Friday, January 30, 2009
There has been much going on with our daily life and then add my mom's house fire and add home schooling, it certainly keeps us on our toes.
I feel like I've been getting myself hurt a lot lately, and I interpret it to be my body telling me to slow down. Just in the month of January alone, I have sprained my ankle, dropped a log on my foot, cut my middle finger, hurt my knee, burned my hand, stepped on a broken piece of glass.. and that's just what I remember.
My mom returns to work tomorrow and while she is gone and staying with her sister during the week, I will continue to weed through the bags of burned things, sorting out the good stuff and tossing the rest. I also need to finish cleaning out the apartment and pull out all of our stuff. We had been using it for storage and putting all our ebay sale items in there.
I had been tag-teaming school lessons with another home schooling mama, but put it on hold until all this fire stuff is through. Her teaching style is different from mine-- I think I'm more of the un-schooling type and she is much more regimented than I am. I can't decide if this is a good thing, to continue to teach together, or go my own way.
I also have not been breast-feeding Baby as much, since he is eating more solids now, and I swear, if it wasn't for the morning and evening nursing, I would have had my period. I had all the symptoms of my cycle-- cramping, achy legs, crankiness (the husband can attest to that!) and just plain old misery, but I had none of the bleeding. I have tried to increase the nursing to see if I can stave off the cycle for at least another couple of months. My cycles can be brutal and I really don't want to deal with it just yet.
I am participating in a Hand Made Swap and my deadline to make something, anything, is Feb 10th. The purpose of the swap is to take pictures of the process and show that hand made anything is a lovely and natural gift. I still haven't decided what I want to make yet.
I made a doll for Middle for her birthday. We got all caught up in the drama of my mom's house fire, so I didn't get a chance to make it until a few days ago. It was a bad day. First, she was all pouty with me and told me "I don't want you". ouch Then when I started working on her doll, and showed her the almost finished doll, she complained, "the neck is too long, I don't like it." (I was going to make a choker for the doll to match the one I made for her) I lost it. I told her I was going to finish her doll, but I wasn't going to give it to her. It would be put away until she learns to be appreciative for things that people make and/or give to her.
It was a long day and one in which I couldn't wait for Hubby to get home and take over for me. I just wanted to curl up in bed with the covers over my head. I was crampy and cranky and wounded and just in a foul mama mood.
I can't seem to shake this foul mama mood-- The dog taking a poo on the floor pisses me off. The cat screeching at the dog pisses me off. The spilled tomato juice, the girls using my childhood books for hopscotch, the blank idea for the swap... it all pisses me off!
I diagnose myself with Cabin Fever. I need to get out of the house for a day and refresh myself, go somewhere new or lose myself in an antique mall, window shop and pretend I have gobs of money to buy this and that.
I love my family, but I'm seriously overdue for some mama time.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
- I don't like eating beans-- kidney beans or lima beans or any of those dried type beans. They taste mushy in the mouth and I only eat beans in chili. I can only eat one bowl of chili before my brain starts protesting and I don't pick them out so I can be a good example for my kids.
- I can whistle the theme song to "The Andy Griffiths Show". I can still remember it from when I watched it as a kid and my husband tells me I whistle it pretty good!
- Every time I take off my wedding ring when I am cooking (working dough, or raw meats), my husband puts it back on my finger and proposes to me all over again.
- I always say "yes".
- You know those "truth or dare" games people play at parties? I always said "truth".
- I started smoking cigarettes when I was 13, back when they used to cost 80 cents a pack. My best friend and I used to walk to the bowling alley where they had a cigarette machine and put our money in, then get a pack of Kools.
- I quit smoking on and off for years, but finally quit for good on Jan 1st, 2001. I've never smoked again since.
- I once watched a guy shoplift a watch in a store in Georgetown, D.C. It happened so fast and he was so smooth that I couldn't believe what I was seeing. When the salesclerk wasn't looking, the guy reached over the counter, plucked the watch off the back wall, slipped it on his wrist, smiled at me, then walked out. It all took less than 5 seconds. It still amazes me to this day.
