Nov 222016
 

This post contains affiliate links to some ideas I thought you might enjoy.  

Originally posted in October of 2013, this post is an interesting look back in time, to see what my younger self was thinking and how things turned out.  For what it is worth:

  • we ended up with way too many beets that year, which lasted into the next, and the next …
  • the stairway no longer turns that direction and my concern over the poor condition of the walls ended up being a moot point
  • the wallpaper, well, lets just say I wanted to have words with the someone who decided to put up said wall paper.  It took many, many, late nights and early mornings to get it down
  • date nights never did get figured out
  • my husband is now graduated with his Master’s degree
  • and change still is not easy.

As we start the week of Thanksgiving, take some time to think back to changes which have happened either recently or in the past few years.  Were there people there to help you through it?  Drop them a note to share how you appreciate the effort they made.

Have you been able to help someone else through a season of change?  Is there someone whom you could bless with a meal, child care, a cup of warm beverage, or even by simply visiting and letting them talk?

Knowing you are not alone when it feels like everything around you is swirling can be a great help to get you grounded and back on the rails.

handful of money

Change is never an easy thing to face.  Even more so when you know a change is in the future but aren’t quite sure what it will look like.

At the beginning of the year I felt like I really needed to replenish our pantry supplies at home.  The need seemed unwarranted.  There was no reason why I felt this need.  Now, I think I knew that changes were coming and this was my way of having some control.

I focused on the pantry first, as that is something we use daily.  To start, I compared recipes of common dishes to how often we used them.  I then multiplied the amount of ingredients needed by the number of time we would eat that dish.  For example, tangy black bean soup uses 1-15 oz can of diced tomatoes per batch.  If I were to substitute crushed tomatoes for diced, then I would need 1 pint per batch.  We make this recipe about once per month = 1  pint x 12 = 12 pints of crushed tomatoes needed.

Once that recipe was done, I worked through others.  The point was not to obtain an exact number, but a rough estimate.

22 quarts canned beets

After having the list for set up, I turned to other areas.  Clothing for example.  One child went through three sizes in shoes within almost as many months last winter.  I had to go buy new shoes because I couldn’t find them fast enough to cloth the kid.  That is something I don’t want to do again.

Before the garage sale season started, I sorted through their clothes to see what was needed in which sizes.  I made a list that looked something like this:

Size 7

Good t-shirts  __  __  __

Dress pants __

PJ set __

Shorts __ __ __ __ __

I did a list for each size.  The “___” stands for the number I needed of that item.  As I found something to fit that category in that size, I put a check mark on the blank.  The list stayed in my wallet all summer and made garage sale shopping so much easier as I knew exactly what I was looking for.  Several times it was tempting to leave the list for that really nice looking Size 7 pair of jeans.  Then I would refer to the list, see that I had enough (otherwise it would have been on the list) and remind myself to move on..

My goal for clothing wasn’t to have extensive wardrobes for each size.  It as to have enough so that if a growing spurt caught me by surprise again, there would be a few outfits to fit said child until I could go do more shopping.

clearance finds clothes 2

While my life and house are by no means perfect in these areas, I feel we are on track.  We are for sure in a better place than this time last year.  I’ve also achieved or exceeded several of my yearly goals in this area and am on my way to achieving the rest.  While this makes me feel better – we have a cushion – I still don’t know what it will look like.

As it turns out, preparing wasn’t such a bad idea.  In the past few months I have finally started to see why it is that things needed to be in order.

So what are the changes ahead of us?

  • Husband going back to school for a graduate degree (He will keep working and go to night classes.)
  • Finalization of adoption of foster kids – this has been underway for a long time and I’m just ready for it to be over.  It will still take a few months.

Only two changes?  Yes, only two.  However, they will both affect our lives in large ways.  With my husband going to classes a few nights a week, and studying after bedtimes the other nights, the limited time during the day the kids have to see Dad will be decreased even more.  Meaning that weekends will be more important.  Date nights will also have to become routine, to help us stay connected and on the same page.  It also means that I will play a larger role on those night when my husband isn’t home.  I’m thinking of actually adding something to our schedules those nights to help them not notice his absence as much.  At least at first as change can be hard for them.

