Those Lovely Waldorf Blogs

I don’t know about you, but I love reading these waldorf homeschooling blogs. You can just picture their lovely all wooden toys, their little school room where they sing songs and make wet-on-wet watercolor paintings.

These homes run like well-oiled machines. Mother cooks everything from scratch for breakfast, lunch, and dinner–probably out of things from their large kitchen garden in the backyard. Oh and of course they have a planned snack time in the morning and tea time in the afternoon. She knits and makes beautiful crafts for all of the festivals.

She’s wonderfully spiritual and her children just love going to church.

Their children are always well-behaved, and if they get a little rambunctious, Mother steps in with a quiet word to calm things down and set things right. And speaking of setting things right. These homes are all immaculately clean, because after all the environment affects the children.

The children are well-mannered, and sit down to their lessons with no fighting, whining, or tantrums about having to do school work. They do their chores with gladness, knowing that they are valuable contributors to the household.

Ahhhh….

THIS is not one of those blogs. Yes, I cook most things from scratch. Yes, I knit and crochet. Yes, I happen to make a living out of my handwork. Yes, I garden and preserve food in my freezer. But just because I do those things, I would hate to give the impression (and I’m sure I haven’t), that I am in any way on top of things.

My house is often a mess. Thanks to Flylady’s routines, things are improving, but my kitchen table is still covered with all manner of things-not to mention my floor. 

My son and I get along quite well, I would say, and he’s well-mannered, but he prefers to avoid doing anything that I ask him to do. I imagine he would be a very difficult child to homeschool in the traditional way of being required to do lessons. 

If you show up at our house during the day, you are likely to hear music (rock, hip hop, classical, opera, anything with any quality) blasting from the basement over the sound of power tools. My son will likely be watching his video for the day (and it might be a Disney movie!) or playing with legos or matchbox cars (or wooden animals or my cars and people). 

Meals are prepared when people are hungry. Our nativity scene for Christmas has a hodge-podge of half-unsanded, unfinished figures. You know the old saying about the shoemaker’s children and how they always go barefoot?

I don’t even believe in a spirit world to be spiritual about, and my son threw an all out FIT when I told him we were going to church when my mother came to visit. 

I’m far from a perfect example of anything, but I do what I can, and we have a happy life despite the chaos that sometimes ensues. 

Do you know those blogs I’m talking about? They are lovely, aren’t they? But this isn’t one of them, I’m afraid.

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Hospitality

I haven’t written anything in over 2 weeks, so you know what time of year it is. Personally, this time of year is my favorite. And not just because I make a sizable portion of my income at Christmas time.

I love having company. I took over much of the baking and cooking for holidays at my mom’s house before I moved out. For the last few years, I have planned our family’s New Year’s Day party for 30-40 people. But most of my entertaining has been at my parents’ house.

My only other experience of having my own place was an apartment that I shared while I was in college. I especially enjoyed entertaining there. College entertainment is so simple. You need alcohol, maybe some chips or pizzas, and you don’t have to clean. I mean, you don’t have to clean much before people come—after they come it’s a different story.

But this Thanksgiving was the first holiday I have ever hosted at my house. And not only did I host the dinner, I also had company for the whole weekend!

I can’t travel at Thanksgiving, because I’m too busy, so last year we spent a quiet Thanksgiving at home. It was nice, but quiet. And as Caleb likes to say, “the more people, the more party!”

I gave an offhand invitation to my family for Thanksgiving, not expecting anyone to want to come, and, lo and behold, almost everyone did.

I had lists on top of lists of house projects I wanted to have done before they came, and things that I wanted to do the week before they were here, 3 days before, 2 days before, the day before… I didn’t end up doing half of them, but I made the house presentable, and prepared lots of delicious food. I never did get the office tidied, but I figure that’s an after Christmas project anyway.

Thanksgiving Day I was sitting in the kitchen, thinking, “I really should be rushing around frantically, but there’s nothing to do right now.” The dinner came off without a hitch.

The applesauce and apple butter was made well in advance.

I bought the turkey at Whole Foods when I went into Pittsburgh to take my saw to be fixed.

