Category Archives: Housework
So, the above pic has nothing to do with this post, really. I just wanted to publish it.
I saw baby Jean’s nurse practitioner again today, since the pediatrician is visiting his parents in India until next week. I really like the CNP, Penny. We did a weight check and a few other things. Baby Jean had only gained three ounces since last Tuesday, which is just below the normal threshold of 0.5 – 1.0 oz daily at this point in development. And that is with her nursing for a good hour at a time every 2-3 hours. Little Jean now weighs 10 lbs 6 oz, still not quite her birth weight.
We confirmed that, yes, she does have a fairly significant tongue tie and a very significant upper-lip tie. And, since it is affecting both her ability to nurse efficiently and is still causing me pain during nursing, we are going to have at least her tongue clipped. However, today counted as the “consult”, rather than the actual event. So, we talked about it pretty extensively, and I watched a (quite informative) 15 minute Power Point about the procedure… And scheduled the frenectomy for Monday.
The plan is to give that a week to heal and to see if it results in a decrease of pain for me and an increase of weight for Jean. If both of those happen, we’ll leave the lip-tie alone. But, if one or the other (or both) are still happening, we’ll schedule the upper lip to be done as well.
Personally, I think the lip is more of a problem, since she can’t flange it out. But, since correcting the tongue tie is less invasive, that’s what the pediatrician wants to start with. I’m OK with that.
I’m NOT OK with him requiring a Vitamin K injection for infants to receive the frenectomy. The nurse practitioner is e-mailing the pediatrician to see if we can waive that requirement. If not, there is a local midwife who is certified in the procedure, and we may pay her the $50 cash (rather than the $30 co-pay) to have it done. My own midwife suggested that I request a blood test to confirm adequate blood levels of Vitamin K, rather than just giving her an injection. I think that is a good idea, but that certainly seems like it would take longer… yet one more week… I’d just as soon have this over and done.
In unrelated news…
About a week ago, I joked on my personal Facebook page about still looking five months pregnant. I think I caused concern in some, who gently cautioned me about trying to “get my figure back” too quickly. HONESTLY, this is the LEAST I have ever been concerned about that. I have been devoted to really taking it easy on myself, physically. For the first week, I did virtually nothing, and my family waited on me hand and foot. This last week, I haven’t done much more. It is now my goal to, every day:
- Do some laundry: Start the load and hang it on the line.
- Make dinner: This is made easier by the fact that I have a number of dinners half- or three quarters-made in the freezer.
- Take care of baby Jean Marjorie Joy.
I remember being horrified by my mushy tummy after my firstborn and starting ridiculously early on a sit-up regimen. I am absolutely NOT doing that.
I have worn a… slimming undergarment a couple of times but that tends to make my ankles swell, as well as just being uncomfortable. I find myself less motivated by my appearance and more motivated by comfort these days… However, I tend to feel better when I feel like I look better, even if I don’t actually look better (follow that?). I guess what I’d prefer is to look effortlessly put-together, but I guess that is not going to happen. At the age of 40, after having six children, I actually have to put some effort into looking nice. 🙂
I have also been alternately horrified and amused by what has been the Lots o’ Carbs Festival at our home these last couple of weeks. Part of that is because a number of kind friends gave us gift cards to “safe” restaurants (we’re hard to cook for), post-birth, and there are always more carbs in a store-bought meal. (One friend homemade us an AMAZING dinner — totally gluten-free and dairy-free — including brownies.) On top of that, not only did I have the pint of Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra that I’d been saving for after the birth, but a dear friend remembered that that ice cream was my favorite and brought by THREE pints. Those, I shared with my husband, Martin. And then my hubby bought another pint for me a few days ago… That one, I ate by myself. Ice cream begets ice cream. Once the floodgates are open, it’s hard to say no!! However, in spite of the fact that I’ve eaten more carbs in the last two weeks than I have in any one span in probably the last 3-4 YEARS, I am still losing weight. In fact, I’ve lost 23 of the 35 I gained, six of those in the last week, as I’ve been feasting on ice cream. Only 12 pounds to go. And obviously, I’m not even trying to lose weight!!
I know I will return to eating more healthily… But right now, pass me another pint. 🙂
When I make a dish for the family to eat, it’s always my hope that EVERYONE will like it. Something that all seven people at the dinner table will adore has proven rather elusive, however. I now see this as a good thing, mostly. For instance: I made sauerkraut earlier this week, and it is done fermenting today. My 13-year-old son has been highly anticipating its readiness, and is already preparing his sandwich in his mind. He mentioned that he wishes we had ham, but we don’t. So, he’ll have turkey, mustard, and sauerkraut. Not everyone else is so excited. 🙂 But, other family members are expectant of different foods. I am roasting six bunches of small beets right now. My three youngest children are REALLY excited about that. I have received beets a number of times these last few months from our CSA and only ONCE have the beets actually made it into a dish. The rest of the time, after I roast the beets, peeling them becomes somewhat of a party, with everyone popping cooled, newly-peeled baby beets into their mouths, just like candy. I can’t say that I’m disappointed that not everyone feels this way about beets. My husband can’t stand them. My older two boys are rather ambivalent. The rest of us ADORE beets.
- Our new home is an older one, and it is an endless project. We knew it needed more insulation, as some of it was missing in wide swaths, some was thin and compacted, and some of it had shrunk away from ceiling joists and the outer walls. When we got our electricity bill for the time spanning from mid-April to mid-May, and the stinkin’ thing was north of $350 (and that is with our air conditioner thermostat set at 80-81°), that was a wake-up call. Last weekend, my husband Martin, after quite a bit of research (wet-blown cellulose? dry-blown fiberglass? fiberglass batts? do-it-yourself? or hire it out??) he decided to do dry-blown fiberglass, which requires a big machine. The blowing machine is rentable from Home Depot, or free with the purchase of enough packages of insulation. It was quite an undertaking. He purchased a head-to-toe coverall, and with goggles, mask, and gloves, ventured up into the attic. Actually, we have two attics, as part of our home is single-level, and part of it has two stories. It was hours of work. Our oldest son, Ethan, stayed at the ladder and fed the tube up into the attic as needed, and relayed hollered messages to our next-oldest son, Grant, who was feeding the batts into the blowing machine and turning it off and on as needed. At Home Depot, they supplied a cardboard measurement stick, telling us how deeply the insulation needed to be to supply a certain R-value. “How deep does it need to be again to reach R-38?” he asked Grant. “Thirteen inches,” Grant replied. “Good. We have about R-100 in most places,” Martin announced with satisfaction.
