Saturday, March 30, 2013

Signs of Spring

It poured the other day. You may think that typical of Oregon weather, but for us high desert Central Oregonians, rain is rare. In fact our little town boasts "300 days of sunshine" each year. We joke that we really have two seasons: Winter (snow and lots of sun) and Summer. If we get a week or two of Spring and a week or two of Fall we count ourselves blessed. So when it started to rain, we just had to play outside. And it was glorious. The earth dark and damp with tender, green shoots. The air smelling of fresh rain and perfumed with wet juniper. The kids rode their bikes giggling and splashing in puddles. Oliver grabbed the snow shovel and began "shoveling" the water that was beginning to flood our front garden bed where the water was coming down in torrents from the rain gutter. Rain play was followed by hot baths and a hearty meal. I love the rain. It was heartwarming to see my kids loving it, too. 

Then today, in preparation for Easter, we made some lovely colored eggs. Dad hardboiled them, and right after naptime we set to work. It was the first time the kids had done this, so they were of course fascinated with the colored water and kept trying to poke their tiny fingers into the bright pigments. We used a very simple recipe and the eggs are absolutely beautiful. The hardest part was waiting those 5 minutes for the eggs to soak. Oh, and of course having to wait until tomorrow to eat them:)

Simple Colored Eggs:
(recipe measurements from Real Simple magazine online)

Hardboiled eggs
Mason Jars (one per color)
Hot Water (1/2 Cup per color)
Food Coloring (about 20-30 drops per color)
White Vinegar (1 tsp. per color)

Simply fill each mason jar with 1/2 Cup boiling water, 20-30 drops of food coloring, and 1 tsp of white vinegar. Gently place hardboiled egg in jar and let "soak" for 1-5 minutes (depending on depth of pigment desired). Carefully remove colored egg with a spoon and let dry (we used the egg crate for drying).

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thriftin' on the Cheap

It's been about 3 months since Robert and I made the decision to really overhaul our spending habits with the intention to spend less and give more (this little gem of a book was a big factor in that decision). The hardest part for me has been the change in my personal spending habits: I was used to spending what I wanted, when I wanted, where I wanted. Not that I was a "big spender" by any means, but when you really sit down and look at all those little charges - they really do add up. $40 for a haircut, $30 at TJ Maxx one week, $40 at World Market the the end of each month I was regularly spending $100-$200 on "miscellaneous shopping" easily, and most likely, more. My new "fun money" budget is $40 for the whole month. Yup. That's it. And it's really puttin' a cramp in my style, just kidding (sort of). Thankfully, I've always enjoyed bargain shopping. Now I get to do it out of necessity instead of leisure, but that's okay; I've been honing my skills for the past 29 years...bring it. So what to do when I've blown through $35 of my precious $40 by the 7th day of the month and I have a paltry $5 left in my pocket?! Hit the sale rack at the thrift shop! That's right - I've discovered the joy of the DOLLAR TABLE. Goodwill has colored tag sales - Starburst Family Thrift (my new favorite store on earth) has a dollar table. It's piled high, and everything on that bad boy is ONE DOLLA'. My friend Lindsey and I discovered it last week when we stopped in for a quick fix. I literally had $5 to spend and wanted to make it last. And you would not BELIEVE what I found! Five incredible items for $1 a piece. I was pretty darn pleased with myself and raced right home to make Robert sit and ooh and ahh over my treasures with me. I plan to make shopping the dollar table a regular occurence - next month that is...when I have another $40.

Here are three of my $1 items. I also got two long skirts for myself; trust me, they're cute too. 
Grand total...$5

Super cute canvas tote/purse. It's reversible with a floral pattern on the inside. Robert commented that now when I get bored I can just turn it inside out instead of buying yet another purse.

Strawberry skirt for a "sweet" girl I know. That huge strawberry is a pocket. I love it.

