Friday, November 21, 2014

Big Rocks and the Art of Manliness

For the last few weeks, I've been rather distant from Mr. B.  I'm sure I could blame it on working three nights a week, or having a 3 month old, or Mr. B's work schedule (which I greatly dislike).  But I've been grumpy and distant, either way.  The other day, he was practically begging for attention.  I felt terrible for ignoring him.  We've been talking a lot lately about what makes us happy and what we do that takes up time but gives us no happiness at all.  We ended up stumbling upon this video from The Art of Manliness called Big Rocks. 

I'd always heard the story about filling a jar with rocks, and how much more you could fit in by putting the big rocks in first.  But for some reason, this video stuck with us.  We started a list of our rocks (priorities): big, gravel, sand, and water.

Big Rocks
Family Meals and Rituals
Quality Time for Me and Mr. B
Mr. B’s Work

Clean House
Time with Extended Family
Implementing Homesteading Projects

Researching Homesteading Projects

Brainstorming Homesteading Projects (i.e. randomly browsing the web for ideas)

We also decided to start waking up earlier.  In Mr. B's case, he's already up and out early.  But I wake up between 6 and 8 am, the former if I don't sleep after nursing, the latter if I go back down for some more time.  I knew but never admitted that on days I woke up at 6, I was much happier and energetic.  So I'm committing to waking up at that last early morning feeding so that I can do the things I want to do without the kids around.  If I plan for the big rocks during the bulk of the day, I can get my gravel and sand out of the way in the early morning, and I'm a much happier mama for it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Making the Most Where You Are

We realized the other day that, even if we bought a house today, we'd be here at least until February.  We're fed up.  Miss F can't go nine months with no toys.  She's been driving us (mostly me) nuts.  She has two puzzles, a bag of blocks, and about six little toy cars.  To keep herself entertained, she's been getting into trouble.  She's been hanging on Miss C's swing (many times when she's in it), climbing up on chairs to rip stuff off of our hutch, and begging to watch shows.  We don't let her watch TV other than one family movie a week, but the time that she's spent with family has clued her into Cars, Winnie the Pooh, and Sesame Street.  She begs to watch them instead of having a good time playing pretend with her kitchen or driving her Tonka truck around because she's BORED.

Rather than just cleaning up for our Sunday open house like usual - an open house at which we didn't have any attendance - we first took a new look at our basement.  It's a finished basement, and we set it up as a bedroom to stage the house to sell it.  We're giving up an entire large room in our house to make it look like a bedroom that no one lives in to sell to someone who's not even showing up to see it.  So we rearranged the things we had and ended up gaining a TON of space without even moving out the bed.  We realized we were wasting much of the space in the laundry room and half bath side of the basement.  We took Mr. B's tools and moved them over.  We freed up an entire wall of the "bedroom".  We moved the books up the bookshelf and devoted two shelves to Miss F's things.

We brought back art supplies and trains.   I think Miss F has missed trains most of all.  We'll be bringing her kitchen back soon.  By then, it'll be Christmas, and I'm sure - despite our requests to tone down the presents - her grandparents will be filling the toy gap in no time.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Homeschooling Progress

This year started out ambitiously, then I settled into a routine, and that has now devolved into barely getting anything done. 
The last group of books that I was deliberate about noting.

By this point in the year, we should be on letter L.  The last letter I remember doing both a book and a song for was H, and the last letter I read a book about with Miss F was J.  So I spent Sunday going back into the H-I-J-K group of letters, then we start again fresh with L this week.

Part of the problem was that I have to request the books we use from the library and I hadn't gotten them for one reason or another.  The other problem was that once Miss F saw one or two videos, she didn't want to get off of the computer.  That led to ugly terrible two style tantrums, which I had neither the energy nor inclination to deal with after taking care of Miss C.  But we've brought home our art supplies that had been camping out at my dad's in preparation of an "impending move" that is appearing to be less and less likely.  I plan on making a good art project with the letters we're working on now.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments - November 10th through 16th

This one's short since I haven't been keeping track so well, but I'll be keeping up starting tomorrow.

