Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It's Spring! Well, Sort of...

Ok, Ok, so it's still basically winter here despite having passed the first day of spring on the calendar. Despite this annoyance I have finally stopped procrastinating and started some of my seeds. Onions were the big one and I really should have started them a month ago. Normally I get sets and just plant them when ever they show up on my door step. This year I have decided to tackle my fear of starting them from seed, I have failed miserably in the past. Monday I said it was time and picked up some fresh seed starter and retrieved my containers from the greenhouse. The onions I seeded in my large metal disposable pan and the tomatoes, peppers, cabbage and brussel sprouts went into cell packs. Given that I did a seed co-op this time around I only had so many seeds for some varieties and I double up seeds in each cell to ensure I would have enough seedlings if I had less than 100% germination. Normally I would just plant extra cells to accomplish the same thing because apparently I love to waste space in my cell packs. Each year more dumb stuff dawns on me I tell ya! I will post pictures of them when they sprout because right now it's just dirt and dirt is boring.

A new thing I am trying this year is making seed tape. It combines two of my favorite things, playing with seeds and reducing my need to thin tiny seedlings. To say I don't like thinning would be a great understatement. So after a couple years of drooling over the way to expensive pre-made seed tapes I just made my own out of toilet paper and a glue made from cornstarch and water. Very easy, and then after a quick dry by the stove they went into a zip bag...

I did find that using tweezers to place seeds was essential. I made tapes for carrot, beet and spinach seeds. I am debating whether to make some for my kale and chard. I planted seeds for kale, chard and spinach in my unheated greenhouse boxes and am hoping for some warmer weather soon so they will germinate. If the plants grow and well I will just transfer them to the big garden when it gets too warm in the greenhouse. If no then I will direct seed in tape form in the garden later. But, I am hoping they do grow so we can have some fresh greens 'before season'.

On other notes, our metal roofing has just arrived today so that will be going up as soon as we can as well as the lolly columns are in place so we can now begin constructing interior walls as soon as the roof is done. After that we will wire, plumb and insulate before our inspection and then will start sheetrocking the walls and ceiling. After that it will be the slower more tedious projects of finish work. Because of our lot being clay we will be waiting to drill our well and putting in the septic until the last because we need the ground to be dry. Likely that won't be until June unless we have a very windy May.

Second, I had another prenatal yesterday (up to 15 weeks now!) and everything seems to be going fine. Baby's heart rate is running strong in the 150's and I have had an average weight gain of 7 pound so far which is good for me! I won't post a pic of the belly yet because I'm still not very big! Maybe in another few weeks.

And, third I am going to visit my cousin in Michigan over my birthday in about a week! I have not been away ALONE since before I was even pregnant with Mini Me. That's about 3 years, and I likely won't get to again for longer so I am going to savor this trip. The cousin I am visiting is my favorite, she is like Mother Earth and my fellow homesteader. I love her. I also really like traveling and will really enjoy every moment. Don't worry though, I will leave my family with clean clothes, a stocked fridge and clean bathroom.

Well, that's it! Til next time.

From Average to More Series: Cleaning

This week is cleaning! Something I really love to have done but love to procrastinate. This is why it's good to have people over, it gives motivation. There are many methods to cleaning and most of them sound good to me! The method I think will be easiest to achieve realistically is a once a week deep clean. I would like to do this for several reasons including having my weekend free and not having to clean everyday even if it's just a little bit. Our house is not that big and with only one bathroom I feel this is quite manageable. Thursday will be my day! Currently in our week it's a "free" day which I use to have play dates or absolutely nothing. What I really loved about one mom's logic to cleaning the whole house at the end of the week is that for them as soon as they are finished they start their weekend! While that won't exactly be the case, after I complete my tasks the day again becomes a "free" day. Then comes Friday and we have our co-op which means we are out of the house all day so we can begin our weekend when we return to a still clean house. The anxiety this will erase for me! I could feel confident to welcome my husband home to a (somewhat, we do have kids!) orderly and clean house and also invite friends and family over on the weekend without worry of them seeing snot on the windows. So, let me outline my plan of action here:

The kitchen, while it is cleaned daily, does need a little extra attention once a week:
- Cabinets wiped down
- Fridge cleaned out of leftovers and wiped down
- Sink scoured
- pantry restocked from basement pantry
- butcher block counters oiled (every other week)

The bathroom, is pretty basic:
- sink, tub and shower scrubbed
- toilet
- floor vacuumed and washed
- linen closet organized (as needed)

