Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tips on Living with Children

Some of you know me, and know that my husband and I have 3 kids, ages 4, 3, and almost 8 months. Things are chaotic around our house at best. Very seldom is there a quiet moment when nobody needs or wants anything.
If you are lucky enough to have (or smart enough to have planned) a generous age gap between your kids, then things may go a little more smoothly than they do for us.
With all the kids so close in age, things are constantly in motion at our house. There are always clothes on the laundry room floor to be washed, always clothes on the bed (or bedroom floor) to be folded. If the dishes are clean in the dishwasher, that's just as good as being clean in the cabinet.
Some of you may think this slack. That's fine. We all have different visions of what we want our homes to be like. I'm less concerned with how our home looks as I am with the Happiness content. As long as everyone is happy (within "no, you can't put applesauce on the dog, no you can't have ice cream while you're taking a bath, no you can't put mud on your baby brother...") then I'm happy. Even if we are never actually caught up, close enough is good enough for me.

Other things that have helped save our sanity these last 5 years are:

~never buying new furniture - it's gonna get drawn on, stuff spilled on it, possibly broken by someone jumping on it...don't waste your money and wait til the kids get older before you invest in this. in the mean time, hit the thrift stores,yard sales, freecycle, and craigslist; you'll save money and your sanity when you kids are eating their popsicles on the couch you just brought home.

~making the kids eat breakfast - trust me, if you want to find out exactly how long and how loud a toddler can scream, get up late for an appointment and have them "eat" in the car. (a pop tart is not breakfast, I don't care what the commercials say, and yes I am guilty of passing these awful sugar coated sugar pastries off as breakfast) kids need to sit at the table in the morning and eat a well balanced breakfast. They need protein to start the day. I have done little experiments with this and have noticed that my kids behavior greatly improves when they eat something like yogurt or oatmeal and fruit for breakfast as opposed to cold sugary cereal or poptarts.

~setting a routine/finding your current routine (I hate this one) - this is, quite possibly, the worst one for me. I am random. I can admit this. It is really hard for me to go by a written routine. I just can't bring myself to do it. I always get distracted and sidetracked. But then I thought about it. We do have a routine. We get up, eat breakfast, watch some cartoons, run errands, we have meals at roughly the same time every day, we have play time, we have "daddy days" when my husband is off (those days are normally spent outside). We don't have a set bedtime for the kids. They go to bed when they are tired. I have yet to see forcing them to their rooms make them go to sleep any faster. Find your routine and try to stick to it as much as possible. If your kids are comfortable in their everyday, then they'll be less likely to pitch a fit when things are a little off.

~(almost) never buying new clothes - I'm not saying you can't go shopping, I'm saying, change where you shop. Get up early on a Saturday morning and grab a paper. Go to every yard sale advertising children's products (and a couple for yourself). If you take $75 with you, you could theoretically stock up on clothes for the next year or two (I will buy stuff that is 2-4 sizes too big if the price is right. It doesn't take up much space at the top of the closet). Kids grow up fast. Some stuff you buy, they will never wear. Other stuff (usually the nice stuff) they will decide is the best play outfit in the world and will ruin with marker/mud/crayon/soap/food coloring. Do your wallet and your mind a favor and buy some gently loved clothing for your gently loved bundle of joy (no matter how old they are).

Hope these tips/thoughts helped you. If you have any you would like to add, leave them in a comment or on the Facebook page.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Book Review - Poems for the Short-Term Memory

I know I promised this review last week, but that's how life goes with kids.
Poems for the Short-Term Memory is a book of poetry by Robert Fraser. It is a good read, if not always an easy one. But I don't like easy reads. If that was what I wanted, I have a hundred kids books in the playroom I could go to. This book is deeper than that. And I am glad of it.
Works like "Antique Pocket Watch, Part 2" , "Rhyme of Reason", and "Poem in Blues Major" are wake-up calls and reflections on the world around us. The whole book is like that.
If you have done anything in your life more exciting than pumping gas, then you will find something in this book to relate to. It is an interesting read, even more so after a couple Kahlua snow cones. I'll admit, I had to read some of them through a few times before they sank in, but that's what good poetry is about. It makes you think. Brings you out of your shell to, if not experience, then at least notice the world around you. Robert has done just that.
I am looking forward to reading his second book, "Mountains the Size of my Fist".

If you would like to purchase a copy of "Poems for the Short-Term Memory", just click the title, it will take you to amazon. Please purchase this product new, so Mr. Fraser will receive the royalties he deserves.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thoughts and Prayers

This is sort of a forward from a friend. She lost her father recently, so I am asking all of you to send some prayers her way. She posted this collection of quotes, and I was so moved by the ones she chose, I had to share them with you.

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.
Live your life so that when you die,
the world cries and you rejoice.

-Cherokee Expression

"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."

-Jack London

Love the earth and sun and animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others...
And your very flesh shall be a great poem.

-Walt Whitman

"This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind...let it be something good."