In the above pic, you can see a bit of the washing machine, with which I have a love-hate relationship. It is an LG, and when it works, it works WONDERFULLY. However, yesterday, we had the LG repairman out for the SEVENTH TIME in less than a year. Seven times. Granted, his visit on Friday was a follow-up from Tuesday’s assessment, and he was installing the parts that he had ordered on Tuesday. And two of the previous visits were — umm… — due to user error, as a quarter coin had slipped into the wash undetected, and had lodged in such a way that it was keeping the drum from agitating. BUT, this washing machine was the most expensive purchase my husband and I had ever made, barring cars and houses, in our 18 years of marriage, and frankly, I didn’t expect the thing to be a lemon. Or, I don’t know if it’s a lemon, exactly, but it just doesn’t seem that such a high-tech and expensive item should continually require repairs. So now, we are considering purchasing an extended warranty. I have kind of a moral objection to extended warranties. My thoughts are, “BUILD IT RIGHT IN THE FIRST PLACE, AND AN EXTENDED WARRANTY ISN’T NECESSARY!!!” And yes, this is said while shouting. I’m also kind of upset, because, before purchasing this unit, I did a lot of research to find the right product for our lots-o’-laundry family. This washer had glowing reviews and was universally touted as a heavy-duty, GIANT-capacity washer with few problems, certainly less problematic than a front-loader. However, the LG guy has been refreshingly honest with some information that I wish I had access to before I purchased. He has mentioned that, while the unit is power- and water-efficient, it actually runs better on the cycles which use more water (mostly the “Bulky/Bedding” setting). Also, the heating element in the washing machine, which allows the water to heat up super-hot (in the “Sanitary” cycle) especially for whites and cloth diapers, isn’t particularly powerful, and it takes a LONG time to actually heat the water. In the meantime, as I had observed, the washer just slowly spins, waiting and waiting and waiting for the water to heat, automatically adding MORE time to a cycle that is already THREE HOURS long. I guess I’m not the only LG customer who feels rather crabby about this, because just last night, I saw an ad for a new LG washer that heats up super-hot, but has an incredibly short cycle time. Hmph.
- Another thing I had wanted to add to our home is a clothesline. In our last home, the HOA forbade them. Even in the back yard. This house has no HOA and plenty of space. However, my husband wants to do the clothesline “right”, on its own separate poles, sunk in concrete, on the side of the yard, out of sight. But… that has been added to the very long list of to-dos, here in the house, and we have now been here ten months with no clothesline. So, last weekend, I procured four eye bolts and screwed them right into two trees in our back yard, and strung up some perfect nylon rope, handily left in the shed by the previous occupants. Voila! Clothesline. So, for a little more than a week now, I have been hanging up about 95% of our family’s laundry — everything except my husband’s clothes and the bath towels. Our handy new LG dryer (with which we have had no problems) has a great moisture sensor, and the few items from each load that go into the dryer are completed in about 20-25 minutes, instead of the 50-60 minutes each load was previously taking. A friend on Facebook (well, she’s a friend in real life, but she mentioned this on Facebook) said that she finds hanging clothes to be “meditative.” I didn’t quite understand her at the time, but now I do. I bring out a glass of ice water, put my basket of wet clothes on a chair, and actually enjoy the quiet efficiency of hanging clothes. I’m outside (which I love anyway); the sun is shining on me; it’s a gentle form of manual labor; I feel like I’m…. benefiting our family by saving money on power that would otherwise be spent on the electric dryer; it feels satisfying to provide my family with freshly sun-warmed and sanitized laundry; and it just feels RIGHT to be using the plentiful solar energy here in the desert to dry my clothes. Even when the day is hot (though I typically hang the clothes in the morning or evening), I have my ice water, and when I stand between the lines of damp clothes, the breeze cools and refreshes me… It is, indeed, a meditative activity.
With the Crooked Sky Farms CSA I host, I feel like we have a good plan for what’s going to happen when the baby comes. The sixth week of the summer season is on Wednesday, June 26, and the baby is due on the 27th. And… the baby could come at any time, really. I’ve been anywhere from 11 days early (twice!) to eight days past my estimated due date. While there have been a number of people offer to help, the most promising person is, ironically, a woman with seven kids. She hosts a raw milk pick-up (where I am a customer), so she is rather familiar with the ordeal of people coming to her house over the course of an afternoon and picking stuff up. 🙂 Also, she’s a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom whose oldest is 16. Just like me! She said that she would be happy to either come to my home and host the CSA for a day, or to even have it at her house. So, the plan is that, if I have the baby on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, she will have the CSA in her home. If I have the baby Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, I’ll probably just tuck myself upstairs with the baby and she will stay here for the afternoon, with my kids helping her. If I have the baby on a Sunday, it could go either way. That’s at least the plan. Another woman, who participated in the spring CSA season, sent me an e-mail yesterday saying that she would like to help around the time the baby comes, if need be. I was quite touched by her thoughtfulness. She isn’t participating during the summer because she has her own garden which is being very productive right now — no need to pay $20 for organic veggies if you grow an abundance of your own! I sent her a reply sketching out the basic plan, and asked if she’d like to be back-up, or perhaps be the host (as her home is much closer to mine, and would be less of a deviation from the regular plan for the other CSA members). Anyway. It just feels nice to know that things are taken care of, and that people are kindly offering to help out. 🙂 I feel surrounded by wonderful folks.
