back to writing more soon.  I miss it.  Plus I have some news that I haven't shared over here yet.  It is a little exciting too.  Keep watching here.  Hopefully I'll let you in on my news before the end of December.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ropp Road Roundup - Part 2!

On the same day that we went to Ropp Cheese Farm, we went down the road (they are both located on Ropp Road, hence the name of the round-up!) to Radar Family Farms. Like I said in the last post, we had heard that they had changed it since we had last been out, but we didn't really know what to expect. Part of why we hadn't gone back out was that when we last went out in 2008, it was free, but now they charged admission. Well, once we got there, I understood why they charged admission. Since we were last there, they have added a much larger pumpkin patch, and a retail store, and lots of things for the kids to climb on/jump on/slide on, etc.

Here are some of the pictures from the rest of our day:

A quick photo before we went in

Flower doing some practice roping

Here is what she is was trying to rope. Jelly Bean is pointing them out to her.

Jelly Bean was slightly more successful.

Then the two of them tried it together to see if that helped. It didn't, but I had to take a picture of them cooperating. :)

The huge tube slide

My kids were too big for this ride, but I thought it was so cute that I took a picture of it. The corn bins are in the background.

Flower waiting at the top of the tube slide.

The kids spent the longest time in the corn bins. Here is Flower in one.

Super being buried in the corn.

The girls together again in the corn bin.

Super jumping on the hay bales.

Flower at the top of the hay castle.

I love this picture. Flower mid-jump on the jumping pillow.

And Super mid-jump.

We had a good day at both Ropp Farm and Radar Farm. We are looking forward to next year's Ropp Road Round-up. Maybe we will even try the corn maze next year!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Ropp Road Roundup - Part 1

We live very close to two local farms - The Ropp Jersey Cheese Farm produces fine quality cheese. When you visit the farm, you can see (and pet!) the our pure bred prize winning Jersey calves. You can see the cheese slicing room with viewing windows, and also purchase all kinds of cheese products at the store. We have visited the Ropp farm before, a few times actually over the years, and I blogged here back in 2008 when we visited for the first time.

The other farm is Radar Family Farms. Radar Family Farms is also a working farm and they concentrate on sweet corn and pumpkins. However, they have also started in the past few years adding other attractions, in part to expose more children to agriculture. We went out to Radar Farms a few years ago (and again, I blogged about it here), but we were unprepared for how MUCH it had changed in just 3 years. In some ways, it was great, and the kids really had a fabulous time. But on the way home, the kids and I talked about how we missed the more simple Radar Farms too.

Anyway, the first weekend in October, Ropp Farm and Radar Family Farm have extra special activities, and this year, we decided to go. We had a GREAT time.

We went to Ropp Farm first. (The next blog post will be about our visit to Radar, so stay tuned!)

When we first got out of the car, the kids took a quick jog through the straw maze.

Then Flower posed with Mr. Scarecrow

Then Jelly Bean posed with Mr. Scarecrow. (And yes, that is Flower down in the bottom corner of the picture.)

She was getting ready for this shot.

All three posing with Mr. Scarecrow.

Some sisterly love

The White Oak Wind Farm is just across the street from Ropp Farm, and we took a hayrack ride out to tour the wind turbines.

From right below one of the wind turbines.

After the tour of the wind farm, we went back to the farm. It was also back to the straw maze, but this time, they weren't just walking THROUGH it. Super jumped up on top . . .

And then it was Super and Jelly Bean.

And then it was Flower, Jelly Bean, and Super!

After that, the kids went into the barn to feed the cows. Here is Flower feeding a cow.

A shot of both girls feeding cows.

There was a sleepy cat in the barn too.

In the next barn, we saw a turkey.

And a VERY pregnant goat. (She was due that day!)

There was a llama in that barn too. Here is Jelly Bean feeding the llama.

Then we went outside to feed the calves by bottle.

We had so much fun! Thank you to everyone at Ropp Farm!!!

Next up, Radar Family Farms!