Sunday, January 11, 2015

Choosing My Family

This Christmas day had me thinking about what I want out of life. What I want for my children and my future. What is more important to me and our family. I always go through certain stages of grief when I become stay at home again. It is almost always the same. I go from Super Mom and Wife in the first 2 months where everything is cleaned up and put away and I dive into closets and drawers to rearrange and clean out and suddenly around month 3 I hit a wall. I know what it is. I can analyze it but to stop it is harder. I hit the dip. The depression and I have a hard time getting myself out. I get tired of doing it all and getting no thanks or acknowledgment for it. I get tired of picking everything up after everyone but I don't want to be the wife and mom that bitches and moans constantly so it builds up and I stop doing it all. I start only doing the things that have to be done and if there is no deadline it doesn't get put on the to do list. Oh, my to do lists. They are sad now. I write them out and then ignore them and then I see them again and just get depressed. I, by all means, do not sit around all day picking my nose. I have a very active, giant two year old that I run after all day getting him off the top of my desk or stopping him from pushing his chairs or rocking horse over to a child gate to climb over it. I am constantly putting out fires it seams of dirty diapers, laundry, meals and picking up children from school, helping with homework and getting them in bed.

My husband started a new work schedule. He works 8-6 M-Thur. so that he gets every other Friday off. This is another adjustment. By the time he gets home most nights it is 6:30pm and the kids go to bed at 7:30. So each day he only gets an hour with them except for one Friday where he is home when they get home from school. It makes for a VERY long day for me.

2014 Willow Tree Ornament 
I have my outlets. I have play dates at my house on Tuesdays where my fellow grad student stay at home parents come to talk to save their sanity and mine. Where our children play and we get to talk about how non-glorious it is to be a parent. The poop, vomit and little to no sleep you get. Then we turn around and boast about how great our children are and how we couldn't imagine life without them.

My being home now is a choice that I go back and forth on if it is really what I want. I love working. I love being around other intelligent grown ups. I love the immediate change I have made. Being home is different. I know this is what is best for my children but the rewards are small and far between. There is no paycheck and the gratitude is little to none when it comes to kids. I take enjoyment from hearing my kids interact with one another. They are really forming good lasting relationships. If I had them in aftercare then they wouldn't even be in the same room after school. Being a mom and wife is frustrating a lot of the time but the good moments are REALLY good. I get to go on field trips and see the plays. Pick them up from school and ask them about their day in a non-rushed manner. I get to be in the moment with them and not constantly worrying about if I have everything for dinner or will I have to feed them fast food again.
Dough raising for homemade bread

As a parent how do you choose? How does one keep themselves sane and do what is best for their family? I'm reading Radical Homemakers which is really helping me see my value as a stay at home mom with a very expensive Master's degree. In our current society, that values more what you can buy instead of make and produce, it is hard to stay focused on all I do for my family by growing our veggies, raising chickens for eggs, keeping bees for honey, knitting, sewing, baking from scratch, and learning now to clean with safe chemicals. Making a home. Raising a family. Being here for them. Choosing to produce instead of buy.
My backyard flock

I choose to be home because I choose my family. I choose forming good solid bonds with my children, I choose spending more than 2.5 hours a day with my children that are just rushed because dinner needs to be made and then things need to be cleaned up. I choose having time and energy to make home cooked meals instead of fast food or frozen meals full of chemicals that I can't even pronounce. I choose to cut back, have a smaller home, have second hand items and older cars because in the long run that is not what kids really care about. They care that their mamma is there for them. That she is willing to cut back and live a less lavish lifestyle so that she can be home with her kids. They care that their mamma is there to cheer them on and not some care taker that might not even work there tomorrow.

As you see in this post this choice was not easy for me as an individual that loves other grown ups and needs to be mentally challenged but as a mother it was a no-brainer. I choose my children because they are little for such a short time and before I will know it they will be too busy with their own lives to need me this much. I tried working. While I was happy at work I felt guilty about leaving my children to be cared for by someone else not even related to them.
Road Trip back from the grandparents.