- We’re almost done with school. Kind of. Three of my kids will be finished on June 7th, in less than a week! My oldest, who is a sophomore, won’t be done. He got himself behind and will likely be playing catch-up until the end of June. I’m rather displeased with that because, as a homeschooling mom, if he isn’t done, that means that I am not done! But, as he is a sophomore, we can’t just say, “Ah, well. We’ll come back ’round to it in the fall.” There aren’t really any do-overs once you’re in high school. So, he’ll keep working until he’s finished with the year’s curriculum… I will admit that I am very ready for summertime, and I’m very ready to focus on the baby. Two weeks ago, I told my middle boys (8th grade and 6th grade) that they will finish the last three weeks of school primarily on their own. Normally, I do about 60% of their work with them — reading to them, discussing assignments in depth, having conversations about the topics at hand, reviewing their work, etc. But, in order to help me be able to have time to prep for the baby, I was straight-up with them: “Listen, I know and you know that you learn better when we do school together. Having an actual teacher helps you glean so much more out of the material than if you just cover it yourself. However, you will be doing virtually all your remaining work for the year on your own, reading to yourself or reading to each other, because it’s either that or nothing.” That is one of the benefits of homeschooling: You can make it be flexible when you need to. They would learn more if I was more highly involved, so I feel kind of badly. But, three weeks of independent work within a 35-week school year won’t kill ’em, I guess. It’s better than just stopping school. That sounds like I’m setting the bar rather low. Perhaps I am… But, that’s what is necessary for these last few weeks of school. 🙂
It’s not quite two p.m. as I type this, but today has been one of the sorts of days that I hope for, but rarely occur. To me, a “good day” is one in which I get things done in the home, outside, with the kids’ school, and that something pleasant happens for me, too. It has a nice pace: Filled, but not frenetic. I hate busy, deadline-driven days. I hate days where I feel like I’m doing stuff all the livelong day but nothing gets accomplished. I hate days in which there is an abundance of strife amongst the children. Today has been good, full of the things I like, and with little to none of the things I don’t. So, I thought I’d document it, if for no other reason, than to encourage myself.
- Let the day begin! The day started just as I prefer: On the back patio, with a cool breeze blowing, coffee mug in hand, reading the Bible. I have an odd (?) affinity for Old Testament prophets, and was reading from Zechariah. Then, my four-year-old, Fiala, came outdoors, sleepy-headed, and crawled up into my lap. It was just right. What started as a bright and breezy morning has turned into an all-out windy, dusty day, but that’s OK. It’s keeping the temps down to the high 70s, which is fine with me.
- Gardening. I am out of large and medium pots, now! In what I semi-affectionately call my “fake garden”, I now have 10 medium or large pots filled with plants and seeds, in addition to my two, 2′ x 4′ planting boxes. Today, after creating a mix of native “soil” (clay, really), compost (from a bag; my homemade stuff isn’t ready yet), and vermiculite in a wheelbarrow, I transferred two large heirloom tomato starts into my last two medium pots. I planted cilantro seed around one and cumin seed around the other. I also transferred three small tomato starts (not ready to plant outside) into larger containers. In related news… I thought that with such a small garden, that there was NO WAY I’d forget what I had planted. Wrong. I have three different kinds of squash (I think) plus a few cantaloupe plants and a couple of cucumber plants, and they all look identical. I have no remembrance about what is planted, exactly, and where. Around each larger plant, I also planted smaller things like chard, scallions, various herbs, and flowers. Some things are pretty easy to tell: Chard, for one. Scallions, too, are pretty apparent. But the various herbs and flowers??? I have no idea. AFTER I had planted cilantro seed around one tomato plant today, I noticed that some seedlings in another pot were getting real leaves. “That looks like cilantro!” I thought, “Or is it parsley??” I sampled it. Cilantro. From now on, I am making markers for each pot.
Yard work. I am happily transforming our back yard. Our home, into which we moved in July 2012, needs some serious work to the back yard. The front, too. But, the back is where the living and the gardening takes place. We have plans to seriously overhaul the back yard, but one bad thing about this being a larger property (almost 1/2 acre) is that the bigger the yard, the more it costs to re-do. We need a pool fence, a completely redone drip irrigation and sprinkler system. We need more trees. We need to install my REAL garden (which, blessedly, my husband does consider a high priority!!). We need to re-do at least some of the landscaping so that grass is not growing right next to the swimming pool. The cool-decking needs redone. We need gutters. The whole yard needs to be Roto-tilled, as the clay soil is VERY compacted. The list goes on. But for now, we’re doing small things. For instance, every Monday, I’ve been moving a sprinkler around the yard. I let it soak a spot for an hour, then move the sprinkler. It has very much greened-up the yard. Regrettably, a good half of what’s growing is weeds. But, when the collection of grass and weeds are mown, as my 15yo son did on Saturday, the yard is looking quite nicely. There are a number of bare dirt patches, still, though. I decided today to start aerating them, to see if that will encourage the grass to spread. Today, I only did a maybe 5′ x 20′ section with an aerator we already had. It’s just a four-prong step-on device.
- Homeschooling. In spite of the above, I still got school done with my four school-age children. Actually, I’m sitting at the dining room table with my son Ethan (who is a sophomore) while he works on science reading and questions… I read in several subjects to my 11 and 13-year-old sons, and gave them instructions for further self-directed work. For my first-grader, Audrey, well… I should have done more with her. I only had her do her workbook items (phonics and math) and then let her play with her new Play-Doh contraption all morning. That’s fine motor skills and creativity, right?? (It was her birthday on Saturday… Can’t believe she is seven!!)
- Laundry. I also washed, dried, and folded a giant double-load of laundry, and loaded the machine with a new load to start tonight, after the electricity rates go back down for the evening…
- Food, etc. I noticed that some red oak leaf lettuce, obtained from the CSA on Wednesday, was looking decidedly water-logged this morning. So, I sorted through that, as well as some CSA spinach, and started a small salad for my lunch, and a large salad for our family’s dinner tonight. And I used up the rest of the Red Russian Kale I had on hand, too, though that went on top my eggs this morning. It feels good to use something completely. I also harvested ten small-to-medium-sized Red Rhubarb Chard leaves this morning to add to the salads. It was the first chard harvest of this spring… I love my organic CSA veggies, but there is nothing better than plucking something from the back garden, which you’ve grown from seed, and nurtured into maturity.
