Seeking a little simplicity

28 Feb

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Had a nice little time on our back deck with my little sweetie this afternoon. We snuggled under a blanket and felt the breeze on our faces. It was mostly cloudy (my fave) but the sun broke through occasionally to give a nice, soft glow to the yard.

He wanted to get some books and read, which we love to do, but I thought might be nice to just sit and be quiet. We listened to many different bird songs. We watched our cardinal family (they have been in our yard for at least five years) fly back and forth, letting out their “chit chit chits.” The doves shared their coos and mourning songs. A little sparrow nibbled on seed in one of our feeders.

We just get so busy doing and doing and doing. When I actually stop and listen and watch, I’m overwhelmed by the peace of simplicity.

We are working on simplifying our house. Even though we have purged so much over the last few years, I am amazed at what it still left! So we whittle down even more. And with every box and pile of things that leave our house, so does stress and anxiety.

In our modern society, I think true, complete simplicity is near impossible. And certainly pretty impractical. But I know there are places in our lives that we have allowed to become so cluttered, and when we clear those spaces, whether tangible or intangible, there is so much relief to be gained.

I have a 10 year old. o_0

31 Oct

My baby boy, the one who made me a mama (after 25 hours of labor), turned 10 today. I can hardly believe it. It’s frighteningly true how quick the time goes by. Those days that seem endless really do fly by and days turn into months turn into years. I am so thankful for the gift of being a mother. Yes, it’s completely exhausting and exasperating sometimes. But it really is a gift, and I find joy in it more than in any other thing.

To you moms of young toddlers, enjoy the little silly things they do, enjoy the thousand questions, enjoy that they almost always want to be right where you are, and enjoy any snuggles you can get. That will not last forever. Yes, the older ones still do those things occasionally, but, not often, though I try to savor it when it does.

Certainly, I am glad they don’t stay toddlers forever, even though they are adorable, because they are also so demanding. It’s nice that my older boys can do so much for themselves, and we can interact on a more mature level. I am looking forward to seeing my boys grow into young men, and enjoying their company in a different way. But there’s nothing like that toddler voice and face and sloppy kisses…

Back to home learning

13 Sep

So, we brought the boys back home this year, and I am pretty sure it’s for good. At least for this year, it is! I have so many things to say about why public (or private) school is wrong for my boys, and I don’t feel like I need to go into them all here. What I will say, however, is that it just sucked the love of learning out of them, and took something wonderful and turned it into something frustrating and exhausting and annoying. Thankfully, they were not too far gone, and they are coming back around.

It was not a difficult decision to bring them home. While other mothers breathe a sigh of relief when their kiddos head back to school, it was nothing of the sort for us. Every single morning was a battle to get one out of bed, and to get both dressed, eat their breakfast, and out the door without a huge shouting match. There were a few hours of peace and quiet at home with just me and Parker, and John when he wasn’t working or sleeping off a night shift, and those were nice. But then once school was out, it was an hour or two of getting Pierce to do his homework, and dealing with a grumpy, exhausted Will. It more than negated the peacefulness of the day while they were at school.

And, most of all, they were so unhappy. Now, Will had a wonderful teacher last year, and really enjoyed his class, because she made things fun, and enjoyed learning herself. It didn’t hurt that his cousin (they are 2 months apart, and are almost like twins) was in his class with him. :) But just the nature of teaching and learning and curriculum in public school is a beat-down. Third grade begins the all-out focus on standardized testing, and every day is based around learning how best to take and succeed at the test. EVERY DAY.

Seriously, I could say so, so much about all of this, but so many other people have said so much more eloquently than I could, so I won’t. We just know that our boys are where they need to be right now–at home.

And what are we doing “school”? Not much, and we like it that way! John works with them some on math, and has them copy down a Bible verse (a short one, to work on their handwriting). I do housework with them, and ride bikes with them, and sit outside while they ride down the street, or play basketball, or dig in the dirt, or swing Parker in his swing.  We go to the library often and pick out a wide variety of books. I am implementing a short devotion in the morning (seriously, 10 minutes or less). And that’s about it. Oh, and we do art stuff sometimes.

