Friday, September 30, 2011

Saving Time and Money

I began an exercise this morning that I realized I do frequently to save myself time and money.  The exercise?  Well it's not jumping jacks; rather, it's "take an inventory".  I am planning a grocery shopping trip for Saturday night and wanted to make a list so I began by inventorying what I already have.

Here's how it works:  I begin with a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, labeling the left side HAVE and the right side NEED.  Then I delve into whatever area I'm working on, this morning it is food, and I look in the freezer, fridge, and cupboards to see what I already have to work with.  I write it down, in order of meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks.

Example: Breakfast HAVE - bagels, (twice, because I have two packages), English muffins (again, twice), oats, flour, potatoes, canned/bottled fruit.
                Breakfast NEED - milk, eggs, cream cheese, sausage, bacon, whole wheat tortillas, bread, dried fruits, fresh fruits, plain yogurt, orange juice.

Those are the things I have and want to get so I can whip up a delicious breakfast every morning.

After doing an inventory I write down all the menu ideas that come to me from that list (they're pretty much the same each time) then I can choose for my actual menu plan, according to day of the week, and how much time I'll have to prepare things.

When I go to the store I have a complete list of what to buy in what quantities to fill up my freezer, fridge and pantry so I have all the ingredients necessary.  I do the same with lunches, dinners, and snacks.  I don't make a menu, then shop; I take an inventory of my supplies, then make a menu using up the things I already have, and adding the items I need to replace and replenish my supplies.

I use the same method at the beginning of the school year to see what clothes the boys already have and what they need.  We've never bought all new school clothes for our children.  I keep boxes of "to grow into clothes" handed down from older boys to younger brothers from which we "shop" for new clothes.  If there is still a need, I will make a list to take to the thrift store.  If I can't find it at a couple of thrift stores and it is a critical item I can then look for a sale at a retail store, otherwise we just wait until we do find it.

Several times a year I clean out the toiletries cupboard and take an inventory of what I have and need then add items to my shopping list to look for sales on those items. Cleaning out cupboards and rearranging items usually yields a few surprises as in "Oh look, I have 2 bottles of shampoo left so I don't need to buy more right now." I also pull things forward and make plans to use them up by having them in the front where they are visible.  (Out of sight, out of mind is certainly true for cupboards!)

There you have it, my method for saving time and money.

Handkerchiefs and other foreign objects

Last night I did a batch of ironing which included handkerchiefs for both my husband and me.  I learned to iron on hankies for my dad and mom and have used them myself all my life.  I find gorgeous linen ones at thrift stores, probably donated when a grandma dies and her things are cleaned out.

Why do I love and use cloth hankies?
  1. They are softer on noses than paper tissues.
  2. They do not shred and fall apart when wet, or put dust in my eyes when dry.
  3. They dry and can be used again.
  4. They can be dampened and used to wash things, especially children's hands and faces.
  5. They can be used as a container for small items (tied).
  6. They can be made into a "rocking baby" to entertain children in church.
  7. They are pretty.
  8. They are romantic.
  9. They can become heirlooms.
10. They remind me of my mother and grandmothers.

Other objects found in my home, foreign to many, are tablecloths and cloth napkins. During my high school years my mother went on an economy kick and had me make white cloth napkins for our family to use.  Years later when everyone was grown she gave me those same napkins to wear out with my family.  When I married and began our family I continued the tradition of cloth table coverings and cloth napkins.  I have dozens of napkins; everyday ones in woven cottons and fancy linen ones for special occasions.

I'm always amazed, though I shouldn't be, that people don't know how to use a cloth napkin.  One little visitor to our home didn't even know what it was.  Oh well, my children know, and they're the only ones I'm responsible for.

Why do I love and use cloth napkins?
1. They absorb and protect better.
2. They can be reused; I bought napkins rings for that purpose.
3. They are cheaper in the long run.
4. Ummm, well, I just like them!

Now, these two objects require ironing (or look better when ironed) and that is one reason more people don't use them.  I enjoy ironing. For me it is relaxing because of it's mindless nature and I can justify watching a movie while I do it.