- No, I didn't rat him out. I was too shocked to say anything and by the time I realized what happened, the guy was gone.
- The first time I rode on a horse was bareback. I know why they use saddles-- when I got off the horse, there was hair all over the inside of my legs. ugh!
Interesting enough for you? :o)
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Thank God for nosy neighbors that saw the smoke and called the fire department.
They found her unconscious in her smoke-filled home and pulled her out to safety. They rescued one of her cats, the other one has gone AWOL.
As soon as I got an email that she was at the hospital, I left the kids with the husband and got there as fast as I could. I found her in the emergency room, alert and alright, albeit smelling of smoke and with sooty hands. She had smoke-inhalation issues and they had her hooked up to oxygen, IVs and other things to discharge the chemicals from the smoke out of her body.
I went back to her home to deal with the fire marshall and damages. I imagined what the house would look like on the way over. It was 10 times worse than I imagined.
Her home is unlivable now. The fire department broke almost every window and ripped out both the front door and the back french doors. Her things were tossed outside and some was burned but most are destroyed from the water used to put the fire out. I'm not a firefighter, but I wonder if it was really necessary to rip the doors off like that. Broken windows I can understand, but to rip the doors off the hinges?
Seems it was an electrical fire. The fire investigator quizzed me on the location of certain things, and it looks like, from my Mom's description and the questions of the investigator, it started in the foyer. That's where most of the damage is.
We're now working on getting everything out of the house. Sorting through the destroyed items and picking out what is still good. It's surreal to see a pair of shoes fused together. Amazing how water can melt magazines into a mushy puddle. A relief to see vintage Pyrex bowls withstand the heat, the soot and char washing right off.
My Mom does not want to return to the house to live in. We set her up in the apartment we have above the garage and we are helping her in every way that we can-- making calls to the insurance company, working with the reconstruction people, the doctors and her work. I'm washing all the clothing that we salvaged and her pile of wearable clothing is slowly growing.
She grieves over the books she cannot save and worries about her missing cat. She says her life is falling apart and I tell her that things will work out, that this is a glitch and it can be fixed. We hope the home will sell quickly after we get it fixed up and she does not lose too much money on it. She worries about her future. I tell her that the most important thing is that she is alive, that she is not burned, that she is here with us, safe. Money is money and stuff is stuff, all replaceable. Her life is more precious to me and I am thankful I didn't lose my Mommy.
Hug your families. Be thankful that you have a roof over your heads and food in your bellies. Check the wiring in your home and make sure things are plugged in properly, or if it's not in use, unplug it. Make sure your house insurance is up to date. Tell your children about the dangers of playing with fire. Count your blessings, I know I am.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
When I asked her if she wanted a round layered cake like I made for Youngest last week, she said no, it wasn't big enough and she wanted to make sure that everyone got a piece of cake, so she wanted me to make it in a larger pan.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
My girls like to dance to "Summer Nights" and while I was cooking dinner, they were dancing all over the kitchen while singing the lines to the song.
When I was in high school, I was really into drama of the theatrical kind. I danced in the Fall & Spring Dance Concerts, performed in the Spring Plays and participated in a traveling Road Show and performed all over the DC area and beyond.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Check out this experiment:
A few hours later: The egg is completely covered in bubbles and parts of the shell are starting to flake off.
Pop! It took some effort to pop the shell with a knife. There's the softened egg shell draped over the end of the knife.
The experiment likens the vinegar to plaque on teeth and shows what happens if you don't brush your teeth: the plaque will eat through the enamel on your teeth much like the vinegar ate through the hard shell of the egg.
A home schooling mama-friend of mine sent this link to me about teeth and the egg experiment you can do at home.
Try it with your kids!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
A couple months ago, I went through the toys and pulled out the broken, the dirty and the lesser played with toys. It amounted to 5 large boxes. Yes, they have too many toys. It's easy to amass toys when you go to yard sales and people see cute little girls and tell them they can have whatever they want for FREE. I want to throttle those people. Thank you for your kindness, but my children don't need anymore toys. The few times I said "No, Thank you", the look they gave me made me feel like some sort of terrible mother that deprived her children of toys. I've found it easier to let them pick a toy-- it keeps them busy in the car and then I'll pluck it out later on.