You must be the change that you wish to see in the world.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.

-Mother Teresa

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

(almost) Wordless Wednesday

I don't normally do these kinds of posts, but I thought today it fit.


(2 days later)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Vinegar. Don't Cheap Out!!

Okay, I have noticed this recently, and it is starting to bug me. The grocery stores in my area are getting pretty slack in stocking brand name vinegar. I know, they want to sell their store brand, to make a little more money, but is that little bit of extra money really worth forgoing the slotting fees companies pay to have their products on the shelves, and cost to our environment?
How does this affect our environment? Simple, most (if not all) store brand vinegars are made from petroleum. Yep, the same stuff they use to make gas for your car, Vaseline, plastics, and many additives in the food you eat and the medicine you take. Pretty gross, huh?
When buying vinegar (or anything, for that matter) check to make sure it's a natural product. Natural vinegar is made from grains (or apples, in the case of apple cider vinegar). This is the stuff you want. Yes, it can be a little more expensive, especially when all the grocery store will carry are the super small bottles of the natural stuff (for $3.98) and then the gallon size in the store brand only (for $2.00).
I know times are hard, people are out of work, and money is tight all around. But think about what you are really paying for. When you buy synthetic products, you are saving money, but the Earth suffers in return.
Do you want the planet to still be habitable when your grandkids are growing up? If you do, then buy vinegar made from grains (or apples) and when buying ANYTHING, check the label. Do your part (even if it's a small one) and buy natural products!

Peace and love,
from the swamps of the PeeDee

Canned Peaches, 5 months later...

Some of you may have seen my post on my first canning experience. I canned peaches and okra. The okra was an epic fail. I ended up having to call my cousin and tell him to toss the jar I gave him, because I didn't think I did it right, and didn't want him (or his little girl) to get sick. This was so embarrassing. And that got me wondering...did I do the peaches right?
Fruit, and tomatoes, are easier to can, because they are high acid produce. Low acid fruits and veggie's require a little more work. If you are just starting out, I would suggest starting easy, do tomatoes, or fruit. Be careful with these too, though. Some of the newer, hybrid tomatoes do not have the acid content that the older varieties have, so you may need to add vinegar to the mix to bring the acidity up. (Please check you books on this, because I am no expert, and these are not intended to be exact directions.)
Now, on to the peaches. I was a little concerned about it, so they sat in our pantry. Until this past week. Money was a little short, so we were eating from the pantry instead to going to the store once a week for fresh stuff. My girls are fruit addicts. So they kept bugging me about fruit, fruit, and more fruit. So, out came the peaches.
My husband was the guinea pig for this experiment. He knew I was a little concerned, so he did the first test taste. And he didn't get sick! I DID IT RIGHT!! Yay!
One thing I noticed with the peaches is that the ones at the top of the jar started to discolor a little. Not sure if it's because I didn't use a heavy syrup, or maybe I just didn't put enough syrup in the jars. But, discolored or not, the peaches have been a life saver (by reducing tantrums, and saving us some money) and a welcome comfort. Warm spiced peaches on warm bread (either warmed up, or homemade) is a wonderful treat on a cold winter day (which we have had many of this year).
So, my canning advice for beginners is: start with something easy. Do your homework before you begin. And, if you suspect a problem, just toss the stuff. It may seem like a big loss, what with all the produce and the time involved, but it would be a much bigger loss if you or someone you loved got sick from something you canned.
Here is a link explaining the main risk in canned foods.
One of the most powerful natural toxins is botulism. This is the bacteria that can grow in honey (hence, not giving honey to kids under the age 1, a rule we have broken and never had problems with, but we use local honey from a trusted supplier) and in improperly canned food. Read up on it. Educate yourself. And then, start getting your equipment together, because canning season isn't that far away!
Happy Gardening!

Monday, February 1, 2010

I got an award! :) Paying it Forward Feels So Good!

**The Splash Award!**

First, I must apologize, because I received this award a few days ago, and have not said anything about it. Want to say a BIG thank you to I am NOT a VOLCANO for this award.
I am a new recipient of the Splash Award! Go me!
I am so grateful to receive this, to know that my blog is being noticed, and more so to be able to pass it on to other blogger's out there.

The Rules:
Put the logo on your blog/post.
-Nominate up to 9 blogs which allure, amuse, bewitch, impress or inspire you.
-Let them know that they have been splashed by commenting on their blog.
-Remember to link to the person from whom you received your Splash Award.

This took some work, because there are some great blogs out there. It was hard to pick, but here it is.

My nominees for the Splash Award are:

Modern Mom of How to Survive Life in the Suburbs

Tamara of The (UN)Experienced Mom

Shelley of Shelley's Swag

StockpilingMom and Stockpiling4US of Stockpiling Moms

Neva of Mostly Flummoxed

These women have put together some great blogs. I am a stay at home mom, I love coffee, and I love to save money, so that is why I chose the ones I did.
When you get a chance, check out their blogs, and you'll see why I love reading them.