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C’mon People Now! (or: siblings cleaning their shared bedrooms)

Ay yi yi.  It’s that time again. Every day, around 4 or 5 o’clock (depending on how the day has gone), I call out “redd up time!”

This is the signal for the children to clean their room as well as their “zone”  for the week. I have divided the house up into seven “zones”, one for each child still living at home. They are responsible for their zone for one week at a time. When I say “redd up”, they need to put away anything that is out of place in that zone,  dust or wipe down or clean certain things that apply to that zone (there is actually a list of instructions posted surreptitiously in each zone), and then vacuum that zone.

This brings next to zero problems. They know the drill quite well, they know the benefits we all reap from having a tidy house, and they know that I will tolerate no nonsense about not doing your job well.

Their bedrooms, however, are, for some reason, a different matter. I think it’s because they consider their bedrooms “their space”, and to an extent, they are correct. I try to give them as much ownership as possible (even if we disagree about what looks good 😉). But I require certain things that we still need daily reminders and practice on. One of the biggest problems we have in the shared work spaces is the division of labor. Who is responsible for what?

At first glance, it seems simple: each of you clean your own things and whatever mess you are responsible for. That leaves the pile of dirt, trash, and odds and ends that no one wants to claim responsibility for. AND the arguments about “yes, that is actually mine, but I’m not the one that got it out/left it out”. If any of you have the answers to this, feel free to let me know! For today, I chose to play this song. LOUDLY.  😝

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Essential Oils for Moms (& $50 in oils FREE!)

If you’ve been sort of interested in oils, maybe wanting to try them out, now is an excellent time to do it! There is a special going on until the end of May that can get you up to $50 in free oils!

Summertime fun is ramping up, lots to go and do and lots to see. If you have little ones, that can also mean lots of “owies” on the playgrounds. My kids are too big for me to carry a diaper bag anymore, but I do keep a bag that’s more than a purse with odds and ends in it that I need for the kids. I like to have a comb and extra hair ties, and a box of tictacs as a small reward or distraction when a trip to the grocery store is extra long. One of the things I also keep in there is a bottle of lavender essential oil. It was one of my “gateway oils” and it’s still one of my top 5 favorites because it has SO. MANY. USES. I drip some on cuts and scrapes, on bee stings and mosquito bites, on sunburns, and on the backs of the kids’ necks when they’re tired, grumpy, or overstimulated. You can learn more about lavender here.

Another one I always keep in my bag is peppermint essential oil.  Another powerhouse oil with many uses to a mom and her children. Our chief use for the kids is for carsickness. We have a big, 12-passenger van and the ones in the back get a bit queasy sometimes if the road is extra curvy or if they’re working on “one more chapter before we get there!” Some like the beadlets (it’s a small, biteable capsule with diluted oil inside), others like the Touch bottle (it has a rollerball so they can put some diluted oil behind their ears and on their tummies), and others like to just have a drop of oil on their palms to rub together and inhale (being careful of their eyes!) You can learn more about peppermint here.

When friends ask me what supplies I recommend for new moms, those two oils come on my list way higher than things like strollers, high chairs, or baby swings!

If you’re interested in trying them out, May is the month for you. The most frugal option that will get you the most “bang for your buck” is to purchase one of these kits: A Family Essentials Kit which has SO many great oils in nice, compact, purse/diaper bag sized bottles OR a Home Essentials Kit, which has the same oils in full size bottles AND a diffuser! When you purchase either one of these kits through these links, you automatically receive 50 points in your account (points are roughly 1 point = 1 dollar), which you can use toward your next order of oils! There is no minimum purchase for that next order, you can just get the free oils and that’s it!

I will be more than happy to go through your kit once you receive it (within days- they ship quickly!) and teach you all about those amazing, powerful oils that you’ve go your hands on! You can email me, text me, give me a call, or Skype/Facetime- whatever works best for you 🙂

BOOKS!!

