Dec 032017

December has appeared on the calendar  this year without much pomp and circumstance. Perhaps that is a good thing as we have had enough interesting things taking place this year.

This time last year we had been in our new location for a few weeks, were working on buying a “new” car, settling in to a new school, learning new home school laws, finding a church, and trying not to get lost while out grocery shopping.

The months following included buying a house, moving again, surgery, visiting family, yet another new school (the house we bought was zoned for a different school), dealing with anxiety, loss of a job, finding a new job, joining and becoming active in our new church, learning to ask for help, finding a few homeschool groups to become a part of, and beginning to say “Yes” to things again.

I am very okay with December’s quiet arrival.

I have had a lot of time to think, reevaluate, ponder, and all those other lovely verbs which mean that I have spent time in my introverted brain working through things. What have I found?

1. Material things do not necessarily have intrinsic value, even if they are priceless in my eyes. It is okay to let them go.  I miss our old car. After driving it for 12+ years, there were a lot of memories made with that vehicle. It was within a few thousand miles of reaching 300,000 miles. It was a manual, 5-speed, 18 year old car. The air conditioning no longer worked, one door would not open from inside, the hood was peeling thanks to a hail storm, it burned through a quart of oil between each gas fill-up, it sounded rough, one rear speaker didn’t work, the rear windows started to not stay up, and the reverse lights stopped working. It was also paid for and never refused to start. In other words, a face only a mother could love.

The final straw was when I realized my brake lights were not working.

We had already bought a car to replace this old one, so there was no reason to drive an unsafe, now illegal, vehicle. Not wanting to risk someone getting hurt, we chose not to resell it to another driver.

It felt like putting down the family pet, but it was time. I may have cried once…or twice. Then I remembered, it wasn’t the thing which held the memories, those were still with me. The memories, not the thing, is what had value.

2. You can only say “No” for so long. In an effort to get a handle on the changes taking place over the past two years, I began to say “No”, especially to things which took time and a commitment.  At first this was good and I was more relaxed, and the kids had calmer weeks.

Then I realized I was beginning to say “No” to things which I needed to keep balance in my life, to things which the kids really loved doing. It took me getting cranky and my husband asking when was the last time I did X, Y, or Z for me to realize I had taken things a bit too far.

3. If you are always anticipating the bad happening, you will lose your joy. While there was a time I had to be on my toes constantly, that time is no longer now. However, it had gotten to be a habit. By worrying about all that could go wrong, assuming that is how people around me would react in various situations, dread filled my days. There was no room to see the joy.

I had noticed my anxiety concerning situations where it made no sense.  I kept doing those activities because I knew what I was feeling was irrational. It took a few conversations with key people to see the habit I had fallen into.

Once I was aware of this tendency I worked diligently to change. I was amazed at how quickly I was able to catch myself and adjust my view.

4. Rely on your friends and be someone others can rely on. Trying to fix things on my own, take care of everything on my own, not burden others…well, that is one area where Pride has a hold. Kind of ironic as my main love language is Acts of Service.

It took a family at our new church to show me how very okay it is to be honest and say, “I need help with_______.” The wife in this family was bold in asking for prayers concerning specific things, shared struggles they were facing, shared articles to help educate our congregation on particular issues their family was facing.

The response?


“Lifting you up now”

“You are not alone in this”

“When can we bring a meal”

“I am free to babysit on ____ if you need”

“Have you heard about (relevant professional)? We have had good experience with them/heard great things”

THEN someone found a way to help when they couldn’t otherwise – they made blankets to help raise funds to cover unexpected costs!

I expected the support to end after a few weeks, for people to forget, get busy with life, and move on.  I was wrong. This went on for months! 

Others had relatives pass away, broken bones, job losses, issues with kids… still the support kept coming. AND this family was there for others as well, in whatever capacity they could be at that time.

A year full of lessons, growth, new experiences, and blessings is almost to an end. While the typical month of thanksgiving has passed, I am wanting to continue to show my thanks to those around us.

Dear Readers, I appreciate you sticking with me through ups and downs, posts more about moving than gardening, months of quiet followed by a menagerie of posts (I was cleaning out my Drafts folder while trying to get back into the groove of posting), and other inconsistencies.

To show this appreciation, there will be a few giveaways in the upcoming weeks. They will include a variety of items, so keep checking back if a particular giveaway does not suite your fancy as the next one might.

