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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Simpler Life

Although I've always been drawn to old-fashioned life, with the downward spiral of the construction industry, we've embraced a much simpler life. This has affected most areas of our lives. To be honest, it has grown us much and we have reaped some very nice benefits from living this way. Life seems less stressful, more rewarding and more rich. I'm very proud of the many changes I've made in the kitchen alone. Made my first ever strawberry freezer jam (and we've probably got about two year's worth...), baked my first from scratch bread (it'll need some help but I'm hoping Karenpie can teach me.... :-) ), and made really healthy and tasty adjustments in our kitchen (which admittedly freak out David sometimes). Amazingly enough, it is not more expensive to live healthier if you just take time to plan. This has been the greatest reward, that we are healthier and spending less money. Sure, I still do purchase some items such as all-natural soap and spend a few extra dollars on those items. However, if you compare that to the price of children's shampoo which became obsolete with the new bar soap, then it actually does save money. There are a few choice items we spent a little more on. But with all the money saved in other areas, I do not feel bad about that at all.

My next step in this journey is to make homemade cleaners. They are both a frugal and safe. With two little ones in the house, that just makes sense. It seems to be a growing trend, so the internet is full with help on the subject. Hopefully the homemade cleaners will be just as good. I'm especially excited about laundry detergent since Abigail breaks out from the fragrance added to most commercial detergents. With making our own and adding natural fragrance, we can again have beautfiul smelling laundry! Below are a few links I've found that we might try in case you are interested in making your own as well. Also, check out the last link which is to karenpie's blog and in particular her fabulous receipe for healthy bread. This is the receipe I will try next.

Keeper of the Home - Basics for Frugal and Green Cleaning

Live Renewed - Clorox Wipes replacement

Live Renewed - Homemade Multipurpose Cleaner

Eco Diva - Hidden Talents of Olive Oil

Live Renewed - Homemade Laundry Detergent

Live Renewed - Homemade Dishwashing Detergent

Fabulussly Frugal - 40 Frugal Ways to Repurpose Household Items

Karenpie - Oatmeal Honey Wheat Bread

Also, you can replace bleach with oxygenated bleach. Can't find the link anymore for that. Get the one without fillers and only Sodium Percarbonate and Sodium Carbonate. Supposedly both are natural ingredients. My store brand which is at least $4 cheaper than the leading one, had just those two ingredients. The brand item had additional fillers and was more expensive. My store brand comes out to be $0.08 per load.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Engineering Feats and Music

My children seem to always focus on one particular subject at a time. They play with anything relating to it very intensely. Abigail's life revolves around music these days. She wakes up singing "You are my sunshine", literally. It's the first thing we hear through the baby monitor. How's that for waking up on the right side of the bed? Throughout the day she continually sings all kinds of songs. Currently she's really into the Backyardigans. That's a children's show Grampy really likes and so he has about 20 episodes taped for them. Abigail memorizes the songs very easily and has a small arsenal at her disposal by now. She doesn't discriminate against any genre of music. Unfortunate side-effect: You can't get the tune out of your head and just have to sing it!

Nathan has been really into building things. He'll really love LEGOs once he gets older. Or maybe now is the time? The other day he tried to make something that leans over but is held up by one of those green thingies you see in the picture. Thingy - aren't you impressed with my technical vocabulary? Anyways, he built the structure you see below and was just funny to me since his dad is a Structural Steel Detailer and is always into those kind of things. Genetics, eh?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My List of Things to Remember

This list is a reminder for me to check on a regular basis. It's simple stuff that for some reason always escapes me.

Nothing is done overnight
When Nathan was a baby, it seemed everything needed to be resolved overnight. As he started to grow and walk and then run, somehow that expectation was still there. When behavior problems set in as they do with toddlers, it finally came home for me. Everything with children takes time. It is a daily task.

Persistence is key
Little ones watch you for consistency. They will bounce off you and you need to give them that strong hold that keeps them in their boundaries. It is comforting to children to know what they are dealing with. Be insconsistent and you throw them for a loop and with that make parenting more frustrating for yourself. The sooner you start this, the easier it will be for yourself and your children. Be kind to them and be consistent.

Patience is a virtue
This is my hardest lesson. I still am very impatient although I've come a long way in this area. It gets hard to have the same conversations over and over. Or to make your toddler understand that you are in a hurry when they want to examine that rock on the ground. This area is where I wish I could really seize the moment more and realize that time is relative. Remember that patience is a fruit of the spirit. Fruits don't grow ripe overnight. You are a process.

