Sunday, April 7, 2013

Closing the door on my blog


Third time's a charm?

Three strikes and you're out?

My first blog was in 2005-2006 and was authored by me and several friends who like to write.  We were bloggers, by golly!  We mostly shared about being new moms.  Posts tended to be long and introspective, and without any photos.  I can't really remember why we stopped writing.  I guess we were busy with lots of babies and toddlers.  Go figure.

My second blog in 2007-2008 was about our first year of homeschooling and was started to keep grandparents informed.  Guess what ... grandparents didn't remember to read it.  I remember when a big-homeschool-blogger linked to one of my posts; I was so excited.  I still read her blog.  But I actively decided to finish my second blog, and it ended with the start of summer vacation.  I knew I was spending too much time online, reading homeschool blogs, and not enough time reading more valuable things and procrastinating the good things I wanted to get done.

I had started this blog to find more contentment with my home.  I think its a two steps forward-one step backward (there's that number three again) process.

I'm busy still.  I still have a toddler.  I still homeschool. I still spend too much time online, and sidestep other good things I really do want to do.  I'm not energetic and industrious enough to keep on task at home, preferring to sit and surf.  Same reasons to end another blog.

I deleted the other blogs upon finishing, but I haven't decided if I will do that with this one.  So its kind of fizzling out but by choice.




Thursday, March 28, 2013

More signs of spring


We're hoping we'll get to see a calf's birth soon!  Aren't they so cute?

Monday, March 18, 2013

when my house doesn't boost my spirits


I love houses.

When I turned ten, I asked my parents to take me to tour open houses for a birthday activity.  In middle school, I drew floorplans finished with cut-out furniture, rugs, and art from the JCPenney catalog.  I set up Barbie and Skipper rooms on my bookshelf.  I made shoebox dollhouse rooms with spool and cardboard furniture.

(How ironic that my favorite house exterior was a paint color called "cardboard"!  It actually was very pretty with white trim and looked like a gingerbread house.)

Happy house thoughts once entertained me on road-trips, calmed during bouts of insomnia, and distracted me at the dentist.

My spirit was filled with house dreams.  Some of them have been fulfilled.  I had several homes that I loved.  But in the last few years that lifelong love has been challenged by renting.

It hurts my spirit when I read other blogs that explain pretty remodels with the complaint of hideous kitchens with builder-grade cabinets and old carpet.

That's what I have.

And that's what I do.  I complain too.

How hypocritical to have hurt feelings over other bloggers' complaints of their own homes when I say the exact things about my house.  And I hurt the spirit of my husband who works hard to pay our bills.  And I hurt the spirit of my kids who hear my grumbles.  I hurt my own spirit.

When my house doesn't boost my spirits, I must look beyond these four walls.

I can look at the four, fresh faces of my children.

I can remember the four commands to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

(Not with all my house.)

I can ask the Lord for new, wide spaces beyond my house made by my hands.  Maybe there are already God-given spaces in my heart that I haven't ever dreamed of before.

The house that the original owner told me was prayed over to be a blessing to whomever lived here, and fell into underwater disrepair under new ownership ... could this house be a catalyst to my house-loving soul to remodel my heart?

When my house doesn't express who I am, who I am is more than a house.

Let it be so!







Saturday, March 9, 2013

Paper birds in my window (and other signs of spring)




Ducks on the pond,

Geese in the field,

Robins in the tree,

Chickens in the yard,


Paper birds in my window.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Christmas tree is the same every year ... but different


'Tis the season for Christmas open houses in the bloggy world, and everyone is admiring everyone's trees.  It is very fun.  So far, my favorites are The Lettered Cottage's tree and Edie's tree.  Showing their pictures here on my little blog would feel kind of like hosting a my Christmas party at someone else's house, so I'll just point out their places and you can visit them yourself.

Our tree is the typical family tree decked out with construction paper, beads, decades-old ornaments, and as only much that fits into only two plastic storage totes.  Our tree pretty much looks the same from year-to-year with a few variations, usually depending on what we're doing that year.  But its very much a tree that is added to over the years, slowly.

I think I've realized something about my house, decorating, and stuff.  I don't change things very often. Once I find a simple look I like, I keep it for a long, long time.  That is part of my goal to slowly ...


(am I learning ... 
yet ... 
that slowly is a favorable word 
in the creation of our home?  
Slow-home?  
Like the slow-food-movement?) 


... slowly create a simple, long-lasting, creatively put-together house.

Kind of like how 13 years after buying those four little matching ornaments, we had four children.  Amazing!  I wouldn't go backwards or forwards in time, speeding through the years.  I just want to enjoy the slowness.



***
This year we broke with our 15-year Christmas tradition of finding our $5 tree in the forest, and went to a tree lot on the corner.

