Blog Archives

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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KonMari and Family Closet

We have a family closet in the laundry room. It’s one of the things I love most about our new home: I’ve wanted to do a family closet for over 10 years and it’s only now worked out. We moved in here in the summer and things were grand. Now that we’ve pulled out the cool-weather clothes but not yet put away the shorts, it’s pretty crowded!
  
Tonight I’m working on applying the KonMari method I’m so fond of and looking forward to much easier laundry jobs and more appreciation and care of possessions 😊

If you haven’t read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I definitely recommend it!

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! 😂

 

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. 

Frugal Kitchen Tip #1

A friend of mine asked me for some frugal tips on how to manage their food budget for their growing family. It made me start paying attention to all the little things that I do that seem to add up to helpfulness in that area. It also has made me think about how frustrated I get with blogs about frugality and money-saving. It seems like so many of the tips, while helpful in saving money, really don’t apply to people who are trying to save money. I mean, “cut down eating out to only three times a week”???
If I could afford to eat out three times a week I wouldn’t be looking at for frugality tips trying to save money! Well, I suppose I probably would-I’d be broke no time flat! Anyway, the tips that I’ve often found really seem inapplicable to someone in my situation or situations that most of my friends are in. So, I’ve kicked around the idea of posting a series of frugal living tips on my blog. Mostly that’s as far as I’ve gotten-kicking around the idea and then forgetting it again. I’m still not sure if I’m ready to commit to a whole series, but tonight I caught myself doing something and trying to remember to tell her about it next time I see her. I figured I’ll just blog it 🙂
What is working for our family right now in the meal department is this: I make a week or two of main dish entrées at a time, put them in gallon size Ziploc bags, and either freeze them or store them on a dedicated shelf in the fridge. At supper time I pull one out, cook it up according to the directions, and steam a few veggies for a side dish. Voilà! Dinner is served without that crazy what-am-I-going-to-have-for-dinner panic that can hit at 4 PM. Today was the day that I did all the prep for those meals. All of the onion peels, apple cores, potato ends, carrot scrapings, celery leaves and ends, and other produce leavings that we don’t eat went into one big bowl. After I got the kitchen all cleaned up, I dumped that bowl into a large stockpot, added a teaspoon or two of salt, filled it up with water and put a lid on it. I popped it on the back burner to simmer for a few hours, and then put the resulting vegetable broth into a few quart jars and freezer containers I have sitting around the kitchen. Those will go into the freezer to be broth or stock for recipes the next time I cook. The last time I checked at the store, it was almost 4 dollars a quart, so just by using things I would have thrown away, instead I made/saved $16!
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Traveling This Morning VS Traveling Tonight

I’ve got such an easy, happy bunch!

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Whole Lotta Giggles Going On!

Not sure if the giggles are from being up so late, sugar overdose, or just the happiness of having a sister to decorate birthday cake with ❤

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This picture makes me happy for reasons other than the obvious. Once upon a time I would have NEVER shown you that picture. I had very clear, specific ideas of how a birthday cake ought to look; and I spent MUCH time, and MUCH stress and worry trying my best to make it look so. Of course, I always failed, miserably. And that was years before Pinterest was even invented!
But eventually I learned that my kids absolutely did not care. It all tasted the same, and all they really wanted was to mix up a cake with mama in the kitchen, and spread some icing around with mama, and stick some candies on with mama, and just generally have a good time and make some sweet memories. So that’s what we do now. The birthday child and I sequester ourselves in the kitchen and concoct a sugary masterpiece, and make a mess, and laugh. Sometimes, like tonight, a sibling gets invited along, and that just triples the sweetness in the kitchen- literally as well as figuratively!