I am far from perfect. I do the best I can with what I have but when women say that they can't afford to stop working what they are saying is that they are not willing to give up the huge house, the new car and the cable package for their children. It is possible to live on one income. It is hard. It takes a lot of work and planning but you can choose your family over running the rat race. You just have to downgrade to the point where one income is enough and then make that a home. Your home made by you and not what commercials tell you it should look like. I have a friend that does an amazing job of keeping a home on her husband's income. Her home always looks like it is out of a magazine but almost ALL of the things are bargain finds at flea markets, second hand stores, craigslist, and antique shops. If she can't find it that way she has her husband make it. She even dug her own fence posts and built a fence around her back yard herself. They bought a beautiful home that needed a LOT of work cheap and did almost all of the work themselves fix it. I have another friend that is home with 5 kids all 7 years or younger who she homeschools, keeps a neat home, grows her own food, keeps chickens and goats and makes a lot of food from scratch. These women are superheros in my mind. On top of this they themselves look amazing.

I don't have the first friend's talent for homemaking. I also don't have the second friend's patients to homeschool and I certainly am not keeping myself in shape at the moment even though I am trying.  I am not an interior designer  or a school teacher at heart. I knit, sew, cook and bake with the best of them but the work it takes to keep a home like she does is more than I have the energy to do with 3 kids 6 years and younger. I do the best I can with what I have. I am a housewife first and foremost.

Of course there are exceptions to the rule when it comes to being able to stay at home. If you are a single parent or you have lost your spouse then you have to work. Also if your spouse is unable to work then that also leaves you to be the bread winner. I have friends that are stay at home dads and that is awesome. At least there is one parent there to take care of the child or children and home. People are not bad people or parents if they choose to work away from their children but if there is a will there is almost always a way. It just takes choices that you might think are steps back when really they are steps forward. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Loss of Backyard Friends.

I knew when I took on having backyard barn animals that at some point I would have some sort of loss. That something would get one of my ladies or that they would get sick or something. But my last month of experience really threw me off of my rocker.

Several weeks ago I went and got new chickens. The Cream Legbar that I had was laying white eggs instead of the blue that she was supposed to be laying and the breeder was nice enough to get me another pullet that would for sure lay blue eggs. While there, 2 more pullets followed me home. There was a cross between a Cochin and a Road Island Red and a Maran/Cream Legbar cross. The Cochin I named Sweety Pie because that is exactly what she was and the Maran mix I named Heidi because she just seemed like a Heidi to me. 3 days in to having them the Cochin was killed by something and it ate her head and left the rest. Two weeks later the Cream Legbar (which I named Stinky because she smelled so bad on the way home) had gotten caught on a neighbors fence and been there for some time and when I got her down she died shortly after. It was really sad. I hated that she had gone through that. The temp was over 100 that day and she hung upside down, for God knows how long, before we found her. I feel so horrible about that. I just thought she was in the shade somewhere in my backyard. Then only a few days after that Heidi starts looking a little lethargic but still spunky when I got close to her one day and only hours later I walk out and find her dead with her legs int he air. Having never lost a chicken before I was shocked. All 3 different ways. My other girls are fine. No problems there for over 18 months. Have you ever had a sting of bad luck like that?

Sadly, due to not wanting to invite carnivores to come hang out in our backyard, I had to put their bodies in the landfill. That brought on guilt too. If you have chickens how do you deal with your carcasses when there is a loss?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Love Granny Squares and Flowers?

This is a free pattern on Ravelry only today. The body of the bag is a big granny square. It is the Shabby Chic Granny Square Bag by Corrina Rick. I look forward to seeing all the different variations that will pop up of this bag. In the patterns she includes instructions on how to add a liner. I would love to make it even bigger and use it as a shopping bag. I would also like to use some of the bright colors that are in at the moment like the neon peach color one of my favorite colors at the moment.

What are some of your favorite free patterns?

Monday, June 23, 2014

2014 Spring Garden

This year in my garden I focused more on getting things planted to grow rather than to make it pretty or well organized. My older son helped a lot and because of that I had all kinds of things sprouting all over the place. Here are some photos of what is going on at the moment. 
Cilantro from Botanical Interests was quick to sprout and has been thriving well. 
This was one of those "just stick something in the ground and lets see what it ends up becoming" I don't know what kind of squash it is but I do know that it is squash. 