We've always made it a day of snow pants and boots, hot cocoa, discussions over the shape and fullness (or lack of) of the natural tree full of character, often with friends or extended family, maybe a hot dog and marshmallow roast, and sweating it out of the cold forest with my husband dragging a very tall tree and me often carrying a toddler (who usually was crying about being stuffed into a snowsuit and boots).  We'd get home in the late afternoon, put the tree in a bucket of water to soak up all the extra water it could, and then wait to decorate it the next evening.

Every year, we declare it is the best tree yet.


I shouldn't say we always go.  After going into the forest and nursing my first newborn at least twice in the car, I have happily stayed home with newborns numbers two, three and four, and with a cup of tea and house of quiet.  So, at least three years, and probably more like four or five, I've stayed home with newborns or toddlers while my husband and bigger kids have the adventure and then come home excitedly to tell me all about it.

This year, the December weekends were filling up with Nutcracker performances, colds and coughs, extra work and a possible road trip, so we decided to get a tree the easy way ... at a tree lot.

No, a new way.  It did feel strange going at night to get our tree.  Always before, we had to be safely out of the forest before dusk and snow fall.  We laughed on the way to the tree lot that this would be like tree-getting in the movies, with a warming fire in the lot and twinkly lights around the fencing.

Yes, a new way to get our tree this year.  Not a forever way, just a new way.


***

It was a new way to get a tree last year too.

My husband and kids, and a friend and his daughter, cut Christmas trees while visiting our ranch.  That was a favorite tree.

Tears fill my eyes when I think about that now because many of the lovely firs on our ranch and surrounding forest burned to the ground this summer in the forest fire.  That tree-getting time likely won't be duplicated for quite awhile.  Have you ever counted the rings on a Christmas tree from the forest?  Christmas-sized fir trees are like 20 years old.  It takes like, forever.

(Yes, I know in my head that the forest will be pretty in a new way, with wildflowers and new growth but it is sad to lose the old forest.)

I have a dream of planting a perfect little fir in front of our cabin, too small for an indoor tree, to live as our forever Christmas tree.  We will decorate it with LED lights (low energy for our solar-powered place), some natural and beautiful elements like a wispy, dried wildflower garland and birdseed ornaments, and maybe a few shiny baubles too.  Someday.

We thought it was the start of a new tradition, getting our tree on our own ranch.  It wasn't.  It was a one-time thing, and that makes that tree a favorite.

***

Usually the familiar and sentimental ornaments make tree trimming a tradition.  The year we spent with most of our stuff in storage, we decided not to dig through the storage unit to find our Christmas boxes.

We still got a tree in the forest.  Living in the Pacific Northwest, Christmas tree-capital, we can't imagine having an artificial tree, but who knows, maybe that will be another favorite tree someday too.

I think we still had to buy a new tree stand. Why do stands only last a couple of years?

We still decorated it.  We found box of glass balls and lights in my inlaws' garage.

And then we decked it out with nature and paper.  Pretty silver dollars dried like parchment glowed in front of lights.   Dried roses from a saved Nutcracker bouquet for our little mouse dancer.  We trimmed paper snowflakes an entire morning, and filled in the gaps of our tree with all sizes and designs.

I bought a wooden, red beaded garland to finish off the tree.  After Christmas, when the lights and glass balls were repacked into the garage, the red wooden garland was the only decoration we saved of our own decor.

How could a tree without all of the sentimental ornaments be a favorite?  It was.

***

So, with a few new Christmas tree traditions in our past already, we drove to a tree lot this year.  Not only was it a lot with pre-cut, perfectly pruned trees, it was a drive-THRU (as the sign proudly advertised).  We couldn't bear to just drive through, so we got out and picked our $30 tree in three minutes, stuffed it in the back of the truck and drove home and set it up in the living room right away.

The tree smells really good, more fragrant than the forest trees we usually get.  I think because it is fuller and probably received regular waterings in a tree farm on the rainy side of Oregon instead of infrequent drinks in a dry forest on the sunny side of Oregon.

We decorated with our usual collection of ornaments.  The kids unpacked their own collections, which include ones made with their handprints, themed ornaments (nature for one son, sports for another son, white ornaments for our daughter) from their great-grandmother, a few homemade by me.

We unwrapped the ready-made collection given to us at our first married Christmas by my husband's mother, a handmade ornament for every year of his growing up years.

Hello darling, 1970s, patchwork bell!



We saw the abandoned attempt our own ornament collection idea --- just a few souvenir ornaments from past vacations.  We tried to weed out the broken ornaments while saving a few to fix.  The crumpled, giant pom-poms we made last year to fill in the well-spaced boughs of our huge, 10 foot tree, were saved for packing tissue for other breakables.


My husband and oldest son put new LED lights on the tree, lights the 12-year-old selected as a shadowy substitute for his favorite tradition of seeking a tree in the forest, his first Christmas with a tree from a parking lot.  Would he have tried to cut the tree this year?

This year it is different tree, full and pretty in its own perfect way, but different from the forest-found trees with imperfect beauty and spaces between boughs showing off their silvery trunks.  It is the tree of  a busy schedule, but full of tradition and the gift of flexibility.