Will it always be just like this? I doubt it. But they needed some time to decompress, to get the bad taste out of their mouth of being forced to learn what some smarty-pants somewhere said was important and was necessary for them to “make it” in life. I doubt we will ever use a formal curriculum. We will read often to learn about our interests. We will go fun and thought-provoking places. We will visit with interesting people. We will explore nature. Sometimes we will just chill at home and watch tv and play games on the computer. But we will always be learning, in our time, in our way.

What prompted this post tonight was my realization that pretty much anything I know today did not come from my formal schooling, until college level. I have told people frequently that though I graduated summa cum laude from high school (a U.S. top 150 public high school), I honestly don’t know how I did, because I couldn’t really think of anything I took away from it. That’s not true. I learned about the Aryans (the original ones, who settled in India and intermarried with the Indians), and I learned about economics–as much as my brain could understand it (because we had a fun and unconventional teacher). I’m not exaggerating there. The things I know and use today, I learned myself, because I wanted to learn it. I was helped by people who mentored me, in a sense–people who were there to share their knowledge and help me further my understanding and answer questions. But mostly, the baking and gardening and cleaning and parenting and sewing and crafting and home repair, and whatever else I do on a day-to-day basis, I learned because I read, and I researched, and I asked questions, and I DID. I might as well give my kids the opportunity to have time to do that for themselves, instead of wasting so much of their day “learning” facts out-of-context of real life, then being too exhausted to spend their free time learning what they want to learn.

Just my thoughts here. Obviously my approach to home learning is different than many others’, and that’s ok! We all have to figure out what is best for our kids, and our families. The left-brained, organized, step-by-step learner/teacher would likely flounder in such an environment. Thankfully, in our family, we are more (or very!) right-brained, creative, whole-to-part (we don’t learn in steps, we just take what we need and figure it out) learners, and this kind of unschooling is working great for us, at least for now!

Do you like chocolate? And peanut butter? And yumminess? I thought you might.

28 May

I love sweets. Way, way more than I should. But anyway…I saw this recipe pinned on Pinterest (ummm…I am warning you–if you open this link, you will get sucked in, and will never want to leave its awesomeness) You can enjoy it without joining, but if you want to join–and you will–you will have to request an invitation to join, which could take months to receive. However, if you go onto their Facebook page, like them so you can post on their wall, and request an invite on there. I got on the same day. Awesomeness.

But I digress. Here is the original recipe to which I was referring. They look so yummy. But I had no peanut butter chips. I would’ve made it without them, and it still would’ve been yummy. But, my eldest is a sugar fiend, and literally sneaked out of his room in the middle of the night to snatch the bag of chocolate chips and finish them off. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. Oh, AND THERE WERE TWO BAGS. And they are both gone.

Soooo, I had to improvise. In my refrigerator was some chocolate cookie dough, so I scooped it into my mini muffin tin and baked the dough for about 10 minutes at 375°. I like my cookies really gooey, but I actually think these would’ve been better had they been cooked for about 2 more minutes. I let them cool for about 10 minutes, during which time the middles fell into a nice crevice, just waiting to be filled…

I then warmed 2 tablespoons of peanut butter in the microwave for about 10 seconds, and mixed it with 2-3 tablespoons of powdered sugar (I don’t measure very often). I heated it for 10 more seconds to soften it, then spread some on each cookie muffin, just enough to fill in the crevice on top. And then I ate them. Well, not all of them, because I made a dozen.

Enjoy!

As promised to my 2 loyal followers, a meal plan post…

17 May

I have finally given in to meal planning, and I wish I had done it a long time ago! I have always hated late afternoons/early evenings, because it meant that it was time to figure out something for dinner. It was stressful and exhausting, and often ended up with a run to the grocery, which wasted time and money. I have read for a couple of years how much time and money a meal plan saves, and I can say that after just a few weeks of doing it that it definitely will save us lots of time, money, and my sanity! I might even say that I am starting to enjoy cooking again…

So I told some friends on Facebook that I would share my meal plan, along with links to those you can find online, and if anyone is interested in recipes for those with no link, I will post those too.

