Ugh... seriously... will the stress ever just stay constant. Cyan's toe, her recital, and now this? I keep wanting to see a message here but all I keep getting is "Go to bed early and sleep late." Sigh.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Ugh... seriously... will the stress ever just stay constant. Cyan's toe, her recital, and now this? I keep wanting to see a message here but all I keep getting is "Go to bed early and sleep late." Sigh.
Here is a link to the large slideshow if you want to see it full screen.
This is a great time to give a plug to one of my favorite authors. Shirley Woods is an amazing nature author. He has studied many animals and written stories about what that animals life must be like in the wild. Woods doesn't pull any punches... he is a nature writer... so brothers and sisters of the baby animals die to feed other animals. The circle of life in the wild is clear. One of the raccoons brothers gets hit by a car. The foxes sister gets carried away by a hawk. But my kids were absolutely transfixed by the story.
Without reading this book I may have never known that raccoons have three or four different dens each year and they switch between them when they feel stressed about their home at all. There are many aspects of nature that you don't see unless you follow them for a whole season. And that is hard to do. But these books do that and more... they describe why the animals have their queer little habits and how their behavior may help them survive in the wild.
I describe these books to my friends as being like Meerkat Manor... but in book form. Real nature. The ones we have owned are Amber: The Story of the Red Fox, and Kit: The Adventures of a Raccoon. We loved them both.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
I called the gas company and asked them what the average bill was for the new house in the winter. He said that the average was $175 or there abouts... and the highest they have ever had was $211. That same month that their bill was $211, ours was $573!! I think we will be much happier there this next winter... what do you think? :)
P.S. Cyan was able to do her dance recital today and she did GREAT! She did better on stage than I have ever seen her in rehearsal. It was awesome! Thanks for all the well wishes about her toe. It is doing much better although won't look right for weeks yet. But she is handling it all well.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Don has T/W/Th off with his job right now. Tuesday we had planned that Don was going to court... but it got put off until Wed. Which meant that we had to try to get everything done that we had planned for Wed, on Tues. The joy of the job. :( Court was Wed morning, and then in the afternoon we had a 5 hour First Time Home Buyers class. Nothing got done on Wed.
Thursday was Cyan's dress rehearsal for her dance recital on Sat. We tried to get as much done as we could, but then the day is split in half like that, it is hard to stay motivated or on task for any length of time.
But this was the last weekend Don had before the move.
This morning, Cyan tripped on the patio and somehow ripped off her toenail and some of the top of her toe... the day before her dance recital. Poor baby is all kinds of messed up. Hopefully, she will still be able to dance. But it doesn't look good. Good thing her shoes are a size too big or she wouldn't have a chance at all.
In housing news, we are right on schedule. Our banker is cutting it a bit close for the signing, but she feels really confident about it, and that makes me feel better. We are trying to set up a meeting with the owners of the house for Monday so I can get a feel for the new place and the lady can walk me around the yard and let me know where she put what so I don't mess up her yard that is so beautiful now.
The stress is picking up. The end of the school year, start of the good weather, etc is bringing out the thugs and so Don has gotten quite a bit of overtime which leaves me to do all the home front stuff... and right now that is really overwhelming. My body is starting to react. I have a condition where my body starts rejecting food if I am too stressed. I haven't mentioned it, because it has been under control for the past 4 years.... but it is starting to surface right now a little bit and of course, that is adding to the stress. There is just a whole lot on my plate right now...
This week is all about getting rid of the last bits of stuff that I didn't get to go through for the first four weeks of the challenge so it is a bit muddled and disjointed:
- Tapes and CD's
- Video games and DVD's
- Decorations (Regular and seasonal)
- Memory things (Scrapbooks, blankets, etc... mostly organize, but getting rid of some wouldn't hurt)
- Kids toys
- Furniture (Yep, even the big stuff)
- Laundry room stuff (cleaning supplies)
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
First I wandered around and picked up tiny things. I have an obsession with tiny things so it took all of about 4 minutes to gather the things up for this jar. In there I have tiny things like carrots, milk jugs, and wooden books from their doll house stuff (anyone who wants to see my craftiest crafts... check out the doll house pictures), tiny shells and stones from the nature table stuff, small rocks and heart shaped glass pebbles, a tiny clothes pin, a couple of glass marbles that had peace signs and quotes on them (for the older kiddos), and a sweet little glow in the dark frog. Then I filled the jar 3/4 of the way with short grain rice. At first I over filled it, thinking that it would be better, but it really doesn't uncover the stuff quite as well when there isn't a bunch of headroom, so if you try this, bare that in mind.
