Friday, August 31, 2012

If Pinterest Was A Person

You say, I just wanted to check in real quick. Maybe there is a fast supper idea here. Can you help me, old (new) friend? I'm not even going to pin anything. I just need a quick look.

Pinterest says, sit down and stay a while. Get comfortable. Speaking of comfortable, did you see this easy diy chair reupholstery project?

Not what I'm looking for at all...huh, macaroni in a mug. A thousand ways to wrap a gift. Vinegar and chalkboard paint will save the world. Ugh, salted caramel. Why won't that just die?

YOU NEED TO PIN THIS NOW AND READ LATER>>>IT HAS OVER 4,OOO RE-PINS>>>Have you prayed for your husband today?

Stop making me feel bad because I didn't pray for my husband today. I trusted God to look after him, okay? Falling leaves, pumpkin latte, a chill in the air. People love autumn. I wish I could get excited about autumn. Mmmm...blackberry crumble, that's exciting. Where are all these pallets coming from that folks build stuff with? I mean, we have pallets laying around but we're building a house. What's their excuse? Smoothies. Pretty wreath...darn, it's a craft. I want to buy it, not make it.

All your friends love this 1885 farm house kitchen. Melanie re-pinned this apple pie.

Seriously? I actually know here. She can make a better pie than that with her eyes closed. Okay, I'm getting distracted. Let me visit my food board.

Wait! 40 ways to tie a scarf!

It's 90 degrees outside. 

Pin now, save for later. You'll be sorry!

Ignoring's some artichoke pasta I re-pinned twice. Brown sugar chicken. Oh, it's spam. Not even a spam recipe, just spam. Yum, there's that lemon cake I've been wanting to try.

You can rub soap on your mosquito bite to make it stop itching. Amanda is now following you. Giraffes!

 I'll get a restraining order. Hey, here's something quick and easy. Whew. Okay, now where was I? Oh yes...that is a cute and doable baby picture. Pin! No scrub cleaner for stove burners...well if that works it's worth something. Ahh, built-ins. I wish we had planned for built-ins before we, uh, started building.

Faith in God Includes Faith in His Timing.

Yes. You know what I really need to pin? Hope. Is there any hope on here?

My HOPE is in HIM. This is the easiest pad Thai you will ever make. It's no-sew. Never shuck corn again!

Yeah, right. If there is one thing I know for certain, it's that I could pin that and be shucking corn tomorrow. Uh oh, was that a cry and a huff? The baby is awake. Gotta go!

Come back! Copy-cat spaghetti baked in garlic bread smothered in salted caramel...

You've held me hostage long enough. Maybe I'll come back and visit later tonight.  But I'm just going to visit, not pin anything. a Mason jar!

Oh please.

(Edited to say: I actually enjoy Pinterest, and you're welcome to follow me if you do too.)

Follow Me on Pinterest

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Savings of Staying Home

Right off the bat when I quit working, we did lose money, but not as much as one would expect. No more filling up the gas tank three times a week (I lived quite a distance from where I worked). No more store bought snacks or lunches for those days when I didn't or couldn't bring a lunch or snack. Finally, although I find joy in giving and am glad that I can contribute, there were now fewer cash gift contributions to make towards whatever occasion a work place collection was being administered. Because I worked in a large and loving library community, there was a collection almost every week. But one of the biggest savings came in clothing.

I don't dress that differently from what I wore to work to what I wear anyplace else. The main difference is quality and newness, so my clothes with the least amount of wear were the ones that went to church and work, while some old dresses and skirts are really what I wear for day to day cleaning. I had spent so long making sure I had decent professional clothing on hand that it took a few months to remember that I no longer had to dress like that every day. I could now wear my denim skirts, slightly worn tops, and flip flops. Yay! Of course, I can't wear that for every occasion either, so the first time I crafted a nice church-worthy outfit for under $25 I felt like a champ. The only thing about store-bought clothing is that it rarely lasts as long as the items I have sewn, so I definitely want to keep sewing as time allows.