The finalization of the adoption would actually give our schedule more room.  We would no longer have visits with case workers or other required visits every month.  There won’t be paperwork to fill our or additional rules to follow.  We can just … be.  Be a family.  Be on our own schedule.  Be able to travel without having to tell the world. Be _______.  I want to be able to enjoy that time by not having as many responsibilities.  If that is possible.

We are also planning on keeping our foster care license open after the adoption, though we aren’t sure if we will be ready to add more children to our home at that time.  It takes a lot of energy and brings a lot of change.  Not always bad things, but it is better not to be caught off guard if you do decide to say “Yes” to one of the calls.  My husband will also be starting classes and studying in the evenings.  We’ll have to see how life is going at that time.

stairway walls spackled

I am also planning to remove wall paper and paint a room in our house, as well as a stairway.  This will be my winter project – something you can do even if it is snowing outside.  Last year it was the bathroom, this year the bedroom.  Again, it would be nice to have suppers in the freezer rather than  having to stop and make something every day/night.

Changes are a part of life.  Some seasons have more than others.  Some changes are harder to handle, while others are welcomed easily.  In the end, none of us really know what the future holds.  We can only do our best today and trust God to take care of the rest.

How do you handle change in life?  Do you internalize it or find a way to let our the emotions connected to it?  

 

Oct 072016
 

city-garden-open-space-before-planting-spring

When I first saw this garden, in its wintertime bareness, I would imagine all the different ways it could be planted and decorated. Then I began to feel like a failure for not being able to do the same in my garden.

circular-garden-in-summer-bloom-2

Later I visited the same gardens. They were taking shape, colors were starting to appear, and the feeling was less of emptiness.

circular-flower-garden-in-summer-bloom

I also realized several things:

  • There are people who are hired full time to take care of these grounds. This is not solely a hobby.
  • There is more than ONE person taking care of these gardens.
  • The same pattern is used year to year. No need to reinvent the wheel each year.
  • Annuals are used, not perennials or bulbs.
  • There is a greenhouse used to grow all of these annuals. I would have to either build a greenhouse, spending months to grow these, or else pay retail.
  • This particular garden is larger than my yard. I could not replicate it if I tried.

Reminding myself of these things when the gardening doubts begin to creep in has helped me keep a more balanced view, to not judge myself so harshly. I am also able to enjoy the gardens more, appreciating all the effort others put in so I can sit and enjoy them. No weeding required.

Sep 012016
 

processing tomatoesHave you noticed a lack of canning posts this year?  If not, I sure have.  I have also noticed the lack of variety in our home canned items in the pantry, the abundance of empty jars sitting around, and the amount of other items left over from past canning seasons.

The jam and jelly making marathon 3 years ago meant we are still eating blackberry jam, tomato marmalade, and apple jelly syrup (the jelly did not set).  Thanks to the Farm Market Swap last year, we do have some variety in the house.

Due to the demands of life we right now, spending hours canning produce and taking care of a large garden were things I had to admit I could not do this year.  What I did do were the basics, things we would really have missed if they were not present.  These are also things that happen to make my life easier.  Namely – cherry tomatoes, a few regular tomato plants, pearl onions for stews this winter, pizza sauce, and crushed tomatoes.  If there is anything else we really need, like spaghetti sauce, I can easily order a few jars online if I really did not want to go to the store.  At this point, it is worth if for me to accept that option.

The blackberry bushes and strawberry beds are at a point where not a lot of attention is needed.  This is a nice stage, as I can reap the fruits of my labor without spending a lot of labor doing so.  What I was not going to do with these fruits, was to make jams. (see paragraph above)  Instead we ate them fresh as they came on and I did not feel guilty about it one bit.