Logan had a blast with it. He spent about a half an hour just turning it and looking for the frog. He would find the rock and I swear he called it three different things. One was "a bug!". lol! It certainly was a perfect Eco-friendly craft.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
This really is the best way to keep these types of things. I currently have one jar for each; nails, screws, tacks, batteries, cup hooks, picture hooks, and headless tack nails (for woodworking).
I threw away a lot though. Old tiny bits of used sand paper, paper plans, bolts from beds we haven't had for years, etc. It all went. The garage tool box lowest section was dedicated to all the things we definitely will need, but don't need very often. Things like dry wall patch, wood putty and the putty knife, touch up paint for the car, packages of wool pads for the bottoms of chair legs, the knife sharpener... stuff like that.
I went from a whole cabinet to a milk crate and my two tool boxes. It feels pretty darned good... Even if I could have done it less meticulously.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Let's face it, organic chicken is spendy. The easiest way to get your moneys worth is to buy whole chickens and have a two day chicken meal. I usually make a whole chicken for my family about once a week. I stick a whole organic chicken in the crock pot, cover it with chicken broth, and drop an onion (skin and all) in there with it. After 3 hours we have a perfectly cooked chicken for dinner.
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbs hot salsa
1/2 can black beans
chopped cilantro leaves
Add all of this into a small food processor and process until chopped but still slightly chunky.
This weeks menu:
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Isn't he cute?
Friday, May 22, 2009
The most wonderful dinner, made with leftovers.
A bit on shovels and other hard to store things: I have a large 5 gl bucket that I fill with one bag of playground sand that I keep my often used garden shovels in. The sand keeps them dry and sharp, and as long as you have it up next to a wall, it is a stable way to keep your most used shovels. The other shovels, along with my apple picker, tree trimmer, rakes, hoe, and picks, all hang on the garden shed wall. I have used many different tools to make this work, but my favorite is strategically set nails strait into the studs. For this next house, however, I am planning on using one of those broom holders that fits onto the studs and holds a variety of things with only two screw holes. I will have one inside the house for brooms, wipe rags, mops and plastic bags, etc. The other will be in the shed, holding all of those things that don't go into my bucket of sand. Axes and other sharp things that could fall on you while you are working in the shed should be as securely attached to the wall as possible. In the last shed, I just simply used two nails, securely put into the studs, with the ax on it, and then wrapped a rubber band round the nails so the ax didn't move unless I wanted it to. This worked really well.
Ok, on to the declutter list (only 5 this week because two are big jobs):
- Garden Shed
- Garage storage areas
- Canning jars and cooking extras
- Party supplies
- Fabric and sewing machines
Thursday, May 21, 2009
"GOOD MORNING!" That is what Logan greets us with every morning right now. He comes into the bedroom sometime between 5 and 7 am shouting "Good morning! Good Morning! Good mooooorn-ing!". It is really cute... after 6:30.
On the decluttering front, we have gotten rid of about a dump truck load of stuff. I have bought a few things to replace a few that were run down, but other than that, it hasn't been coming back in either. Which is nice. Most of the stuff that was brought back in was decor for the new kitchen (the lamp, pictures, a red rug... that all makes me very happy. Teehehe!) and then summer clothes for the kids. I have given away tons of things that I never would have if we weren't moving and even after all the stress and the $2800 we have paid in gas bills over the last 6 months (yes, you read that right) I feel eventually it will be a blessing. (Ok, making lemonade here people!) I am still trying to figure out how to get some of that money back from our landlord. I don't think we can. The gas co rep said to seek legal council. I am just not sure if I care that much. Esp now that we are getting out.