I love the old-fashioned, genteel feeling of using both handkerchiefs and cloth napkins. Wiping away a tear with a lace trimmed hanky just feels more romantic than a paper tissue.  Try it sometime!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Boarding School Graduation

Mother called yesterday morning to tell me that my younger sister had passed away at age 42.  To me it was joyous news.  Emily was born with Spina Bifada and had suffered health problems her whole life.  My parents formally adopted her when she was three after having her as a foster child since she was two months old.

I don't remember who said it at General Conference, and I won't take time now to look it up, but someone called this life a boarding school, and that image has stayed with ever since.  We are sent here by loving Heavenly Parents to boarding school for the second phase of our education.  We have classes, tests, reports, and experiences that we couldn't have in any other way.  We are a long way from home and we get homesick and lonely, but we can call home as often as we want (prayer) and we can read letters of counsel at anytime (scriptures).  Twice a year we have assemblies to hear the latest information and encouragement from our Parents (General Conference) and several more times each year we meet with local counselors for instructions and encouragement (ward and stake conferences).

Each student has both similar and different courses of study.  We learn and develop skills and talents that are uniquely our own.  The length of our schooling is uncertain at this end, but is known by the Lord (D&C 61:6 ". . .all flesh is in mine hand,").  So when my mother told me that Em had died, I was momentarily envious; she graduated from boarding school and was called HOME.  She is with Nana Hansen, and her beloved Uncle Connie, and Grandma Fern and Grandpa Joe.  She was faithful to the end and is now with her Savior!  How can we be sad?  She is free from pain and suffering; she can walk and run and dance on legs that work!

I know my parents will miss her terribly; she lived with them and they cared for her every need.  But, knowing what we know of the Plan of Happiness and the Atonement of our Savior, how can we be sad that she graduated, probably with honors, from this school we call mortality.

I know that my Redeemer lives, what comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives who once was dead; He lives my everliving Head.
He lives to bless me with his love. He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed. He lives to bless in time of need.

He lives to grand me rich supply. He lives to guide me with his eye.
He lives to comfort me when faint. He lives to hear my soul's complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears. He lives to wipe away my tears.
He lives to calm my troubled heart. He lives all blessings to impart.

He lives my kind, wise heav'nly friend. He lives and loves me to the end.
He lives, and while he lives, I'll sing. He lives my Prophet, Priest and King.
He lives and grants me daily breath. He lives, and I shall conquer death.
He lives my mansion to prepare. He lives to bring me safely there.

He lives! All glory to his name! He lives, my Savior, still the same.
Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: "I know that my Redeemer lives!"
He lives! All glory to his name! He lives, my Savior, still the same.
Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: "I know that my Redeemer lives!"

Samuel Medley, 1738-1799

Congratulations, Emily, on your successful completion of a difficult course.  May you have peace now and happiness with our loved ones who have gone before.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blessings of the Sabbath

This weekend was a truly enjoyable Stake Conference.  We live an hour and a half away from the stake center so TopDad reserves a suite at a Marriott with a swimming pool and we check in Saturday afternoon.  TopDad attends the priesthood leadership meeting while the rest of us relax at the hotel.  He picks me up for the supper and adult session right after his meeting.  This time after a quick swim in the pool, Dr. Hair and Dandylion walked a couple blocks to a movie theater while we were gone.  After our meeting we hit the stores for a few things (frugally combining trips here) and then returned to the hotel for a dip in the Jacuzzi and pool.  It is so refreshing to relax in a hot tub and then splash about in a pool.  Sometimes we play games, but this time we just read books and ate treats after our swim.  In the morning I went down for breakfast while the males showered and dressed, then they retreat for breakfast while I shower and dress.  Our meetings began at nine so we drove to the church and while TopDad and Dr. Hair attended a Media Blitz Kick-off, Dandylion and I saved a bench in the front part of the chapel.  The conference was wonderful with much good counsel about how to keep our families safe and progressing.  Afterward, we chose to have an adventure and drove a different way home, avoiding the interstate and enjoying the beauty of the early autumn countryside.  Once home I pulled together a quick lunch and after reading a couple of chapters of 1 Corinthians we relaxed the rest of the day, taking turns on the computer to write to Elder PW, read comics and the news.  TopDad and I took Charlie, the dog, for a walk to give him some needed attention and exercise.  Later I watched the Music and the Spoken Word special tribute for 9/11, which was wonderful.  Then when the two youngest had finished the dishes we watched an episode (on DVD) of Green Acres for a clean humored ending to the day.

