Saturday, March 30, 2013

To Market

I love it when we can shop at the farmer's market. I mean really shop. Not go there for an outing and pay outrageous prices for parking lot pony rides and market treats. Now, the rest of my family loves doing it as an outing, but what makes me feel really good is coming home with plenty of local farm-grown food for our bellies.

What happens is the kids get more interested in our (healthy) food when we all go get it at the farmer's market. We get kids preparing carrots for themselves. And kids in raptures over spicy black bean hummus on homemade wheat tortillas.

And if you're interested in reducing waste, it is pretty easy and very acceptable to use bags, baskets, and jars instead of plastic at the farmer's market.

Problem? I can't seem to get the dollar amount below $150 for our weekly groceries if we utilize the farmer's market, even with a very simple weekly menu plan. I've tried totting up the list for regular grocery store (milk, butter, cheese, toilet paper, grapes, bananas, flour, rice, coffee, etc.) and farmer's market (one treat, four veggies or so, a fruit or two, honey or jam or oil or hummus, etc.), and each combination seems to add up to $150 or more. And I want our weekly budget to be $100. I couldn't get to the magic number when we lived in Florida nor in Texas.

(I should mention we have a year-round, rain or shine market in our town. Pretty awesome.)

Another thing: We have to be just as careful about overspending at the farmer's market as at the regular store. Everything looks (and is) delicious. Great coffee, yummy bread, a snack from the most fantastic food trailer ever (The Peached Tortilla!), bags of kettle corn, bakery goods... There are a million ways to spend $100 at the market without having bought any of the basics.

But negatives aside, we got all of the following food for $50 at our farmer's market today:

  • bag of carrots: $4
  • two loaves of homemade bread, one "gourmet" with nuts and such that Xander picked out: $11
  • one pound of ground beef from grass-fed cows: $7.50
  • small bag of kale: $4
  • small head of cabbage: $2
  • large bag mixed lettuces: $4
  • a dozen eggs: $4.50
  • two beautifully frosted cookies: $5
  • one pint of strawberries: $4
  • a container of spicy black bean hummus: $4
Obviously, I could save a lot of money baking our bread, but I'm sick of my own homemade bread and so is my family. These loaves are going to be fantabulous. And if I hadn't bought those, I would have just "wasted" the money on a bag of coffee or a quart of milk anyway.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Kristy's Typical Day

I do a little bit less of this these days.
This is a sample of my typical day at this point:

Early Morning:

Get up, get ready.
Drink coffee while reading one of my "special" books.
Do before-breakfast tidying chores. Make sure common area and dining table are ready for both breakfast and school.


Get the kids breakfast; eat breakfast.
Do the morning warm-up for school.
Help kids get their Morning Cards done.
School. Three days of the week, we go out to educational activities for a while.


Sustained Silent Reading time for all of us.
Quiet time for kids; nap time for me!
Snack. Start prepping dinner. Get on running clothes and prepare for my workout.
Pre-dinner chores for everyone.


Family dinner time. Family eats; I drink tea or water and talk with everyone.
I go for a run. Erik does a lot more of the bedtime routine for both boys these days.
Eat; shower. Make sure boys are on track for bedtime.
Work for an hour and a half.
Spend time with Erik or fall into bed, hopefully having done my night-before prep with coffee, clothes, and other things.

On weekends, I try to do several hours of work on Saturday plus an hour or two of housework. Sunday is for lots of rest, family stuff, and an hour or so of housework. Right now, I am running on both weekend days.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pictures from March

Our oldest is getting to be such a big boy


Mommy's exercise video


hail storm!

"snow" day

reading before bed


Our weather forecaster said people in Minnesota were not enjoying their first day of spring, temperature 5 degrees Fahrenheit. I am sure that's true. Right, Mom?

