Saturday, March 22, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful - The Chuns

For those who are new to this blog Chuns are what four year old JET called children, as in "Can 'e chuns go out t' play?" I like the word, it's one syllable and easy to say. Today I'm thankful for Chuns. My Chuns especially.

1. Noble was the first, sent to keep me company while TopDad was away for a year's unaccompanied tour to Okinawa. After the first four months she was a delightful baby and a joy to have around. I had so much fun playing house with her.During the first four months my sister told me that if she'd had Noble first she wouldn't have had any more. But that's just her. I loved my beautiful little girl, even if she was a pill. She got over it.

2. PW came next, the happiest of all little boys. He smiled early and often and had an infectious laugh; he still does! He's always been an independent thinker and inventive and hard working. He convinced me that boys have genetic difference not explainable in any other way than "they were born that way."

3. JET was the quiet one. The easy going, falls asleep on his own kind of baby. What a change. And then at five months, he got Spinal Meningitis, and after a miracle healing, was about the same as his older siblings. Darn. Still easy going and calm, he just didn't sleep through the night any more.

4. Dr. Hair got his name from his propensity to twirl my waist length hair around his fingers and almost pull it out. I had to cut my hair off, because he couldn't keep his hands off. Always serious, reticent to smile for the camera, he's an observer and a deep thinker.

5. Dandylion, when given a name and a blessing was promised that he would always be a comfort to his mother. He is. He looks the most like my side of the family. He's a cuddler, always has a hug for me and even at fifteen wants to sit on my lap. Thank goodness he weighs only 116 (he's 5' 10 1/4" tall!), but I think this is the last year he'll be able to do that.

6. From Noble I've learned to love all things Korean, to appreciate high fantasy novels, and have pushed my sewing skills further than I thought possible without classes. I love her optimism, cheerful nature, and adventurous spirit.

7. From PW I learned that stubborn is good, when channeled in the right direction. It's also called stick-to-it-iveness. Before 9/11 I was not afraid to fly on a plane; after, it scared me spitless. PW helped me overcome my fear! He wants to be a pilot more than anything. He can identify military planes at a glance. He's amazing.

8. JET (those are his initials) is an artist. Once when I complained that I wanted a banana split but feared it would undo all the weight I'd lost, he offered to make me one that wouldn't. He returned with an absolutely perfect miniature banana split in an old-fashioned sherbet glass. (He used my cookie dough scoops to get the tiny perfect balls of ice cream.) He's cheerful and makes friends wherever he goes, still!

9. Dr. Hair towers over me, but still reaches for my hair and is glad I'm growing it out. Waist length would suit him great. He shows me how being single-minded about goals can accomplish so much more than being interested in every thing that comes along. He is a film-maker. Period. Yes, he's in lots of activities at school, but he's always watching, studying, pondering and pursuing his dream and goal to make movies. He doesn't turn down an opportunity to film is at all possible. I like his focus.

10. Dandy is a brain. We just got test results back that put him in the 100th percentile in the nation in math. (He didn't get it from me, that's for sure.) He is in the 98th percentile in science. I've asked him to be my tutor when I take math in the fall. Dandy has a great sense of humor and has understood jokes since he was a baby, even explaining them to JET (who didn't always get the joke). He generous and creative.

Can you tell I love my chuns? I'm so grateful God entrusted them to me. I've done the best I could to rear them and if I may say so myself, I think they've turned out pretty great!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wordy Wednesday - Parenting

I was the last of my parent's children to marry and have children, by a long time. When we all got together my parents thought my children were brats compared to the older grandchildren, so they sent me a book to help. It hurt my feelings at the time, but I got over it and am grateful for them pointing me in the right direction. The book is John Rosemond's Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children (also available here and here) Our children were normal, immature children; their grandparents were old, tired and accustomed to quieter, older, mature grandchildren. Also comparing our children to their own was unfair because there are long spaces between my brothers and I and our youngest sister, while my children came at fairly regular intervals and were all young together. That makes for more noise and excitement.

So what's the six point plan? Here's my brief synopsis:

Point One - The Parent Centered Family
When you think about it, the purpose of family life is to raise independent children who will leave home to form their own families and leave the parents on their own again. If we neglect our spouse we will end up strangers when our children are grown and then what's left? Children orbit around the parents, not the other way around. When children are the center, they can grow up selfish and unable to meet the needs of others.
For single parents he says ". . .you can't successfully supply someone else's 'warehouse' unless your own is fully stocked."

Point Two - The Voice of Authority
Expect your children to obey. My parents told me "Make them mind," and it took me a long time to figure out how. Parenting is tiring, but when done right, in spite of exhaustion, produces wonderful adults. We are not meant to be friends with our children until they become adults. We are meant to teach and train them to become successful in life and lead them, literally by the hand when necessary, to that end.