In mid summer, I was presented with the opportunity to can tomatoes.  My garden had not started to produce enough, but a local farmer/gardener had grown some in a greenhouse and theirs were ready.  As it turns out, they were a bit green still, but I was not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.  I knew that if I did not take advantage of this opportunity at this moment, there would be no canning done during the normal growing season.

tomato canning goals 2016

I sat down, making a list of my pantry desires.  As it turns out, we really do not eat a quart of beets a week.  At this rate I can safely say it is more like a quart every 3 weeks.  Not looking to make that mistake again, I added in the desired, realistic amount.

First up, diced tomatoes.  I had not canned these before, only crushed, but hoped diced would be just as easy and a nicer texture in some of our meals this winter.  After all, the diced tomatoes at the grocery store came out looking so nice this past winter. diced tomatoes collage

Um, yeah, I am not the grocery store.  :) They will taste the same, but not exactly like I hoped they would look.  Perhaps if the tomatoes had been more mature it would have worked out better.

We like the taste of roasted tomatoes in the new tomato soup recipe we have been using.  Made it the other day with candy onions and the taste was even better.  Thought it was so good I would try it with pizza sauce.  It changes the first steps a bit, though that is not too hard of a change.

Using pickyourown.org‘s recipe I adjusted the steps to incorporate roasting the tomatoes.  Before placing the tomatoes on the pans to roast (make sure you line it well with foil or else you will be getting new pans out of this process), I squeezed out all the extra juice I could.  This was collected in bowls and pans for use later if needed.

roasted tomatoes collage

Since roasting takes at least an hour, after many batches the house was smelling very yummy.

Using the roasted tomatoes, I proceeded with the recipe, adding back in any extra liquid needed.  As it turned out, I added back in most of what I had squeezed out.  The roasting process had removed a fair amount from the tomatoes themselves, so there really was less liquid than when I started the whole process.

Without the need to cook down the recipe, I was able to greatly reduce the amount of stop top cooking time.  It sort of made up for the late night I had finishing up the last batch roasting in the oven.

pizza sauce collage

In the images above, I got a bit zealous filling the jars.  The jar in the top right corner is too full.  If I tried to place this in the pressure canner, it would never seal.  Removing a table spoon or two (lower left photo above) put it exactly where it needed to be.  A quick wiping of the jar lid and it was ready to go.

What I have not shown you is the canning of crushed tomatoes.  I was tempted to can up more pizza sauce.  However, at the end of the light night of roasting, I nixed that idea and moved on to crushed tomatoes.

Right now though, I think I will go use some of the above pizza sauce and make lunch.  That sounds really good today.

 

This post contains affiliate links.

May 132016
 

green strawberries plants

If you agree with the saying, “A watched pot never boils”, you should try staring at strawberries.  So many green ones that I am bursting with anticipation.  I can not wait till they start turning red.  Hopefully I can get to them before the other bugs do.

Spring of last year revealed that several of my strawberry plants had died. I filled in the open spaces with radishes in hope of helping keep out weeds. The strawberry plants came back fine this year, along with some self-sown radishes from plants I had left in the garden over winter.  Any runners produced this year will be used to fill in a section, thereby creating a section for Year 1 plants, a section for Year 2 plants, a section for Year 3 plants, and a section for Year 4 plants.  Any of the existing plants in the Year 2,3, and 4 spaces will be left.  After Year 4, the plants in Year 1 will be removed and the process begun all over again.  This will help keep the strawberry patch stocked with young plants, as older ones do not produce as many berries.

The thought of picking a bowl full of berries to eat with pancakes sounds so delicious right now.  So much so, I am pretty sure there will be none left from my patch to make jam.

Mar 282016
 

2 snowy seats and table

Recently I shared 3 projects I would love to make for my garden from wood pallets.  While searching for idea, I came across a few more that would work great for the yard.  These are also projects in which I can involve the kids. 

How about this great porch swing, but turned into a tree swing? I know the perfect limb ….