***

My slow-home movement, the moving around, the waiting for a "forever" home is similar to my Christmas tree stories.  Some tree traditions don't change, some part with tradition partway.

Same tree, different tree.  Same us.

I am grateful.




Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Washing diapers (part 5)



(I originally posted this info with Part 4, about the cost and value of cloth diapers
but realized it was just too long as one post.  
So here is the final chapter in my cloth diapering series.)

Investing time in washing
There is a financial cost of any kind of diapering.  With cloth, you also invest your time.  It isn't hard, but it is 3 or 4 extra loads of laundry per week.  But I also don't have to drive to the store to buy diapers in a pinch either.

Other than fit, washing is the most personalized aspect of diapering because it depends on your water.  If you  read any cloth diaper forums, you'll see that washing questions are common.  

The main thing to remember is that you need hot water and lots of it to wash diapers.  There is some debate over the amount of detergent used.  For my all-cotton diapers, I just use the recommended amount of one scoop per load. I think soiled laundry needs a regular amount of detergent to come clean.

Other laundry additives are also helpful.  I use Oxy-Clean in each load because that's what Green Mountain Diapers recommends in their lengthy wash instructions.  I've also tried Calgon Water Softener (found in the laundry aisle at Fred Meyer) for my hard water in the past.  White vinegar is often recommended for diapers with ammonia troubles.  Bac-Out is also a good additive for stains and odors.  (I buy from Azure Standard for a better price.)


My wash routine for flats and fitted diapers

My water is hard well-water.  I was having trouble with ammonia build-up on my all-cotton prefolds when my baby was a week old, so I switched to flats.  Cotton doesn't usually develop ammonia build-up very easily, and especially with a tiny baby.  It was my water. 

It was still a process to figure out my washing routine but this works even on our Mother-Ease One Size nighttime diapers.  

Used diapers go in a wastebasket on top of my dryer.  I don't use a wet pail.  Once baby eats solids, poop should be shaken off into the toilet, but exclusively-breastmilk poop washes out.  So easy!  Yes, you change a breastfed baby often, but it is easy.

This is my routine:

  1. Cold rinse.  I turn the dial to the last rinse to run it one time.
  2. Hot wash cycle.  I use one scoop of Country Save detergent, and one scoop of OxyClean.  Lots of water … I usually use the “super” size.  (Bleach at this time, if needed … not every wash; I might use bleach once or twice a month.)
  3. Cold Rinse, same as the first step.
  4. Dry in the dryer or on the line.  (Sunshine is a natural stain-remover and sanitizer!)  My rack is from Costco, purchased on sale for $35 a few years ago.  It holds a medium-sized load of laundry.  I think its made sturdy and folds up easily.  It looks like this one though I can't vouch for this exact one.
Covers
I’ve learned the hard way that PUL covers don’t wash well with the Oxyclean or bleach … the elastic legs got loose.  Try washing covers with clothes instead.  I always line-dry covers.

Fleece pants 
Wash with diapers or with other laundry.  Easy.

Wool pants or wool covers
Wool is amazing.  It reminds me how God's creation is so much better than our attempts.  

As a diaper cover, it allows the baby's skin to breathe yet it doesn't leak.  My son usually wears wool pants at night, and the sheet is never wet.

It is a natural fiber, not produced in a factory with industrial wastes.  It is renewable.  What can man make that grows back like a sheep's wool?

Unless they are soiled, I wash wool only twice a month!  If that sounds gross, it really is not.  The wool that my son wears over his nighttime fitted diaper is only slightly cool to the touch, hardly damp, when he wakes up.  I hang the wool to air dry.  No lingering smells.  It is ready to wear that night.

Here is how I wash wool:
  1. Fill the bathroom sink with room-temperature water. Not too hot, not too cool.  
  2. I add a capful of Eucalan Wool Wash.  
  3. Soak the wool pants for 15 minutes.  Hand scrub any soiled areas. I can usually fit 2 pair of pants in my sink.
  4. Wring the extra water and line dry.  
Goodness, how much can one mom write about cloth diapers? !
Try it if you need to save money.

Try it if your toddler is potty-training (they say cloth can help a little one feel wetness and learn to use the potty instead).

Try it if you want less trash in your weekly garbage can and in the landfills.

Try it if you seek less consumerism and tempting trips to Target.

Try it with a small investment (don't break your budget buying the fanciest cloth diapers) of 6 to 12 flats and a couple of covers.  Try just a few to see how well it works.  Try it with a couple of homemade fitteds and upcycled wool pants.

Try it if you need a project to inspire your motherhood and homemaking.  It is a a funny little truth I've found in my own life, just like how cooking from scratch is more work but can be more enjoyable.

Try it, and remember to give yourself grace to be flexible if you are in a season that cloth diapers feel like too much to handle.

Have fun with cloth diapers ... give it a try!