First up, a coupon code to save $25 off a $100 purchase at Coldwater Creek.  This code is good through December 31, 2017.

The giveaway runs through Friday, December 8th. A winner will be chosen at random from all the entries and contacted on the 29th. You will have two days to respond before I chose another entry.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

$25 savings offer valid through 12/31/2017 on any merchandise purchase of $100 or more (exclusive of sales tax and shipping fees). For online, catalog and phone orders, use the code to redeem offer.  Offer can not be combined with any other offer. Discount not valid on previous purchases. No cash value.

Jun 222016


At times I envied the owners of Downton Abby.  Yes, it is a fictional show, but who would not like to have others cook and clean for you, take care of your gardens and drive you around.  I could do without all the drama in life, but the rest sounds pretty good.

Taking step back and updating several of those roles into today’s terms, I realized that I have it better than I thought.  Yes, I may still have to put on my own clothes and actually do some work, but there are actually several “maids” employed in out home which make life easier.

breakfast collage bacon eggs hashbrowns coffee

This morning I woke up early thanks to my Lady’s Maid (the clock) letting me know the morning hour had come.  A child had shown up just after 5 a.m. with their own blanket in tow, wanting to lay on the floor next to our bed.  It was too cute to turn away, but meant I had to begin the day not in my proper attire.

Once I got the Scutlery Maid (dishwasher) underway, I moved on to motivate the Laundry Maid (washer and dryer) into finishing their duties.  With those two busy performing their duties, I was free to sit and write to some acquaintances for a bit (posting on the blog).

Once the correspondences are finished I will go over the menu with the Kitchen Maids (oven and slow cooker).  If all goes well we will be set for a nice, lazy, rainy day here at home.


On a sadder note, I had to let one of my chamber maids (vaccum cleaner) go this past week.  There have been issues in the past, but we had tried to work around our differences; it looked like we were making headway in coming to an understanding.  Unfortunately, it was not working out.  Smoking in the house is unacceptable and will not be tolerate.  This is one of the less desirable aspects of being the Lady of the house.

In addition to being down one chamber maid, I am also down one gardener (weed eater) as he decided to up and quit with no notice a few weeks back.  I am anticipating employing a new one in about two weeks and look forward to seeing the results of their work.

Life can be tedious when one has to manage a household, but we do the work in the roll to which we were placed.  For now, I am going to see what is keeping the coffee so long.  I believe the Under Kitchen Maid (coffee maker) was not woken up on time.

Nov 042015

Count Your Blessings

On a morning where I woke up anxious about a decision I made, this is a post that I really need to write.  Too often life throws things at us that distract us, causing us to look at all the bad, or potential bad, and forget about the good.

Here are some blessings from this past week:

1. Yesterday my husband was able to take a day off of work and spend it with Jack.  A day with just the two of them is something that has not happened in a while due to time demands in my husband’s life.  I was glad to hear it went well and that he was able to enjoys Jack’s good part of the day (the mornings) rather than just getting the cranky parts (the evenings).

2. Having found an oral surgeon who could see George and schedule a procedure within only a few weeks.  Yesterday was our consultation.  I thought I was going into it prepared, but afterwards I always think of things I should have asked.  (This is the source of my anxiety this morning.)

3. Cooking with the kids.  We had an up-and-down weekend emotionally/behaviorally and really needed some connecting activities.  Cooking is no always a good choice, but it worked well this time.

4. The beautiful weather and changing of leaves.  Enough said.  🙂

5. Mouse traps with  peanut butter.  It is harvest season and the neighborhood cats are not doing their duty.  It is an unfortunate reality of life here, but one I am thankful we have as the alternative of living with them is less appealing.

6. Small town traffic.  We used to live and work in a Really Big Town, along with all the accompanying traffic jams, honking, aggressive driving, etc.  Going to George’s appointment yesterday I realized how much my driving style has adjusted to Small Town.  The traffic in the town we were in was not even bad.  I think it had to do with the increase in number of cars, all the odd streets, construction and going somewhere new.  There were no near accidents, but I am pretty sure I annoyed more than one driver with my Small Town ways.  I do not think a single driver waved “Thank You” once while we were there.  Some things you get so used to you do not think about them till they are not there.handful of money

7. Banks.  Recently I had to explain to Jack that banks have not always been around; people used to have to keep all their money at home or with them.  I also explained that if they needed to borrow money for something (like then Benjamin Franklin wanted to start his own printing shop) they had to find a person to lend the money, or back them.  Stopping by the bank yesterday I was thankful we did not have to keep our money under our mattress or in a shoe box in the closet.  It was held for safe keeping in a place I feel confident will have it when I go to withdraw it.