A shelf to tuck in along a porch corner? Sold. Finding furniture I can leave out rain or shine, or snow, is hard to find. The screened in section of our porch is usually protected, but still is prone to moisture and lots of wind.  There is a section of wall perfect for a shelving unit. It would be a great place to store outside toys, games, and items for entertaining. A much better idea than the low table we currently have which has become a dumping ground.  This is also a project that could be worked on at any point in the year.

I am really liking the idea of this Ottoman for the porch. It would fulfil various needs as time arose – storage for toys or cushions, an extra seat, IR an ottoman. There is the slight detail that this is made from a crate instead if a pallet, but it is a great idea to go from.

Mar 242016
 

I am a big proponent of using what I have, sometimes so much so my husband has to remind me that I can actually spend money.

When it comes to wood pallets, I see so much potential in something most people throw away.  Here are a few of my favorite ideas.

This would be perfect for my narrow, East facing bed. It is under the overhang of my garden anyway.  For that matter, I might even make two for its South facing front. It would look gorgeous filled with flowers.

We have a bare side of our house, the exterior new garage wall. A few of these with cascading flowers would give a bit of height, be easy to mow around and not look so short along a tall wall. Maybe even mixed with some vertical planters above.

Even better, by our side door which is on a small brick pad. Oiy!  So many ideas, so little time!

Or this, with a board added as a bench. I could sit outside and watch the kids play.

Well, I think I have added 3 relatively good projects to my already long list of things to do.  Honestly, though, does your garden/yard list ever get completed? Yeah, mine neither.

Mar 032016
 

jars of crushed tomatoes 4

Canning during the spring season is not what usually comes to mind when I think of filling the pantry with beautiful results of gardening labor. However, that is where I am starting this year.

Goal #1 Use up all my current canned goods. After taking a canning hiatus last year, I find myself still with an abundance of filled jars.  Some I have no worries about them being used up soon (beets), others I know are going to take more deliberate planning (green tomato pie filling).

Why not plan to use them throughout the year? Some, like beets, I will. Others, though, have a 2013 date on them. While still good, their quality is in decline; they need to be used soon.

The corn has found a home in a cornbread recipe. The plan is to make muffins and freeze them.

The crushed tomatoes will be used in chili.  I was surprised to find howcmanybof these we actually used.  If they are still hanging around I will puree them to use while cooking rice.

The tomato sauce, my earliest try at spaghetti sauce, is runny and unflavored.  It is currently being used when I cook rice, and will continue to be used as such.

The pickled beets will be eaten as sides. After not having beets for years, I went a bit overboard while canning. Turns out that we do not eat a quart twice a week all tear long.  I may start using these to make Harvard beets some meals.

The pearbutter will be dumped unless there is a redeeming recipe somewhere. It would have turned out okay except it needed more sugar. Lots more sugar.

The other jams I will continue to open and use. The only store bought jam we have is apricot jam, which my husband likes but of which I have none.

With our maple syrup supply running low, placing a jar of fruit syrup in the fridge next to the maple syrup would go a long way toward helping me remember we have them. These were failed jelly and jam attempts.

I also have a few loners hanging out in the pantry -a jar of relish, some peppers, a tomato soup combination – these will be moved next to similar items and added to the meal preparations.  Our next pizza meal will have banana peppers on it. Yum!

Farm Market Swap 2015 collage

Goal #2 Try some no garden related canning recipes. Last fall, my friend shared a jar of Thai Dipping Sauce she had canned. It was delicious and required no fresh garden products. It is one example of a canning recipe that can be done any time of the year.

Tubs and crate of canning jars

Goal #3 Gather and sort all empty canning jars. When filled it is easy to keep similar sized jars together. As jars get emptied, though, I find there is a glitch in my method. Most are in bins and boxes, but enough are in bags, on my work bench and next to toys on shelves in the basement to get the feeling of being surrounded by wayward jars.

How do you approach the start of the next canning season if you still have jars of goods left over from past years?  Any particular recipes you use?

Dec 292015
 

first 2013 produce stand

This past year was harder than I had anticipated.  Though I will further explore that statement later, I want to talk about one aspect in particular relating to this past year – the street-side produce stand.