Bedrooms need work more sporadically but they usually need at least:
- vacuum floor
- organize books and toys in kids
- toys retrieved from under the bed
- dusting

Our great room is both our living and dining room and it needs:
- floor vacuumed and washed
- toys and books sorted and put away or rotated
- dusting
- windows washed
- tame any piles of papers

The mudroom could be called a losing battle but let's:
- Organize shoes
- put away outdoor clothes in their place
- return less used coats and sweaters to the owner's closet
- vacuum and wash the floor
- wipe down the door

And that's about it! That doesn't look too bad to get done in a few hours right? Puzzle Boy will be expected to help with things like vacuuming, his room and dusting. Mini Me will start to be trained to put toys and books away but for the most part will be contained so she doesn't undo work in my wake. When the baby is here he/she will likely be worn by me as I work except for the bathroom, I will reserve that for a nap. I will definitely start using this method right away and will let you know how it works for me verses a room everyday. Although, with shedding animals I do have to vacuum the living room nearly daily in this house. I am hoping having hard floors in the new house reduces this to just needing a swipe of a "swiffer".

Til next week!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

From Average to More Series: The Car

This is an area of a growing family I have noticed is often an after thought. While this was not the case with us, the plan we had is one we are no longer pursuing in the near future. We have decided instead of increasing our debt beyond our comfortable point with our home equity loan, we will instead only consolidate as previously planned and pay off our current vehicle. That will financially put us in a very comfortable place of one loan payment (under $700 mind you!). Eventually it is our goal to be 'debt free' but we see borrowing against our home to more quickly set us up for other liberties to be a reasonable compromise. So, moving on to how I am going to revamp my mid-size SUV to accommodate a maxed backseat.

Our Trailblazer we bought last March.

First I will show you what a picture of 3 kids with my current carseats looks like...

My friends baby was in my infant seat while I was babysitting.

Squishy huh? Yeah, I felt bad for Puzzle Boy that day! This is the configuration I will have our kids in but I am going to swap out Mini Me's GIGANTIC carseat for...

After some research I happened upon this: a Diono Radian r100. It has a solid steel frame and is one the safest convertible seats out there. It is rated for birth to 100 pounds. It can rear face, forward face and be a booster. But the best thing is... it's the slimmest seat out there and specifically designed to fit 3 of these seats side by side in any midsized SUV or car. The only down side is the price! Just over $200 depending on which site you look at. I look at a seat like this as an investment. It has an 8 year expiration date with the harness and a 10 year as a booster with regular seat belt. I will probably buy another one when the baby out grows the infant seat to keep him/her rear facing longer. Most of our old seats have either expired and/or are baseline quality. I have made do but I really feel that we are in a place now to start making investments in family gear in general. Call it growing up if you will!

But, what about all the other stuff that we'll need to bring with us? Shopping days? A road trip?? Well, that's what the cargo area is for! One of the things that attracted me to my Trailblazer was the cargo capacity and the ease of it's use. I can easily use the lift gate with one hand and it's low enough to not make heavy loads a pain. Yet, it's still not that simple. We have a rather rugged stroller that I love and it easily takes up half the cargo space. While I like to have it with me all the time, for big shopping trips it has to stay home. And, that's OK with me! When I explain my new shopping methods, you will get why I am. But, even with it out I still have to make some modifications to make that open space more efficient. Right now things run around in the back when I drive. Like my washer fluid... it kinda sounds like a bowling ball back there. So I will be finding some nets to help contain everything from groceries to my cooler. No, they don't look very nice but they work and that's what matters.

Another thing that I need to work into my schedule is cleaning the car. When I had one child it got messy. With two it is a disaster. Montana Man drives it and the trash is crazy. Let's not even go there anymore. So weekly the car needs to be rid of trash, spills addressed (if I am unable to immediately) and given a mat shake out and general wipe down. Once a month it needs to be vacuumed, windows cleaned (inside!), fluids checked, washed and armor all-ed. I hate my car to be dirty and some where along the way I gave up. This is me reclaiming my vehicle!

Some of you may think, 'Geez, just get a minivan already!'. No offense, I don't do minivans. Our next up vehicle would be an Acadia which seats five in back. As of right now five kids is our MAX amount we are entertaining. If for some reason we had more (as in a surprise), we would kinda have to get something bigger. But that's a rabbit trail I'm going to avoid right now! Hahaha!

Til next week!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

From Average to More Series: Laundry

I am starting with the worst! It's the worst to me that is and I have found it to be a common theme of large families to focus on this area of home management. Every family does it a little differently and are often fine tuning it until they die, but a few things have stood out as obvious guidelines.