For the new house, we need to get a few appliances. This is an interesting process for us as first time home buyers, because we don't know much about brands and price and all that. I know we have an electric stove top, a stove hood, an insert oven, and a fridge to buy. We are looking at the used places and the Sears outlet first to try to find some gems if we can. My goal is to buy them without credit at all. We are close to having enough in savings right now for both the rest of the down, and the appliances. If we get them used we will make it... *crossing fingers*.
This has been a really stressful week for me because I am trying to finish up the kids school stuff and then start packing. Don is a "works good under pressure" person... but he doesn't feel pressure until there is a fire or a shooting or something. So he is wondering why I am running around doing all this stuff 'so early'.... and it kinda makes me have mean thoughts. A lot. But the kids testing is done. So their school year is practically over (we still do school in the summer, so taking the next month off won't hurt us in the slightest), and I can relax and really concentrate on the house stuff soon.
My next declutter challenge is the garage and storage areas! I wish I had taken a before picture of our garage... cuz that baby was CRAZY... but the after doesn't look a whole lot better because it is clean, but PACKED with boxes. lol!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
When you let these cool, they will start to pull away from the sides of the pan all by themselves. When they were completely cool I just turned the tin over and all but one fell out instantly. The other was a bit more stuck, so I stuck the tin in the freezer and it popped out in less than 20 minutes.Logan was pretty thrilled and he and Cyan decided to color while Alex was taking his test. It was a great way to use the old crayons, and a fun activity to offset the drab testing day stuff.
Monday, May 18, 2009
It sure is a beautiful space in our house and I am glad it is back out.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
In the external scheme of things, shining moments are as brief ast he twinkling of an eye, yet such twinklings are what eternity is made of - moments when we human beings can say "I love you", "I'm proud of you," "I forgive you," "i am grateful for you." That's what eternity is made of: Invisible, imperishable good stuff.
~ Fred Rogers
Saturday, May 16, 2009
On the decluttering front, I have been getting rid of everything. Lol... I say that lightly, but I went through my kids rooms yesterday with a fine toothed comb, and then I went through the drawers in the kitchen and got rid of everything I hadn't used for the last 6 months. I have gotten rid of 'favorites', 'specials', and "But I love that ones". And in many ways it is freeing. I have decided not to keep anything I can't see inside the new house. If I can see where it goes, and have a place for it, than it stays. If not, it goes... and some of that is really hard, but a lot of that is freeing and feels great! With the nice sunny weather we have had for the past two days I am really enjoying getting everything out and taking trips to goodwill to drop stuff off. It feels so great!
How is everyone else's weekend going? Spring cleaning and decluttering going alright so far?
Friday, May 15, 2009
Arn't those details sweet? We plugged it in as soon as we got home and it works fine. Just needs light bulbs and little bulb covers for the three night light bulbs.
And my last score for this week:
There are three of these. One is bread, one is salad, and one is fruit. They are tiny, like 5X7 frames. And they were each $.99 a piece. I think I am going to put them over the kids kitchen set in our new kitchen. And to do that, of course, they have to match:
A can of spray paint for $4 and I have a beautiful little decoration for the new kitchen.
And on the news of the new house, there are two things they need to fix, but other than that, the inspection passed with flying colors! So it looks like we will be moving come June 5th. *Glee* We called and gave notice yesterday. SO excited!!!
So the only show I really watch is Grey's Anatomy (oh wait... The Biggest Looser, too, but totally not the same). I started watching it online two years ago when the online show thing was just starting. And my favorite character is George. And now I am totally bawling. My kids don't get it... they just got up from nap time and I was crying. George. OMG. I don't know if I want to keep watching the show. That 007 finger signing moment had me bawling my eyes out with my hand over my mouth. I didn't see it coming. Not at all.
With this in mind, my declutter frenzy moves on to the Kitchen.
- Dishes, cups, and flatware
- Baking dishes and pots (including stored ones)
- Mixing bowls, utensils, and gadgets
- Cookbooks and kitchen towels/napkins
- Small appliances (and large ones if you have them to spare)
- Pantry (all out-dated food goes)
- Canning supplies and any other stored food prep items are cleaned or gotten rid of.