Since 2009 I have put a small stand out in front of the house.  It started with extra produce which was more than I could give away at church.  The idea was to charge less than Small Town Grocery, who is expensive and has a poor selection,  but enough to cover my gardening costs.  I was not in it to get rich.

Over time I have come to realize how much my neighbors appreciate the close availability of fresh produce.  The working mom across the street would send her kids over for peppers to make with supper.  The assisted living residents would stop by for a tomato or a hanging basket of begonias, as those were one of the few plants able to grow in the limited light of their apartments. Someone canning and needing just a few more tomatoes knew were to stop. The family with only a few dollars to spend on fresh produce could make their money go further.  The neighbor across the street bought me out of bedding plants to complete her yard work.  The mail carrier needing a few things, but no time to run into the store after work.  As time went on, I began to get a feel for the community, realizing what a blessing this was for people.  That is one thing I would remember when I needed the extra energy to keep it going.

(Side note: my husband recently shared with me that at least one person stopped and bought from the stand assuming we needed the money. “Why else would someone do it?”, they reasoned. )

cart of produce auction hay tomato apples

The stand was started before we became foster parents, before the loss of my husband’s father, before the loss of someone close to me to suicide, and before other trials in our lives. It was one of the things I would do to keep my sanity in times of otherwise emotional chaos.

Over time, my friendship with my neighbor grew due to the time we spent on gardening related activities, including running this stand together.  Without her, I am not sure I could have seen it through that first summer with George and Jack.  The following year she had some major medical issues that kept her from gardening at all, let alone helping with the stand. I was able to pick up things and still help her family have some of the fresh produce they had now grown used to during the summers.

processing tomatoes for spaghetti sauce dinning room table

Having the produce stand has also resulted in some unintended opportunities.  It has allowed my neighbor-friend to realize another area of need outside of our community that provides better income on a more consistent basis, during the summers, with not a lot of extra effort.  I too have begun noticing other areas of opportunity and have had the confidence to try them.

When this past Spring was approaching I knew I had to say “no” to more things in my life due to new priorities.  It was going to be for a season, but it was still hard to accept. The produce stand had become so second nature I was not sure I could stop. It had become a part of who I was. “My house is the one with the produce stand out front,” was often how I explained to people where I lived. It had also started taking up more of my time and mental energy.

My biggest worry was how to share this with my neighbor-friend. My second thought was for those who had relied on the stand as a source of affordable fresh produce.

When I shared my conclusion with my friend, her reaction was a sense of relief. Not at all the reaction I was expecting.  She too had been trying to figure out the words to use to say that she could not do the produce stand this year.  Her family responsibilities were going to be increasing, taking up more of her time. We both had been worried about letting the other down when in reality it was not the right season for either of us.

large white pumpkin at stand

As Spring turned into Summer I had several people ask about the produce stand. While they were disappointed, I assured them it would be for a season, not permanent.

It was the right decision. As Summer went along, it was very obvious I could not have done it all. I did not want to do it all.  While we missed the extra cash flow, it was not something we were relying upon to make ends meet.

I did not even need it as a source of extra produce to preserve, as that was something else to which I had said “no”. It helped that I had canned a lot of extra the past 2 years, enough to see us through on several different items.

What started out as an act of desperation when I had begun to feel overwhelmed, ended up being a very healthy thing. It allowed me to step back, re-evaluate if this was something I wanted to keep doing, to spend my time on, or something I needed to let someone else take over. (Several other gardeners had begun doing the same thing in the last year or two.)

Farmer's Market Stand

While I see myself picking it back up this coming summer, I also see myself setting boundaries.  We had both begun feeling as if we had to put the stand out, not because we had extra produce but because people expected it to be there. It was becoming more of a burden than a blessing.

Having the extra time this past year has allowed flexibility in deciding what was best for our family at this time.  Even that has changed several times as various needs have come and gone.