#1: Schedule different items on different days and do small loads in between as needed. For us this will look like:

Monday: kids' clothes, diapers

Wednesday: Mom's clothes, sheets/towels, diapers

Saturday: Daddy's clothes, diapers

I based this schedule on our current lifestyle and activities as these are the most open days to be chained to the machines. I will probably need to reevaluate this after the baby is born but right now I see it working for several reasons. Starting on Monday sets a productive tone, Wednesday is a pretty open day, and Saturday allows for MM to get his work clothes washed before he needs to pack on Sunday but isn't too many days between washes for the diapers. It also spaces things out enough that we aren't doing more than three loads a day.

#2: Dirty laundry storage. Currently Puzzle Boy has his own hamper, Mini has a section of the big 3 space hamper in her room (aka the laundry room) and Montana Man and I have no hamper and pile ours in a designated spot on the floor. This neither works well or encourages me to stay organized! I would prefer if we each have an open basket near our bedroom doors so that I can clearly see if that basket needs attention before its laundry day and also have one in the bathroom closet just for bath and kitchen towels.

#3: Teach Puzzle Boy to put his own laundry away. This seems minor, but it truly would help me greatly! Also, teaching him to bring his basket out of his room and load the washer will just be the beginning to eventual laundry independence. There really seemed to be recurring theme of having the kids take responsibility for their own laundry and I have to agree. With more than one or two kids, the children's laundry quickly can outnumber all others. I don't know about you, but I didn't have children to become a slave! When they are young, yes, I need to do it for them. When they are older it's just another thing to teach them to prepare them to be responsible adults.

#4: Folding laundry right out of the dryer. My mom always did this and while this would be ideal, currently the laundry is in a room nowhere near where my children play. It is also my daughter's bedroom. See my issue here? In our new house the laundry is in the center of the hall and I can easily see the great room and the kids' rooms from it's location. Problem solved!

#5: Keep things weeded out! This is a big one I need to work on. While I have pared my own wardrobe down quite a bit and continue to do so, I need to do this more consistently with my children's wardrobes. It is never ending at this age! They are always growing in and out of sizes, staining and ripping beyond repair. Along with this goes having a good storage system for those clothes that are not being worn at the moment whether they are not the right size or seasonal. I am a fan of totes for the children's clothes and we sort them by age/size and gender. For the hubs and me, I use my cedar chest for our seasonal clothes and my maternity clothes/regular clothes depending on if I am pregnant or not. When I pack my regular clothes away this time I'm sure there will be a bag to be going to Goodwill.

And, for some things that are personal to our needs:

#6: A new diaper pail and liner. I have never had a real and truly functional diaper pail. Shocking, I know, but as it is I always just made do with what I had. I do not recommend it. So I will be getting an open pail and a liner that can comfortably hold three days worth of diapers most likely in the 5-6 gallon range.

#7: Storing clothes only in our closets. I have a thing about cluttered bedrooms and under utilized closets. I do love my antique dressers but I would rather see them store things like sheets and the kids personal items rather than their clothes. I love to have a small section of drawers for underwear and bathing suits, bins for socks and tights and shelves for shirts, sweaters/sweatshirts/ and pants. Everything else is hung up. This I have found is a great way to nto alienate your hanging clothes from your regular wardrobe as well as making getting dressed a snap. No drawers to open and close and get messy from getting the shirt at the bottom. I find it also helps me keep weeding constantly as I can see immediately all my clothes and what I clearly keep avoiding.

Before the baby arrives I will also be making a double batch of laundry soap and buying cloth diaper soap. Once we are in the house I will also organize the laundry closet as well as implement the above to the fullest.

Til next week!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Check Us Out On...

I wrote a guest post on spring time on my friend's blog! Please skip over to her site to read!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Going From an Average to a Large Family Attitude

With baby three on the way this has granted me a pause to reflect on how things will change. Our vehicle will be at it's max for capacity when we are all together. We don't have enough dining chairs. Grocery shopping is about to go from an adventure to an insane adventure (unless I order them and just pick them up *winkwink*). My laundry will again increase by a lot due to diapers and lots of clothing changes for the little one. Etc... fill in the blank, you get the picture. Some of you I am sure have 3 or more children and are either nodding in quiet agreement or some of you are saying "What's the big deal?". I have the urge to go with you who are saying the later and just not worry about it. But, then I think, "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!". Just keeping it real here. No, I wouldn't necessarily call a family of five 'large' but it does change the dynamic more significantly than going from one to two children. For one thing, as parents, you are now out numbered. Reality check. I am a researcher. I like to research things. So what have I been researching lately? How to change my household logistics so I can confidently carry out organized chaos in 6 months time. Otherwise I might realize it's 2:00 in the afternoon and the goat is cussing me out for forgetting to milk her and my kids will still be in there clothes from yesterday. Ok, that's an extreme and unlikely scenario. Let's move on.

