Tuesday, October 30, 2012

hundred dollar holiday?

Last summer I read a book called, "Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case for a More Joyful Christmas" by Bill McKibben. I knew if I were to put any of his ideas into practice, I would have to read it and plan long before the holiday season actually hit.
When Eric sees me reading books like this he runs the other way, figuring that I am concocting all sorts of ideas that involve total gift deprivation. How can we spend only a $100.00 !!!! It would totally ruin Christmas for everybody, is what I hear.
Honestly, I have a large family, and while I don't think we can meet the $100.00 goal, my family can take some very important lessons away from this book.
Changes like this, when incremented slowly, seem to weave themselves into our traditions in a more gentle manner. This is how most of the successful changes happen in my family. I am the only one that likes to jump right in. If I am patient, and go slow, everybody comes around.
I really like the idea of giving of our time and talents. Each one of us can bless our loved ones in this way. The gift of time is so precious. Getting creative with a handmade coupon or certificate makes it even more special.
We love to make gifts. I am thinking that my kids can make gifts for one another. We usually let them spend $10.00 to buy gifts for each other, and that adds up. With a little forethought, I bet we can come up with great ideas.
We participate in 2 gift exchanges at Christmas. This year I am putting together breakfast baskets. Homemade granola, quick breads, teas, personalized mugs, that sort of thing. I am spending about $10.00 per basket.
I have 7 nieces/nephews that we usually buy a small gift for. I end up spending about $50.00 total for them. I am thinking that this year I will take that money and buy something through the Heifer Int'l website on their behalf. I will still give them their Christmas chocolate bar, and enclose a little note about Heifer. They are all teenagers, and seriously.......do they really even appreciate a $5.00 gift card somewhere? A family in a third world country appreciates our gift much more. A flock of chicks only costs $20.00. I am doing this.
Bill McKibben quotes:

"I can remember almost every present that some one's made for me since we started doing these Hundred Dollar Holidays . . . . I have no idea what gifts came in all those great piles under the tree in previous years.  They didn't attach themselves to particular faces, particular memories.  So the point is not to stop giving; the point is to give things that matter.  (Bold type mine)  Give things that are rare--time, attention, memory, whimsy.  We run short on these things in our lives, even as we have an endless supply of software, hardware, ready-to-wear."

Well, I am giving it a try, in a gentle way. I am willing to bet that my family won't notice, much.
Maybe we spend a few hundred dollars. It's still less, and much more mindfully and creatively spent. That's the important part for me.

Have a blessed Tuesday, Tami

Monday, October 29, 2012


{Rafe's 9th Birthday}
October, you are almost done. You have been filled with lots of football and soccer, field trips and birthday parties, rain and cold, and the flu.
I am just now catching my breath.
No time for writing, and what little internet time I had, I spent doing family history research. That has uncovered so much really great information. Each branch of my family has uncovered some truly amazing people and stories.
My favorite would be Mark Twain. I find that connection so awesome. It is a closer relation than most that I found. It's really wonderful to have blood relatives that came over as colonists, but it was so long ago that it's hard to feel a connection.
I have solved a few family mysteries and uncovered a few very sad stories.
My research is slowing down for now, I have invested much time, and now need to get back to focusing on the family I have here and now. I has been a wild ride. I am sure that my research won't stop completely. There is a always information to be found.
I do have to say one thing. Genealogy research has kept me distracted enough that I didn't have such a hard adjustment to the kids going back to school. Maybe a planned distraction is what I need each new school year. Yeah, that sounds like a great idea.
October and November are birthday months for our kids. We are 1 down and 3 to go. I am ready with the gifts, now we just need to figure out a few friend get-togethers to celebrate.
I started wrapping Christmas gifts this past week. It always feels weird doing that in October. If I am not finished and wrapped by the end of November, I teeter on insanity during December. There is so much fun to be had with my kids, that honestly I don't want the added stress of shopping and wrapping. December for me is about music, gift crafting, baking, reading Christmas stories by the fire, snow (sometimes), and just being together. Keeping it simple.
I am 2/3 the way through book six of the Outlander series. That's the other thing that has been distracting me. Each book is about 1000 pages. It takes me a few weeks of reading here and there. Still, that is a lot of reading. More than I usually read for sure. I have book 7 on order, it should be her just in time.
Knitting gets put to the side when I read this much. I haven't the talent to do both. I did finish up a washcloth a few days ago, it will become a Christmas gift with a yummy bar of almond/oatmeal soap in a pretty little box. My raglan cardigan still needs the sleeve finished..........
I am off this morning to have breakfast with my mom and sister. It was my little sis' birthday yesterday. Maybe we'll wander around a bit, too. Coffee for sure.

