little by little

img_4773

The entryway is closer to done.  In the shipment of my grandmother’s stuff came a blue bench she kept near her front door entryway.  It isn’t the color of bench I would choose, but part of my decorating style is trying to incorporate family pieces into the home.

img_4762-1

I’ve also been trying to incorporate more photos.  I’ve got about ten years worth of family albums, but since I began blogging, the physical copies of photos are non-existent.  I bought some simple frames and have started printing more pictures from the past six years.  It’s amazing how fresh those memories still are, and yet, seeing as well how much the kids have grown.  I choose photos that bring back the happiest memories.

Today I tackled the front half of the laundry room.  I scrubbed the grime off the top and inside of the washing machine, gave the floor a good sweeping, through away a ton of trash, scrubbed the sink I barely use, mopped the floor, and spread out the new carpet.

img_4778

The entryway, the laundry room, the downstairs bathroom, the mudroom, and soon the front of the house are what I call the “special spots”.  Each child has their special spot to take care of and, ideally, we rotate every week on who is responsible for keeping up with the cleanliness, smell, and appearance of each location.  This actually works pretty well, but in the summer all systems of chores, besides the cat ones, fall away for a time.

img_4782

 

 

 

inspired to change

Working in the kitchen has motivated me to make some changes at home. My nearly 16-years experience in grocery shopping for a family helped me to know of ways camp could save money.  On the other hand, you definitely pay for convenience, and sometimes convenience is well worth paying for.  It all depends on what you’re after.

I’m always so torn when it comes to food.  I love the nostalgia that comes with the bite of a bologna sandwich, but while bologna sandwiches were fine for me as a kid, they aren’t so fine for the older, more food-conscious, more fat-storing me.  I want to feed my kids good old fashioned American kid food, but I also want them to develop healthy habits.

After a rougher morning of feeling lost I searched my podcast app for “Moms at home”.  I tried one or two episodes of several podcasts and couldn’t get into anything I listened to.  My husband asked what it was I was hoping to find and I said, “Something that speaks to my life and meets me where I’m at.”  He suggested I search for something other than mom stuff that would intellectually stimulate my mind.  What  am I interested in?

Nutrition. Essential oils. Hormone balance. Women’s health.

I cleaned out my fridge and got rid of old food.  I threw away the salad dressings, fuzzy leftovers, and three bags of biscuit dough I tried to salvage from the thawing deep freeze.  Reading about the realities of starvation this past winter changed the way I think about food.  I do not like to throw food away.  My teenager could eat it.  In a zombie apocalypse I would wish I had that dough.  People starve in other parts of the world.

I’m not turning into a social justice foodie.  I do, however, want to lose some inches off my waist.  It’s not the most important thing, but if it is going to happen it will only come with change. I’d also like to radically trim down our food budget.  We don’t have a budget, but I know what I spend. I could pay for most of our son’s tuition in what I save.

There never seems a good time to start a new thing.  I was thinking $100 a week on food, and $100 a month for special extras.  There would obviously be start-up costs involved.  I’ve been eyeing the 50-lb bag of Sam’s rice for a while now. I still have a 5-gallon bucket of wheat berries stored in my pantry.  A little bit of certain foods can go a long way.

 

 

 

no place like

img_4743

The alarms wake me up at 5 AM every morning.  Sleep really is a blessed escape from idle cares and at 5AM I was not ready to come back to them.  I decided, however, to get up and do something, to put my pesky thoughts to some use.  The house is quiet in the hour post-sunrise, and I’ve missed the sounds of the early camp mornings.

We were up late from being at the drive-in last night.  This is the third time this summer we’ve gone as a family and I can’t imagine ever getting tired of doing it. There’s something cozy, fun, and adventurous about vacuuming the van and packing it with blankets.  Anticipation and atmosphere are half the fun of going.

On movie nights like this I feel completely accepted.  Our family is together, and these are the incredible people I’m doing life with.  The smelly, unkempt camp kids, the rowdy boys in the back, the mom and dad banter ever-friendly more than not–these are the times I treasure and cherish, the times I feel most at home in the world.

