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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Off Grid Date Night

Living off grid, way out in the woods, there aren’t many people around to babysit. Especially since we are fairly new to the area. We rarely are alone without children, there is never quiet around our house. It is not like we are suffering by not being able to get away from the kids, but it is really nice when Gramma comes to town.

Gramma doesn’t really care for “camping” the way we are. She prefers to stay at the hotel in town, which works out well for us because we can take a long, hot shower whenever she visits. Again, we aren’t suffering by not being able to take these fancy showers, but we will get one while we can. Best of all, the kids spend the night at the hotel with Gramma. Date night!

So what to do with a night all to ourselves? Play board games, of course! We used to play a lot when we had a rather larger dining room table, but we haven’t quite got our new table built yet. There is no where to play except on the floor. It’s not so bad to play on the floor, but it is impossible to play on the floor with two small children and all the pieces and parts laid out. We bought an expansion for our favorite game around the holidays and just now got to play.

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Anybody else love to play board games? Any suggestions of games we should try? We may even have a table in the next six months….

While having some time to walk around the property and talk without the crazy interruptions, we also got to scope out a site for our final home. We have both been looking for quite a while now, but had never had the chance to get together and talk about our perfect spot.

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After working so hard all summer and into the fall, we hit winter and started loosing motivation and we ran out of money.  It has worked out just fine though.  We have kept busy with daily chores and a lot of relaxing.  No complaints at all.  I’m getting to the point where I’m ready to start working on the house again, and I have been working a lot of extra hours, so we’ll get back to work soon.

After all the insulation went up, somebody told me that when they couldn’t afford to put walls up they covered the insulation in cardboard to keep the kids away from the insulation.  This was a perfect idea for us.  It turned out to be an extra good idea because the kids love to decorate the cardboard wall covering, and I won’t ever have to clean the walls off.

DSC_0209This piece of artwork is especially good.  My son is potty training.  We don’t have electricity and therefore don’t have really good lighting.  There are scary shadows in the bathroom at night and so the little guy doesn’t want to go on the potty or even go near the bathroom.  His sister came up with the idea of drawing “scary things” on the bathroom walls to scare away the scary shadows and protect her little brother while he was going potty.  Makes me a very proud Mommy to see how much my babies love each other and want to help each other out.  I love this piece of art so much that we will be framing it once we take it down to put up a real wall.

We have run out of money for sure, but that hasn’t stopped us from having a good time.  I am very proud that my children have plenty with just some markers and makeshift cardboard walls.  We have a great life here.  It has been very difficult and a lot of hard work, but it is all worth it.  We have struggled plenty to get where we are, but my children will never know it.  They are happy and healthy and have tons of fun, even without electricity.  Yes, we have a generator and they watch movies sometimes, but that will pretty much stop when spring gets here.  The kids won’t even notice.  They are too busy splashing in puddles and watching the chipmunks.  I couldn’t be happier, but it would be nice to have a little cash to work on the house!

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DSC_0052One of the new favorite things to do is to find worms.  Mommy digs a hole with the big shovel, and then the little ones sort through and find all the worms.  I explained to the kids that they should put the worms in a bucket of dirt if they wanted to keep them.  I explained that the worms like the dirt and that they wouldn’t like if if they carried them around all day or threw them in the water or things like that.  The little girl accepted that the worms needed to poop in the dirt so she would put dirt in the bucket for them.  And that’s what they did for a few days.

Today the little girl brought me a bucket with some dried out worms in it wanting to know what had happened to them.  I had started explaining to her before not to break plants because then they would die.  When they die they can’t grow anymore.  That was as far as that needed to go.  Now she brought me dead worms so I explained to her that the worms died because they hadn’t stayed in dirt and the sun was too hot for them.  She was mad at first that she had to keep them if the dirt because she couldn’t see them.  I explained to her that she needed to keep them in the dirt so they didn’t die and it was very mean to keep them out of the dirt.  If you are going to be mean to the worms, they you can’t collect them anymore.