Keep your children close by
Children need to be watched closely when they are young. Mothering is truly a full-time job. At the ages where mine are right now, some things have gotten easier. How can your day not be better if you actually sleep through the night???? However, other areas need more of your attention now. For my little ones, it is to continually watch their behavior, especially toward each other and to teach them tirelessly to be nice and loving toward each other. At times this seems overwhelming, especially when combined with the missing patience above. :-) I guess children learn by repetition. We are great at that! :-)

Talk to them about what you are doing
Children also learn by what you model them. Seeing what they are supposed to do helps tremendously. Recently I learned that it is an even more powerful tool if you actually explain what you are doing to your children. It took me 4 years to figure this one out! When you bring a gift to someone, don't just show them that. Involve them in picking out the gift and why you chose what you got, help them wrap it in a thoughtful way and then discuss why you are doing this for the receiver.

They love to help
Little ones are great helpers! And although you may think that things will go faster if you do it yourself, this is actually not true. I've found that many things go faster when I delegate. Such as having your four-year-old put away his socks. Yes, it may take HIM longer than it would take you, but it's a task off your list. Plus, the few tasks that take some oversight and teaching, they learn very fast. Go for it!

They love to learn
Teach them something new every day. This is really not as hard as you think. Have them help you cook, read them a book, do a craft. Nathan especially loves to learn from books. Get a DK series book for him and read it. Abigail loves to learn about stuff in the garden. Go out there with her. Teach them to read. Practice penmanship. It's easy and you can do it!

Nutrition is so very important
Their little bodies are just that - little. They are growing at such a rapid rate, it is important to fill them with the best you can give them. And what is a little junk for us, is a lot of junk to them. They are smaller than we are. Good nutrition doesn't have to be expensive. It just takes a little extra time and planning.

Enjoy them while they are little
Take time out of every busy day and love your children. Spend focused, quality time with them. They soak that up. Even just a few minutes of complete mommy focus energizes them tremendously. Color with them, cook with them, play in the castle, play with baby dolls, use your play kitchen. Love on your children. Little over four years have flown by. In just another year, Nathan will be off to school. Craziness.

Monday, August 23, 2010


During our failed potty training try:
Abby, addressing an older man we've never met before, in line at Fred Meyer: "I went poopy in my pants and not in the potty." ....Yes, the old man was very uncomfortable...

Mommy to Abigail: "Stop yelling."
Abigail: "But that was Tinkerbell mommy!"

David and Nathan had a long talk over miscellaneous topics. When they were done, Nathan goes: "This has been great," and walks away.

After watching the movie "Pete's Dragon," Nathan was pretending to be Elliot the dragon. Explaining to his uncle Chris: "Ellios has stripes on his BIIIIGGG belly, it's even bigger than yours!"

Nathan: "I wanna say goodbye to daddy when my tears are gone."

Abigail (all happy): "I almost burped!" (Hopefully she'll loose that excitement...)

Daddy: "Hi Abigail."
Abigail, very serious: "Don't talk to me. I'm in time-out."

Abigail to Nathan: "Don't talk to me!"
Daddy to Abigail: "Be nice."
Abigail in her sweetest voice to Nathan: "What would you like, brother?"

Nathan to Abigail: "I love you."
Abigail to Nathan: "I love you too, buddy."

Daddy: "Over there is the Jungle Gym."
Nathan: "Who is Jumbo Jim?"

Monday, August 16, 2010

When He Gets That Feeling...

David and myself were quite amused seeing Nathan bust out his dance moves while listening to a live band. You can't hear the band very well. You can fast-forward through the middle of the video and see Nathan dance again toward the second part. I didn't know how to cut it better. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I Tricked Them!

And I'm proud of it too! I tricked my kids into drinking spinach smoothies. And they loved them. Well, I didn't exactly deceive them, I just put the smoothies in front of them and they drank them up. Didn't even question the new color. Told them afterwards they had spinach in their smoothies and Nathan simply goes: "What is spinach? Is that leaves?" After an affirmation, he simply went on with life.

Here's the recipe:

1/4 cup spinach leaves (fresh)
1/4 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
1/2 TBS honey
1/2 TBS real maple syrup (Nathan is really into having maple syrup and honey in the same dish)
1/2 cup milk (or more depending on how runny you want your smoothie to be)
1/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 banana (previously frozen)

Put all ingredients in your Magic Bullet or mixer and run the thing until everything is smooth. You should have a wonderfully tasty smoothie that is also very nutritious. And honestly, you can't even taste the spinach.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Simple Syrup With Lime Zest

This is great for any sweetened summer drink! Last week we tried this fabulous Sweet Basil Smoothie. It really sounds strange but it's very good. We have more basil than we can handle right now so this was a nice way to use some of it. The only adjustment we made was less syrup as it gets very sweet. The simple syrup for me personally was too sweet so I made another mix of ingredients and it was more to our liking.

3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
zest of 2 limes

Heat water and sugar on stove. Put zest of two limes into water mixture. Continue to heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Refridgerate for at least one hour. Mix with your favorite drinks instead of sweetener.