Farm Fresh Finances

 I am weird about money.  I’ll use the white out correction tape that is broken and all pulled out of the dispenser and rub it on with my fingernail instead of throwing it out. I’ll save the 1/2 c of hamburger meat that didn’t fit on the pizza even though my husband is exasperated and doesn’t think that little dab is worth saving. I re use plastic bags. I teach my children to sparingly use toilet paper and to use family cloth if it’s only wee. I won’t buy a book unless it’s not available at the library, or I know (because I already checked it out at the library) that I’ll come back to it, time and time again. I’ll talk myself out of an adorable $3 sweater at Goodwill to make into wool longies because I already have several unfinished or worse, unstarted projects languishing in my studio.

But then I will spend money rather freely on what some people would consider serious splurges. I guess I feel like I can because I am so frugal in other ways.

One of the frugal projects: Dying Playsilks.

A word about play silks: Ah-mazing. Check into them. Seriously. My children of all ages, play with them every day. Every. Day.

They are kind of pricey though. I love supporting Etsy stores, WAHMs, and that is where I got our first set. But they were a serious splurge. I wondered if I would be able to make them myself. And guess what? I could!

Directions are all over the ‘net. I got the 35″ x 35″ hemmed silk scarves from Dharma Trading for about $5 each–much less than silk at the fabric stores. Then I dyed it with food coloring. I thought this would be a fun project to do with the girls, but really, it’s kind of boring.

Ok, really boring.

First you have to boil the silks in water and vinegar. For a long time.
Then you mix your colors with a little bit of water, and let the silks sit in them. For a long time.

Then you have rinse them, one by one. For a really long time.
I got them fairly well rinsed and then just got tired of it, so ran them on the rinse and spin cycle in my washer. I got a little pink on the yellow one because of that, but Aviana told me she wishes I had gotten more on it. 

 Then I dried them in the dryer. And they turned out like this.

 Then the chiddlers will play with them. For a long time 🙂

Another frugal project. 2013 calendar.

We use our calendar on the wall to write down all our appointments and dates and events. Archaic, I know. It works for us though because Handsome Husband is very good about checking it before making plans and good about writing down what he has going on. As this is a habit that has been several years in the making, I am not planning on switching it up on him any time soon.

We got a very nice calendar as a Christmas gift from one of my author friends. Because the side bar was advertising books coming out from her publisher though, the date boxes were fairly teeny. As much as I love books and supporting her in her endeavors, I love big date boxes more.

We also got a free calendar from the bank–which had one picture. Of their logo. But it had nice big date boxes.

So yes. I did. I sat down with my scissors and my glue and reinvented our calendar.

 And saved myself about $20.

Which I then turned around and spent purchasing Season 4 of Sister Wives.

(I told you some people might consider them splurges ;-))

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Funny farm

My friend, to Brielle: I like your dress
Brielle: Thanks, but you’ll like my other one better.

I am walking down the stairs. Cadrian, looks up delighted: Mama! You’re so cwever!
 Me: I am?
Him: Yes! I was just wooking for you, and den here you are!

Aviana’s New Year’s Resolutions include:
“Learn to throw voise”
“imitate bird calls”
“not make bargains with Brielle”
Dada “thoughtfully” brought home “treats” of store bought Rice Krispies Treats. “Homemade” Rice Krispies treats would be disgusting enough (although I’ve been known to indulge in a scotcharoo now and again) so I  read aloud the list of unpronounceable NOT FOOD ingredients in  hopes they would make a Wise Food Decision, and reinforce to Kevin why it is we don’t buy that junk, while at the same time not wanting to completely undermine their father. The second I finished the litany of chemicals, Aviana said, “I’ll take the one with rainbow sprinkles!”

After bedtime:
Cadrian, from his bedroom: Mumble mumble mumble
Me, in rocker nursing baby, hopefully to sleep: What? I can’t hear you.
Me: What? Just come out here and tell me if it’s that important.
Cadrian: I have stinky feet.

After bedtime:
Aviana, coming down the stairs: Brielle is sleeping in the robot costume.
Me: I don’t care. Go to sleep.
Aviana, completely aghast: Mama! She’s sleeping in a card. board. box!