Birds! I finally positively identified a hummingbird that has been flitting around our back yard for the last couple of weeks. It’s an Anna’s Hummingbird. I got to get quite close. “Male, medium-small, short beak, red gorget, throat, and head, green back, wingtips not quite as long as the tail… Think it’s an Anna’s.” Then, I went back inside and checked my Sibley guide. It was an Anna’s. Those are fairly uncommon here — I usually see Black-Chinned or Costa’s hummers. It wasn’t quite as satisfying as ID’ing a new-to-me species, but still very nice.
- Pain. The ONE bad thing about this pregnancy — I am now 28 weeks — is that I have a mass of varicose veins running up the back of my right leg, from my knee area up into my rear. It sucks. It is often incredibly painful. I am WAITING AND WAITING on a stupid, expensive, girdle-looking “pregnancy support garment” that I purchased about two weeks ago. I hope it works miracles. I do take Horse Chestnut Seed extract for leg vein support and pain, as well as cod liver oil to thin my blood. That worked brilliantly until about six weeks ago… Some days are better than others, and today, even though I’ve been on my feet for much of the day, has been good.
- The one bad thing about today: Last week, we took my truck — I call it The Land Barge — in to get fixed, as the RPMs were revving with little corresponding power to the engine. The shop found a cracked gasket somewhere that was letting air into the system. Problem fixed. Except that it wasn’t. On my way to the zoo on Friday (a 25 mile trip), the truck started to lose power and we had to pray it into the zoo parking lot. My husband came to our rescue and traded out vehicles. (Originally, all five children were going to go to the zoo with me, but my husband said that Ethan, our 15yo, needed to stay home and work on school. I wasn’t quite in agreement, but did go along with it. Well, if Ethan HAD been with us, we wouldn’t all have fit into my hubby’s small commuter car! As it was, myself and the four kids fit snugly but fine…) The truck completely broke when my hubby was driving it, and he had to get AAA to tow it back to the shop, which is closed on the weekend. (I don’t mind single-owner, small businesses that close on the weekend and give themselves and their employees a break.) Today, we heard from the shop that they had to take it out for a spin for a good 20 minutes to get the truck to repeat the problem, as no codes were showing up on the computer diagnostic system they use. The good news, I guess, is that the truck DID lose power and they DID determine the source. The bad news is that we need an entire new transmission for the truck. That’s an expensive fix! 😦 One good thing, though, about being 39 and gaining the perspective of years, is that I have seen provide for us NO MATTER WHAT, and I wasn’t worried. No, I don’t know where the money will come from — we’ve been saving money for a tax bill and the midwife — but that’s OK. God still provides, He still takes care of us, and I found myself saying, “At least it broke down now, not on some big, long summer trip.”
- Now, I’m blogging, which I’ve been working at, off-and-on (mostly “on”) for the last hour and 20 minutes… I’m always happy when time allows for that.
- Next, I will sort through Sunday’s coupons and plan my four-store grocery trip, which will be this evening, after my husband comes home from work with the car, instead of this afternoon…
No matter what happens the rest of the day (it is now 4:00), I can look back and say, “Today was a good day.”
I have a one-ish track mind. I tend to bunch my thoughts, my efforts together in one spot… Right now, even though I’m 26 weeks pregnant, and one might think I have, “BABY BABY BABY,” going through my mind, it’s not.
Actually, that’s somewhat of a good thing.
Historically, I start nesting somewhere around five weeks pregnant and it’s all I can do to remain focused and engaged with the rest of my life, responsibilities included, for the whole pregnancy. I tend to spend eight solid months with a nearly compulsive bent toward thinking, dreaming, planning, preparing, for my new baby. I put a huge amount of emotional investment and TIME into it. On one hand, that doesn’t seem like a bad thing. But, when I have other children who need mothering and schooling; when I have a home that needs cleaning and maintenance; when I have a husband who shouldn’t have to fight for my attention; when I have responsibilities at church that need me to NOT be thinking, “I sssooooo don’t want to be doing this;” when I have friends who merit attention, my hyper-nesting isn’t that great of a thing.
So, for me, the fact that this is on the back burner of my mind: I’m going to be adding an 8th member to our family in three months or so… is rather a blessing. I’m not struggling like I usually do with wanting to drop everything and become a hermit in my home and feeling VERY CRABBY that there are other parts of my life that are calling.
I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone.
I, for one, though, am very happy to feel ENGAGED with the world at 26 weeks pregnant*.
- We’re still doing school (though I am REALLY looking forward to our Easter Break next week).
- My home is quite tidy (most of it).
- I’m still leading worship in a weekly small group (though I joked that I might need to obtain a dobro sometime in the near future to accommodate my expanding belly).
- I’m still leading worship twice a month for SuperChurch (the 6-12 year-olds’ Sunday morning service).
- I’m still singing with the “big church” worship team two or three Sundays a month (I keep telling myself that I probably look ridiculous dancing… Oh, well.).
- I’m still hosting the weekly CSA at my home, and even just decided that I’m going to do at least another 12 weeks, shortly after the current season ends on May 1 (even though I’ll have to find an alternate location for while I’m in labor…).
- If anything, I feel MORE connected to both my husband and our five children during this pregnancy. I also feel more peaceful. This is probably my happiest pregnancy ever.
Knowing my history, I wasn’t sure, three months ago or so, that I should do the CSA. I often start well, but don’t finish strong. I get all fired up for one project or another, then start to lose steam… I was more than a bit concerned that this would be a similar endeavor, and then, when I lost focus and dropped the project, not only would I pay for it, but so would the 25 or so other people who were counting on me, and their families…
Also… and this is hard to communicate; I can’t grasp the right descriptive words… But, I was uncertain if the CSA was where God wanted me to invest my time. I long to be fruitful. I want the things I do to have lasting impact. I want my time to be well-spent. I want my involvement with others to have more than just a tinge of “ministry”. I mean… not that I’m trying to make this The Christian CSA with a prayer corner, worship music in the background, and Bible verses plastered all over my fridge — not that at all. But, I wanted this to be worthwhile in every sphere, and I wasn’t certain if hosting the CSA was a good choice in how to spend my time — time which often feels spread too thinly as it is.
So, I prayed about it. “Is this where you want me, God? Is this OK?”
I got no discernible response. I’m not saying God didn’t speak, but if He did, I missed it. I didn’t even feel vaguely “led” one way or another.
