Ah, Mother's Day. Such an odd day of high expectations, gratitude, love, normalcy, and regularity.
am so thankful for my mom. I have an amazing relationship with her and I
can only appreciate it and hope for the same with my own children when
they are adults. For her, I made this little hedgehog puppet. She likes
hedgehogs since we lived in England and so I knit it for her. I am working on my will...
And for me...Mike booked an overnight down the coast in Monterey. It was gorgeous. I forgot my camera (??!!), but my phone took some relatively decent photos. He worked hard to make sure I was spoiled. These short people...they break me sometimes, but they make me a mamma everyday.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Saturday, May 4, 2013
We made May Day baskets on Wednesday and delivered them to my friend, Anita (who brought us goodies a few weeks ago). The little gnome creature was made my Lala, using a champagne cork (collected free from the recycle bin at Whole Foods) and crochet, which she has just learned. Isn't "Apple" cute? The idea was completely inspired by the cork gnome set she received from friends for her birthday.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
A few weeks after my latest miscarriage, I am now physically healed and emotionally far more stable. I am coming back into a more consistent pattern of getting up early for exercise and therefore being ready for my day with the kids. I am not yet getting enough sleep (and neither is Mike), mostly because Mike has been getting home only to have a chain of conference calls into the night, so connecting with him has been hard, but the intent and desire to connect has been there for both of us. (My parents did make sure we got a date night on Friday! Thank you thank you!)
This week was also a really good homeschool week. I just read this list of advice for those new to homeschooling. I knew these things already. I practiced most of them already. But some, I had to process through in my own way and I think I might there now. I realized that we aren't really Waldorf homeschoolers. I think I am a Waldorf inspired teacher/parent and it speaks to me as mamma, as an educational base, as well as many of the lifestyle aspects. It seems to be therapeutic for Lala. I am not yet sure if it will work for Finnian as we move closer to the grades (kindergarten this autumn!) and I am increasingly mindful that I need to be open to what works for each child.
This week, after a totally miserable (in every way) Moanday, we have rolled through the remainder of the week learning, playing, and working together beautifully. Since spring break, I have taken a less boxed approach to our lessons and we are having so much more fun. Finnian has been more interested in joining us at his level, there are few (no?) battles, and I feel like we are getting more done. (Whatever done means. Actually, it means I still have an awareness of accountability to our homeschool charter.)
This past couple of weeks have been hard, joyous, strange parenting weeks. The kind of weeks that have every kind of mamma emotion. The recognition that my 8 year old is high needs in a way that means she is just more youthful (and naive) than most her age and being okay with that. Her intensity and sensitivity are teaching me so very much about what an amazing person she is and what an amazing person I am! (Self back pat!) There was the light bulb moment I realized that her comfort and growth firmly needed to be above my comfort with the other parents we were with. (something I should always have known, but we have all been in those awkward parenting situations).There have been moments of having complete frustration with my girl and a desire for a break, followed by several days of pride at watching her catch herself in a meltdown and pull herself back out. In part because of good parenting on my part (another self back pat!) I have to work at maintaining my patience!
I have realized that since winter break, I have swapped from having a lot of one-on-one time with Finnian, to a lot with Lala, and that I need to be mindful to give Finnian the attention he needs and deserves. (Note to self: drop what you are doing and help him with that puzzle when he asks!) This mellow, loves-his-sister-through-thick-and-thin boy is forcing me to accept that he is still little, but not so little anymore. Oh, sigh...the growing up, the pulling away. It's bittersweet, I tell you. To be honest, I am feeling a bit of mourning for the babies I lost this year and a bit of mourning for the early childhood stages we have moved through and beyond with my living, larger-than-life kiddos. Yet I am so, so incredibly grateful for this time I have with my children. There you have it...I might just be homeschooling for me.
So here's a post of life successes.
Making dandelion wishes (above) during a park date with friends. Below, "dissecting" flowers and identifying parts. We are doing a stretched out block on flowers and herbs, inspired by our participation in a herb learning program for kids (and kids at heart). The big text book was mine in college that pulled out to review for myself. It has survived many purges!
Our spring nature table, above. Below, an idea gleaned from somewhere (??) a year or so ago, but re-kindled by a homeschool co-op mamma, who said she was doing it with her kids. I have started a journal with Lala. I write a note to her. She writes a note to me. It can be anything. The rules are, no criticisms about what the other writes and no corrections. I am hoping it opens a new method of communication with her and it will let me watch her writing progress (not to mention encourage writing). She has added the twist that we play hide and seek with it after we have written a message. I write, I hide, she seeks. And vice versa.
Above: We had a number of Stockmar block crayons I bought used and a set of Faber Castell stick crayons that I had put in a crayon roll for the kids for Christmas. (The Faber Castells are smooth, vibrant-colored beeswax at a very affordable price.) BUT...a few of the Faber Castells broke, so I decided to use a little of our charter money to try Stockmar stick crayons, which I had heard were super solid. (Note: 3 Stockmars broke withing 2 weeks. I will buy Faber Castell again moving forward.) The Stockmars came in a tin and so Lala wanted a tin for our existing crayons. I thought for a moment and pulled out one of the old slide tray boxes Grannie Annie had given us and I had had on my sewing table. (She used to work in a museum.) It's perfect. We even labeled the front of the box using part of one of Lala's pretty watercolors. Speaking of that, see below. The kids enjoying painting. I am loving the painting boards they made with Mike, for me, for Christmas.