Because of my this new and uncharted territory for our family I am going to do a series on my preparations by the area of our life. Laundry, car, meals, homeschooling, cleaning, shopping, chores and, last but not least, personal time and husband/wife time. These I will schedule for Wednesday mornings over the next seven weeks. That will be perfect timing for me to start a new series on our spring here! Depending on progress I'm sure a house update or two will fill in the blanks on other days of the week.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hey, Guess What?!

The garden isn't the only thing I am growing this year... I'm also growing a human! Ta da! Ah, the miracle that God bestowed upon us women. While I do generally feel this is true I won't lie, pregnancy and I are not the best of friends. Thankfully I have been blessed with another mild first trimester but with more nausea than last time. Nothing a few little tricks couldn't handle and no puking thank goodness! So other than that and needing to pee ALL THE TIME it's been smooth sailing. But, the struggle will come when I get bigger!

This time around I find myself a bit more anxious about adding a new little one. While I trust God's judgement, I was/am not 100% ready for this baby quite yet. God spoke to both my heart and Montana Man's and very clearly told us it was time to let this fall on his timing. For months he spoke and for months I baulked. Finally Montana Man asked me to obey both God and him and I took the leap of faith and I did it afraid. Little did I know God's timing would be the first month without prevention. While I am excited and was happy to find out I still have reservations. Mainly how we will adjust to being a family of five and getting the house to a liveable state by August, a month before I am due. And, how I will survive the heat of summer! I always said I never wanted to be largely pregnant in the summer, stinks to be me! Hahaha. So, anyway, my adjustments will probably come up again before and after the birth.

Hold on... gotta pee.

Ok, where was I? Oh, yes. So this time around I am wiser a thing or two. Nutrition is a big priority to me and this time I know what real pregnancy nutrition looks like. This played a big factor in how I felt and my health last time and I learned my lesson later than I should have. I spent my third trimester trying to keep pre-eclampsia at bay and while I did successfully my body took a hit. Second, I had polyhydramnios (or too much amniotic fluid). I believe this contributed to my postpartum hemorrhage and possibly my prolonged labor. My poor uterus had enough to carry around what with nine pounds of baby and another two of placenta! Too much fluid made it very stretched and stressed. Now, other than general good health I do not know how to prevent this again so I will just pray.

Another thing that is different this time is that through a friendship I have been receiving myo-facial release therapy. I find this both invigorating and balancing and am excited to see it's positive effects on this pregnancy! I am so thankful for my friend and only wish I could bless her as much as she blesses me.

Preparations will also be a big item on my list. Last time I foolishly thought I didn't need to prepare many meals or arrange for help because people would just offer to bless us! After all we were part of a great church body and missional community and I grew up watching their generosity toward new moms. I was in for a shock that still stings a bit. While I was living in my parents home and did have some help... I had a husband that worked an hour away and was gone a lot, and my mom and dad both had demanding jobs. I'm not sure if people just assumed we were fine because of our living arrangements but we got only one meal from someone other than close family (for a grand total of 3 meals). I was faced with a slow recovery from severe anemia and I just felt like a burden to my family. It frustrated me I was unable to cook or clean for weeks because walking from my room to the bathroom exhausted me. I did not feel this way at first but as the birth high hormones wore off I felt, well, gypped. While it may be petty to have the attitude to not trust that others will be more generous this time, I will not put myself or my family through that kind of postpartum period again. So, this time I plan to make a month of meals and order my groceries online so I can either pick them up quickly or have someone grab them for me. I will also ask instead of a baby shower (cause I really don't need one this time!) if anyone would like to either come help me with small household things like folding laundry or even just hanging with my kids while I take a shower longer than three minutes. I will be getting paper plates and using the crock pot! Montana Man will be able to be home for the first week at least but then during the week it will just be me. While I feel confident I will adjust fine and get a new routine down quickly, I would just rather be able to take a month or more off from meal stress and extend that peace of mind to my family (especially my mom!).

I will touch on other goals as this pregnancy progresses (like making more diapers), but for now I am enjoying the last few weeks of my clothes still fitting.

Til next time.