I asked my husband — who is well-acquainted with my tendency to rush into projects hard and fast and then feel overwhelmed — what he thought. Honestly, I was a little surprised that he seemed to think favorably about the whole thing.
It didn’t seem like God was telling me, “No,” although a nice, clear, resounding, “YES!” would have made me feel much more confident.
So, I went with my husband’s approval.
I guess I had previously felt that I was hosting the CSA for my own personal benefit. I mean, from the bottom of my heart, I truly want to equip others to eat better. But, I was kind of compelled more by the fact that I would get roughly $40 worth of local, fresh, organic produce for FREE each week, plus earn $1 per person, per week for what seemed like very little time.
I was wrong on nearly all accounts.
In the six weeks the CSA has been operational:
- A couple of weeks, I’ve gotten much less than $40 worth. The remaining time I’ve received FAR more. We’re rolling in veggies, which pleases me to no end.
- I anticipated making around $40/week, thinking we’d have that many participants. However, we started with only 16, and are now up to 24. So, I am not making even enough money to pay the midwife each month, which was my thought going into it.
- It takes much more time than I realized it would. Not only do I devote time “on the ground” from 2:00 – 5:30 every Wednesday, but there is a lot of communication and planning involved, too. I probably spend an additional 3-3½ hours weekly, often more. Seven hours total every week may not seem like a lot to you, but in my world, subtracting seven hours from other things that I could be doing?? That’s huge. That’s a big commitment.
Much more significant, though, is how I have been absolutely surprised by the positive feedback I’ve received from so many of the participants.
I was thinking recently about how, when I started blogging more than seven years ago, I was just compelled to write. It was 100% for my own benefit. I saw blogging as an online version of journaling: simply documenting the time and thoughts as they passed. I wasn’t trying to gather an admiring crowd. I wasn’t trying to change the world. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone or even benefit them. I just wanted to write.
Similarly, with the CSA: I just wanted some veggies. Some free, organic veggies.
But with both endeavors, I have been very taken aback by the genuine thanks, the more-than-occasional encouraging note, the thoughtful gestures that have come my way… I never thought — not once — that hosting a produce-pickup was going to make a difference in anyone’s life; I entered into it as rather an indulgence in something of significant interest to me. But, similar to how I am now compelled to continue blogging by the random e-mails that will start off, “Thank you for your post on ______________ . I was in tears because of my situation of __________. I stumbled upon your post, and it was just what I needed, and here’s how it affected me: ______________. It was just what I needed and I can’t tell you how thankful I am.” — I am now compelled to continue the CSA due to letters like this (shared with permission):
You’re a good friend Karen – even if “long distance”. I don’t think I would have stepped into organic thinking without your help and encouragement. The rest of my extended family think I’m nuts…a super picky eater or whatever. But I have strong convictions to take care of the body God blessed me with and it brings joy to my heart hearing my kids happily talk about healthy vegetables during mealtimes! It’s sad. I never knew any fresh vegetables except iceberg lettuce when I was a kid…nothing but canned and always over cooked. Surprisingly I took after my grandma it seems in how I feel about my health and she lived to be 70 even after smoking for 20 years of her life! She found Jesus, quit smoking & drinking cold turkey and lived a life of joy I still remember this day. I guess I’m sharing just to show my appreciation for you Karen. You have made a difference in my life too. I Love you friend.
That made me cry. It also made me think that maybe why God was so silent was because He knew that I was just looking for Him to say, “Yes, it’s OK with me that you have this interest, and yes, it’s OK with me that you invest your time here.” I was just looking for permission. But He was setting me up.
I sent an e-mail of thanks back to my friend and asked her if I could put her story on my blog. She didn’t immediately respond and I got nervous. But, when her reply came, the tears flowed anew.
I would be honored to be a story in your blog – Please feel free to write whatever you wish! Amazing…Our Lord God never fails to love and “push” us into His most blessed plan if just choose to submit! Love you, your thoughts & prayers are never wasted.
I’m an ISTJ on the Myers-Briggs scale… If you click on that link, at least 95% of it is me, to a T.
- They have a strongly-felt internal sense of duty, which lends them a serious air and the motivation to follow through on tasks.
- They place great importance on honesty and integrity. They are “good citizens” who can be depended on to do the right thing for their families and communities. While they generally take things very seriously, they also usually have an offbeat sense of humor and can be a lot of fun – especially at family or work-related gatherings.
- The ISTJ will work for long periods of time and put tremendous amounts of energy into doing any task which they see as important to fulfilling a goal. However, they will resist putting energy into things which don’t make sense to them, or for which they can’t see a practical application.
- Once the ISTJ supports a cause or idea, he or she will stop at no lengths to ensure that they are doing their duty of giving support where support is needed.
- Traditional and family-minded, they will put forth great amounts of effort at making their homes and families running smoothly. They are responsible parents, taking their parenting roles seriously. They are usually good and generous providers to their families.
- They are very hard workers, who do not allow obstacles to get in the way of performing their duties. They do not usually give themselves enough credit for their achievements, seeing their accomplishments simply as the natural fulfillment of their obligations.
It has actually been quite a while since I reviewed what I’m “supposed” to be like as an Introverted Sensing Thinking Judger. But, re-reading that descriptive page makes me appreciate God more: He who made me knows who I am. He knows what I need. He knows what brings me joy. He knows what will surprise me. He knows how to stretch me without breaking me. And He knows just the right time to bring encouragement to me…
*It recently came to my attention that I never stated what this child will be: SHE IS A GIRL. My husband was 100% right. Not only was I pregnant, but the baby is a girl.
If you think this is a post in which I
berate encourage you to do a better job planning, it’s not.
I don’t plan. Not really. Well, sort of, I do.
But not like my friend Daja at the Provision Room. She’s a pro.
A friend asked me yesterday, “Do you have a website that you use to plan meals or do you just wing it?”