8. Choice of grocery stores.  I decided to do a bit of shopping with coupons, something I have gotten out of the habit of doing.  After making 2 stops at larger stores, I did a quick stop at Aldi’s.  While they do not take coupons, their prices are consistently low.  The option of going to various places to get what we need is nice, though time consuming if I do not watch the clock.  🙂

9. Blankets.  I am currently covered by a scrap quilt I made several years ago during my lunch breaks and commutes.  (Commutes were fairly long in Really Big Town and I was able to car pool with some others.)  It may not be the prettiest quilt, but it is a favorite for all of us as it is heavy and colorful

10. A working vacuum cleaner.  When we were out of bags and I had to drive to Big Town to get them, we had to wait a week or so.  Most of our floors are hard wood, but there are a few area rugs.  I am always amazed at how much dirt finds its way onto those rugs.

And there you having it, 10 fairly practical blessings.  I have to admit that I was forced to really think about a few of these, as I am still sitting here in my anxious state.  It is so easy get wrapped up in your own thoughts that to stop and look around and take notice can require some concerted effort.

Off I go to get the day going, hug my kids and look at the beautiful leave through my large windows.

Oct 302015

Count Your Blessings is one of the hymns we are learning this upcoming month.  While I already knew this song, and have most of it memorized, hearing it every day has brought it to the forefront of my thoughts more often.  It is so easy to get bogged down by all that is going wrong, that it is hard to remember to actually “count your blessings”.  While I could go on and on with this list, here are a few that relate to our life this past week:

  1. The ability to grow tomatoes with no chemicals.  This make it possible for the kid to grab a tomato and eat it if they feel hungry while playing outside.
  2. Using curriculum/style of teaching that enable Jack and I to take school with us.  While we can not do everything away from home, it is very easy to grab the stack of read-alouds or the crate of folders and do school at other location – library, mechanic’s shop, etc.
  3. Having a friend who is a mechanic AND works a few miles down the road from our house.  It is also conveniently located just down the road from my husband’s work.  We were able to get both cars’ oil changed without my husband having to leave work, stop by afterwards, or make 2 separate, 1-hour round trips to Big Town.  I took my car in and sat in a side room working on school stuff with Jack.  When the car was done, we switched out cars for my husbands and drove the few miles back to the shop.  As these are country miles, versus city miles, it really did only take a few minutes.  We then sat and finished up school work while my husband’s car had its oil change.  We finished before the mechanic so Jack went out and played around the shop yard.
  4. Friends who are willing to pass along hand-me-down clothes, and feel comfortable doing so without even needing to ask you if it is okay.
  5. Other sources for reasonably priced clothes and items for the kids.  Whether it be online deals, local thrift stores, or garage sales, having searched out and tried various things has lead to saving a fair amount of money on items for the kids.  For the price of a new costume for the kids, I was able to find two for Jack and 2, that became one complicated one, for George.  My goal was to add to our dress up clothes/costumes as they have outgrown many of the things we have currently.clearance finds clothes
  6. Having a professional who can help me make sense of some of the behaviors we are seeings, as well as our reactions to them.  This does not mean we make no mistakes, but it does mean we are learning to do better. “Never stop learning” does not only apply to literature and math.
  7. I was reminded of how the many CPR and First Aid classes I have taken over the years made a difference a few years back.  Between high school P.E., Girl Scouts, and various work training sessions I often felt like I could almost give the class.  Maybe that was the point.  When things are so ingrained, you do not need to think too long when the information is needed immediately.  A memory is what brought this to mind.  We were visiting my in-laws years ago and were packing our bags to fly home.  My mother-in-law began calling my husband’s name over and over from downstairs, as if she needed him to get something from a high place or to remind him of something. As I was almost done packing my stuff, I went to see what she needed.  “Something is wrong with {father-in-law}.”  One look told me he was having a stoke.  All the training paid off.  911 was called and our flight was delayed several days.  Thankfully it was a mild stroke and he was able to come home after a few days.    This memory was stoked by two recent auto accidents in our area.  One my husband saw, as he was right there but was not directly the cause of, while the other had to do with a vehicle leaving the roadway and ending upside down in a pond.  “What would you do in those cases?” is something I ask myself when I hear of this.  “Should they  have done anything different?”  Why do I ask myself these things?  So that if I do ever end up in that situation I will not have to think too much about it, I have already worked through a similar scenario.  I might change how I respond, but at least I would have already put some consideration into it.DSCN7783
  8. Having a reliable car.  It may be over 15 years old and have 250,000+ miles on it, but there really are no major issues with it.  My thinking heads towards pessimistic thoughts every time I hear a new sound or am told xyz needs replaced.  To be honest, though, it is a great car and will likely last at least several more years.  Besides, all cars need new brakes/tires/belts/fluids at some point, right?
  9. Large windows.  Yes, this can be a blessing.  It allows bright sunlight to fill our home (we do not have to use electric lights very often) and for us to enjoy the views of the outdoors.  We enjoy this at all times of the year, but especially so in the middle of dreary months, like March and February.
  10. This last one is a bit more obscure than the previous ones.  We are blessed to be able to provide for our family.  Whether it be financially or through homemaking/parenting skills, the ability to provide for the needs of others is a blessing.  If you do not think so, then I urge you to ask those who may be out of work or physically unable to do anything on their own.  This really is a blessing.