While I wish I could say, “This is what is going to happen, this is what is going to work for us in the upcoming 12 (unforseen) months”, I know better.  Forget about His laughing at my presumptions, I would do it for Him.

So, for now, I see that this past year was only “for a season”. Whether my forecast is accurate or not remains to be seen. I now know that I can let go and still be Me, that my identity is tied to more that something I happen to be doing at this time, even if it is something I greatly enjoy doing. This is a lesson I seem to have needed reminding of yet again.

 

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Jun 052015
 

highest aspirations quote louisa may alcott

Our days do not have a steady pattern to them.  It is more of a loose fitting routine that this Mama would like to be more structured and dependable.  However, we are imperfect humans who have to live life together.  Sometimes life gets in the way.  Other times we get in the way.  We do our best to reach the end of the day ahead of where we first began.  Sometimes it happens beautifully.  Other times, well, it would have been best to just stay in bed.

A (new) friend of mine recently mentioned that it seemed as if I had it all together.  Once I was done laughing, I assured her I did not and shared a bit of our not so perfect days.

This made me wonder how our life comes across here, in Internet Land.  I can post pretty pictures, descriptions of our latest craft or outing, complete menu plans and large plans for the garden.  I could share all the niceties and leave out all the ‘ugly’, but that would be dishonest.  No one’s life is like that.

So, if you are feeling like a failure, like everyone else has it together, I hope you can take some encouragement from this – no one has it all together, everyone has their struggles.

Or, maybe you are having a great day and just need a laugh.  Go for it.  Looking bad I would love to laugh at all the mistakes I made these past few days.  Give me a few weeks and I just may.

IMG_20150228_094504110

If you were a fly on the wall in our house Tuesday, here is what you would have seen.

5:30 a.m. – my alarm went off.

5:50 a.m. – I finally gout of of bed, got dressed and headed outside to do some yard work.

6:30 a.m. – I came back into the house, found George awake standing in the kitchen (probably wondering why I was not there making breakfast.)  I sent him back to his room to get dressed and make his bed.

6:40 a.m. – George came back, ready to help make muffins for breakfast.  Jack appeared in the kitchen, having just woken up.  When he heard what we were doing, and that he could also help, he headed to his room on his own to get dressed.

7:00 a.m. – The dishes from the night before had been put away, the muffin batter was made and resting.  Each boy got a banana and we headed to get started on our Summer Bridge workbooks.

7:30 a.m. – Workbooks are done.  The boys take a few minutes break while I print off some worksheets for our new math book.

7:40 a.m. – I then introduced our new math book, one that is more inline with Charlotte Mason’s living book philosophy.  It was a hit and the boys had fun doing the new worksheets. (It included a hunt through the house for numbers!)

8:40 a.m. – The kids played in the garage while I finished up drinks for breakfast, then we will sit down to eat.

10:00 a.m. – We finished breakfast, watched YouTube video, brushed teeth and headed outside.  (There was a bit of discipline training that took place, but it was corrected in about 10 minutes, rather than 2 hours.)

10:15 a.m. – Thinking ahead to the afternoon, I invited a mom and her son to join us in playing at the park in the afternoon. Turns out they were able to join us for the morning, too.

12:10 p.m. – Lunch time.

1:00 p.m. – Quiet time, even with a friend visiting. Every boy got some books and found a spot to sit/lay, while the dishes were cleaned.

2:00 p.m. – Paid bill that was due yesterday. :(  This is something I almost never do, so I was upset with myself when I realized I had missed the “Due by” date.

2:15 p.m. – We all headed to the park with bikes and scooters.

3:40 p.m. – We left the park to walk home, then drove our friends to their house.  It is quite a walk and her son was tired, but don’t tell him that.  :)

4:10 p.m. – I turned a movie on for very tired kids. Talked with husband and cleaned up a few things.

5:00 p.m. – I begin cooking supper.

5:40 p.m. – Received a phone call to schedule appointment, so supper was delayed a few more minutes.

5:44 p.m. – Supper is served. This took a bit longer to make, due to being a newer recipe.