Here was my response:
Somewhere in the middle. I don’t use a website. What I do is see what is on sale for the week, and plan my meals — roughly — around that. “OK. Pork roast is on sale. I can do a Crockpot with green chile pork.” And I know that I always have green chiles, onions, garlic, and the spices to make that happen. “OK. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are on a smoking sale. I’ll buy four packages, put one in the freezer, do stirfry with one, grill two packages using one batch of grilled chicken for dinner that night and saving the other grilled chicken for chicken sandwiches on the night I have small group and I need a fast meal…” Like that. I also purposefully make LARGE dinners, both so that Martin can take leftovers for lunch at work (he prefers that, and it saves money) AND so that we can have at least one night during the week (usually Saturday) where we have a whole meal of just leftovers.
And then… if there isn’t a cut of meat on sale at a price I want to pay, or if there are other staple items that have taken a big chunk out of that week’s grocery budget, I pull stuff out of the freezer.
So… I don’t plan stuff out like with a website. But, I do make a rough plan in my head, based on what I know I keep on hand in the pantry, dishes I know our family likes, and dishes that will best use what’s on sale that week.
Hope that makes sense.
This does bring to mind a few things:
- I have quite a few standard pantry items. When I run out of one thing (or come close to it), I always put it on my grocery shopping list. I know my pantry well, and I ensure it stays stocked.
- When I make my grocery shopping lists, I combine both what I know I need with what is on sale that week, using the weekly ads, if the store has one. With the sale ads, I can see what “occasional buy” type items might be found at a good price that week. For instance, in my shopping trip last night to Sprouts, I had, among other things, arborio rice, chia seeds, and yogurt on the list. When I looked at the sale ads*, I saw that Sprouts also had bulk quinoa at $2.49/lb, Mom’s Best cereal (not g.f., not organic, but all-natural and my older two boys can eat it) at $2/box, and Cascade Fresh 6 oz yogurt cups at 2/$1.00. Those are all things that I can and will use, even if they weren’t initially on my list. Yes, there was yogurt on my list, but I usually only buy plain. Cascade Fresh is one of my favorite brands — all natural, fruit-juice-sweetened, and it was nice for a treat. So, I purchased. (I also purchased one soy-based yogurt at $0.99 for my son who can’t have dairy. It was a brand that uses non-GMO, organic soybeans… I’m not a huge fan of soy, but when he only has one soy yogurt every month or two, I think his body can weather it.)
- I have a mental file of what is a good price for pretty much everything. For example, on my shopping list were dry beans and canned pumpkin. However, this shopping trip, both were expensive – – not on sale. So, I didn’t purchase. I’ll wait until next week or another store to get a good price. Can I wait for a few days or a week or even more to purchase those things? Yes, I can.
- I cook exclusively from scratch and mostly without using recipes. I know not everyone has this skill… My mom taught me how to cook, starting at age seven. I’m 39. That’s 32 years of cooking. I enjoy it, too! So, while I often keep an eye out for a new recipe to try, I would hazard to say that nine out of ten dinnertime meals are made without a recipe. This allows me to be more flexible. I know what I can make, I know what our family likes, and I can make those items, sans a recipe. I don’t have to pull out a recipe card, look at the 15 items, realize that I don’t have 13 of them, and then put all 13 things on my shopping list. In other words, what’s on sale dictates the menu, not the other way around.
- If I have a hankerin’ for something or someone makes a special request — like homemade pizza or homemade Caesar salad — I’ll put mozzarella cheese, (nitrate-free!) pepperoni, and tinned anchovies on the list, and I’ll purchase them if I can find them at a good price, and make that special item. Often, though, I will “plan” to make a special dish for two, three, or even four weeks before I find all the items needed to make that special dish at the right price. If those items cost too much that week — or if they don’t otherwise fit within the budget — I will add the “special purchase” item back to the grocery list for next week.
- My flexible approach makes participating in a CSA, farm share, or other “random” produce plan work well: It really doesn’t matter what kinds of produce I get that week. Whatever comes in the basket, I can find multiple ways to make it work.
So, I guess that’s what it boils down to: I prefer flexibility and saving the maximum amount of money OVER having all my ducks carefully lined up in a row and me knowing a week (or a month!) in advance what I will be making on any given day. But, like I wrote to my friend above, that doesn’t mean I don’t plan at all; I just don’t plan in what might be considered a traditional, menu-planning way.
So, how about you? What tools do you use? Any? Are you looking to change your meal-planning habits any time in the future? If so, why? If not, why? Inquiring minds want to know….
*As a bonus, Sprouts has double-ad Wednesdays. Each sale ad starts on Wednesday and ends Thursday, eight days later. So each Wednesday, two weeks’ worth of ads are valid. So, when there is a screamin’ deal — like navel oranges at 4 lbs/$1.00, I know I can buy 10+ this Wednesday, and 10+ lbs next Wednesday, too. I virtually always shop at Sprouts on Wednesdays to take advantage of double ads.
There are a lot of resources (including recipes) on the internet for all sorts of natural cleaners. I still get asked frequently, though, about what I use.
So, here’s what I do.
First, gather your ingredients:
- Baking soda. I buy baking soda at Costco in 13.5 lb bags, about $6.50 per bag.
- White (distilled) vinegar. I also buy this at Costco. It comes in a 1.33 gallon size, about $3.75.
- Essential oil. I buy this at Sprouts — there are a lot of online resources for essential oil, too. Depending on the oil, it will run you $4-15 per 0.5 oz dropper jar. I typically buy tangerine or lavender, both because I like the scent and because they’re one of the less-expensive varieties. Various essential oils are supposed to accomplish various things (for example, lavender has disinfectant properties and is calming), but I just buy them for the scent.
- A natural, phosphate-free dishwashing liquid. I like the kind from Trader Joe’s, but you can find it just about anywhere. Method, Meyer’s Clean Day, Seventh Generation, even Clorox Green Works is fine. Just not Dawn or Palmolive or the like; they contain chemical detergents and dyes and scents that aren’t good for you or for the environment and just don’t work when you’re using it as an ingredient to make a household cleaner.
Now, make your cleaners:
- For my Everything Cleaner: Fill a 32 oz squirt bottle about 60% full of white vinegar. Add about 20 drops of essential oil. Add about 1 tsp dishwashing liquid. Top bottle with filtered water. Shake gently. This cleaner literally works on everything non-porous: toilets, counter tops, windows, mirrors, stainless steel, whatever. And, it’s non-toxic, so use it without fear in the kitchen. The vinegar is a disinfectant, so if that’s important to you, let the cleaner sit on the surface for a while before wiping down. If you notice streaking on windows, mirrors, and stainless steel, you’re using too much dish soap.