Point Three - The Roots of Responsibility
Expecting children to work is so vital to their maturity. Responsibility comes before rights, a lesson that too many aren't learning, as evidenced in the infantile obsession with rights in our country today. "Give them opportunities to learn the hard way, which is often the only way possible."

Point Four - The Fruits of Frustration
Part of maturity is being able to deal with whatever life throws at you without having a meltdown. Consistent doses of Vitamin N (the NO word) produces children with strengths such as self-discipline and self-control.

Point Five - Toys and Play: The Right Stuff
"So, how are parents to know whether the toys they are buying their children are good investments? In addition to being safe, a good toy embodies four qualities:
-First, it presents a wide range of creative possibilities.
-Second, it encourages manipulation.
-Third, it's age appropriate
-Fourth, it's durable."
He gives a "10" to Legos, with building sets like Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, and Erector Sets coming in a close second. He advocates art materials, dolls (cuddly ones that don't do everything), stuffed animals and such. He also gives his advice on involving children in organized sports (or not involving as he advises).

Point Six - Television and Children: More than Meets the Eye
He advocates severely limiting screen time (of any kind) for children during the most important developmental time of their lives, up to six years of age. "They are called "formative" because they comprise that period during which the young child is discovering, developing, and strengthening the skills he/she will need to become a creative, competent person.

 His final point is to love them enough to do the other six.

These points work! I've seen it in our children and many others who were raised in a similar way. And when adult children express gratitude for being raised in this way, well, that's what we call Parental Paydays. Hope you have many!



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tightwad Tuesday

Some people don’t like the word “Tightwad” because it has negative connotations. I happen to like it because I associate it with The Tightwad Gazette and its author Amy Dacycyzn. From her and others like her I learned to hold on to my wad tightly and not fritter it away on frivolous things or through unconscious spending.

What I did in the last week as a tightwad:
  • Cut out almost three dozen baby burp cloths from fabric in my stash. (Unfortunately I got sick before I could sew them together, but that’s coming.)
  • Used odd leftover envelopes to mail letters to our son in Marine Corps Basic Training.
  • Made three loaves of banana bread from four overripe bananas.
  • Started compost buckets again for veggie and fruits peelings, egg shells, etc.
  • Made two cups of breadcrumbs from leftover individual slices of bread that I’d stuck in the freezer. Used one and a half cups of it in the meatloaf Monday night.
  • Cut open a lotion bottle to get at the stuff at the bottom that wouldn't come up the pump.
  • Rinsed out the last little bit of ketchup in the bottom of the bottle to use in the glaze for the meatloaf.


 And that's just what I could remember at the moment. Some things I do are so habitual that I don't even think about the money saving they bring. Like opening up the drapes and curtains to let sunshine in to warm the rooms, and closing them when the sun goes down to hold in the heat. Like shaking out each piece of laundry as it goes into the dryer so the dryer cycle doesn't take as long. (Kudos to you who hang your laundry, I'm not there yet, especially during Iowa winters.) And cutting the dryer sheets in half, or if I'm really desperate cutting them into fourths. Like measuring the amount of dishwashing liquid I use each time I do the dishes. (We don't have a dishwasher, unless you count me!) And turning bottles upside down to capture the last little bits, and then using a slim spatula to really clean it out.

So what did you do to not spend money this week?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful - Sunshine and Birdsong

I knew Mother Nature was just teasing us with those two nice days. She dropped a blanket of the white stuff on us last night. However, on those warmer days I thought about some things I'm grateful for.

1. Sunshine - I need light to feel energetic and cheerful. Dark, dreary winter days are hard for me to get through, I just want to hibernate until Spring. So when the skies are clear and the sun is shining bright I feel alive!

2. Birds - I've always loved birds; in fact when asked what kind of animal I'd like to be I can truthfully answer "a bird".  And not that I'm a daredevil or anything, but I'd really like to go hang gliding or para-sailing! I envy the birds ability to fly and soar and glide.

3. Birdsong - During the cold winter I miss the sound of bird singing and calling to each other. The birds are back in town and it's great to hear them again. I even recognize some of their songs and can identify the bird without seeing it.

4. Babies - Thursday night I got to hold the five day old son of a friend. He is so tiny, just over six pounds, and so beautiful, perfectly formed and sweet. Babies are miracles and I love them. I wish I could have had five more of my own!

5. Packages in the mail - This week I received two things I'd ordered; a 1940's pattern for a little girl's dress, and a new (to me) book. It's like getting presents, and I enjoy getting presents. I miss packages from my Mom (she died almost two years ago) because she'd put in little surprises and treats, odd things she didn't need anymore and often some money to spend on something I needed or wanted. Her love language was gifts and she was so very generous.

6. Music - When I'm listening to a CD of music whether it's Mormon Tabernacle Choir or K-Pop I am grateful. It lifts my spirit, helps me go for 30 minutes on the treadmill, gets me dancing, thrills my heart and makes life better. (Don't tell anyone, I get teary when I listen to certain pieces of music, it just touches my soul to the very core.)

