Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sundays are for...

...relaxing in the hammock (with Bekah)...

...and bouncing on the trampoline (with Aunt Kati).

Sundays are for being like Daddy...

...and eating homemade chocolate ice cream with Mama...

...and taking a moment alone to read a book on the swing.

Sundays are for falling into an exhausted sleep on the car ride home.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thrifty Thursday

This is the first of my summer series on being thrifty without feeling deprived.  If you have an money-saving idea, consider sharing it on your blog and leaving your link at the bottom of this post.  The only rule? Share what you know. If I've never personally tried an idea, I won't write about it. The same goes for you, but don't assume an idea is too simplistic. It could be new to someone or it could re-inspire someone else!

My first tip is quite simple: When cooking, cut back on meat.  Many thrifty people and websites will suggest serving meatless meals to reduce costs.  While I do serve a few main dishes without meat (homemade macaroni and cheese, simple bean tacos...), we really enjoy meat and don't like to have many dinners without meat on the table.  My solution is to simply cut the measurements in half.  If a recipe calls for a pound of meat, I use half a pound instead.  Most casseroles are full of other fillers-- beans, veggies, pasta-- so no one notices the reduction.  At least no one in my family does! 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A dress

Did you know that you can go outside to climb a tree in a dress?

Did you know that an adventure that began with delicate flower picking can result in you coming in with grass stains on your dress? 

Did you know when an especially sporty event requires you to wear pants you must be warned a day or two ahead, giving you time to mourn your dress? 

Did you know that nightgowns are the only acceptable pajamas? 

She knows.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Strengthening the Will

My mom has written recently of being nudged by noble ideas in literature.  Last night I sat in my rocking chair after tucking Benjamin into bed.  While waiting for him to drift to sleep and while I read a chapter of Little Men, a swirl of words wrapped around my mind, urging me to go back and re-read.  What a thought to ponder and what a high standard to set for ourselves in training our little ones:

Being early taught the secret of self-control, he was not left at the mercy of appetities and passions, as some poor little mortals are, and then punished for yielding to the temptations against which they have no armor. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Weekly Venture

Apparently, we are not the average family.  When the new babe arrives, we will be a family of on one relatively low income.  We pinch pennies and we save and scrimp and go without sometimes, and yet no one (especially not the children) feels deprived.  Whether frugality comes naturally to me or whether I've learned to live that way out of neccessity, I'm not sure, but I realized recently that I have frugal ideas to share...and you probably do, too! 

So...starting next Thursday, I'm going to begin Thrify Thursday where each week during the summer, I'll give one of my frugal tips.   And if there is enough interest, I'll add a place for you to link up to your frugal tips each week, too.  The only rule?  Share what you know.  If I've never personally tried an idea, I won't write about it.  The same goes for you, but don't assume an idea is too simplistic.  It could be new to someone or it could re-inspire someone else! 

If anyone has experience making blog buttons and would like to design one for this weekly feature, contact me.  You'll be sure to get credit for your creativity on my blog!   

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Of Stripes and Wings

Our weeks of formal learning are coming to a close for this school year.  We have finished the last pages of math and are putting the art and history books back on the shelves.  Little bottoms can barely stay in their seats long enough to finish a day's lesson before hopping up to go to their rooms to play dress-up or run  outside to whoop and play. 

The free hours of summer are breathing upon us, but the learning never ceases.  We have already begun our annual caterpillar-raising project.  (Having begun so early this year, I suspect we'll be raising several batches before summer's end.)  Each year when I mention our buggy pets, I get comments from readers wishing to give it a year.  I thought that maybe a quick caterpillar-raising tutorial would inspire some to join us... this year!

Before I begin, let me emphasize that I am a curl-up-with-a-good-book-watching-nature-from-inside kind of girl so if I can do this, you can, too!

This first step of the journey is finding a caterpillar.  We have had good luck finding our critters in my parents' herb garden.  Occasionally, one of the children (usually Maddie!) will find one crawling through the grass.  We have the best luck with swallowtail caterpillars, though last year we had wonderful success with a monarch, too.  When swallowtails hatch from their eggs, they are the size of a grain of rice, but we've always begun our project when they are approximately an inch long. 

Next we set up a home for our new friends.  We've used plastic insect cages and we've also used old jars.  If you choose the jar route, make sure there is plenty of ventilation.  Instead of screwing on a tight light, use a piece of thin fabric, secured with a rubber band over the opening.  Add a damp sponge to the bottom of your container for liquid nourishment.  To ensure that your caterpillar will like what you feed it, add plenty of whatever plant you originally found your caterpillar on.  (Our caterpillars are feasting on fresh parsley.)  Include a small stick in the container.  Caterpillars often perch on a stick before shedding their final skin. Keep your container outside so you maintain the temperature and humidity levels your caterpillars are used to.   Don't forget to name your new friends, too!  This year, we have Big, Tiny, and Jimmy residing on our front stoop. 

Once you have a home established, the third step is easy.  Observe, observe, observe.  A bit of maintenance is required, but much of it can be done by the children and it only takes minutes a day.  Keep the sponge damp.  Give a steady supply of food.  And dump the poop out of the bottom of the cage.  (Have the kids hold their caterpillars on a stick while you do this.)

A few things to keep in mind:
  • When a caterpillar is ready to shed its final skin and become a chrysalis, it will sit in one place for a day or more.  It is not dead!  It is simply preparing for the next step.  
  • Once the caterpillar is in its chrysalis, be especially careful when handing the container.  If the chrysalis is not suspended from it perch, the caterpillar will never emerge. 
  • After the caterpillar enters the chrysalis, it remains dormant for 10-14 days before coming out as a butterfly. 
  • Make you allow several hours for its wings to dry before releasing it to the big world. 

We would love to have other families join us in this journey.  Be sure to let me know if you plan to give it a try!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturdays are for...

...icy water on your toes...

...and squishing them in sun-warmed sand.

Saturdays are for digging in the biggest sandbox you've ever seen...

...and blue skies...

...and learning to fly a kite with Daddy.

And Saturdays are days to bring the computer home from the repair shop after being without it for over a week!

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