Below, the kids are making "recyclables" using scrap cardboard, newspaper, and food ads. They wanted to put something in the Green Toys recycle truck I got at the Thrift Store for $2. We have been doing a block about the Earth from an Earth Day perspective.
Above, Lala made a mobile from the project she did to get a better handle on her place in the world. (We followed these project instructions. I really like that site!) Below; We have been doing practical math with money and Lala has been interested in setting up shop, so she has set up Cafe' World inside, complete with menu (on my placemat) and bills at the end of the meal. She asked me to write her narration of foods she can make and prices. (Her values are funny! $2 for bubbly water, $1.75 for a sandwich!) She sets the table, seats you, makes you your meal and adds up your bill. You pay, she gives you change. She's done the same with a "flower shop" in our garden. You can buy flowers...see the beautiful bouquet below the Cafe World photo. All proceeds go into "the homeschool jar," which we decide as a family how to spend.
Making sun prints with both construction paper (takes longer, but really lasts) and a sun print kit (super cool and fast, but fades from the paper quickly).
Friday, April 26, 2013
A question of concern about finances prompted me to offer some thoughts on frugalizing and when the offer was accepted, it occurred to me I needed to gather my thoughts and maybe some of my favorite posts on frugality. Well, I looked and my last post with a frugal label was a year ago! I have had my own renewed desire and increased needs to manage our money a better again (while simultaneously recognizing, with gratitude, that we were in a season of life able to loosen up a little), as we look at making some changes to better suit where we are in life and where we think we are going (as well as trying to make our dream life a little closer to reality).
So let's start here...
Here is the link to every single post I have written that in some way speaks "frugality and thrift" to me. Some of the posts overlap with the posts I wrote during our year of not buying anything new.
If I had to give a crash course in economizing, I would suggest that the text book be The Complete Tightwad Gazette (with the aside note that it was published in the early 90s, so we have both advantages now that we did not 20 years ago (the Internet!!), we have more information about proper nutritional choices, and we have an awareness that some things do cost more). That book is a well referenced part of my home library. It is an easy, fun read, packed with great tips (some of which you will happily adopt, some which you will laugh at and skip, and some that you might come back to later). Another book I think is really good and is current is Organized Simplicity, which covers budgeting, planning, and organizing, as well as just simplifying, all of which are key to a frugal life. And one of the blogs I really enjoyed was Like Merchant Ships. She no longer blogs, but her content is still there. You can be frugal with style.
Here are several key steps to getting in control of your money.
- Make a list of spending categories that make sense to you Now prioritize them. (Remember, you aren't yet budgeting, just noting what is most important to you.)
- Track every penny. For at least a month, preferably 3. Gather your courage (it could be ugly) and write down every penny you spend and what you spent it on. Sort those expenditures into the categories you created. Do your priorities and spending match up? (They probably don't.)
- Now you get to budget. With a sense of how much you spend where, an idea of how you want to be spending, sit down with your income. (This might come from multiple sources for you.) I suggest making your budget zero out. Take your income and "spend it" into every category, so this might include a category for "savings" and/or "charity." This is explained nicely in Organized Simplicity.
- If credit is an issue for you, pull your spending money out as cash and stick it into envelopes labeled by budget category. When the money is gone, it's gone. (If you have accrued debt you are struggling to pay down, Mary Hunt has a super simple strategy. Check for her books at your library.)
- Buy used or don't buy. When you do buy new, buy the best quality you can afford. Use the library, thrift stores, Freecycle, and Craigslist. Consider what your needs are versus your wants. Less really is more. (Trust me on this...we spent a year buying nothing new and I learned you can buy a lot more when you buy used, but that personally, I don't want more. It just takes time to clean, organize, or ultimately purge it!)
- Become a planner. Being organized and planning ahead really, really help with saving money. Planning meals means less last minute shopping. Acquiring kid clothing ahead at low prices means no last minute expensive shopping during growth spurts. Buying during sales (or spending time making yourself), means no expensive last minute shopping for gifts. And so on.
- Be creative. Not having much money forces creativity and being creative is fulfilling and educational. It's also environmentally friendly. Make things yourself, use things up, do without (find substitutes) and so on.
- Take inspiration from your grandparents or someone else you know who lived through the 1930s and 1940s. There was nothing spare to waste and people lived happily (!!) and comfortably with far less. Remember, one step at a time.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
My mom, Lala, and I have a tradition of an annual visit to a museum. We hadn't been in awhile (not since late summer 2011, I think) and my mom and I both caught that a Vermeer was making its way for a visit. My mom arranged tickets for us and the three of us ventured to the city for a ladies Dutch-inspired lunch and an art exhibition. Lala and I had done a little learning about Vermeer and Rembrandt (heavily featured in the exhibit), when they lived, and where. When we got there, we got Lala an audio tour and she loved it!