6:10 p.m. – The boys and I began their bed time routines – brush teeth, put on PJs, turn on classical music.

6:20 – 7:10 pm. – The boys head to bed at their appointed times.  Dad goes in to talk with the first one to head to bed, then spends time with the remaining one.

7:15 p.m. – I contemplate more yard work, but choose to sit by my husband and watch a movie for a few more minutes.

8:00 p.m. – With the sun still up, one part of summer I like, I head outside to get a bit more yard work finished before tomorrow.  I am hoping to have some wood chips then and want to be ready in case it turns out that way.

9:00 p.m. – Pick up the yard and head inside.  I clean up, warm up a cup of coffee from earlier (decaf, no worries) and sit down to finish watching a movie with my husband.

9:30 p.m. – bed time, expect I fell asleep on the couch.  :)  It was a long day.

The shade garden in the front yard it coming together one slow step at a time.  I have a goal in mind that I am working towards and know I will get there, one evening at a time.

homeschool planner collage

After such a good day on Tuesday, I was sure we were getting into the groove of things and so had high hopes for Wednesday.  :)  Yeah, it didn’t turn out so well.  I’ll give you a feel for the the day went and leave it at that.

The boys both decided they needed a restroom break at 3:30 a.m., then proceeded to talk together, getting louder and louder.  I separated them, putting one into our room

At 6:00 a.m. they both decided they were no longer tired and wanted to get up.  I felt as if I had not slept all night and told them both to go back to bed.  Whining and loud opposition ensued.

They did not want to get dressed, I was cranky, ignoring of house rules seemed to be the theme of the day, and I just did not have the energy to deal with it.  “Don’t they realize I’m exhausted?  Why can’t they have a little compassion and play quietly?”

I lost my calm temper endless patience and separated them into different rooms … they stood in the doorway of said rooms and played, yelling at each other so they could hear (because that is what you do when you are two feet away from each other).  I was determined (stubborn) to not reward the behavior with t.v. so it did not get turned on.  (That was mistake #50 of the day.)

No school work was accomplished, no beds were made, no crafts were done, very little housework was achieved, and over all it was a failure of a day.

Oh, and in case that does not give you an idea, there was also several bathroom issues, which is something we deal daily with one child, but which gets worse in high stress/andziety situations.  This time, both kids had at least three changes of clothes that day.

Quiet time turned into nap time.  “Oh, they are tired too!  Why didn’t they say something?”  Let me answer that one for you, “because sleep is another (of the many) struggle and they rarely say they are ready for a nap/bedtime.  You should have known instinctively.”

If you are one of those people whose kids basically behave, you probably read the above and wonder what is wrong with my kids.  I would have B.C. (before kids).  I would have judged, all be it quietly, and wondered what kind of parent this person was, “don’t they know how to control their kids?”

In talking with a friend of mine, she admitted that she was exactly that kind of person with her first several, quiet, compliant, fairly easy going kids.  Then she adopted a high energy, sweet, “why sit still when you can run?”, “I’ll obey as long as I agree with it, then apologize as honestly as my little toddler heart allows when I get into trouble, but do it again 10 seconds later” kid.  I love Olaf.  :)  My friend admitted that it showed her how the Other Side looks and she no longer judges … usually.

We all went to bed that night, wondering “WHY?!?!?” and hoping the next day was not this way.

white oak tree collage

white oak tree

When I woke up on Thursday, it was to a boy coming into my bed at 5 a.m. and not going back to sleep, just doing circles and almost pushing me off the bed.  Looking back, after having a bit of sleep, I should have just gotten up with him, but again I was stubborn, “He WILL go back to sleep.”  Will I ever learn?

Once I did get up, it was a conscious decision that this day would be different, that I would  nip some things in the bud and change my attitude.  So, when I heard the kids running through the house yelling, before I was even out of bed, I sent one back to bed, because:

“If you can not handle being awake, then you need to go back to bed.”  (He was chasing his brother around with a marker, marking up his brother’s legs.)