Then two days ago, the husband and I went through the toys AGAIN, and with the girls, we thinned out the playfood (who needs eleventy-one million toy plates and 23 individual french fries?!), let them pick one barbie each with 5 outfits each, 2 baby dolls each, 3 plush toys each, left the legos, took the blocks, took out all my vintage little people toys that I was so nice to let them play with and discovered lots of damages to several buildings (sob!), and then swept up all the bits and pieces and vacuumed and ahhh! SO much better.
That said, when it was time for Youngest's birthday, we didn't have a party so as not to encourage more toy gifts and really, they don't need a party for every birthday, do they? (that's not a question, don't answer that!) But then, the night before her birthday, I had a bit of mommy guilt because we didn't get her anything-- they're still playing with their Christmas gifts. So I brought out the sewing machine and spent the night trying to make her a doll like I made her little cousin for Christmas.
This is as far as I got before I called it quits at one o'clock in the morning *yawn*. I culled ideas from different handmade dolls across the 'net and made this without any patterns. I was vexed, to say the least, but I'm pleased with her hair and face.
The reverse side of the dress is the purple diamond fabric you see in the first picture behind the head.
I'm gearing up to make another one soon for Middle, whose birthday is next week. Hopefully, making the reversible dress will go easier for me this time, now that I have one under my belt already.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
She is a charmer and cries at the slightest wag of a finger. She doesn't like getting mad at and I often have to reassure her that I'm not mad at her when I am getting mad at her sisters.
Though Youngest is constantly surrounded by her sisters, she likes to play alone with her dolls or with some other toy. She can play for hours by herself, ignoring the silly antics of her older sisters.
Even when she gets into the markers and does this to her pretty face, I still think she is beautiful.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
The girls all got new pajamas for Christmas from Grandma and Grandaddy and they were all several sizes too large. Left up to me, I would have put them away and waited until they fit, but the girls were adamant about wearing them, so I had to spend my morning hemming 3 pairs of pajama pants and sleeves.
I have to admit, the end result was pretty good and the girls were happy to wear their new jammies. Thanks Grandma and Grandaddy!
While hemming, it got me thinking about the way people did things back then-- buying too-big clothing; passing down clothing from oldest to youngest; repairing and patching rips and holes; re-purposing the fabric into something else, IE: quilts, rags, or rugs. I already practice passing clothes from Oldest to Middle to Youngest. It's what I grew up with, wearing my older sister's clothing when she out-grew it. I already repair and patch clothing, and I already re-purpose clothing and sheets into sewing and crafting projects. The only thing I don't do is buy larger sizes.
I can appreciate the idea-- hemming and then letting out the hems as the child grows. But for me, this is time-consuming, as I would have to repeat this practice with each of my 4 children. I find it easier to just pass them down to the youngest. I must admit, though, I do buy larger sizes when it comes to dresses-- it seems they are just too short! If Oldest wears size 6 in a dress, I'll buy size 8 for her. By the time she is 8, that dress would be too short! Sorry, but my girls are not little hoochie mamas and I will not allow them to wear dresses that showcase their underwear every time they bend over! I've heard "I see London, I see France, I see Jenny's underpants!" more than once when I wore a dress on those very rare occasions. And, I'm sorry to say, there are just too many sick people out there and I don't want to bring attention to my girls and their exposed legs while wearing too-short dresses and skirts. But I digress.
I like knowing that I am getting every last drop out of the clothing my family wears. With the exception of gifted clothing, it's very rare that they get brand new clothing (except for underwear and socks!) and it does my heart good when we don't add to consumerism by buying brand new items. So we are re-using clothes in a multitude of ways-- buying used clothing, passing down to the next kid, repairing holes/rips, and finally re-purposing into something else. Not only does this practice save us money, we are not being a burden on this earth by using and re-using the same item over and over again.
