Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Putting up.

I've been renewing my interest in stocking my own pantry. Moving always seems to set me back. I'm making a list of all the things I'd like to have on hand that will be versatile and lasting. Next month, I'm planning to invest in some food grade 5 gallon buckets and gamma lids.

I've always been into stock piling. I buy everything and anything that I think will be used later on if it's got a really good deal attached to it. Years ago, I once bought 87 tubes of toothpaste from CVS that were on sale and I had coupons for. I think I ended up paying about $3.50 for all of it. We're still using them up.

Even though I'm now experiementing making my own toothpaste I just can't let go of those bargain tubes I have on hand. Waste not, want not, right?

I think it stems from my childhood where -while I wasn't deprived- I was concious of our inability to just go buy whatever we wanted when we wanted it. My mom had me hunt coupons every Sunday for the sweet cereal I wanted because we couldn't otherwise afford it.

Bologna and boxed Mac and Cheese were staples. I remember counting pennies from the coin jar so mom could go buy milk for that mornings cereal -which I sometimes ate for dinner, too. My favorite sandwich was simply tomato and mayo on white bread when the cold cuts ran out. Even though we were poor, somehow I never really felt it.

Until, I became a grownup. 

Reflecting on how things were for us I can see where my need to stockpile food and supplies comes into play. I'm nervous about not having enough for my kids. I'm worried every month that, for whatever reason, we don't get paid (which had happened to us for 9 weeks once) and can't afford food.

Learning to can has helped me tremendously. Once I got over my fear that I would kill everyone off from bacteria, that is. I'm hoping with the garden to be able to can and preserve a lot of our own foods. I'm hoping to start a grain storage supply next month with things like oats, beans, and rice. The logistics are still being worked out as to how this will get accomplished.

I'm working on my fears a little at a time.

Monday, March 14, 2011

500 down

I just reviewed my 500th book on Goodreads. I'm sure there are books I've read that I haven't remembered. Most of these have written comments. I can't believe I've read so many books.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fresh Baked

My virtual friend Ara over at My Edible Yard has a fantastic recipe for white wheat bread.  I made it this morning which makes 2 loaves and already the kids and I have devoured about 2/3's of one. I have been trying to make all our own bread from scratch and this recipe is ridiculously easy and tasty. You can also break it out for rolls. I'm going to try it for english muffins but I need to buy more yeast.

I've made it twice, once using raw Honey and this time Agave nectar and couldn't tell a difference so whatever sweetener you have on hand should work just fine.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Me, Myself and the hundred other people in my head

I like to think that I am a creative person. Though, labeling myself in the positive is difficult for me -I'm working on that. Thirty years old (yes, I actually copped to it) and I still have a hard time with self-image and positive reinforcement of Me. I allowed too many people to put me down as an insecure and abused teen. I allowed too many people to use me.

I still have dreams, though. Lots and lots of them. But I still allow decade plus past put downs to strangle my desires.

When I was a kid -like early teens- I wanted to be a writer. Like professionally. With books. Written words have been my life before I started keeping memories. I devoured novels before first grade and haven't ever stopped. Just this past week I've read four books. My e-reader is my favorite toy. I read to put myself to sleep, to stop my ever-racing mind. It's a release from reality and I can't be without it.

I have always wanted to give that gift to others. I've always wanted to put my stories to print.

I hear a bit of music, an overheard line of conversation between two people, a painting, a photograph and my mind starts reeling with the possibilities. Characters come to life on their own; small acts jump into my brain, conversations thick with emotions play out in my imagination. They name themselves, they show me their faces, tell me a bit of their stories. Who they are and where they come from I can't tell you. They just are.

I try and capture them but so many times they slip away.

Sometimes I'm able to work on a story line, get down those words or write a character description but life constantly gets in the way. I would engross myself in my own words as I do so often with other people's. But I can't.  

I'm annoyed with myself and frustrated when the snippets of stories thrust into my skull don't want to work out in letters. I get to a point that I loose the objective and spiral into asking questions that may not even matter. Who are these people? What are they doing? Why does she act like such a bitch? Is this paragraph/chapter/description long enough? I've never been to Chicago, how can I write about it?

Nothing ever gets completed and I'm left feeling lost at the end of a tunnel I'd been led down and throughly abandoned. And still I walk around, garden, shop, shower with the ideas and lives of other people scurrying around in my mind. I wonder if it shows.

Is this how it is for all writers? I don't know. Do other people have this problem too? Do they reside in rubber rooms? My lack of completion makes me feel sketchy even considering myself a writer. My lack of devotion to the craft solidifies that feeling. Writers should write. Yes? But there is so much more to me than writing. So much more than comes before it.

So, I don't label myself. I don't commit. And life goes by as I continue to be just me, myself and a hundred other people.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's that time of year again

It's time for us to start looking at new homeschool materials, evaluate what worked or didn't and see what new things we want to add to our schedule. It's a daunting task, to be honest. While the Virgo in me loves the planning, sifting through enormous amounts of online materials searching for that gem of a workbook or product to fill an educational need makes me want to pull my hair out.

There are times when a box of curriculum looks really tempting. Everything I'd need to teach all wrapped up in a neat little box. I know families that have found these boxes work well for their kids. And I sometimes envy them. But we started out five years ago with a four year old that learned how to read all by himself. Spelling and writing shortly followed and before I knew it the five year old Alex was getting into first grade materials.

I didn't hold him back. I didn't want to.

Part of our reasoning for choosing homeschool is to allow them to grow and develop at their own paces. Similar to a Montessori method of education where the are allowed to progress as they grow and learn instead of enlisting rigid parameters based on the calandar year or age. But I now have a nearly nine year old that is in third grade for somethings, fourth for others and even fifth on a few which makes coordinating his school a tad difficult.

I also do not use the exact same things for each child. Since they grow and develop at different rates, they also have different learning methods. Alex is very literal, he can take written words and follow directions to complete tasks with minimal assistance and retain the knowledge. On the other hand, Olivia is very tactile needing to see with her hands how something is done or should be. Videos and manipulatives work better for her, workbooks and texts work better for Alex. Then Cordelia (6) is more like Alex but enjoys the tactile or visual learning aids as well. And I still have two other kids to figure out over the next few years.

All in all, it makes for a very hectic time of year in which I try and take a small budget and wrap it around learning styes and materials. Our favorite website has a huge library of materials at discounted prices. We also go through a Homeschool buyers co-op and  have gotten some really great prices on and Right now the girls are working at which matches up with Olivia's need for tactile and visual aids for reading comprehension.

But it's hard to know what will work and what won't.  There are many things we've invested in that have failed miserably. It makes the decision-making just that much harder. Since I'm also a tactile person (it drives hubby crazy that I like to physically write lists out on paper instead of using the computer or my phone) purchasing online has it's own difficulties for me.

Does anyone have any tips on purchasing materials? I'd love to know!