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What does school look like?

When many of us think of “school” we think of sitting at a desk, in a classroom. Chalkboard front and center, teacher’s desk off to one side. Teacher tells us what we need to know, and when. Rarely why. We thought we need someone big to inform us, to teach us.

I tend to disagree. Most of the learning that goes on in our home is an organic part of the day. We don’t really do “school”. I buy Sonlight curriculum because they have such. great. books. They have an instructor’s guide with guidelines of what to read when. Aviana is very much a structured linear little girl and enjoys having a check list to mark off.

Brielle on the other hand, doesn’t. And they are both learning in this home. We are helping all of our children meet and exceed their fullest potential.

We encourage them to learn about this and such, or give them lots of resources if they show interest in that and such. We answer questions, we show them, we discuss, we help them learn how to learn and find the answer for themselves.

All of the activities you see here have been completely unbidden. Brielle wanted to learn how to write using a quill, so we made one. Aviana wanted to make New Year’s Resolutions so she wrote them. They wanted to learn how to read, so they did.

They don’t learn for grades or for a test. They learn for the joy of it. They learn because God made them to be little sponges, to soak up their environment. Loving to learn and learning how to find the information they need are the skills they will need their entire lives. Sitting in an age segregated classroom for seven hours a day would suck a lot of the fun right out of learning and it would become something they just have to do.

It all falls into place. “What about math?” is a question I’m often asked. For right now, they are learning through life skills like cooking with me in the kitchen, in our home.The girls add fractions all the time. My four year old can do division. Offer him 8 cookies and it doesn’t take him long to figure out they each get two. If it turns out they need to learn calculus and trigonometry, I’ll figure out a way to teach it to them. For the record, I did well in calculus and trigonometry, and I couldn’t tell you what either is or why I learned it or what they are used for.

“What about socialization?” is another often queried question. I would rather have my children learn how to be civilized from me and other adults in our sphere than 15-20 other small not-yet-civilized people. I would rather have them learn how to stand in line when we wait at the post office or a restaurant, than to line up and march down halls for “specials” and lunch and recess and a restroom break. I would rather have them learn how to not interrupt from me than from a teacher who is trying to manage 20 little interrupters. I would rather have them learn manners from me than the kid on the playground who hasn’t yet mastered not shoving.

(totally unposed picture here, they were just doing that!)
What does school look like? It looks like an every day day. It looks like fun.  It looks like life.

(this picture credit to Jen Van Fleet)
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I have been a little concerned that I’ve been getting depressed. Like, seriously. But I think what I really needed was to just get out of the house!

The children were doing better healthwise today, even Elivette (who wanted to snurse all night, and if I pulled her off the breast she complained. Loudly. And often.)

I’ve been wanting to drive to a town about an hour away and check out the new Costco. Today, as I was downing my third cup of coffee and being blearily grumpy about having been awake since the wee hours of the morning, Kevin asked me if I wanted to go.

I couldn’t get those children ready fast enough.

We spent quite a bit of time browsing and exclaiming and discussing and corralling and it was so fun to see the chiddlers race down the aisles; Denton with his tiny little legs trailing far behind giggling all the while, Brielle in her ruby red sparkly slippers clattering with every step.

We ended up getting a membership, probably just so I could buy organic cream. And butter.

 I wasn’t ready to go home yet. We made a stop in West Branch, Iowa at the Herbert Hoover Museum. I knew nothing about him and had kind of believed the hyperbole of “Hoovervilles” and “Hoover blankets”. Today I learned differently! What a great man–literally brought himself up from nothing and made millions. He was the first person broadcast on television. Ever. He was one of the first students at Stanford. He saved millions and millions of people from starvation. Poor Bert–in the presidential office 6 months, the stock market crashed. And he was blamed.

It’s my opinion that the Great Depression was not ended by any of FDR’s policies, but by America’s involvement in WWII. Anyway, I digress.

We found a kitschy second hand store and found Cadrian some nice winter boots for next year. And we lost one.

We got a milkshake at an ice cream shop named “The Pink Pony”. (Guess which six year old was over the moon about that.)