Monday: Sour Cream Noodle Bake

Tuesday: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks using this as the dough

Wednesday: Date Night!

Thursday: Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Friday: Baked Potato Soup     This recipe looks good, and doesn’t have gross stuff added in like celery. *shudder*

Saturday: Cowboy Quesadillas  These seem like a nice change from our normal, plain (but good, of course) cheese and chicken version.

Sunday: Pot Roast for lunch (have to plan a good lunch or the kids revolt since they really want to have fast food)            Chicken and Dumplings for dinner

Monday (23rd): BBQ Biscuits  I love these, they are super easy, and always a hit with my picky kids I will post the recipe soon.

Tuesday (24th): Chicken Spaghetti    But no little pimentos because that would make my boys flip out–or Anna, you could share your recipe with me…

Wednesday (25th): Date night!

Thursday (26th): Pasta with meat sauce and homemade bread (see bread dough recipe link above)

Friday (27th): Beef Empanadas  I haven’t found the right recipe yet, and a friend is supposed to share it with me, but I am still planning on making these

As for sides, I usually just serve a side salad, or steamed broccoli or green beans. Very simple. I am planning on making this fresh corn casserole one night, maybe to go with the BBQ Biscuits, but I need to find the corn on sale first.

I came up with this plan last Friday night, made out my grocery list according to what I did not have, and shopped on Saturday. I bought all my groceries for these meals, plus stuff for breakfast and lunches, for $150. That is a HUGE difference in what I had been spending bi-weekly on groceries, and it was all from about an hour of planning. The return on investment for the one hour is definitely worth it. I was easily spending double that amount biweekly, plus we were eating out too often because I didn’t have a solid plan in place. I am excited about what a difference this will make for us, and I know John is excited that I finally am saving us more money and cooking more!

If you don’t meal plan, I really think you should try it for a couple of weeks, and see if it doesn’t help you out too!

We’ll get to it when we get to it!!

18 Jun

I have breastfed all my babies.  I weaned Pierce at 11 months because I was pregnant with Will and was so tired I literally couldn’t get off the couch. He took a bottle happily, and that was that. I nursed Will for 13 months, and he weaned easily, as I think we were both ready to stop. And that was that. I have nursed Parker for 19 months, and we’re still going. And I love it. He’s just not ready to wean, and I’m just not a pushy mom. Nor am I really ready to wean him. I don’t really understand why it’s such a big deal to people. He only nurses at nap time and bedtime. He’s not even 2. He’s very likely my last baby. So you know what? We’re going to keep doing this for a while. I’m not going to stress about it, and I’m not going to let other people make me feel bad about it. Just because I choose to do things differently than other people doesn’t mean it’s wrong, or bad. It’s just different.

So, yeah, I still nurse my baby. He might be a toddler to you, but he’s my baby. And we’ll wean some day…when we get to it.

*Sigh* I’m in love…

10 Jun

…with my new lampshade!!

Target has all of these beautiful items with designs by Liberty of London, which always has the most beautiful floral patterns you can imagine. I’ve been watching for the items to go on clearance. Well, they’ve been on clearance for a few weeks, but I’ve been waiting for the 75% off clearance!! I saw these lampshades over a month ago and was so struck by them, but I don’t pay $20 for stuff like that, even if it is gorgeous! So today, as I was perusing the clearance endcaps, there was this beauty, for $4.50. I wasn’t entirely sure which lamp I would use it on, but I knew it was coming home with me. Then I noticed the inside of the peacock feathers had brown, and I have this beautiful brown lamp ($5 at the thrift store…I waited months for it to go down!), and it was perfect! I brought it out of my room and into my den, and it brightens up the corner by the sofa now. Happiness.

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