Friday, January 2, 2009
We gave new life to a lot of items we had around the house-- turning an old telephone wire into a clothesline; old curtains into cloth napkins; food boxes into drawer organizers to name a few. We also reused things far beyond their "one-time use", like yogurt containers and peanut butter jars that make great holders for buttons, beads and other little stuff. I learned a trick from fellow blogger, Sparx (you can find her blog on my blogroll titled "Notes From Inside My Head") and washed baby wipes to re-use over and over again, and also recycled ice cream buckets to hold the wipes-- both clean and dirty.
I am lucky enough to have a friend that runs a consignment shop and I was able to sell my children's too-small clothing and toys and buy clothing they needed at a fraction of the price. Unless I told you, you'd never know the clothes and shoes they wore were second-hand. The husband and I both scour thrift shops and yard sales for items we can use or sell and we have been able to keep from paying full price for brand new items that would have otherwise broke the bank. We cancelled our satellite TV and my pager and saved nearly $100 a month on those two alone!
We had a garden and, while it wasn't our biggest, it was enough to give us plenty to eat. I canned many jars of jams, applesauce and tomatoes; froze corn, strawberries, pumpkin, and zucchini; dried apples and bananas. I'm grateful that I had the know-how to do so and a husband that knew to keep the kids out of the kitchen while mama was "cannin' up a storm!" and didn't mind eating pizza or sandwiches because I was too tired from canning to cook dinner. Growing our own foods helped save us even more money by not having to buy certain items at the store. 2008 also saw us making more things from scratch and relying less on "ready-made" mixes and discovering the food we are eating from scratch wasn't that hard to make and tasted so much better than the box. The bonus? it was healthier for us, too! We now buy less and less boxed foods and make just about everything from cakes to flavored rices, baby food to soups.
I made and baked all our Christmas presents to family and friends and gave some of those canned jams as gifts as well. We didn't have to buy (not that we could have anyway) any presents and all the gifts were enjoyed by everyone. If we had spent an average of $20 per person for gifts, we would have spent well over $300. By making bird ornaments, monsters and dolls from fabric I already had, jams from food we grew, fudges and cookies from pantry items, I spent less than $35 total on gifts for over 16 people! That's monetary value, the time invested in making those gifts is far more valuable and I cannot calculate the time invested.
Another way we saved money was by chopping and splitting our own wood for heat. We scrimped and saved and managed to buy a log splitter from a friend which has saved us many hours (and our backs!) of splitting wood by axe. We no longer have to buy oil to heat our house and now with a new (to us) chain saw, we can cut down our own trees next year for wood to burn. That log splitter has already paid for itself because the amount of wood we use to heat the house would have cost us over $1000 without it.
2009 will still find us living frugally. Our circumstances haven't changed: my husband is still working the same part-time job and we still have the same mortgage and car payments to make, but we are doing more things to try and improve our circumstances. We are garden-dreaming and planning to plant a larger garden this year with emphasis on more herbs, a variety of vegetables, and potatoes. If money permits, I'm hoping to add apple and cherry trees to our tiny 3-tree orchard and I would also like to get some grapevines set in, too. The same friend we bought our log splitter from has a small tiller for sale and we are now putting aside money to buy that from him.
The cat food and litter we buy changed their packaging. More plastic, but we see the silver lining-- it's very similar to the plastic they use in weed blocking fabric, so we have been saving the bags to use in the garden this Spring. That will save us money and time! Less weed pulling to do, or at least we hope so!
I must add that we have been blessed with generous friends and family, who have been kind enough to help us out here and there. Barefoot from Barefoot in the Garden (also in my blogroll) sent us her daughter's car seat for Baby (Thanks again!). An old co-worker has kept in touch with me through my mom, gives us clothes from his own kids who happen to be a year ahead of my own children, many of them never worn and still with the tags on them. Members of my MIL's church, whom we have never met, bought us several hundred dollars worth of groceries and cash and gifts for Baby. Our own family members have also been extra generous with us, giving us more than usual for birthdays and Christmas gifts and "just because" and for that, we are forever grateful and humbled by all the support we have received. I know we would not have made it this far without their help and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
Here's hoping 2009 will be a good year for all of us, and may you be blessed with loving family and friends. Happy New Year, my friends!