Lady Gaga my Polish hen is quite the sight and interesting to watch but all she does is teach my other hens bad habits. I really need to rehome her. She finally started laying this spring but like I said she is more trouble than she is worth. 

 This Zucchini is growing so fast and has plenty of female flowers on it already even thought they are not blooming yet I am looking forward to some amazing zucchini dishes this summer
 I planted some Sweeter Yet Cucumbers this spring and I look forward to eating them. They are not an heirloom but they are REALLY good. And they already have female flowers growing. So excited! Hope to eat plenty of these this summer.

 This basil popped up so quickly. It is one of Botanical Interest's variety  packs and it is so nice to have all the different types of basil to try.

 A few days after I took this photo these vines wilted due to a vine borer infestation. I was so sad to see them wilt and not being able to do much for them. What do you do to save your plants from the vine borer?
 In the past years I have not done well with peas. I have had poor plants and poor yields but this year was not bad at all. It is getting towards the end of these peas but I have enjoyed they fresh and cooked. Beside the peas I have carrots in all different colors. I love how I am surprised each time I pull one up at what color it is. In the past I have had a problem with my carrots tasting bitter. Is there a trick to making sure that they taste sweet?
Something keeps eating my Okra pants. I love Okra and was looking forward to eating plenty of it since over 10 plants sprouted but due to both chickens making it into the veggie garden and just some sort of bug eating them I am starting to wonder if I will get any. I love the flowers that bloom on these and since this is red okra the seed pods are beautiful too. I haven't seen what is eating them. Do you know of anything that eats Okra plants like this and if so how do you stop it?

Swiss Chard that seems to be thriving.

 My Bees bouncing back from having lost their queen at some point. I checked the hive 3 weeks ago and there were queen cells and little to no brood. I was worried that I had lost my bees but they are growing in numbers again so I will have to go in and check on them again next weekend.
 I thought after I fenced the chickens off in a smaller part of the yard that this would definitely not happen. I thought that in such a small space they would keep it nice and mowed if not completely void of vegetation but this is what my chicken run looked like a few days ago. I have since chopped down all of the weeds but left the sunflowers for shade. Does this ever happen in your chicken run?
This is what looks to me like a pumpkin vine popped up on its own. Anybody have a different opinion on what this could be?  it is right in front of my grape vine and I struggle with deciding if I should let it be there or not and am worried that it will take all the nutrients away from my growing grapevine. Do you ever have surprise veggies pop up in your garden? I had several tomato plans shoot up this spring. If you do what kind of surprises have you had?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Long Time No Post...

The bees are still alive!
All the girls enjoying the warm day!

Buff posing for the camera

This is where Buff likes to lay her eggs
Fridge full of eggs

My shaggy big boy.
Shaggy next to biggest boy.

My current project
My Valentine Present from my Hubby

Today's bounty from the girls
The baby sleeping next to his Pabbi on the couch.
Thought I would just give you a glimpse into my world at the moment. My backyard is still busy with my farm animals and bees. My home full of boys both big and small having fun and being loud most of the day. We have all been fighting a cold this weekend. When I went out to let the birds out to free range today I stopped in the sun and felt the warmth of the day. I work inside most days nowhere close to windows and even if I were the weather has been cold and dreary for so long. The beautiful weather was such a blessing and warmed both my body and soul as the feathered ladies waddled around me.

I work a lot these days keeping me too busy to keep up with this place. I am finishing my 3000 hours of supervised experience at an inpatient facility for people in psychiatric crisis. I have to finish my hours before my time runs out for my license since I took time off to have Alex and be home with him for the first year he was born. I don't regret being with him. I do hate that I only get about 2 hours of time with them after work on weekdays before it is bed time these days. But I keep telling myself that this is what it is at the moment. My boys just need to hold on tight for one more year and then we can reevaluate what is what at that point. I did the math though and even after I finish my hours and make more money because of having my license I would still be paying more for childcare for my 3 boys those last 3 hours of the work day than I would be making in those last 3 hours. At the moment I pay about 2032 dollars a month for daycare for my boys. Which leaves me about 168 dollars of my paycheck each month for gas and physical up keep. So I am working at the moment just to finish my hours. I am not making any money.

