Archive for the ‘Everyday Life’ Category

First Day of Prairie Elms Preschool 2018-2019

September 12th, 2018

Since there’s no time like the present, Prairie Elms preschool reconvened for the 2018-2019 school year on Monday.

Our preschool class 2018-2019

I planned for two students, expecting that we’d do preschool while the little girls were napping –

The rest of our preschool class 2018-2019

but, so far, neither girl has cooperated with anything more than cursory morning naps – so four students it is!

Tirzah Mae first day of school 2018-2019

We do action songs and fingerplays and rhythm sticks and singing lessons. We check the weather and sing the days of the week. We sing the alphabet song and count a little. We read and read and read some more. We do ice cream cone math. And when we’re all done with “school”, we scrub potatoes (sensory win!) and fold laundry (life skills and fine motor). We decorate papa’s birthday cake (Happy birthday, Beloved!) We watch the garden spider on our door. We explore the leaf mould in the herb garden. We harvest basil and dry it. We watch caterpillars and birds and rolly pollies and all sorts of things mama later discovers are pests that she should have killed :-P

Louis first day of school 2018-2019

And when the day is done, we snuggle on the couch with papa and do our family worship.

It’s not much different than regular life, really.

But whatever it is, we’ve declared the preschool year to have commenced!

What I Spent This Week (2018.09.07)

September 9th, 2018

Online budget accountability is great… until you meet a stressor that is likely to be both hard on the budget and hard on blogging.

Like, for instance, getting a new foster child and then immediately getting a stomach bug. And then traveling to pick up a newly butchered beef.

I’m speaking purely in hypotheticals, of course. :-)

So the rest of August was…

August 11 – Gas Station (snacks while traveling) $6.79
August 14 – Walmart Grocery Pickup $35.49
August 14 – Sam’s Club Pickup $21.50
August 15 – Walmart for Formula $27.89
August 16 – ALDI $59.94
August 21 – Walmart Grocery Pickup $21.79
August 23 – ALDI $39.01
August 26 – Sam’s Club Pickup $21.78
August 28 – Walmart $28.48
August 31 – Walmart $37.14
Total $299.81

My budget of $123 per week times 3 weeks means I had $369 to spend – so I came out ahead by $69.19 for those three weeks and $186.36 for the month.


Lest I get too confident…

I started off September by spending $500 to buy a quarter of beef (197 lbs) from my uncle.

Since I’ll be eating that all year long, I’m going to do a bit of alchemy to spread the load and reset my weekly budget a little lower at $115/week.

Wanna see my work?
$500 minus $186.36 for August = $313.64
$313.64 divided by 43 weeks from September 2018 to June 2019 = $7.29/week
$123 minus $7.29 = $115 (always round to allow yourself the most wiggle room – in this case, down)

And now onto this week…

Wednesday September 6
Shopping was weird this week because we traveled up to Lincoln on Sunday to get our beef and came back down to Wichita on Labor Day – which meant I was in no state to do a grocery pickup order for Tuesday morning. So Wednesday it was.

I spend $34.13 for grocery pickup at Walmart on Wednesday afternoon. All of it was groceries.

Walmart pickup 9/5/2018

Thursday September 7

Then it was right out to ALDI the next morning for more groceries – $62.39 worth.

ALDI 9/6/2018

I didn’t add things up and just happened to end up $18.48 below my budget – but it’s not going to last because I have a GINORMOUS Sam’s Club order coming up next week.

Complicating matters, we do receive a stipend to reimburse expenses for fostering – and some portion of that will be added to my grocery budget to cover the expense of formula. I expect to look over our foster care related expenses and determine how we allocate that stipend at the end of each month – and I won’t necessarily include that in my expense reports. So things might look wonky here and there :-)

Sick days pre- and post- kids

August 20th, 2018

Pre-kid sick day

Snuggle up in bed with a book. Sip and nibble whatever you can keep down. Sleep whenever you feel tired. Take the occasional trip to the bathroom to vomit.

Post-kid sick day

Vomit into toilet. Wash hands thoroughly. Pick up baby who wants to breastfeed.