The other, less offending kid, was told to sit on the couch with a book till I came back.  Then I got dressed, made my bed, and started breakfast.  The less offending kid was made a nicer breakfast by my husband and enjoyed some breakfast time with him.  The Back To Bed kid had a shake with me, though he did come out of his room dressed without me telling him.  I’m pretty sure that was in an effort to get out of the consequence.

The day got moving and I decided to give them an incentive for school work, “If you get done by 9:30, we can go to a yard sale and you can bring some money ($1) to spend.”  We were done at 9:33, but I showed grace.  It only took that long because George decided to do 3 math lessons rather than 1 math lesson and 1 phonics lesson, both of which are done independently.  Glad he got into the math, but I was wondering what was taking him so long and was questioning if having him do a whole lesson was too much.  Seems not.  :)

Since things were going so well, I texted a friend, inviting her and her kid to join us.  Turns out they were having a day like my Wednesday.  Nothing like a change of scenery, friends and some fresh air to change things, so she agreed.

My kids did not know I had invited our friends over, so it was a complete surprise at the end of the lessons for me to open the front door and invite our friends (who were waiting on the porch) to come in.  We went to a garage sale, looked for a few more in the town over, watched a cartoon/visited, ate lunch and headed to the park.  All the kids cried when they learned they had to say goodbye.  Turns out they were tired from playing, and it was only 3:30 in the afternoon!  This time, I knew better and agreed to some not too bad t.v.  (They learned some new fact from it, so it was not all fluff.)

Jack went to sleep with minimal effort and George followed close behind.  They have both slept through the night.  I however, woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t fall back sleep.  :)

yellow  purple iris

Moral of the story: You are in control of how you decide to view the day; it will affect how your day goes.  At times, you need to tell yourself to act as if you have energy in order to have energy.  It is okay to use all the tools in your tool box, at times including the t.v./other “bad parenting” one.

So, today, what kind of day are you going to have?  Not how has your day gone so far, but how are you going to choose to view your day?  Personally, I am aiming for a productive day.  After all, I got out of bed at 4 a.m. so there should be plenty of time to do things today.  :)

Jan 072015
 

With so many aspects of gardening, there is always something new to learn or a skill that can be honed.  In real life I have been blessed to have others around me on gardening journeys of their own, some with decades under their belt and others just starting out.  While we may talk about local weather, solutions for common plant ailments or our favorite varieties to plant, having access to the internet and a group of gardeners from … well, across the globe, adds a more varied dynamic.  There are so many things to learn or discover, I am not sure I will every figure it all out.  And that is okay.

I have come read several blogs posts lately that I wanted to share.  These have either taught me something new or given me a solution to a problem I have dealt with.  My hope is that something here will be of use to you also.

   Jenny @ In The Kitchen With Jenny shares a use for those left over bits of tomato from your canning process – Dehydrating Tomato Skins to Make Tomato Powder.  I always felt bad tossing the skins and bits after putting the tomatoes through the food mill.  Now I have a use for them, and suggestions of how to use the powder.
How to dehydrate onions for long term storage; and a tip for not fumigating yourself in the process.   Deborah @ Growing In His Grace showed me a few ways to make my onion dehydrating process better in her post on Dehydrating Onions.  This is so encouraging, I might even give it another shot.
painted_plate_garden_art  Infarrantly Creative shows a tutorial on Painted Plates Garden Art.  This tutorial stood out to me, mainly because there was no drilling required.  As a mom with highly curious little boys around, no drilling is a good thing.  This is one project I still want to try this year.  Perhaps I’ll turn this into a craft day with some of my friends.  (And here is a discussion about the results of using different glues.)

My Website

While this is technically her webpage and not her blog, The Prudent Homemaker gives a wonderful tour of her edible garden.  This is what I would like to aspire to, though leaving more open spaces for the boys to play.  Knowing this is possible and seeing it done gives me motivation to focus more on the garden and think about the visual appeal as well as practiability.  I also need to start using those unused areas and corners throughout my yard.