- Attended the Alpaca and Fleece festival (free admission).  We brought our own food, and we bought gloves and a hat for Miss F as a Christmas present, a hat for Mr. B, and gloves for me.

- An early snow on the 13th shocked the apple trees, so a local orchard was letting people pick your own apples for free.  We filled at least one grocery bag, and that was after it looked like people had raided the field.

- My mom has been storing a turkey that Mr. B got as a holiday bonus last year.  Since Mr. B just brought home this year's turkey, she offered to cook it for Thanksgiving and pay us for it.

- I made emergency bars with Miss F to prepare for the possibility of getting stranded in a car this winter.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Real Estate Treadmill

We've been running like crazy but getting very little accomplished. We've had no one - not one single person - come look at our house since we switched realtors. We're not the only ones, either. Our neighbors put their house on the market just before we switched agents, and they've had very few people come by.
We've dropped our price a lot, first by $4,000 and Thursday by another $5,000. We can only drop it $5,000 more before we start paying someone to take our house, which can't happen.

In the meantime, we've been looking at houses to buy. We found one that could be great. As we wrote the contract, we dreamed of pantries and using the acre and a half of land. We just found out that someone else outbid us.  This is the second contract we've lost. Not only are we unable to sell our house, we're incapable of buying one as well.

We have another open house today, and we're trying to see as many houses as possible in the month of November. I'm trying to be positive, but I'm quickly losing hope.  I feel like we've been running on a treadmill for the last six months, our legs are giving out, and we're starting to stumble.

I'm hoping to start posting more regularly again.  Don't give up on me yet.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments - October 13th through 19th

- I made meringues and ginger syrup for a friend using ingredients we had on hand.  Miss F, Miss C, and I went over to her house for a playdate and had lunch there.  She sent us home with delicious, homemade watermelon rind pickles.

- I used leftover rice from one of our chicken meals to make rice pudding for Mr. B.  It's one of his favorite desserts.

- I finally got back around to making fresh bread.  We had been working with frozen bread for quite a while.

- I made pancakes for lunch (Miss F has been asking for them for a VERY long time), and froze a batch.

- I made oatmeal pancakes for the freezer.  They'll be a much heartier breakfast when it gets cold.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments - October 6th through 12th

- We bought two firethorn bushes for the price of one.  Right under the front windows, they will lend both security and beauty to the front yard.

-Mr. B separated one solomon's seal plants into two to add symmetry to the bed.

- I repainted the bulkhead and one wall in the kitchen to make it look fresher for the pictures of our house online.

- Mr. B planted ornamental-but-edible purple kale in our garden to make it more appealing to buyers.

- I took two kids to the grocery store by myself.  Frugal?  Maybe, maybe not.  Accomplishment?  Certainly.

- We were gifted three boxes of warm winter clothing for Miss C, as well as a car seat cover.  Miss F was born two months earlier than Miss C, so her three month clothing was all summer related.

- I reserved homeschooling books for Miss F for the next three weeks through the library.

- I treated a rash/chemical burns on Miss F caused by a sensitivity to disposable diapers with coconut oil and neosporin with good results.

- We bought 10 very large onions (~11 lbs) at $1 a piece at the farmer's market.  This is a good price for local onions.

- We bought sustainably raised sardines on sale at Costco.  We had never tried them before but knew they were a healthy food.  We loved them and plan on stocking up.

- We bought windshield wipers at Costco at half of their normal price.  Mr B's wipers were so bad that half of the rubber was detached from the wiper on each side.

- Mr. B stripped, caulked, and repainted the front door's frame where the paint was badly peeling.

- I used OxiClean free to soak out the stains in some of the old baby clothes before they are to be put in storage.

- We donated some clothing that is out of season given our girls' birthdays.

- I made roast chicken and root veggies and broke down the bird for five days worth of meals.

What frugal accomplishments have you undertaken this week?