I’ve always been an avid, drooling bibliophile. Thankfully, my children either inherited the gene or succumbed to the inevitable contagion. 😉   
Yesterday I scored all these treasures at a secondhand shop (in addition to finding some really groovy bamboo yarn to make myself either a hat or scarf with as we read), and they were almost as excited as I was. They all gathered around as I pulled book after book out of the shopping bag and handed them to the child I guessed might want to be the first to read them. There were small squeals of delight and then no sound but the turning of pages and quiet voices reading to the baby. It was so fun! 

I read the Inkspell series recently. They didn’t make it onto my list of favorite books, but there were a few golden nuggets that stuck with me. One was when the father explained to his daughter why you should take a new book along to every trip or memorable experience in your life. You store those memories in between the pages. Thereafter, each time you read that book, you will be transported through space and time and relive that experience. I always knew that to be true, but never quite put it into words. It fully explains the secret delight I feel anytime I see one of my children curled up with a book.
Bonus: quite a few of these are their assigned schoolwork!  

Also- should I make a hat or a scarf with that yarn??

First “First Day Of School” in 17 years

Today was our first day back to school after our first ever summer off in 17 years of homeschooling. The schedule was so safe and comforting to my autistic self. I think my children enjoyed the rhythm and predictability too; the earlier wake up time had an adorable effect on this little tyke and I’m looking forward to a quieter bedtime routine than we’ve had for a while.  
My oldest two are in charge of scheduling their own work, as long as they meet a weekly quota. They are feeling so grown up and I’m trying HARD to remember that the scheduling and regulating is itself a lesson and it requires me to stay out of the process (at least until Friday!).
Six students this year, 17 years of homeschooling, and I still feel like a noob venturing forth for the maiden voyage! 😂

 

A Little Child Shall Lead

  

His first pinwheel. He played happily and peacefully for over an hour. Taught me so much about fully immersing myself in the joy of discovery and exploration and just opening myself to receiving the pleasures that surround me. Where would I be without my wonderful children to teach me and lead me?

Adventures in Gardening

I thought I’d bring you along on my newest adventure:

Gardening!

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but this, that, and the other always took a higher priority or had more urgency. (7 babies in 10 years anyone?) Actually I know many women (really, I know them, in real life) who have had babies just as fast and furious as me and huge, healthy, prolific gardens right alongside, but I just couldn’t attain. I comfort myself with knowing that most of them grew up alongside their mom in her garden and that gardening is as simple as the alphabet for them.

I’ve given gardening a halfway try a few times, but never really stuck it out for a whole season. This year, I’m  going to really try. My baby is almost 3, my dog is fully grown and housebroken, and I don’t have any other big projects going on.

I thought it might be fun to blog about it, share what I learn, what mistakes I make…

To be clear: this IS NOT a “How To Garden” blog series, it is a “What I’ve Learned About How To Garden” blog series, or maybe even a “LOL What Was She Thinking?!” blog series 😉

So.

To begin: I ordered seeds from The Seed Guy, because having non-GMO, open-pollinated “heirloom” seeds is important to me, and I really think that’s part of the reason I haven’t taken my previous attempts at gardening too seriously. I always bog down at trying to decide what to plant, and how much of it, so this time I just bought a package. I’ll plant about half of what I bought, and store the rest for next year’s attempt, when I’ve learned a bit more.

Yesterday I borrowed my lovely neighbor’s tiller, and tilled up last year’s garden plot, plus a bit, because there are a LOT of varieties in the package I got and I want to try a new garden layout: irregular beds instead of rows or square foot beds. Thanks to our entire septic tank and drain field being replaced last fall, there was very little grass or weeds for me to contend with (our landlord didn’t think it necessary to plant grass and we straight up couldn’t afford it!)