Have a blessed Monday, Tami

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

this & that

Okay, so I have tattoos.
4 over the span of 20 years. Eric has them too. We like them.
My newest was his 20th anniversary present to me.
Is that weird?
It doesn't seem weird to us.

I am still knee deep in geneology stuff.
Oh my goodness, is this a lot of work.
I bought 1 month of membership to Ancestry, and I am getting as much out of it as I can. I am extremely frugal, and it was hard to hand over the bucks for that. I also paid $20.00 for a copy of my great-grandmother's death certificate. I feel like it is my last hope in finding out who her parents were. I have exhausted all other (free) resources. I should be getting the certificate in the mail any day.
I have discovered that Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) is blood related. We share a  grandfather. Mark Twain's paternal grandfather (Samuel B. Clemens) is my 5 times great-grandfather.
I have relation to the Ingersoll family that came over on The Mayflower II in 1629.
There is so much more too.
I am putting together a hardbound journal of sorts. I hand drew an ancestral fan chart that goes back 10 generations. I am also writing the individual lineages of some of the more historically notable lines.
Lots of work. But important work, for future generations.

The rain has come.
Talk to me in March when it stops. I actually missed it. Come March I will be so ready to dry out.
I picked most of the tomatoes and raspberries, everything else was done for the summer. Overall we had a great growing season.

We are deep in the fatigue of Fall sports. We actually had a night off last night. Nobody had to be anywhere. It was weird. And nice. I went to bed early.

That's about all.
I am staying home today and being cozy.

Have a blessed day, Tami

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

very cozy

This is a perfect spot to cozy up and do some major cuddling, reading, and knitting.
Autumn is here.

Have a blessed day, Tami

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

my mama story - part 1

{Summer 2011}
I was looking back on my parenting journey (so far), and there are so many things I want to remember. I want the very details etched in my mind. As time goes by, I have noticed that my memories are dulling, as the kids grow up before our eyes, their baby and toddler years are a lifetime ago. The best way for me to remember is to write it down. My very own mama story.

In parenthood, mornings have always been a crazy haze of activity. After Kane (our first) was born, once he was 6 weeks old, I would set out each weekday morning to my mom's house. She had a studio there and we were busy trying to create a custom design jewelry business. Kane would nap there and play, but as he got older, splitting my time with working and mommyhood wasn't working. When he was 2 years old, we put the business on hold, and there it has stayed. My mornings with Kane were blissful during the 3 years that followed. He would rise at 6am every morning. He would snuggle in beside me and watch Sesame Street (the only thing on at that hour). We would get up at about 7am and start our day. We had only one car at that time, and luckily I had a wonderful neighbor friend that only had one car also. So we were carless, but we had our legs. We walked everywhere with our kiddos. We loved the library storytime, little trips to the grocer, walks to the nearby parks or to the post office. On a rare day that one of us had the car, we would go to the zoo. During those happy early years, Eric and I were also enduring an obvious lack of fertility. It took 3 years to identify a tumor the size of a plastic pin-head inside my pituitary gland that was inhibiting ovulation. I was able to take a medication for 30 days to shrink the tumor, and bam! within one cycle I was pregnant. We finally had an answer and a new little life on the way.