The change of pace and activities is what makes the Sabbath a blessing to me.  I set aside all the weekday worries and stresses and just enjoy church and family.  This break in the action is restful and renewing.  We don't shop, or participate in sports or entertainment; we attend church together, read scriptures, watch "gentle" movies, go for walks, write letters, call family, and spend time together talking, sometimes playing games.

Monday morning comes and I feel ready to face the week, full of renewed resolve to do better than I did last week.  I believe this is what Jesus was talking about when he said "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath;" (Mark 2:27)

I like what Isaiah recorded too: "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." (Isaiah 58:13-14)

I know how difficult it is to keep the Sabbath in a calm restful way with little children; but I also know that all the effort to teach them pays off, for when they are older the habits are established and there is little questioning of what is appropriate or not.  That makes the day truly restful!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembrance and Gratitude

The day began like any other, breakfast with Daddy, seeing him off to work, the rest of us scurrying to get ready for school.  It was a gorgeous autumn day with a bright blue sky.  I was rounding up children and attempting to get started on school work when TopDad called to say "Turn on the news (radio, as we didn't have television reception) we've been attacked."  I turned on NPR and listened, with my heart in my throat, to the unbelievable, even unimaginable, narrated live.  My mind raced in a dozen directions thinking what would happen if furthers attacks occurred.  We lived just south of a Marine Corps base and had often heard the artillery practice through our open windows.  Would the base be attacked?  What if the power went out?  Did I have enough supplies?  Would there be terrorists on the ground? Would TopDad make it home safe?  And on and on.

I do not remember feeling panicked, just extremely sad that lives had been lost and those left behind didn't understand the Plan of Salvation, or have the blessing of knowing that their family was "forever."  My only immediate concern was having enough water.  We lived in the country and depended on a well serviced by an electric pump, which meant that if the power was interrupted we would be without water.  When TopDad returned home we discussed the concern and decided that it was probably safe enough for me and PW, age ten, to go to Sam's Club for our monthly exchange of empty six gallon bottles for full ones.  We kept twelve bottles on hand and when six were empty would go fill up again.  (The well water was great for everything but drinking; it tasted awful to us so we used bottled water to drink and cook with.)  PW and I got in the van and headed north for a quick trip.  The roads and stores were eerily empty and we made it in record time.

At home, I knew I had enough food supplies to last for months, and I had read enough pioneer stories, memoirs and reminiscences, as well as 'how to' books  to know how to make do for just about everything else.

We gathered the children around and I reminded them that we are led by a prophet; that this wasn't the end of the world, but rather a continuation of the war begun in heaven.  A war of hatred and violence and rebellion.  We prayed for protection and safety as well as for the comfort and peace of those who had lost loved ones.

I remember being angry at the newscasters who kept saying "those who gave their lives" as if they had done so willingly.  I wanted them to say "those whose lives were taken". Because that was the truth, their lives were taken deliberately, abruptly, without warning, without negotiation.  The only ones who gave their lives willingly were: first the terrorists and second the police, firemen and heros inside the buildings who helped others at the cost of their own lives.

I was so grateful at the time, and now ten years later, that we didn't have television.  We listened to the radio and heard descriptions but did not see the terrifying images until much later.  I was so grateful to be able to gather our young children around to read from the Book of Mormon to understand what causes people to make war on others.  We talked about following the prophet, how he will always lead us to safety and how if we are obedient and following the Savior, that it won't matter if we die or live.  If we die, we will be received in heaven by the Savior and we will be fine; If we live he will continue to watch over us and lead us.