Then there were the gourds. Last year, we planted a lot of watermelon. A LOT. But, somehow (I blame buying seeds at a dollar store), we grew pumpkins and gourds. By the time I realized what was growing, the rest of the garden was a very lush weed-bed and I just didn’t care. I read a bit about how they dry best right on the vine, so I let them try. We picked up most of them, wondering about bird feeders and ladles and whatnot, but the kids ended up just smashing most of them in their games. (I still haven’t asked WHAT games called for that…) There were several that lay hidden though, and they were just on the safe side of the digging and resulting mudpit of the septic tank debacle. I found them as I was tilling. Just after I burst them and scattered their seeds. So I’m sure quite a bit of my gardening this year will involve plant identification in order to get rid of the gourds before they take over!

Today I sprayed the tilled area with apple cider vinegar. I’m told it will kill any vegetation it is sprayed on, and I want to kill out what little grass and weeds are there before I put my little precious plants and seeds in. I’m not very heavy into the “organic” label, because I know some people who have jumped through the hoops of becoming “certified” and they said it was really just an honor code and it came down to the farmer’s honesty. But I do want things to be as natural and chemical free as possible, which is why I just smile and nod when family and friends give me their recommendations for RoundUp or Se7en or what have you. I realize that they’ll have a better yield than me with my apple cider vinegar, diatomaceous earth and cayenne pepper, but for me gardening would feel pointless if I started using chemicals.

Here is what the grass and weeds that I sprayed with vinegar looked like today. I’ll post pictures of them in a few days to share whether the vinegar really works 🙂

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We’ve got cups and egg cartons full of dirt on a table in our entry, which has one entire side of sliding glass doors facing the south, and that’s where we’re starting our seeds. While they are getting their start, I’ll keep spraying the plot with vinegar every few days and I’ll till it a time or three more to get the dirt nice and soft. I’ll stop with the vinegar about a week before I set out plants, and between now and then I’ll be stringing up a few kinds of fencing: orange webbing discarded from a construction site helped a lot with keeping the deer and rabbits and groundhogs out last year (those 3 completely demolished our attempt at a garden the year before that). I’ll also string some jute twine outside that with pie pans and pinwheels and bars of Irish Spring soap dangling at intervals along it. I saw some of these deer repellent stakes at the feed store last week, and I’m trying to decide if I want to try them. (There are a LOT of deer around here, in case you didn’t know.) I haven’t made up my mind, but if I try them, I’ll let you know what I think of them. Of course, there are so many variables in this little experiment, I may never know what actually worked. But if it keeps the critters from eating my garden, I’ll feel that it was worth it all!

I also have a new-ish “weapon” in my critter-deterrent arsenal:

This fellow!

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He’s been hanging around the garden with me, and, um, “marking” it as his territory. Hopefully all the other animals with respect that? (and just because I’m so proud of his size: that’s my daughter’s soccer ball that he was playing with, and yes, he’s available as a stud!)

That’s about all I’ve got as far as a garden so far, besides a head full of dreams and visons and hopes, and ideas about where to get mason jars if I actually grow enough to can! Stay tuned, and either learn alongside me or laugh as I muddle through 🙂 Either way, it’s all fun and good healthy play in the dirt and sunshine!

The Brady Bunch!

Sunday evening tradition: popcorn & old videos. These days it’s The Brady Bunch. Then there’s The Waltons, Happy Days… and we haven’t seen ALL the Andy Griffith episodes 😀

  

Love these guys. It’s so exciting entering this new phase of “big kids” after so long in Toddlerville. 

Birthday Cake (aka sugar poisoning!)

Placing each one so carefully & precisely. I hope we survive eating this! Happy Birthday, my princess ❤ ❤

  

What is Ostara?

Someone asked me what Ostara means. There is not really one clear-cut answer to this, for as many pagans as you ask, you will get that many answers! Here is (a very short version of) what Ostara means for our family.

  

Mall and Cake!

Got to have a date with this darling beauty this forenoon. I think she enjoyed it too. 😉