The rainy day we've been saving for.
Another thing I noticed after Duckling came along was that food prices soared last year. Remember, I had spent a year in bed being sick and not getting out much. Then,  I suddenly went to the store and thought What happened here? I read a couple of sources that described low cost meal systems, and found that they fell into two areas. One is the extreme couponing model, where you denounce all brand loyalty and after running to ten different stores with a fistful of ads and coupons, wind up with five boxes of cereal and ten bottles of salad dressing for free. The other technique involves a combination of mass bulk buying and limiting yourself to certain recipes that work with the hundred pounds of chicken legs in your freezer. I have ended up doing what I always did, which was carving out a middle ground that uses a little of both strategies. By using coupons for products we like and use and keeping up with the sales at the 4-5 stores where I regularly shop (two grocery stores, two drug stores, and Target) along with produce stands and a bulk food store, I'm able to make the same delicious meals we always enjoyed, at a decent price.

I still love articles where ladies talk about how they make ends meet and how they feed their families on pennies a day. There is always something usable there, and if not, then I can use the inspiration. Every family has different priorities about what they consider to be essential, and once you know what those are, you can set about finding the best deals and leaving the rest. 

Our formula would not work for everybody. Our lifestyle does not include a satellite or cable television package, car payments, smart phones, cosmetics, or even paying for water and trash removal, with those last two being based on where we live.We're also blessed with an extremely low heating bill every winter thanks to our wood stove and a large amount of wood split by my husband and his family.

The money we've saved by my staying home is off-set to a point by some new expenses. Items for the baby, additional health check ups, and the rare baby sitter. Also, we are still generous when it comes to giving to those who are in need. Because saving means you have more to give, when you live simply so that others can simply live.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Unexpected Reunion

It happens every year. No, not just the reunion, but the fact that The Mister invariably forgets to request off from work the day before the reunion, and we end up having to leave just hours after he comes off of his shift and the poor guy ends up awake for 24 hours straight. It happened again this year, and I drove a baby who had a very bad week and one very tired man out to the annual old-fashioned-farm-machinery-threshing-event that also serves as the backdrop for our extended familial gathering.

The other thing that happens every year is we are nearly always blessed with the sunniest and mildest of August days, bluest skies, and big puffs of flat bottomed white clouds that set off the scenery just so. Tall stalks of corn and light green tobacco leaves waved in a gentle breeze. White farm houses stood stark against a patchwork of hills. This is Lancaster county.

The traffic crawled along the two lane pikes, slower than a snail carrying a full luggage rack on its back. Tourist traffic and the increasing population compete for access on tiny roads that never kept up with the demands, making you run later and later. This is Lancaster, too.

I say it every year, and sometimes we actually do it. "We need to stay over the night before." It's the only way to get an early start.

My head spins. Children from previous years are no longer children, and are instead a foot taller, confident, with big kid mannerisms. My eyes see photo opportunities everywhere, and my hands fumble for my camera, but I'm so busy indulging in adult conversation and looking for familiar faces. Amazingly, our Duckling is not just having a good day, but a great one. There are sandwiches, and fruit cups, homemade root beer, and ice cream in four familiar flavors; Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and black raspberry. This year there were roasted peanuts, too.

A few years ago, we brought two of our dogs. While sitting on a bench holding our pups by the leashes, an old man approached. He reached out a shaky hand towards our friendliest canine, a white fluffy dog named Buddy. The old man's face was alive with pleasure, his sunken mouth open in a wide smile. "May I pet your dog? I love dogs!" His proclamation came in a shaky voice, and he let out an ecstatic chuckle as his hand softly met Buddy's head. A fluffy tail wagged. Our more timid dog hung back. Buddy and the old man were having a moment of joy. It was a moment I could have lived a thousand times over and never got tired of living it. Seeing someone find joy and healing through interaction with a dog still brings me an enormous blessing. 