We, on the other hand, have about 60 degrees here. Beautiful. With a ground cover of hail.
Last night, Erik and I both woke up to thunder, lightning, and a downpour of hail. I have never heard hail come down in that kind of volume. Luckily, they were the size of dimes for the most part. The whole yard was blanketed; it looked like snow. This morning at around 8:30, plenty of hail was still left on the ground. It won't melt! At least not very fast.

We are doing dental health activities today and fun weather stuff, of course. We read a Let's-Read-and-Find-Out book called How Many Teeth? that was really fun for both boys. It's pretty timely. Xander's on his fifth lost tooth. Three days ago, Xander lost a tooth at night. The next day, he lost another one. He's cleared out some good real estate in that mouth. The new tooth that is most visible looks ginormous.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Will It Be Time4Learning?

I've written about how we've had changes in the last month. I'll be needing to pull in more income. Fortunately, I was able to add two more companies to my list of writing jobs. There are two distinct challenges, though. First, I need to carve out a good amount of time almost every day to write and meet deadlines. Second, we need to figure out if this will indeed be enough income.

One of the things I'm considering using to help me carve out that writing time is an online homeschool curriculum. I've heavily pulled from two curricula so far this year (and dozens of supplemental educational opportunities) and I've loved both of them. If Xander can run with an online program, though, he will feel more in control of his schooling and I will have some extra time. That's the way it works in my imagination, at least.

We are going to try Time4Learning for free for 30 days, in exchange for an honest review of the program at the end of that time. I will see if both kids can do it, because the curriculum goes from PreK to 8th grade. Here is the official notice I need to put on my blog before we start our free trial:

Over the next 30 days, I will be reviewing Time4Learning. It can be used forhomeschool study, an afterschool curriculum or for summer learning. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. You can write your own curriculum review, too!

I'm not sure that Xander will like doing a lot of activities on the computer, not to mention the program worksheets, but that's why we're giving it a trial run. I'm not sure that Nick will be able to interact with the program successfully, but I have a feeling he will do great. And the last thing I'm not sure about is whether it will save me any time (or whether I will feel good about it even if it does save time). In 30 days, I'll post my findings here.

In the back of my head, I have always kept open the possibility of homeschooling all summer to make sure I feel Xander is ready for second grade by the fall. We will probably do at least some schooling all the way through - but so far I believe he is on track in the sense of being ahead in some areas, behind in a couple, and at average skill level in many.

A Couple Nick-isms

Nick is growing and maturing so fast. But there are still a few fun Nick-isms around. Here are two of them:

When Nick means to say "I am!" he says "I mem!"

When he wants a sandwich, he asks for a "spamwich."

Very fun. He still makes me laugh so often and so genuinely. He loves it, too. He is one of those youngest-child entertainers. He always peeks up to make sure you're watching and gives back the most gorgeous smile if you are smiling.

Xander is a funny guy, too, but he has long been in the stage when he protects his dignity. I have to be careful not to laugh unless he wants me to when he's telling a joke or something like that.

In the picture above, Nick is exercising to one of my exercise videos. By request. I wasn't going to exercise at that moment. He dragged out the yoga mat and I put together some Duplo dumbbells for him. I thought I got more pictures, but the others were too blurry. He did some awesome preschooler jumping jacks and pretend jump-roping, too.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

About Lost Naps and Other Grievances

Nick ditched his nap. He made it until about 3.75 years old. Little Xander made it to about 3 years old at the oldest. So there's that blessing.

There's also the fact that, even though I dreaded the impending lost nap in both cases, as my children moved toward getting rid of their nap, they were maturing at the same time. It has not been as hard in either case as I thought it would be. So there's that, too.

What I want to do is wallow in my self-pity and say, "Just when I have to put aside afternoons to work, he decides to drop his afternoon nap." But there are always adaptations we can make.