Baby vomits all over your front.

Hold baby at arms length so she’s not steeping in her own vomit while trying to remove her clothes and yours so you can shower.

Shower baby and hand her off to husband. Rinse yourself the rest of the way off and dress.

Grab baby back because, of course, she still wants to breastfeed.

Baby vomits on you again.

When it’s clear that the entire family is down for the count and you’ve already cleaned vomit off the floor in three rooms of the house, sweep everything out of the living room and roll up the rug.

Lay down vinyl covered toddler matresses and settle in to sleep between two preschoolers.

Wake up to one or the other child whimpering. Hold them in your lap while holding a bucket under their mouth to catch vomit.

Clean it all up, rearrange the children in the bed so you can attempt to lie between them, drop off to sleep.

Half an hour later, awaken to … a child whimpering for mama, a baby crying to breastfeed, or a baby crying for a bottle.

Once the family has been vomit-free for 12 hours, get out the bleach and bleach every surface in the house, including the twenty dozen toys that were on the floor when the vomit started to fly.

Spend next several days changing children’s clothes when their diarrhea diapers blow out, worrying that you should be bleaching everything again, and thanking God that your diarrhea phase is miraculously not urgent.

Get sleep in half-hour segments for next several nights, as the seven-month-olds are switching off waking you up and the foster baby is NOT happy with Daniel giving her a bottle.

Your husband goes back to work Monday morning.

You turn on worship music , decide that laughing is better than crying, and write a blog post.

What I Spent This Week (2018.08.10)

August 10th, 2018

Tuesday August 7

Tuesday is grocery pickup day and I got pickup from both Sam’s Club and Walmart.

Notice, no cheese

I ordered a 2 lb block of sharp cheddar cheese from Sam’s Club for $6.30 – but I only ended up with razor blades. I need to start actually reading the confirmation emails – sometimes they also let you know that something’s out of stock! So no grocery from Sam’s Club this week.

Walmart purchases

Then there’s $66.39 from Walmart – but the diapers ($47.77) make up the bulk of it. Once I subtract the diapers and my multivitamin ($4.26), which belong in “Household – Consumables” and “Pharmacy” respectively, I’m down to $14.36 for groceries.

But don’t be thinking I’m coming out ahead this week – a beef went to the butcher this week and a quarter of it is mine. I don’t know the bill yet, but I can guarantee you it’ll be more than the $108.64 I have left for the week.

We’ve also been out of town part of this week, so I mostly cooked to clear the fridge. Next week, we’ll be at home and will be filling the fridge back up.

Will it mess up my kids?

August 6th, 2018

As we’ve added to our family and as our family has grown older, I’ve discovered that my parenting toolbox is pretty limited. I’ve tried to add to that toolbox by doing some reading on parenting.

Many of the resources I’ve read have offered helpful tools to add to my toolbox. For that, I am grateful. But almost all have come with a healthy unhealthy helping of guilt.

Do it our way, they say, or you’ll mess up your kids.

You’ll mess up your kids if you spank. You’ll mess up your kids if you spare the rod. You’ll mess up your kids if you do time-outs. You’ll mess up your kids if you do star charts. You’ll mess up your kids if you don’t teach them to sleep on their own. You’ll mess up your kids if you let them cry it out.

And every time I read these books, I wonder if I’ve been doing it all wrong. In particular, they make me wonder if the specific parenting choices I’ve made at one time or another are wrong.

Are my children going to struggle for the rest of their lives because I sleep-trained them?

Are they going to struggle to connect with others because I sent them to their room to be punished instead of bringing them close for a cuddle instead?

Are they going to internalize the idea that they’re bad people because I’ve spanked them?

The doubts rise and then I push back. Yes, there is a such thing as abusive parenting. There are better parenting techniques and worse ones. But I reject the premise that every problem in our adult lives is a result of our parents’ doing (or not doing) x.

And then I realize that the real problem with the guilt the books are giving rise to, the real problem with feeling guilty over sleep training or time-outs or spanking – the real problem is that I’m letting the debate over technique distract me from the real issue in parenting.

The real issue, nine times out of ten, is my own heart.