Gage joined us when Kane was 5. By that time, Kane was in preschool. No more leisurely mornings. It was the beginning of school mornings. Getting up, making breakfast, praying there are clean clothes for the kids to wear, and rejoicing when they are to school on time. The weekends are just as early, but praise God we have Saturdays to linger. Sunday we practice the "getting everybody out of the house on time" routine and again rejoice at making it to church on time.
I have very fond memories of our evenings with Kane and Gage. After dinner, Kane and Eric would play together and I would get Gage ready for bed. At 7pm each night Gage and I would retreat to his nursery. I had a comfy chair and ottoman, and we would settle in for one last feeding and a snuggle before he laid down for the night. I remember the soft and soothing light of his room, as we would spend those moments together. It was so cozy and peaceful. That time remains one of my fondest parenting memories. When it was time for Kane to settle in for the night, there were lots of books, and cuddling, and kisses goodnight. There was always a dinosaur book and his rainbow blankie tucked in beside him.
I remember always grocery shopping at night during these early years. A little alone time to walk the aisles slowly, a little quiet.
When Gage was a year old, we decided to see if the meds I took previously would work a second time. Again, it only took one cycle and we were blessed with pregnancy #3.
When Kane was 7 and Gage was nearly 2, Rafe joined us, and a month later Anya was born (and joined us through adoption). My mornings were in for a major change. Honestly, it's good that I am writing this down, because that first year with those babies was a total blur. I can remember being totally sleep deprived. Eric would leave @ 6am, and I can remember like clockwork they would wake up just as he was out the door. I would manage to feed both of them. Rafe at the breast, Anya breastmilk from a bottle, and they would fall back to sleep. I had until 9am, when they would wake. I would tiptoe down stairs to the kitchen. I remember trying to be so quiet. Even making coffee is noisy in our little house. Kane and Gage were beginning to stir. I would usher them way downstairs to the family room, feed them a granola bar and a banana, and turn on a cartoon. If I could accomplish this without waking Rafe and Anya, I was giddy. Kane was now in 1st grade. We were so blessed that year to have his bus pick him up right in front of our house. Soon after he would leave, Rafe and Anya would usually wake up hungry and very wet. I managed to get everybody settled in the family room, and that's where we spent our days. We had created a safe little world where I could manage 3 babies under 3 years old. That room was my world for an entire year. There were comfy couches for nursing, a TV and computer, my laundry room, and lots of books and toys. We created a little fenced play area outside the door, so Gage could play out there and be safe. The only time I left that room was to go to the bathroom, go to the kitchen, and go to sleep. At night, Eric and I each took a baby. I would get up with Rafe and he would get up with Anya. Anya started sleeping through the night way before Rafe. Eric lucked out, which was good, he needed to NOT fall asleep at his desk at work. :~)

The fist time I ventured out alone with the 4 kids was comical. It was early December, which meant Anya was 1 month old and Rafe was 2 months old. Kane had the day off from school. I managed to get everybody out the door. The babies were fed and diapered before we left. I was feeling victorious and terrified. I decided to go through the Starbuck's drive thru and treat myself. Rafe and Anya started wailing, and I realized it was time for them to eat again and we weren't even 2 miles from home. It just took so long to do everything. I sat in the back of my Expedition and fed Rafe, while Kane held Anya's bottle, and Gage munched on a cookie. At that point, I realized that everything was just going to take longer than expected, and to always expect that. I needed to relax, and be ready to go with the flow. It was a good lesson to learn for Mrs. Structured and Organized.
I continued to get accustomed to life. I began to feel quite efficient in getting us where we needed to go. We ventured out more as time went by.

I remember being terrified as Summer break approached. How in the world was I going to entertain 4 kids all summer? It ended up being great. Kane was just happy to be outside playing and entertaining his little siblings. We went a few places now and then. I had a list of places I could go that were safe and contained, where I could manage not to lose a kid. Rafe and Anya happily rode around in their double stroller and Gage always had to hold my hand. I feel like we spent a lot of time at Target. Very strange. My mom was often there to help me navigate our outings. Bless her. Eric's mom would take Kane and Gage for overnighter's to give us a little break. Bless her. Those days were so busy. A different busy than we are today. For sure.

to be continued.........

Next up: Gage's adventures. (it's a good one)

Have a blessed day, Tami

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

a tomato year

Oh my goodness.
The tomatoes are rolling in nonstop.
We have had precisely 2 half days of rain in the last 2 months. With the lack of rain our tomato season has been really extended . It has also been in the 70's, also good for the tomatoes for sure. The rain is supposed to start in 10 days or so. It is my goal to get most of the harvesting done before then.

I have stopped watering altogether in hopes of getting them to ripen faster. It looks like, for the first time, I might actually put up enough tomato sauce for the year. This is a great savings to my family. To avoid BPA, I had been buying organic tomato puree in glass bottles that came from Italy. Ouch. $3.29 for 24oz. Ouch. And then there's the organic tomato soup in the cartons, expensive also.

I am going the easy route. I am roughly cutting up the whole tomatoes and tossing them into an 8 quart stock pot with onion, garlic, olive oil, and seasonings. I cook that down for several hours. After it cools, I use my stick blender to puree, and run the sauce through a mesh sieve to remove the seeds.

So easy.

I will freeze most of the sauce because I have space in my freezer, and can the rest.

I also have 4 big beautiful heirloom tomatoes (Old German), and more to come.
These beauties are destined for lacto-fermented salsa. Yum.

The rest of the garden is slowing down.
I found a ripe strawberry yesterday. Weird.
The raspberries are still going strong. The pole beans were a bust. Zucchini was so-so. Rhubarb excellent. Potatoes okay.

This is a tomato year.

Have a blessed day, Tami