This brings me to my Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids leadership classes and my thoughts that have come up those teachings. I started my group yesterday and I look forward to the many more group calls to come. I won't be able to teach Simplicity Parenting until I finish my hours for my license because I signed a no competition contract with my current employer. But I will have it in my tool box for after. As a back up plan and be able to maybe help friends and family with my teachings even though I might not make any money with it. It has me thinking back to my childhood. How was I raised? How did that have an effect on the person I am today? What impact do parents really have? How much can we guide after a certain age? How much is it teaching as much as it is modeling? How do we give our children the ability to find their own way with their own unique talents? How do we guide with out pushing our fears and needs on to our children? How can we just be that training wheel until they are ready to ride life one their own? How long do we hold on to them and how do we know when it is time to let go and let them fall and learn from their own mistakes?
There are so many parenting styles out there. Picking one is not the easiest thing to do. My thought is that if it works for your family then go with it. If it doesn't work then it is time for change but make sure to pick the change that falls with in your value system and try to be as consistent as possible.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my update. What is your view on the perfect parenting style? Do you believe there is one true way? How much does genetics and personality have to do with parenting? 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Time Flies....

Happy Sunday!

I know it has been a long time since I last posted. I have been very busy with life as a working mother the last couple of months. I have finished the "training stage" of work and actually started working as an intake therapist at a local inpatient psych facility. I really enjoy work. I know that I am making a difference in peoples lives. I am sometimes the first step in someones road to recovery from mental illness. I enjoy the people I work with and even though at times I feel like I don't know what I am doing I know I have people supporting me that do.
My office at work.

It is hard to leave my children in the care of others each morning though. If I wasn't finishing my candidacy hours then I would probably not be working full time. But I only get so long to finish my hours and I already took 18 months off to have Alexander. So I pay 2032 dollars a month so that someone else can watch my children. Mamma guilt gets to me when I am picking up my children at 5:30 or later because I couldn't leave work fast enough. I try not to think about how many hours they spend in other peoples care. I hate that I spend the days that I do have them cleaning, grocery shopping and doing all the things that need to be done to keep this family of five running. Just yesterday I went grocery shopping and then to get my hair fixed for the first time in 4 months. Today I am about to spend the rest of the day putting clean sheets on all the beds, doing all the laundry, cleaning the bathroom, and mowing the backyard.

Speaking of the back yard. I got a new coop. The great coop that my husband made me was not big enough for all the birds I have. It is better suited for 2-3 standard birds or 3-4 bantams. So that coop will be sold. The new one I put together myself!!! With power tools and all!! I am so proud of myself and the birds like it. They actually go in the coop instead of trying to roost on my back porch which was becoming really GROSS! Lady Gaga is the only chicken that keeps trying to roost on the back porch still. But she is not the brightest of the bunch. I got this coop at  While it looks nice it was very beat up when I got it and broken in several places that I ended up having to fix. Unless you are handy I would not order from them.

My chickens have been molting and they also got an upper respiratory infection from the Americauna that I traded the rooster Cowboy for. Being a new chicken keeper I didn't know that hearing a chicken sneeze is a bad thing. Well it is. Very bad. Stopped all of my chickens from laying for over a month. I got my first egg yesterday and that in the nesting box. It was one of Buff's eggs. I was so happy to see it. I was so scared that they had gotten a line of strep that keeps chickens from laying for ever. Can't wait for them all to be laying and the beautiful colors that will come with it.

We have had a visitor in our back yard this week. This poor cat looks like its hind quarters have been saved. Also it is hard to see in this pic but it's tail is either dislocated or broken. I've been letting it eat our cat food. It has been getting cold at night and I can't think of not helping him grow his fur in by feeding him some good food. 