Every kitchen has a ton of things that are sentimental. For many people, food comes with emotion. And mostly good emotion. For this declutter challenge you may want to bring in a friend to help you be as brutal as you want to be.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
There are other pictures in there too... Alex and Cyan do have their portfolios started for this year. Each one is a 2 inch three ring binder. Armed with a Costco pack of page protectors and a recycle bin I go through their work quite often (declutter modes come and go), taking out the gems and adding them to the portfolio. All major projects go in there if I can make it happen. If I can't (like Alex's clay map) then I take a picture or print out the blog post about it and add it in to the portfolio. I try to make as accurate a picture of their year as I can. The kids and I both love looking through them and show them to just about anyone who is willing.
Then, honestly, the rest of the stuff goes into the recycle bin. If there are 12 units in one subject, I try to take a bit of each of them (like their botany drawings from each lesson, shown in the last picture) so that shows what they learned or at least how much they did on a subject, but for the most part, if there is a repeat project, it goes. If they had to do the same math lesson a couple times, I don't keep both of them (I don't keep much of their math, it is awfully sequential and shows what they have learned quiet easily).
That is pretty much my system. :) Do you have a successful way to store your kids finished school work? Please leave a comment and let me know. :)
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Hell... I am such a lucky woman.
Something that really moved me today:
Happy anniversary my love!
9 Rainy day things to do out of the house with three kids for under $9: (Quite the title, huh?)
1. Find yourself a nice big bookstore. Most large bookstores now have coffee shops inside, and in the children's section, a small area with toys for toddlers. We often will split a Venti hot cocoa between the 4 of us and play there for a couple hours reading books. *Total cost: $4 *Eco-friendly: Absolutely! There isn't too much bad you can say about books.
2. Get a membership. We have one to the Children's Museum, the Zoo, and NW trek. We ask for these memberships (or donations to go towards them) for birthdays and Christmas gifts. It is a gift that keeps on giving all year long. Then when we start to get stir crazy we can get out of the house for free. We usually bring a packed lunch and make a day of it. *Total cost: $0 *Eco-friendly: If you remember to take your trash with you it gets 10 out of 10.
3. Story hour at the library. Most public libraries have story hours for each age group. We usually go to the ones for my youngest child (2 years old) and then the other kids just hang out in their sections of the library reading books. *Total cost: $0 (Ok, maybe a couple library fees.) *Eco-friendly: Doesn't get better than this.
4. The mall playplace. Many malls have started adding play places into their corridors for the youngest in the crew. Alex and I bring books and Cyan and Logan play. Most of the time we split a Jamba Juice, but it isn't a necessity. *Total cost: $0 (w/juice $4.82) *Eco-friendly: Mostly... I am not a huge fan of the germs that run around those places, but remembering some good hand washing skills and I think it passes the test.
5. Find some big water. On the nicer days around here we head to the beach/lake areas. The key with rain is; if it is a drizzle, the kids won't melt. But in a downpour, I move on to other ideas. Sometimes rainy days are the best times to be outside as it is much less crowded and you can see way more of the local wildlife than you would on a sunny weekend day. Make sure to bring nature packs or binoculars. And bringing snacks is essential, but we have been known to stop at a local burger joint and pick up a couple baskets of fries. *Total cost: $0 (w/fries $6) *Eco-friendly: Sure... Just don't feed the birds. ;)
6. Find yourself a nice big box. Cardboard can be such a treasure. If you call ahead, most Sears, Home Depot, or other of those types of stores have large boxes from display model washers and dryers on hand. Getting and bringing home a treasure like that will thrill even the older kids! When you find one you can make a whole world in your own living room. A friend of mine is a pro at this. She has made trains (like real looking trains) and airplanes from her cardboard boxes and her kids play in them for days. *Total cost: $0 (or 20 minutes on the phone) *Eco-friendly: Completely! Recycle, recycle, recycle.