Ten years later I have new tender feelings.  At the Air Force Basic Training graduation ceremony for our daughter the commanding officer repeatedly expressed gratitude to the parents and spouses for allowing and encouraging their loved one to volunteer to serve their country especially during a time of war.  I teared up and said to my husband "I don't like being reminded of that."  We are in a time of war, in fact, from now until the Savior returns we will be in a time of war.  This war is not for land or riches but for liberties and freedoms to choose.  Satan wants us in bondage, forced to "be good."  Jesus Christ allows us to choose for ourself, proving ourselves whether we will be obedient or not.

I am so grateful for liberty, for prosperity, for freedoms.  I'm so grateful for a loving Father in Heaven and a prophet on earth.  I'm so grateful for all of my blessings.  The world changed that fateful day. Our belief in our country was strengthened.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Introducing the Family

I was reading some older posts and realized that I had named my boys one thing earlier and am calling them something else now.  That all comes from not having a well thought out plan to begin with and a fading memory as we go along.

So today I'll formally introduce everybody.  Of course you know me, PFCMom, or Rozylass.  I was born and raised in San Diego, California.  I served a mission in Florida Tallahassee, back in the olden days (as my children call them) when it included all of the panhandle, south to Gainesville, and included southern Georgia and Alabama.  I served in all three states and love the South and southern folks.  After my mission I worked, traveled, attended college and kept hoping to get married.  I eventually met a US Marine named Steve, known as TopDad now, and we married in June 1988.  He was thirty-one and I was thirty.  Our first child, Noble, was born July 1989.  She was followed by four brothers, Elder PW in January 1991, JET in August 1993, Doc Brown or Dr. Hair in September 1996, and Dandylion or Mr. Music in June 1998.

We have lived in San Diego, Oak Harbor and Mount Vernon, Washington, Dale City and Stafford Virginia, Provo and Midvale, Utah.  Currently we are in Audubon, IA, Heartland, USA.  It is a tiny town of about 2,100 (my HS was larger) and we are surrounded by gorgeous farmland, corn and soybeans, as well as pastures with cows of all colors.  The rolling hills, woods, wildflowers, streams and farm buildings make for a beautiful picture anyway you look.

When I ask Noble where she says she is from, she says "I tell them I'm from all over, a military brat."  I told her to mystify people by saying she is "bi-coastal."

TopDad is an Industrial Technology teacher here; he teaches beginning and advanced woods, beginning and advanced drafting, keyboarding, Eighth grade exploratory (Careers), and next semester will be adding a new class to his repertoire: Small Engines.  All this keeps him busy enough, and in the spring he adds coaching the Boy's Tennis team to the mix.  At church he's the Young Men's President which gives him reason to spend time with our own boys helping them through the ranks of Scouting.

Noble is in the Air Force now and attending language school in California.  She just got a computer and skyped me for the first time last night.  It was really fun.  She is studying Korean and expects to be stationed there when she finishes school.  She's also an aspiring writer with an imagination to be envied. She creates whole worlds and cultures complete with magic systems and all sorts of interesting creatures in them.  She's tall, slim and beautiful.

Elder PW is in Argentina, way, way down south in Caleta Olivia.  He will return at the end of March 2012 and has a scholarship waiting for him at Westminster College in Salt Lake City.  He dream was to be Marine Corps pilot, but I think his mission has changed that a little.  We'll see what he decides when he returns.  We know it will involve flying.

JET is attending a local community college and loving life.  His major is media productions which shows off his skills and talents.  He is the most social of all our children and loves to be around people.  He is totally artistic, even to the point of making his food look pretty!

Doc Brown/Dr. Hair is a freshman, birthday next week turning 15.  He plays the trumpet in the marching band, loves school and is a serious student.  He is a Lego Master Builder and would love to work for Lego later.  He is also a budding architect who has long promised to build me my dream home.