We got back home in time to check out the Kuk Sool class we are considering for Brielle. And to visit Once Upon a Child to get some insulated pants and jeans for people with holes in theirs and leopard print baby outfits because babies need leopard print.

It was just a normal day…regular stuff…but it was so awesome to be laughing with my children, and my husband. It was so nice to be out and about.

I had to sit down at Costco to nurse Elivette. Brielle suggested we sit on a couch facing the big TV.

“Or we could sit there.”
“That’s not facing the TV.”
“No, but we could sit and look at the jewelry.”
“You want to sit and look at jewelry?”
“I’m just that kind of a crazy kid.”
You know you are a rockstar mama when you can change a two year old who started out in bundies but ends up  with diarrhea, in a gas station, without losing your cool, and the child still has pants at the end of the deal.

And when the baby poos to her toes–neatly executing her first ever blowout at the museum–and ends up clean and clothed at the end of the deal.

And when the baby pukes all over the museum’s carpeted floor, and you nonchalantly clean that up too.

I really love to laugh. Brielle told me once that she thinks I spend half my life laughing. I’m really glad that is the perspective she has of me.


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French toast Friday

Note to self: Starting a new food challenge to coincide with the new year may SEEM like a good idea, but when everyone is extra needy and clingy, it may not (in retrospect) be the best plan.

I mentioned to my ever supportive and realistic to the point of pessimism husband that perhaps this wasn’t the best week to try to learn how to make ricotta and mayonnaise, and he just laughed at me. Imagine!
I started the “40 Day Challenge” with the Healthy Families for God blog. Sara has a great site, full of real food recipes, encouragement, ideas; along with articles showing how our modern culture of reliance on pharmacuedicals is detrimental to all aspects of our lives, most obviously our health.
Her 40 Day Challenge is a deep plunge into unprocessed eating. It’s also sugar free. Over the past several years I have done many baby steps implementing more philosophies of traditional eating, as outlined in Nourishing Traditions and by the Weston Price Foundation. For example, we switched to whole milk probably 8 years ago, and raw milk 2 years ago. Now I thought I was ready to start making my own condiments and cream of …soups. Mayhap I am.
Just not this week.
The biggest benefit of doing the challenge at least has in the forefront of my mind to not eat food with more than 5 ingredients. And there is always next week.
Right now I’m content to sit in my fleece jammas, with a snuffy baby in the wrap on my chest and a mucousy four year old on my lap and letting my dear husband make French toast with store bought whole wheat bread and farm fresh eggs and call it good.
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The New Year with a bang

My sweet Cadrian woke up on New Year’s Day with a terrible croupy cough. And it’s just gotten worse from there. Some one or several people have been lying around; coughing, whining, aching, crying, and being feverish since then. I have been pretty stalwart but now the baby is sick too. She can’t nurse lying down anymore because she can’t breathe through her nose. And then she can’t sleep. And then I can’t sleep.

That’s no way to spend your fifth month birthday!
And not getting any sleep at night makes it very challenging to care for my little ones with love and patience. Especially  if when they whine.
 But thankfully, as I am reminded in Philippians,  
I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
We’ve run out of sovereign silver and already had to restock the children’s ibprofen. We’re doling out Vitamin C like candy. I’ve given up on laundry or doing anything other than holding my small ones. We’re forcing honey and liquids down people’s throats and slathering coconut oil and Mother’s Love on cracked lips and chapped pink cheeks.

 Homemade chicken noodle soup and eggs are about all we’ve had to eat for 9 days.  Everyone smells like eucalyptus and tea tree oil. The piles of tissues certain people make despite the trash can being right there are disturbing. The Nose Frida, incidentally is a brilliant invention. The gross factor is minimal with the baby; with the two year old on the other hand, *shudders*.

Soon, we’ll be back to normal. I am so thankful I don’t live in an era when I feared death with every cough, when I can just sit back and hold babes without having to stoke the fire or empty the chamber pot or butcher a chicken. I am thankful the vomiting has been nearly non-existent. I can handle almost anything but vomiting. And whining.

Soon we’ll be back to normal. Soon.

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