7. The gem of a toy store. Yeah. Toys R Us is fun, but most of the time, it is the small expensive toy stores that you really fall in love with. We usually will pick up kids apple ciders from Starbucks and head to the toy store downtown. It has playmobile table, a train table, a wooden kitchen, and all sorts of other things for the kids to play with while they are there. It is harder to get out of here without buying something than the bookstore. But I can usually do it. ;) *Total cost: $3.49 *Eco-friendly: The least on the list and still isn't bad.
8. Local farm. Almost every town has one. It just takes finding it. Some of them are really kid friendly and others are not so much. We have two kid friendly ones within 30 miles of us and I consider us very lucky. One is a great place to take the kids to feed the goats, chickens, and pigs and pick up some great free range eggs, and the other has a farm store where I get most of my produce and their eggs are also free range and divine. *Total cost: $1 for goat food if your lucky... and maybe $3 for fresh eggs. *Eco-friendly: Local farms are usually pretty planet friendly... but you may want to check what their growing practices are.
9. Window shop at a pet store. Talk about easy to leave with nothing. lol! I doubt any one will consistently come home with a new Fido or Fluffy, but the kids LOVE these stores with a passion. The fish wall alone can be an hours worth of entertainment... McDonald's and TV free. :) We don't bring food to the pet store, but sometimes like to make iced-tea for the car trip. *Total cost: $0 *Eco-friendly: Yep. Nothing spent, nothing thrown away.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I need some help with storing paints and paint supplies. I have a box of 12 large bottles of tempera paint, 7 sets of water colors, a table clothe I put over the table when we paint, paint mixing dishes, old 1/2 pint ice cream cups with lids, used men's shirts for smocks, and TONS of brushes. I don't plan on getting rid of any of it. But I want to be able to store it well, and neatly so I can pack it away when we are done with it and have it be really nice and neat. How would you guys accomplish this?
Monday, May 11, 2009
Yes, I said Friday and I am posting this on Monday... But I have decided that I am going to start posting the list every Friday for everyone else. It seems that most people have more time over the weekends. My husband has a rotating schedule... Very little consistency and the hardest part about his job so far. But Friday is just as good as any other day for me. :)
For this week, we are moving to the Office/Homeschool area! I feel like I already got a head start... but for me, this also means that I am packing up everything we don't use all the time, so I may need the weekdays to get it all done.
When I have a system that works for a particular area, I will share it here (and sometimes just to toot my own horn ;) )... But I am ALWAYS open to new ideas so if you guys have a great system that works for you for any of these areas in your home please send me links to pictures, or leave a comment with your genius in my comments section. You know how I love comments. :D
Things I try to remember when decluttering:
- Be as brutal as I need to be.
- Things that are broken and/or don't work should be tossed.
- Make lists of things that are needed and be patient with filling those needs.
- Don't declutter just to bring a bunch more in.
- Try to be honest with the difference between needs and wants.
- For at least a week, try to make do... sometimes I am amazed at what I find that will fill the void just by decluttering another space!
Office declutter challenge for the week of Friday May 8th - Friday May 15th (one for each day):
- School books and projects
- Art supplies (stored ones, too)
- Supplies (binders, paper, stored packing materials, etc)
- Finished work
- Craft ideas
- 4 cups cooked brown/wild/red/mixed rice
- Olive oil for cooking
- One large onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 handfuls of each frozen golden beets and frozen green beans
- 1 1/2 Tbs Bragg's Amino Acid or 1 Tbs soy sauce
- 2 Tbs mayonnaise
Chop onion into slivers, and mince garlic. In a large skillet, saute' over med high heat with oil until onion starts to clear. Add in beets and green beans and agitate constantly until they are cooked through. Add in the rice and mix until warm. Remove from heat and add the Bragg's and mayo. Toss and serve, warm or cold.
- 4 cups cooked brown/wild/red/mixed rice
- Olive oil or butter for cooking
- 1 can or 1 1/2 cup frozen corn
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 can or 1 1/2 cup cooked black beans
- 3 Tbs salsa
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped olives
Either of these recipes could be converted to vegan, and both serve 5 - 6 people for under $5. I just love rice!