Dandylion/Mr. Music is thirteen, in eighth grade and still my sweetheart who hugs and kisses me.  He'll always be my "baby" no matter how old and big he gets.  He plays percussion (bass drum) in the Jr. High marching band and his teacher tells us that the band falls apart when he isn't there to keep the beat going.  He is Mr. Music because from the time he was a baby I knew he had music in his soul.  He taught himself to lead music from looking at the diagrams in the back of the hymnbook during Sacrament Meetings at age three.  At age four he wanted to learn to play the fiddle.  At age five he began lessons and took to it like a duck to water.  (It was a VERY sad day in my life to have to end lessons for financial reasons, but that's a whole 'nother story.)  At about age six or seven he announced that he wanted to be an orchestra leader and learn all the instruments.  Well, we'll see.  He is also a good artist and cook and mathematician.  He has so many talents!

Here's my brood, two years ago, in the spring before TopDad and JET moved to Audubon.

And here am I with TopDad, both pictures taken on Mother's Day, in front of the giant Lilac Bush in our backyard in Midvale, Utah.  I wish I could have transplanted that beauty out here to Iowa.  They take so long to grow.

Many years ago when I was struggling with all little children and the boys especially were hard to handle being rude and totally boyish, I had a brief glimpse of all of the boys grown up.  They were all in white shirts and ties and they all loomed over me.  They were handsome and I could feel their protecting power surrounding me.  It gave me the strength to press forward and continue teaching them, training them and leading them to adulthood.  My husband and I often remark that our children are on a 19 year training program to help us be patient with their unfinished selves.  Now that two are out of the nest and another is almost ready to leave I'm beginning to see the fulfillment of that vision.  

I love being a mother; I would choose the same path over again, and I would exercise even more faith and have more children.  True joy in life comes from family and as it has been said "No other success can compensate for failure in the home."  And "The greatest work we will ever do will be within the walls of our homes."  

New Haircut Part 2

Back now, with a couple of pictures of the new cut.  Kim, the stylist, asked if I wanted my hair blown dry and I let her.  Usually I just leave with damp hair and let it do its thing, but today I let her dry it all smooth.

I love the smooth look and know that when I don't want it I can let all the waves and curls show and have fun with a more tousled look.

By the way, can you see Noble at the left of the photos?  She is doing great and now has a computer so we had our first Skype call last night.  She took me on a tour of her dorm room, showed me her new clothes, her textbooks and even her computer in a mirror.  Isn't technology great!

New Haircut Part 1

In ten minutes I'll be stepping up the street to get my hair cut.  I have a new IMAC computer so I can take a picture with it and post it right away, I hope.

I have a Talbots catalog from 1990 with a haircut I like, and as I looked at the catalog I realized that the clothing draws heavily from the thirties for inspiration.  With all the blogs I read about sewing and vintage clothing I'm not surprised that I saved this particular catalog as having some elegant, classic styles in it.

I believe my tastes have always run to the vintage, or historically inspired styles.  One of my favorite dresses in high school was one that Elizabeth Bennet would have liked.  Empire waist, puffed sleeves, ankle length, made of a thin cotton, if I remember correctly small floral or leaf print on a cream ground.  I loved that dress!

Time to go, be back in an hour or so.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I Know This Feeling, and I Don't Like It

It's been ten years since I was involved in "potty-training."  Now I'm faced with it again as Cutie Bug goes through it.  Today, I lost my patience and when JET got up I drove his car to the store to buy diapers.  I'm not going to deal with wet couches and chairs, puddles on the floor as well as wet and poopy panties.  I'm a firm believer in not even beginning "training" until a child is at least three.  Before then it is mother training, to remember to take the child to the toilet every thirty minutes.  I'm too busy for that.  When a child is about three, there is sufficient mental maturity to make the connection between bodily clues (feelings) and what to do about them.  Even at three and for a long time after, boys just are too busy playing to pay attention to their body's announcements and they suppress them until OOPS; then it's too late. But before three, it's always an OOPS.  So until Cutie Bug is three, I'm opting for diapers.

Actually when a child is ready, it takes about one day to "train" them.  I had Doc Brown and Dandylion in diapers at the same time.  Doc hadn't been very successful answering the call of nature.  But when offered the chance to go on the Father and Son Campout if he could stay dry, there was no looking back.  He stayed dry from that time on.  He was about three and a half.  Ready!