 (The dress, not the girl) 
She loves her "pretty dresses"; I think she makes the dresses pretty:)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cloth Diapering Made Simple

Cloth diapering used to mean safety pins, stiff plastic covers, and murky water-filled diaper pails, but today it’s all about cute patterns, Velcro (or snaps), and the ingenious hanging wet/dry bag. And it isn’t nearly as complicated, labor intensive, or messy as you might think! In fact, it’s as simple as tossing your dirty diapers in a bag and then washing them later! And if you’re like me and enjoy clean, warm garments straight from the dryer, the ritual of washing, drying, and stuffing, culminating in a colorful stack of clean (warm!) diapers, can actually be quite soul satisfying. With the help of a few key tools along with the right cleaning routine, cloth diapering is not only simple, but also less wasteful, and much, much cheaper than disposables! Plus, who doesn’t love to see a cute baby crawling around with a colorful, oversized, cloth diaper booty? Here’s a quick and easy “how to” to get you started...

The rest of this article has been published online at True North Parenting Magazine. Please click here to read this post in its entirety or go to:

Friday, March 8, 2013

What Homeschooling Looks Like For Us Today.

So we've made the decision to homeschool, but since the triplets aren't even four yet, we hadn't really felt like we could officially call ourselves "homeschoolers" since I haven't committed to a fancy curriculum, I still feel really new to the whole process, and because our formal learning is limited to about two 10 minute teaching sessions each day at this point anyhow. But then it dawned on me: we are homeschooling! It's just so engrained in our everyday lives that I hadn't even thought to call it that! I'm a teacher by nature (and by trade) and I've been teaching our kids things since the day they could open their tiny eyes and stare back at me. When I cook, I explain to them what I'm doing. When I clean, I show them how to help. When we go out for errands, I assign them tasks and practically narrate every single thing I do - even things about driving that they won't need for quite a few more years (I'll have you know, my three year old son adamantly reminds me to put my hands on the steering wheel at "10 and 2" should I ever drop them down into a more relaxed position!).  Instead of going through life just "doing", I try to explain and teach them about I do it! And their little memories are incredible! Before they were two they could sing the doxology and recite the entire Lord's prayer. At three, they know some Spanish and French, can do simple math, know mama's phone number by heart in case of emergency, and have about 25 Bible verses memorized - and that number grows by the day! They may still be "pre" school-aged but that apparently has nothing to do with learning! They've recently shown signs of readiness for a more "formal" schooling approach, so as I've been out and about I've picked up a few (used and/or cheap) materials to aid us in our first mastery tasks: reading and math. I found a few age level workbooks at the dollar store and my kids are whizzing through the Kindergarten/1st grade book already. Then, just yesterday I found a pack of math puzzle flashcards at a local thrift store for $2.50 and a phonics kit with a few short stories and sight word flashcards for $3 to help us get started! When they woke up from their nap, I had the math puzzle spread out on the rug and told them we were going to play a game. They caught on ever so quickly adding the objects on each side of the "+" sign to find the total sum - and begged me to play it again today! 

When we were at Costco the other evening for our big weekly shopping trip the triplets were skipping up and down the aisles singing "Do Re Mi" from The Sound of Music at the top of their lungs. We got a lot of smiles and comments, but one in particular stood out to me. An older man (his appearance a bit reminiscent of Santa Claus), after complimenting the triplets adorable singing abilities, asked if singing was something we did a lot together at home. I told him it was and that we all thoroughly enjoyed music and then he asked me: "Do you homeschool?" At first I almost said no (again, feeling like we haven't started officially) - but then I stopped myself, smiled, and answered with an enthusiastic "Yes!". He smiled back and said he'd thought so. And who am I to argue with Santa? ;)

Monday, March 4, 2013


Mary and I meet in the middle. Twice a year. Little ones in tow. Each year usually with a new baby on the hip or breast. This time we each just brought one boy and one girl. It was warm, sunny, and we stayed at a lovely old farmhouse on 5 acres with cows. The boys played in the mud, followed the kind old woman who owns the property around asking her questions, helping her with her chores, and telling her she was pretty. The girls stayed closer to their mamas, touching grass, picking up rocks, sharing a dolly, napping and nursing. It was the perfect blend of outings downtown and rest at the farm. The crisp, fresh air, hot coffee together each morning, meals around the table, our young boys playing make believe upstairs and watching our very own children making their own memories and becoming friends. Three days together is never long enough, but oh, how it refreshes the soul.