The issue is that I am unloving, impatient, lacking in self-control. It is that I am vengeful, irritable, and selfish. It is that I am ungrateful and unforgiving.

And this issue cannot be solved by just snuggling my kids more or by resolving to not put my kids in time-out. This problem cannot be solved by healing the hurts of my past or by psychoanalyzing my parents.

This issue can only be resolved through repentance and reliance upon God to change my heart.

Rachel Jancovich’s Loving the Little Years is serving as a helpful tool to pull me away from these side issues and to bring me back to my own heart.

“As you deal with your children,” she writes, “deal with yourself always and first.”

I’ve summarized her thought in a single word that I’m reminding myself of frequently (and attempting to put into practice):


Because the issue isn’t whether I’m going to mess my children up. The issue is my heart.

What I Spent this Week (2018.08.03)

August 3rd, 2018

I’ve been doing a rather terrible job of keeping my grocery budget under control of late (only in part because we’ve added children to the family since the last time we increased the grocery budget). So, inspired by Kristen’s “What I Spent, What We Ate” feature, I’m going to try a little bit of this online accountability thing.

We’ve upped my grocery budget significantly this year (for our new fiscal year of July to June!), and I’m now at $123 per week

Tuesday July 31
I got grocery pickup from Sam’s Club and Walmart.

Sam's Club purchases

$22.58 from Sam’s Club – all grocery.

Walmart pickup

$35.71 from Walmart – including Vitamin D for the little ones ($9.33) and a couple of spray bottles ($2.10), bringing the grocery total down to $24.28.

That leaves me $64.71 for ALDI on Thursday…

Can I do it?

Thursday August 2

I kept $64 in mind as I shopped, adding the cost of items (always rounded up) as I added them to my cart.

Our ALDI haul

My mental math told me I was buying $57 worth of groceries. The check out total said $56.18

My mental math wasn't bad

Not shabby (as far as keeping to the budget AND as far as mental math goes.)

What was left after lunch

I hadn’t made and packed a lunch for us for after our ALDI and library trip – so I picked up lunch stuff for us at ALDI. This is what was left after we were done :-)

You have to have something for you

July 30th, 2018

In our recent conversation about homeschooling, my mom stated that “you have to have something for you”.

Then she elaborated. “Intercessory prayer was that for me. And when you all were very young, Agape Handmaidens.”

That was about the extent of that bit of advice. But don’t let the brevity distract you from the wisdom.

Mom was telling me not to forget self-care. This is good. This was good for me to hear from my mother. Because self-care is a buzzword in today’s mommy-world and I’m often quick to dismiss it (out of distrust for anything popular in the parenting world).

But Mom’s elaboration also emphasized the difference between the popular conception of self-care and Mom’s conception of it.

Popular self-care involves manicures and pedicures, massages and spa days, hotel stays. Lots of money. Lots of time. Lots more money for babysitters.

Mom’s self-care was intercessory prayer: spending a couple hours a week praying for others with others, while we kids were babysat (when we were very young) or played independently in our pastor’s basement. Agape Handmaidens? One morning a month the ladies of the church got together to work on hand-work while the children were babysat. Mom often brought laundry to fold while she chatted with the other ladies.

That’s it. That was her self-care.

For this time-starved, uber-frugal mama, that’s exactly what I need to hear.

I do need to have something for me. Taking the time to prepare for and go to Tuesday Connection, our ladies’ Bible study at church, is important. Having that conversation with adults? That’s important.

But I don’t need to feel guilty that I’m not spending lots of money and lots of time doing those things that seem to me like pointless indulgences.

More what?

July 25th, 2018

We were having plums for lunch, so it was perfectly reasonable that Tirzah Mae started to chant “More nectarines!”

I gave her a slice of plum. “Here is some plum.”

Then Louis began the chant. “More Macarena!”

I sighed. “Yes, you can have more plums.”

And then Tirzah Mae began again. “More macaroni and cheese.”

I give up. The silliness index is off the charts.

Picking up more thoroughly, less frequently

July 23rd, 2018

Homemaking does not at all come naturally to me.