It happened again this year. 

Lydia, solemn and barefoot, became alive at the sight of a small friendly dog. She tried to feed him a crumb off the ground, but this dog was a pampered pooch and would have none of it. When the dog would look slightly interested she would leap out of her chair, hungry for the interaction of an animal who loves for the sake of loving. Lydia was having a good time, but it was me who was having a reunion with a moment I never forgot.  

Reunions sometimes happen in the most unexpected ways.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Guest Post Elsewhere

Today I am sharing some of my experiences with Duckling over at The Fussy Baby Site

Mom and baby looking forward to the future together.

I know this won't be of interest to all my readers, but this website was a tremendous source of support and encouragement to me, and still is on rough days. Maybe if you know of someone who is struggling with a colic baby, or just one that seems a little harder to handle, you'll remember this resource and help someone out by mentioning it. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Question

The question comes in several forms, usually precipitated by a nervous smile or inquiring raised brow. It goes something like this: "So, how do you like staying home?"

It always takes me aback for a second, for a number of reasons. Although I know what the asker means, it's the implications that make me wonder. The idea that I have sacrificed something, or that I secretly hate it and long to be elsewhere.

"I wanted to ask you when we were completely alone and not in front of anyone so you could tell the truth," whispered one inquisitive soul, as if there was a conspiracy.

Well, I'll tell you the truth. In my mind, being a full time homemaker was, is, and always will be the gold standard of careers. I can't believe I was naive enough to think that everyone else believed this, too. I know an army of women who never in their lives held a job outside the home. Some of these women even spent the first few childless years of their marriage at home full time. It's not like I'm breaking any new ground. But it's a fair question because I did work outside the home before little Mister arrived on the scene.

Here is what I tell those whom ask. It is absolutely the hardest job I ever had, and there are moments just about every day where I long for the luxury of legally mandated bathroom breaks and thirty minute lunches. It is a 24 hour boot camp that uses every skill I have ever acquired, and seems to highlight the ones I never perfected. It is also the most rewarding job ever, and an absolute privilege to invest one hundred percent of my time and energy into my family. It is the best investment I will ever make. I am also painfully aware that not every mother can afford to stay home with her family; the changing economic-based societal choices of the past 30 years have priced some families out of this option. Yet, I wish that every mother who wanted to stay home could do just that. No one will hand you a gold paperweight after twenty years for your service, but I do believe the reward to be immeasurable for all around. In other words, I love being home.

The reactions are varied. Grandmothers are the most sympathetic, often expressing wishes that their own daughters would stay home, could stay at home. As I told one grandmother, "It is the only way I can do this."
No, she said, it is the only way to do this.

Some mothers tell me how they tried to stay at home but just were not good at it. They were "bad" stay at home mothers. These ladies are usually of an outgoing personality type that I could never be in a million years, exuding boundless energy, and so a part of me can imagine that they struggled with the high demand and sometimes confining world of full 24-hour childcare.

Finally, but more rarely, I get the ladies who are flat out baffled that staying at home with one's family is even an option. "You mean, you don't have to work?" Of course, what she means is that it's her experience  that not everyone has to work in a job outside of their home and pay for child care. It's this reaction that I find the hardest to comprehend, and yet I know it is the reality for many families. But this question was asked to me recently by a neighbor who lives in a custom built luxury home, and whose husband works in the oil industry. I have been a guest in her home and know that times are not tough for her family by any standard. She and her husband have one child. Still, the idea of not having to work is, for her, unbelievable. I'd ask her why she thinks she has to work, but I have a feeling that I already know the answer.

Perhaps I'll do a follow up post on the economics of staying home. It's a subject worthy of a little discussion, one I've been thinking about, but don't have a lot of experience in as of yet. It's not a discussion I can have right this very minute anyway, because my family needs me. Yes, it feels good to say that. 


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