- For things that need scrubbing: Baking soda. That’s it. If you want to get fancy, fill a bowl with baking soda and add 10-20 drops of essential oil. Store in a shaker jar. Use this to clean out tubs, sinks, cook tops, ovens, etc. This also works as a stink-remover on carpet and furniture. Sprinkle, let sit for a while, then vacuum off.
- For floors: A squirt of dish soap in a bucket of hot water. For floors that are NOT a natural stone, add a cup of white vinegar. You don’t need a fancy, expensive floor cleaner.
- For laundry: For about two years, I made my own laundry soap; I don’t any more. I now buy Costco’s Kirkland brand “environmentally friendly” laundry detergent. It is scented (much to my surprise when I first purchased it). To the bottom of each tub of laundry, I add 1/2 cup of baking soda. I fill the fabric softener compartment with white vinegar. The white vinegar is especially effective if you live in an area that has hard water, and/or if your family suffers from eczema and you need all soap residue removed from clothing. If your washing machine does not have an extra rinse/fabric softener cycle, when your clothes are washed, run an additional rinse cycle, adding 1/2 cup of white vinegar. I use regular ol’ unscented bleach on my whites. I do not use fabric softener in the dryer. Don’t need it. Our clothes aren’t as highly scented as if I were using Tide and Downy, but they are CLEAN and what I’m doing is better for our skin and our environment, not to mention cheaper.
Where I do use purchased cleaners:
- Murphy’s Oil Soap. I still use this on wood surfaces like kitchen cabinets.
- Method Wood For Good Furniture Polish. I like the scent, I like the shine. It works well.
- Lysol toilet bowl cleaner. You can use bleach or even baking soda, but the Cling variety of toilet bowl cleaner is still my old standby.
- Dishwasher detergent. I typically buy Palmolive Eco+.
There are folks who make their own dish soap, their own dishwashing detergent, their own laundry detergent… I have experimented with all of those. But from a cost + effort + effectiveness, at least for now, these are the things I have found to be the best choice for our family.
Mothering has always had the fabulous* effect of delivering humility regularly to my doorstep.
“When I’m a mother I will never…”
“When I’m a mother, I will always…”
“My kids would never do…”
(Note to self: Use fewer definitives. Always.)
- Even if you pat yourself on the back for your Mad Laundry Skillz…
- Even if those MLSses include regular use of bleach…
- Even if you find an excellent price on some high-quality washcloths…
- If said washcloths are going to live their days in a bathroom primarily used by boys…
- THEN DON’T BUY WHITE WASHCLOTHS.
If you fail to heed this lesson, you will end up with a half-dozen thick, soft, dun-colored washcloths, whose lack of white brilliance will regularly taunt you.
*can you hear the sarcasm through your screen?
It’s a good day when I look at the clock at 2:32 and feel like I’ve already had a productive day.
Confession: I long to be lazy.
Truth: I rarely let myself be.
So, most days, I spend a good portion of my thought life wishing I could lie down and take a nap. Or vege out and read a book for a few hours with my feet kicked up and a blanket tucked snugly around me. Or that I could turn on the TV in the middle of the day. (The only time, historically, that I’ve “let” myself watch TV during the day is when I have a nursing infant.)
I tell myself, “If you get x, y, and z done, you can lie down for an hour.” But, I never seem to get as much done as I think I should be accomplishing. Thus, I don’t usually indulge my inner drive for laziness.
I get a lot done, typically… But I’ve never felt like I was INDUSTRIOUS. Know what I mean? Like Proverbs 31-industrious, when I’m up before everyone else, weaving purple cloth. Or, in more current terms, I’m not a Pinterest mom, making and posting about the awesome projects I’ve done. So, the things I get done are mostly out of necessity: My family needs to eat. We need toilet paper. We need to not be drowning in clutter and covered in ¼” of dust. So, I do a lot… but I confess that I don’t have a creative, money-making drive. I’m not always trying to DO MORE. I’m pretty happy if all the basics get covered without too much stress.
I’m still not certain if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
I kind of wish I had more drive.
But, I’ve also observed Moms Who Do More having stressed-out kids and no time to snuggle on the couch in the morning. I’m not saying that every industrious mother has a too-busy life, but I myself haven’t found the balance of how to keep snug-time, storybook time, “Mama, can you hold me for a bit?” Or, “Mama, come look at the fort I made!” etc., AND get loads done every day.
This morning, before breakfast, four of my children and I were packed onto the loveseat, covered in blankets, trying not to jam elbows into others’ squishy parts. My four-year-old, Fiala, said with a knowing wiggle of her eyebrows, and a pointed glance at my belly, “Actually, there are five children on the couch.” We stayed for a good 30 minutes, until tummy rumbles and 6-year-old squirminess necessitated breakfast time. I LOVE MORNINGS LIKE THAT.
Shortly after, I made sure everyone had breakfast. I made the grocery list, comparing my list of things we need with things that are on sale at Sprouts. I got the kids started on their chores (which included grounding my 13-year-old and my 11-year-old from playing with friends and/or in the front yard for the rest of the day, as it took me about five times “reminding” them to get them back on track…). I took a shower, bringing a cup of baking soda and a cleaning sponge in with me and scrubbed down the shower enclosure, which was overdue. I went to the store for the remainder of the week’s groceries (I went to Costco yesterday). I came back, ate a good lunch — the first meal in WEEKS that actually tasted good, “thanks” to all-day-long so-called morning sickness. I then put tonight’s dinner in the Crockpot — Chipotle-Orange Pork. Lastly, I made sour cream dip and cut up mounds of veggies for my husband to bring to his home group Bible study tonight.
And that’s what got me to 2:32, feeling accomplished for the day.