7. Clean bedroom - and someday I'm going to have one. I'm neat and tidy, I make my bed everyday, and put away my clothes; but I can't get rid of the piles of paper. And there's always a pile waiting to go to the thrift store, a pile of ironing waiting for a free day, a stack of books that won't fit on the book shelf, etc. You get the idea. I'm not a tosser, but I'm working on it.

8. Laughter - it truly is the best medicine. When it's time to choose a movie to watch as a family we usually say "Let's watch something fun." Laughter relieves stress and makes the heart lighter.

9. Patchwork quilts - especially the scrappy kind. I think the combinations of color and shape are endlessly fascinating. Recently I've made choices that limit my time to sew (much to my regret), but I look forward to finishing what I've started and then getting back to sewing and quilting.

10. Pretty dishes - I finally got out my Blue Willow dishes to use everyday. My family is special enough for me to justify using my pretty dishes all the time. (Plus I was so tired of my old dishes!) I culled my serving dishes too, leaving just the ones I truly love and that are the prettiest. I'm worth it!

What are you thankful for this week?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Hot Oatmeal Cereal - Creative Combos

With our local paper come a little news magazine called American Profile; it's a lot like Parade which comes with bigger newspapers. Today's cover article is about Bob's Red Mill Grains and in a sidebar are eight ideas for making your morning oatmeal truly memorable. Don't they sound delicious? I look forward to trying every one of them.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal: grated fresh carrot, golden raisins, brown sugar, walnuts

Romancing the Bowl: Nutella, strawberry halves, whipped cream

Hang Loose: pineapple chunks, chopped macadamia nuts, flaked coconut

Oat Couture: dried cherries, whipped cream, creme fraiche, balsamic reduction

Peaches and Cream: sliced peaches, toasted pecans, heavy cream

The Camper: crumbled graham crackers, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows

The Gilgamesh: chopped dried dates, pistachios, honey, milk, ground cardamom (spelled incorrectly in the article)

Doctor's Orders: fresh blueberries, non-fat Greek yogurt, ground flaxseed


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mrs. Use it Up Strikes Again

I did so well in February with groceries that I'm going to keep going for March. I started the month buying only dairy, (milk and eggs), lots of fruit, some veggies (still have some to use up), and a little bit of meat. My stock up item this month is cleaning supplies because that's what I was running low on. It feels so good to have a cupboard full of supplies again!

So, the use it up deal; I foraged around in the freezer for all the odd pieces of bread I had stuck in there and found an assortment of pieces which I laid out on a baking sheet and popped in the oven to toast. When they were nicely dried out I broke the pieces into the blender (I don't have a food processor) and whizzed them up into bread crumbs, which I then put into an old plastic container with a piece of masking tape for a label and back it goes into the freezer so that the next time a recipe calls for bread crumbs mine are all ready. Whew!

Lunch today was a salad of grated carrot, some leftover green peas (frozen kind), a spoonful of leftover white rice, a spoonful of feta cheese, the last of some Romaine lettuce, a pinch of basil, and some homemade Italian dressing (well, sort of homemade, the kind with water, vinegar, oil and a packet of mix). For an experiment in combining flavors it was really good. But then I like oddball salads.

I had plans to make some baby bibs and burp cloths for a friend but got called out to do some church work so my plans got bumped a day. These items will also be made from leftovers in a use-it-up effort.

Supposedly the weather is warmer, but without sunshine it still feels cold to me.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful - Brought to you by the Letter H

1. Health - as in good; after last week's bout with the flu I'm thankful for good health and only the normal aches and pains.

2. Humor - Saturday night I said to TopDad, "I missed you last week." He replied, "I didn't know you were aiming." It felt so good to laugh!

3. Heat - We are still in a deep freeze here in Iowa; I wear three or four layers and still shiver. I'm thankful I'm inside and not crossing the plains in a handcart.

4. Hairspray - It's the glue that helps me grow out my hair. I thought today of a way to motivate myself to keep going: I'm growing historic hair. I like to dress up in historic clothes and long hair looks more authentic hence the need for historic hair.

5. Handkerchiefs - My old linen hankies are so much softer on a sore nose than paper tissues. I love my pretty hankies!

6. Harmony - As in the boys getting along and laughing together; as in beautiful music too.

7. Hats - To cover my ears when the wind is blowing; however, I'm not so thankful for hat hair, but one tries not to think of that.

8. Georg Freidrich Handel and Franz Joseph Haydn - two of my favorite composers.

9. Hindsight - which, of course is 20 20; unlike my current sight which is almost legally blind.

10. Homemade - Just smell that fresh baked bread!

Thanks so much for stopping by. Have a look around and I hope you'll be back.