I've moved Nick's independent playtime to his former nap time, so he is still in his room at the time I need to start work. I figure if he's exhausted on any given day, he will play a little and then fall asleep. Hasn't quite happened that way yet, but I feel able to explain (to different degrees) to both boys my need to be undistracted when I'm sitting at the computer with my headphones on. (My work uniform and signal to them that I am working.) Xander loves to play on his own for hours, and we are done with schooling by the afternoon, so that's no problem. Nick can play in his room for a while, at least. His brother is old enough to help him with a lot of things, like if he needs a snack. And they usually get to watch Wild Kratts (a PBS show that teaches Xander all about all kinds of different animals) at 4:00.

Nick used to have his independent playtime in the morning so Xander and I had an uninterrupted hour to work on school subjects. That was necessary a few months ago, but it only takes a few months at Nick's age to grow up quite a bit. He can now join us in our studies for as long as he feels like it and go off to play when he's done. What an amazing transformation 3 years old to 4 years old is.

I want to grieve over not being totally present for them in the afternoon, but to be honest, I wasn't always 100% mentally available to them by a certain point in the day anyway. I am still home to deal with anything that crops up. I notice what's going on even when I'm working with those headphones on.

Xander offered to vacuum the floors last night after a big snack mess the boys made. (A big snack mess that, really, Nick made.) I felt blessed. Then he asked for money. I told him we could talk about a job tomorrow.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Last Week's Goals

Let me look back at the last goals I posted, which were for the week of February 25th through March 3rd. I'm not even going to post goals for this week or the coming week, because I'm still getting acclimated to working at least a few hours a day.

How'd I do?
Continue to vet books for my personal study project.
Work on knitting arm warmers for myself for the 5K.
Get ready for 5K trip! Xander is running 1K and I am running 5K. Thanks to Erik's work travel, we can stay at a hotel for free the night before and do some sightseeing in the area. Vacation!!
Examine finances and budget limits on a regular basis.
Run 5K.
Continue structured, upbeat educational activities for both kids.
Write and upload articles for The Homemaking Cottage.
Feed our new butterflies properly and release them outside if the temperature warms up.
Set up our guinea pig's new larger cage area, which should arrive in a couple days.

I think this is my first 100% completion for a week's goals! The secret is to write down what you're definitely already planning to do. Not what sounds like you really should get to, what you're actually going to do. :)

Running, Running, Running

Big changes. I'm working more from home. It's turned my life almost upside down, at least temporarily. Writing for this, that, and the other site, and I'm about to start wearing a wrist brace while typing! I've already set up one of our living room chairs with strategically placed pillows for a work chair.

We hope this working for pay is only temporary to get us out of debt. Things have become a bit serious and buckled-down around here. All for the good, we hope.

Meanwhile, the kids are thriving and I am still homeschooling. I've managed to rig the schedule so only a couple of things suffer. Erik is picking up the slack by cleaning a little more when he's home (while I do a little less) and I am basically getting less rest. But not too much less rest, because I couldn't hack it. :) Unless it was an emergency.

Xander and I both ran races as part of a race festival last weekend. Mine was a 5K and his was a 1K. We both had so much fun. I beat my personal best time and placed in my age group. Xander said his race was great and he'd like to do it again in the future (even though he didn't come in first).

Nick liked saying hi to H-E-Buddy

the start of Xander's race - he's wearing black

the finish line

race goodies

Nick was exactly this tired as a result of our trip

Friday, March 1, 2013

Feeling Healthy

being silly - apples are one of their favorite snacks
Okay, this doesn't happen TOO often, so I have to brag. Nick, the three-year-old, just came up and asked me for salad for lunch.

(What is it about three years old and healthy foods? Both of our boys went through these phases: in early toddlerhood, they would eat tons of healthy foods like sweet potatoes and black olives; in late toddlerhood, they got picky about vegetables and didn't eat much for dinner; at around three years old, they both embraced salad and even greens like kale.)

Meanwhile, Xander, holding Sandy on his lap and feeding him carrots, said, "You are one healthy pig."