I could still do the huge pile of ironing that has been taunting me. I could nip out and get some Christmas shopping done. I could sew my kitchen curtains, which truly is a necessity. (There are two kitchen windows, which meet at 90° — one is completely uncovered, and the other has a nice linen table cloth-thingie held to the spring rod with a binder clip, acting like a curtain. Classy.) I could do more Christmas baking. Or a load of laundry. Or clean the rest of my bathroom. I don’t even have my Christmas decorations up. (They were in the storage unit, which we obtained for our move, and finally cleared out this past Saturday evening. So, now they’re finally in boxes, in my garage….) In other words, I could do something productive. And maybe I should.
But, I’m not. I’ve looked at my day, and decided, “I think I’ll go onto Facebook, then write a blog post.”
Part of me feels extra-justified, because I’ve been feeling like absolute CRAP with this pregnancy. Mornings are better than any other time of day, so I’ve been scurrying through my mornings, getting as much done as possible. But, here I am today, feeling better than I have in weeks, in the afternoon, and I could do more… Yet, I’m choosing not to.
Again. I still haven’t decided if this is positive or negative, but I am — I think — coming to grips with the fact that I’m just not as industrious, not as motivated, not as creative, not as driven, as I think I should I should be.
I guess my one tip is: You can’t do everything. You just can’t. So, you pick and choose. If a clean house is a high priority, then you probably won’t get that book read, or meet a friend for coffee, or take your kids to the park much. Or… whatever. Or, if supplementing your family’s income is a super-high priority, then other things in your life will suffer. You just can’t do it all.
At least, you can’t do it all, all at once. During the school year, I mostly keep to a “six weeks on, one week off” schedule, so for a week or two every six weeks, my house looks fabulous, because I get caught up on cleaning and special projects. The intervening time… not so great.
In general, I tend to do things in “seasons”. Sometimes, I do really well at staying on top of ironing. Sometimes, I get a lot of writing done. Sometimes, I’m able to sneak out for lunch with a friend… but all of that and more seems to be in cycles. I’m virtually never on top of EVERYTHING all at once.
It keeps me dependent on Jesus. And it humbles me, because I would LIKE to stay perfectly on top of everything, but I’m just not able to. That’s just not the season in my life, and part of that is because I have chosen it. I’d have a lot more time to myself if all my kids were in school, or if I had fewer children, or if I didn’t serve in my church, or if I didn’t work so hard to have our family eat cheap AND healthy… but those are the choices I’ve made, and while I’m glad I make them, daily, it automatically means that other things are squeezed out.
Something that has also helped me in the past, and I think I’m going to do again, is a daily schedule of household tasks. I’ve used Motivated Moms. They have a variety of schedules, all printable pdfs, to help you keep track of what should be done each day. It’s a bit of a struggle for me, because I NEVER get done all the schedule says that I “should” get done… and then I feel like a failure, but when I follow a schedule, I do get more done than when I don’t use one at all…
I’m eating my lunch as I type this, sopping up the last of my homemade caesar dressing with some raw broccoli. Mmmm…
Yesterday, I was (semi-unwillingly) in a Walmart, picking up some 9-volt batteries for my hubby. And some Larabars for him. For the record, Walmart Neighborhood Market carries TWO flavors of Larabars. Two. I’m not surprised. They are only $1.15, though.
On my way out, I passed a clearance rack, and saw a fruit fly trap. It caught my eye because, well, we have fruit flies. This is due to poor compost management (my fault) + gloriously beautiful weather (God’s fault) + children who are prone to leave doors open in fine weather. Ugh. I’ve been swatting those suckers for a couple of weeks now. So, I stopped in my tracks, and picked up the trap. It was $5.48. For one trap. On clearance. I’m a tighter wad than that.
Now, the trap was a fake plastic apple with a small plastic container of red liquid. I turned the package over to see what the ingredients are. The active ingredient? Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Chances are high that you have the poison (truly!) in your shampoo as a main ingredient. The second ingredient? Acetic acid. This is the acid in vinegar.
A couple of days ago, I read a truly alarmist post about the dangers of Simple Green. Now, perhaps I took offense, since I have some in my home. I use a concoction of mostly white vinegar to clean nearly everything in our home, but sometimes, one just needs a degreaser. It does appear that Simple Green is not quite as “natural” as I had previously thought, so perhaps that bears some consideration. HOWEVER, the article (not on the Livestrong link in the sentence previous) went on for quite a while on the dangers of butoxyethanol, an alcohol found in Simple Green. It quoted extensively from the Material Data Safety Sheet for the alcohol, highlighting its more alarming properties.
Now, I’m not suggesting that Simple Green is The Best Ever and you should go out and buy a gallon. There are better cleaning alternatives. Here’s what bothered me, though. ALMOST EVERYTHING, in pure form, is dangerous if taken into our bodies. Even water. You can overdose from water. Or salt. OR ACETIC ACID!! In fact, according to their respective MSDSsssses (or however one should spell that), acetic acid is MORE DANGEROUS than butoxyethanol!! And why is this so ironic?? Because on the post about how dangerous Simple Green is, virtually everyone chimed in to say that they cleaned with vinegar. You know, that liquid that is nearly entirely water and acetic acid?!??
The reason that neither Simple Green nor vinegar are harmful is because of the concentrations of the chemicals within. Simple Green contains less than 4% butoxyethanol. Vinegar is diluted, as a standard, to 5% acetic acid.
So, really, the people who are campaigning against Simple Green may wanna do a little more homework first, before getting caught up in the frenzied tide.
Most things are at their best in moderation. 🙂 Some things warrant some passion and to jump in with both feet and start swinging punches. However, before you do that, you may want to ensure your passion is well-placed.
Back to the fruitflies.
I figured I could take a small jar (a half-pint glass canning jelly jar), mix some apple cider vinegar and some sodium lauryl sulfate-containing dishwashing detergent (yes, even Seventh Generation has it!) in the bottom of the jar, take a funnel and turn it upside down in the jar, and wait for the fruit flies to be attracted to the smell of vinegar, wander into the funnel, and drown/be poisoned in the mixture within.
This morning, there were eight dead fruit flies in my trap.
Turns out I’m not as original as I had thought, though. Seems like everyone and his brother have blogged a tutorial on this, and I’m behind the times. I guess if I would have had the foresight to Google this, I could have had my problems solved weeks ago.