 Alex and his baby. We got that baby in IKEA in Iceland this summer when my mother died. He didn't show much interest in it then but now he walks around and hugs on it and kisses. It also sleeps with him at night. Poor Alex has had pneumonia and a double ear infection. He has been a trouper about it too. He almost had to go to the hospital last weekend but we got pediatric home health to come to the house instead. He was still drinking and eating fine so I didn't see a point in stressing him by putting him in the hospital. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Backyard Chickens Getting a Cold Treat.

Don't know why I said purple eggs. They are going to be blue. But Enjoy a peek into my backyard flock.

Too much dairy can cause diarrhea  in chickens but it is fine as a occasional treat and they really LOVE it.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Try Amazon Prime Free!

OK here is my review of Amazon Prime. I have been using Amazon Prime for several years now. I have bought everything from a lawn mower to floss from Amazon since with Prime you get FREE 2 day shipping of all Prime Products. Not all the products on Amazon are Prime products but I almost ALWAYS find what I need on Amazon and can have it shipped to my door with in 2 business days.  This has made a huge difference for this busy mamma of 3. I can just pop online and shop for things with out having to drag my monkeys alone with me to the store. They even have dry good groceries.

Prime also has ebooks that you can borrow for free for a month. Not all of their books mind you but I did read the Hunger Games this way and there are many more very popular books and of course all of the classics are free.

Prime also has lots of free shows and movies for members. I haven't used this option much since I watch more Netflix and Hulu than Amazon but I have tried it and the experience was pleasant.

Here is what I recommend. If you are wanting something super heavy like, lets say, a lawn mower or a grill or a shed and need it shipped then why not take the opportunity and use the free 30 day trial?

The few times that I have had a problem with a product they have sent a replacement before I know it and paid for the return of the product that there was a problem with. What have you got to lose? Just click on the button at the top of the blog post and sign up! You will not be sorry.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Heigh ho heigh ho it's off to work I go!

I've been a little quite around here and I'm sure you all understand with my mother passing away and all. But there are other reasons as well. Since even before I had children I have wrestled with the idea of how to be a good, working mother. Because in my mind for some reason you couldn't be both. But I have a calling. Really two callings. I desperately wanted children and I am a good therapist. Puzzling the two together for everyone's benefit has proven to be hard. Especially with the strict criteria to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). To become an LPC in Oklahoma I have to finish 3000 hours of candidacy under the supervision of another licensed counselor.  To earn your hour you have to finish at least 20 hours of work a week and they have strict restrictions on what they call work. This fall, I planed on working for a friend of mine that is starting her own agency and build up my client base slowly so that my kids wouldn't have to go to daycare full time until maybe after Christmas. But things were not adding up so I had a decision to make. Find another job or stay home for another year with my boys.

When I had to go home to Iceland for my mother's funeral in July it threw our finances for a loop. We would have had to tighten our belts even further for a while to make up for the financial hardship that trip put on us if I were to keep staying at home. Also since I had already started working towards my 3000 hours I have to finish for my candidacy as an LPC in 2012 I only have 5 years to finish them or I would have to reapply and start over again.

Last time I worked I made the mistake of working under contract and under circumstances that were causing me to become very ill which in return lead me to have to quit working. I decided I would not be bullied into taking clients I didn't think I was equipped to work with again and that I would never again have to put forth so much effort for so little pay unless I wanted to. I was a therapist scorned after I quit my last job because of medical issues. Even started thinking about giving up on the profession since everyone I talked to told me that the only jobs out there for people still finishing their candidacy hours were those types of jobs. The ones you feel used an abused after when you dragged your emotionally worn out soul back to your family.

I believe that the most important thing for a therapist is self care. To be kind to one's self and take care of body and soul. I believe that employers of therapists need to impose self care on their staff. That there should be at least a week and a half of vacation days each year that the person has to plan in advance to actually take a vacation and not to take care of their sick kids or go to a Dr's appointment. That gentle relaxation in the morning before the work day starts is mandatory. As a European I think most companies in the USA treat their employees poorly and don't understand how important it is for the employee to take a vacation from work. OK enough about that..... back to what I really came here to talk about.