I am a messy, if ever a messy was. I’m a piler, a clutterbug, a have-everything-spread-out-in-front-of-you person. I lose myself in projects and forget to budget energy to finish all the way to clean-up.

Which means that my house has perpetually been a mess.

I hate it.

The living room BEFORE

**The living room before naptime**

I hate walking in to a messy room. Hate looking at piles of stuff. Hate not being able to find what I’m looking for. Hate tripping over junk or having grit all over my feet from unswept floors.

But for years and years I’ve felt powerless against it.

Before I had kids, I figured that the messiness was a matter of discipline and once I applied myself to fix the problem I’d manage to get and keep things clean.

Then I had kids and I tried. I really tried. But I never managed to get things even picked up.

I was picking things up all. day. long. and never making headway.

I was tripping over things, banging into things. I had bruises all over from falls caused by the clutter.

And I was anxious about anyone coming over because the floor was perpetually covered with junk.

It was terrible.

The dining room BEFORE

**The dining room before naptime**

Worst of all, I felt so defeated.

I had always assumed that if I tried, if I just applied myself, I could keep a clean house (or at least a non-messy one). But I was trying and I couldn’t do it.

Then I was either reading Mystie Winkler’s blog or listening to her podcast and she said something that I decided to implement. She encouraged mothers to not clean up amidst their children’s play. Don’t try to clean up the Legos while the children are playing with them. Choose a time, before lunch or whatever, that you clean up and do the clean up then – not all through the day.

I figured I had nothing to lose. It was worth a try. What I was doing was clearly not working.

The living room AFTER

**The living room after naptime cleaning (20 minutes for the whole house)**

I chose naptime. Getting a handle on things for my own sanity was more important for right now than teaching the kids how to pick up after themselves.

So I stopped picking up while the kids were awake. Once they were asleep, I picked up the living areas.

I quickly realized that picking up wasn’t all I needed. I made a point to sweep the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen each day. That way, all the little scraps of paper and crumbs of food and broken pieces of crayon would be dealt with daily.

And, wonder of wonders, my house started being picked up.

Even at its messiest, it could still be picked up and presentable within a half an hour’s time.

No more four hour cleaning sessions just so I could feel comfortable letting someone sit in my living room (yes, that’s how bad it was!)

The dining room AFTER

**The dining room after naptime cleaning (20 minutes for the whole house)**

Picking up more thoroughly, less frequently is definitely working for me!

Separating “I wish I could have” from “I wish I had”

July 18th, 2018

When I was in Lincoln last month, I asked my mother about homeschooling. Specifically, I asked her what advice she would have given twenty-seven-year-old her as she embarked on her homeschool journey.

She had a hard time coming up with an answer because, she told me, “There are things I wish I could have done, but they just weren’t possible.”

She wishes she could have taken more field trips with us. But she had seven children in ten years – and taking those field trips just wasn’t possible.

She wishes she could have provided more opportunities for certain of my siblings to follow their interests more. But those things just weren’t possible in the circumstances she and we were in.

So she did what she could.

Even though that statement wasn’t advice, per se, I found in it a useful principle.

It’s valuable to separate the “I wish I could have” from the “I wish I had”.

Maybe I wish I could do x, y, or z but time, money, or energy makes it impossible.

I wish I could have taken my older littles to baby storytime at the library – but they were NICU babies and needed to avoid other kids.

That’s a clear cut one. Others aren’t so obvious, but they’re there anyway.

I wish I could do more outings with the children period – but I’m a homebody and I get really crabby at my children if I’m running all day. In this season of intensive mothering, limiting our time outside the house to two days during the week keeps me sane and enables me to manage myself and treat my children with compassion (most of the time).

Sometimes, I need to let go of the things I wish I could have done. I need to let go of the dreams I had of being this or that sort of mother.

I need to do what I can, not be forever regretting what I can’t (or being a terrible mother in the now because I’m doing something I really shouldn’t).

Side note: Lest you get the wrong impression, 27 is what my mother would have been (give or take) when she was in my situation child-wise. I got started quite a bit later and am definitely *not* in my 20s any more :-)

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