I found myself trying to woo my teenage son with with food.  We’d had leftover turkey and cheese sandwiches for supper, and I knew he would eat again if I asked. “You wanna go to the concessions and get something to eat?”  I suddenly didn’t care how much the soda or pretzels cost.  All that mattered was making that connection.

My husband handed me three $20-bills from his wallet.  I still feel shock at the sight of money, at the ease that comes from having extra money to spend.  I remember wanting money for the fair and my dad saying, “I wish I could hand you a twenty and say ‘Go!'” My husband handed me three twenties and sent us on our way.

He stayed behind with my daughter who was snuggled in the van rereading Harry Potter.  The little boys were off on a playground somewhere and I could see the yellow specks of their shirts on the slide.  As my son and I returned from the overpriced food stand–sweet joy to my ears!–he opened up his story with the words, “Hey, Mom…”

It isn’t cool in life to be weak and dependent, but neither is it possible to be the strong one all the time.  People need people, and I’m thankful God places the lonely in families.  It seems stereotypical to say men provide, but my husband likes to, and my dad always wished to.  The men in my life have always provided something I needed.

There’s a part of me that still feels like a kid in these times, like I’m the recipient of something good, something I never could have provided or conjured up on my own.  I know it isn’t this way for every woman, but traditional marriage has been a blessing to me.  I was blessed to grow up with two parents living and still under one roof.

Whatever your family looks like today, friends

Love, love, love, and enjoy them.

 

the amish cook

There’s either work to be done or rest to be had, and it’s safe to say I’m going to be relieved when summer is over.  My body can’t seem to shake the fatigue.  This week is Night Owl camp where my two oldest kids are.  I volunteered to be the one in charge of their meals, partly for the happy peek of seeing my children, and partly because I felt obligated because I live here.  It’s been fun, but as always, more fooding and dishes.

My latest library find is The Amish Cook’s Anniversary Book.  It contains diary-like entries that were originally part of a newspaper column.   The writing is simple, with regular themes of weather, cooking, company, and cleaning.  The woman talks often about preparing food for family gatherings.  I can’t believe the amount of food these women cooked.  The woman’s homeland was the kitchen, the garden, and the clothesline.

They didn’t write much about children, which surprised me.  Maybe they got it all out baking pies?  There’re references to newborn jaundice, a fevering infant, toddler mischief, and fixing breakfast for children getting ready for school. Clothes on the line meant a stiffening pile stacked high to be ironed.  One made a remark about coffee and donuts being hard on the waistline.  Even the Amish women cared about their looks.

I can’t seem to want the veggies.  Given the choice between sliced cucumber and leftover chicken strips, I grap the cold, leftover chicken every time.  It’s the carbs that I love.  The fresh toast sticks.  Biscuits and gravy.  Pancakes and bowls of rice chex.  I can easily refuse the rolls and the pasta, but breakfast carbs are the ones I can’t seem to give up. Several times a summer I start to feel nostalgic for an Oscar Meyer bologna sandwich.

We’re cancelling our Y membership and I’ve taking up walking.  No one is going enough to justify paying the money, and with high school tuition soon coming up, we’re needing to be more mindful of our money.  I found an app on my phone that actually gets me to move more, and I’ve been having fun keeping track of my steps. One of the counselors gets 20,000+ steps a day without trying. She motivated me to aim for 10,000.

 

 

 

 

tired, but good

The summer heat is kicking in.  It still isn’t “bad”, but the unusually mild June days have now passed.  The woods are thick with brush and mosquitoes, and the backyard needs weeded badly. I’m busy though, with camp, with kids, and with working inside.

This morning I drove to Menards before the kids got up to take advantage of their 4th of July flooring sale.  The laminate I’ve had my heart set on ever since I tore out the living room and upstairs hallway carpet.  The next thing is to get on the carpenter’s schedule.

Today is the end of a much needed camp break.  Each of my kids have taken turns being sick, I think, in part, to getting worn out from being at camp so much.  One or two are gone every week and tonight I am going to camp with my littlest for parent/child camp.

My husband and I try to stay connected as well. We started watching Gone With the Wind and made it through three of the four hours so far. He’s been helping me with the handyman parts of my projects and yesterday we cleaned out the entryway coat closet.

More pics hopefully coming soon.