I GOT A FULL TIME JOB!!!! I had this urge to check out a local agencies website and there was one job that I applied for. I decided that it was my Russian roulette and if I got it I would go back to work but if I didn't get it I would just try hard to save our family money and stay home for another year. When I got the job I was in shock. I go back and forth about how great and crazy it is. I go from telling myself that I am a horrible mother for going to work from my only 11 month old child to telling myself that it will be good for him to be around other children during the day. If you only knew how much I beat myself up for looking forward to being around adults for 9 hours a day. How much mommy guilt I have about how happy I am when I drop them off at daycare and I hear silence in the car for more than a min. They have been going for 2 days now for a half a day each time and I enjoy the first 3 hours and then I start getting anxious to know how they are doing and if everything is OK. I'm an introvert so I get my energy from quite and being alone. I have gotten little to NONE of that for the past 16 months since my oldest two quit napping and now I look forward to having patches of it here and there.

This new job is a 8-5 job. I will have to drop the kids off at daycare at 7:45 and then be at work at 8. This being 40 hours a week will help me knock out my hours SUPER fast. I don't have to go to people's homes to do therapy, which is why I got so sick at the other job, and it is just doing intake and testing. So I decide if the person needs the services that are offered at the location I am at or if that person needs different accommodations. I only work with adults and 16-35 year old's are where I do my best work. I get to work in an office environment and I am just super excited all around. But then the mommy guilt comes to haunt me.

Working mammas, how do you do it? How do you leave your kids with strangers and just go to work? 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Minimalist Parenting Book Review

As those of you that have been following my blog know I have been doing some research in parenting techniques and trying to find an easier way to parent my group of boys. I was overwhelmed and didn't know where to start before my Hectic to Harmonious Home Cleans with Laura Brady and she mentioned the Simplicity Parenting book often to us in that month. Since I took so much from my cleans with her I decided to read Simplicity Parenting and even took the online parenting course with Dr. Kim. When I had finished that I started looking at what else I could read. I wanted to learn more. I wanted more information. I stumbled upon MINIMALIST PARENTING: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest. It sounded like something that I would enjoy. Laura Brady and Dr. Kim helped me simplify but I still had this nagging in my mind that I was not doing enough for my boys. That what I was doing wasn't good enough. That I should be taking them out more and doing more for them when really I was doing as much as I could with having given birth to 3 children in 4 and a half years on top of finishing grad school at the same time. I was still a little stuck in the rat race of parenting but still doing a lot better than I was before the process began. Minimalist Parenting helped me let go a little better. Helped me figure out what was best for my family and I and really had great homework to help me figure out what was important to my family and I and what I wanted to pass on to my children. Simplicity Parenting has pretty strict rules about what is OK and what is not and some of those rules did not fit with my husband and I's philosophy.

 I had two BIG aha moments while reading Minimalist Parenting and that was when they wrote in the simplifying your home and decluttering that you should only keep the things that you would replace if your  house burnt down or wish you could replace and when it comes to the family meal that as parents we are only suppose to make and offer our children healthy food and it is up to the child to decide if they are going to eat it or not. If they are hungry they will eat. So we need to stop being short order cooks and only making the things we believe our kids like all the time and make sure to offer the things that are healthy and different too. These were only the BIG aha moments. Through out the book I kept getting great ideas and felt like the authors were really helping me let go of my preconceptions of what "good" parents do. Like thinking the best parents put their kids in private school. Public school has a lot to offer and socially teach children a lot. There are better school districts out there than others but still every situation is different and parents really need to figure out what works best for their individual child.

Minimalist parenting is not one of those books that you sit and read all the way through in one sitting. I had to put it down many times and just digest what I had just read. so when reading this book give yourself time. Parenting is not a race but a slow and steady evolution of your relationship with your children and your partner.

If you are overwhelmed and need a starting point then this is a great book. It helps you help your child figure out what they are passionate about and then help your child follow their passion with out putting the whole family out. Helps you keep a calming home that everybody in the household is happy to show up to be a part of the family. It also helps you get time to yourself and take care of your needs too. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Minimalist Parenting.  You will not regret it.