What are some blessings you have experienced this week?  If you are willing to share, I would love to hear them.

Nov 182014

I'm thankful for empty collage

Even with Thanksgiving only a few weeks away, it it not too late to help your kids and yourself remember all you have to be thankful for.  This activity was taken from a few different ones I have seen and adapted to what I had in the house.

This paper was actually packing paper from something we got in the mail.  It had been played with and used, then cast into the recycling bin when I finally got annoyed with it.  After seeing this idea somewhere I immediately thought of this paper.  It was the perfect color and weight.

Each evening we will all say something we are thankful for, write it on a leaf, then tape it to the tree.  By the time Thanksgiving is here it should be covered and a great reminder of all we have to be thankful for.

And in case you are one of those people who noticed, like I did as I was drawing it, the limbs and branches do not exactly look like a typical tree.  I started to try and draw them that way, then realized my main goal was to have a spot to take leaves.  Having realistic looking branches would have used up time I did not have and energy I did not want to waste.  The kids noticed more that I tried to add bark by making lines down the trunk with a marker and coloring over it with a brown crayon.  Oh the things they notice.


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Prudent Living on the Homefront
Nov 222012

I am taking the day off from blogging.  In anticipation of this, I put together this list of things I am thankful for and scheduling it to post.

At home we have been going through the “My ABC’s of Thanksgiving” book. In the beginning I didn’t think this would be too hard as we all have so many things to be thankful for.  It has actually turned out to be a bit harder than I thought.  What an eye-opener. I decided to also do this, but in an adult way – on a blog.

A – Apples

B – Bed

C – (reliable) Car

D – Dinning room table

E – Eyesight

F – Forgiveness

G – God, Good food

H – Health, Hard working Husband

I – Ice skraper

J – Jumping on a trampoline

K – Knowing where we will sleep tonight

L – Laughter

M – Medical Care

N – New mornings

O – Open windows on a sunny Spring day after a long Winter

P – Popcorn while watching movies

Q – Quality time with family

R – Refridgerator with food in it

S – Swimming pools (indoor) open in the winter

T – Typing skills

U – Umbrella on a rainy day

V – Velvety soft blankets

W – Warm blankets

X – Xenodochy (the word of the day.  Do you know what it means?)

Y – Yogurt

Z – Zoos

After this excercise I realized that I really should start keeping track of what I’m thankful for.  Making this list, well, all the things seemed so not … meaningful.  Maybe it was because I was limiting myself to the alphabet rather than just listing itmes out.  Either way there are a lot of things I have to be thankful for, and of that I am sure.

Now, I greatly encourage you to get off this computer (said with love) and go spend time with your family or community.  If you don’t have one, or feel like you don’t, then I encourage you to put on your shoes and go to a local nursing home or hospital.  They would be delighted to see you.