I’m not sure that a 2 or 3 1/2 year old can really understand what it means for something to die.  I highly doubt they do.  They do both understand that it is mean to hurt something or do something to a plant or a bug that will cause it to die.  If I tell them that they are hurting a worm or being mean to it or even making it sad, they do understand that they should stop.  They both understand that they should be nice to living things even if they don’t comprehend what a living thing means.  I think that is a very important lesson for them to learn.  I do work really hard at teaching them.

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Many people will be forced to work on Thanksgiving this year. Many of them shouldn’t be, I totally agree, but I am a nurse and work many holidays. There are some things you just can’t change. I have accepted this and moved on. Yes, the “meaning” of Thanksgiving is family and being together, but why does it have to be a holiday to spend time with your family? Pick any day you can all make time and get together then. Celebrate your family because they are your family, not because Columbus discovered America and feasted with the Native Americans. I am not downgrading the holiday, but how many of you even actually celebrate the meaning of the holiday anyways? Sure, we eat turkey and stuff ourselves with pie, but are we actually “remembering” the first Thanksgiving? Do we really even know for sure when it was?

Just because the Thanksgiving holiday made me think of this: acceptance.  There are many things in life that we just have to deal with and we should learn to accept that.  This is one lesson that I struggle with all the time.  Rather than getting mad about something that you can’t change, figure out what you can do to deal with what you have.  Take Thanksgiving for instance.  One year we had such a hard time all getting together that we didn’t get to a whole family gathering until New Years Day.  The wait was totally worth it.  We had a great time and had Mexican food rather than turkey that I don’t like anyways.  And the vegetarians didn’t “miss  out” on the main course.  We also get together throughout the year for various reasons, so having to wait a while in between isn’t horrible.  Another example of having to deal is getting an apartment.  We just couldn’t follow our plan and had to get this apartment.  And I don’t like it at all.  But I am trying to take advantage of the time we have over the winter to get things in order for our living arrangements on the land.  Things that we would have had to buy I may have time to make.  I can also get some decorations made that I wouldn’t have been able to make for various reasons.  Sometimes you have to dig deep to better a situation, but getting upset or angry doesn’t do you any good.  That is what I am reminded of all the time.  It is a skill that I have yet to master, but I am getting there.  This apartment has helped me with that for sure.  I calmed down best I could, came up with some good things about the situation and the bad things have calmed down dramatically.  It is amazing how much acceptance has helped me here.

I know that was a lot of rambling, but that is what I had to say for today.  Thanks for tuning in!

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The article I posted the other day about changing the world inspired me to reach out to my fellow bloggers and get their stories.  I wanted to share them with all of you and show the many different things people are doing to make the world a better place.  I asked them all 4 questions about what they are doing and why, and I got more replies than I thought for sure.  The first response I got was from Family Yields.  Here is her story:

I found you through your blog. What is your blog and/or project about?

“My blog was started as a way for me to share what our family is doing to live in line with Permaculture Principles and Ethics.  We are homesteading on half an acre with three young children (4, 2, and 7 months).  My husband has completed his Permaculture Design Certificate and is very interested in Forest Gardening, having recently started his own nursery.  His work is pushing him in some very interesting and wonderful ways.  As his wife, I found myself a bit lost as my strengths do not lie in garden design and frankly, I just don’t get a charge from digging in the dirt like he does.  What I do know is that my work is that of growing as well, except I’m cultivating our family.  My blog is a way for me to bring some clarity for myself on issues of inner permaculture or inner transition.  I try to look at all of the simple ways that we are pulling Permaculture into our daily lives, hoping to show that anyone can do it through slow and small changes.”

I believe that you are someone who is helping to change the world in your own way. How do you think what you are doing is making things better?

“I believe that the only thing in this world we can truly change is ourselves.  By changing my inner landscape, I am hopefully becoming a better role model for my children.  I also hope that in sharing my stories with others, they can realize that we’re all just muddling through The Great Turning.  As a family we are committed to sustainable living in as many ways as possible; permaculture, forest gardening, homesteading, sustainable animal husbandry, preparing and eating whole foods, preserving, disconnecting from mainstream media, mindfulness, unschooling, eating locally, the transition movement (including an inner transition group), and in general, deeply listening to how each of our choices affect the permaculture ethics of earth care, people care and fair share.  I am involving myself in things that are important to me.  From there, hopefully my actions will inspire others.  “Be the change you want to see in the world” ~Ghandi”

Many people, myself included, have not always been on this particular path. What inspired you to start doing what you are doing?

“I am currently on leave from teaching middle school aged children.  What I see when I walk into the classroom scares me.  Children are so disconnected from nature that it makes me afraid for the future.  They have difficulty thinking for themselves, and authentically responding.  I also have the feeling that what I’m doing in that room makes little difference, as I am often pushing against all that the children bring with them from their home lives and culture at large.  The current of our culture is often too strong to allow me to guide my students upstream and it sweeps me away with it.  As a mother, I know I am able to create lasting and meaningful influence in the lives of my children.  Through my mothering, I hope to inspire my children to impact the future in unfathomable ways.”

Doing things that are not the “norm” are sometimes difficult to get going with. What advice would you give to someone who may be out there trying to start their own unique adventure?

“Just take action, no matter how small that action may seem.  Feeling like someone else is an expert or has it all figured out is self-defeating.  I had to get over the feeling that everyone else out there doing ‘permaculture things’ knew more about it than me.  Even the smallest actions initiate change.  Don’t be afraid to be different, we all bring our unique gifts to all that we do.”

Be sure to check out Family Yields at her blog!

I think that just living on a homestead is a great way to better your life.  Getting closer to your work, food, and children is a perfect way to feel better about yourself and the work you are doing.  Changing ourselves is truly the most important thing any of us can do to better life.  You can’t change the world unless you start by becoming what you want to see in the world.  Along with that goes raising your children to see that better world.  So many people say that they don’t want to have kids because the world is such an ugly place.  Well, it doesn’t have to be.  We can teach our children how to live better lives and live outside of the ugliness.  There is no reason that I can see that their world can’t be beautiful and happy.  I think that children growing up in the kind of environment that a homestead provides is an amazing opportunity for them to become connected adults who understand the importance of happiness and self sufficiency.

 

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Anyone who has kids or knows someone with kids likely knows that having them makes everything require more preparation and makes everything take a little longer.  However, if you can figure out how to entertain the kids and even how to include them, it will at least decrease your stress level.  It will still take longer and require more prep work, but it will make everyone a little happier.  No matter what you are doing, keep your kids happy!  Here’s what we have had luck with:

DSC_0139A mud kitchen has been our best entertainment so far.  There is clearly dirt everywhere, add a little water, some utensils, and some pots and pans or buckets.  The kids have made many mud pies, nachos, macaroni and cheese, and anything else they could think of.  Naturally they still haven’t mastered sharing, but they will get there.  We got this kitchen for free from a friend.  I gave them old pots and pans and things. I paid nothing for this set up except the gas to pick up the kitchen.  They were playing in the mud before the kitchen, but this greatly increased the entertainment factor.  Remember: bring lots of extra clothes if there needs to be nap time or you want to attempt to have them clean to eat.  It has been plenty warm, so it’s ok if they are soaked.  This may not work so well once it gets cold, but for now, it’s great.

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Throwing rocks in the water is another favorite pastime for our little ones.  This usually means that productivity comes to a full stop because we both go down to the stream with them.  When we are working near the stream and when they are older, we can still do something, but for now this is usually more of a break for us than something to occupy the kids.

DSC_0172Looking at critters can be interesting, sometimes.  The little boy sure enjoys it, but the little girls often runs away if the critter moves too fast for her.  Snails are easy.  We have also showed them frogs, salamanders and any bugs we find around the place.  The little girl tends to not go for the bugs.

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Finger painting has also been a lot of fun.  I give them scrap wood and washable paints and they go crazy.  The great thing about the washable paints is that the paint will wash off of the boards in the rain and they can be reused.  I’m not really concerned about the clothes coming clean because they have ruined everything making mud pies already.  After they paint til they can’t paint anymore, I give them a bucket of water to play in.  This gets them mostly clean and provides another activity for them.  A bucket of water is apparently the greatest toy ever.  It does keep me busy though. “More! More! More!”

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Happy Summer Solstice

This is how we spent ours!  Home with Gramma for the weekend and at the beach.DSC_0264

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