The mushroom and white bean casserole was cooked waiting for bread crumbs to be added on Thanksgiving to bake.

I made the cranberry sauce on Tuesday.

I made apple juice (in my food processor) the day before.

I cooked the pies (vegan pumpkin pie (Bryanna’s with the maple syrup subbed for the sugar), gingerbread apple pie, and classic apple (sweetened with xylitol)) the day before.

When I got up (without an alarm) at 6:30ish on Thanksgiving, I made coffee cake for breakfast, then the cranberry cornbread (Cosmic Cornbread with millet-sooo good), and then I peeled the potatoes (from my garden) and left them in water ready to be cooked.

Before dinner, all I had to do was make the stuffing balls and steam the vegetables (one of which was swiss chard from my garden). Oh there was also a butternut squash soup. I roasted the squash earlier in the week and assembled the soup to simmer all day on Thanksgiving.

We ate at 2 p.m. which was exactly what I had planned. My mother helped me putting everything out and setting the table, my dad carved the turkey (his traditional job, despite being a vegetarian for 25ish years), but other than that, I did everything. My mom was very appreciative. After almost 40 years of marriage and six kids, I think she burned out any cooking desire that she may have had. She sent me a little cartoon where this woman is saying, “I have a lot to be thankful for…..I’m not hosting Thanksgiving dinner!”

The next night we had burritos and used up some of the turkey and the leftover vegetables. I sort of burned the beans on the bottom of the pot, and I think it improved them-gave them a nice smoky flavor, something you might want to try some time.

I love this time of year. At Christmas, I go home to my mom’s and she said she wants exactly the same menu as at Thanksgiving. For New Year’s, I’m still working on the menu. Last year, I made curries, shish kabobs, homemade pitas, and homemade bread. This year, will have to be different……

My New Game for Sale

Get four in a row, straight across the bottom, middle, top. Get four in a row diagonally, get four straight up. And you win!

This is a game that I grew up playing, and now I can’t find it anywhere. Therefore I had to make my own. I gave one to my dad for Christmas last year, and it was a huge hit. It was fun for my 4 year old right up to my 61 year old father. Between all of us, we must have played 50+ games on Christmas day alone.

The base is pine, the poles are various hardwoods, and the balls are birch. The dark colored balls are stained and lacquered. The base, poles, and natural balls are finished with my homemade beeswax polish. Generally I’m against stain, but I think it looks great this way.

The poles are removable, and the whole thing can fit into a drawstring bag to be put away or for travel. We just leave it together all the time though so it’s always ready for a game.

 

 

I am Bereft

My beloved Dewalt scroll saw has forsaken me. It started making a knocking noise, and after trying to fix it yesterday for the entire 2 hours the babysitter was here, it still was making that sound and it sort of bumped a bit when it made the noise. I was trying out the different things the Dewalt rep had suggested might be the problem.

There is this L-shaped rod, that could be bumping this plate, so you can try to turn it once counterclockwise, and if that doesn’t work, try turning it once more, and if that doesn’t work, only once more, and if THAT doesn’t work, then you should turn it back to where you started and turn it clockwise this time up to 3 times. In between all these turns, you have to take apart the head assembly every time and put it back together every time to see if you fixed the knock.

Oh and there are four different sets of screws/bolts that need to be undone and they all take different screw driver bits or allen wrench sizes. The plus side is that I feel more comfortable dismantling my saw….

I bought it last year, and I bought it NEW. I was tired of waiting for one to show up on craigslist-my normal tool supplier. I needed to upgrade to a professional tool. I spend 1-2 hours on my scroll saw almost every single day of the week.

My warranty is up next week, so I had to get it into be fixed now. The nearest Dewalt service center is in Pittsburgh and about an hour away. I moped around the rest of the day Wednesday-half hoping it would fix itself if I ignored it a little, but alas, this morning, it was the same.

We packed up the saw and drove it to Pittsburgh almost first thing in the morning-not first thing, since I didn’t want to hit the traffic, but second or third thing anyway. We found the service center with no trouble, well the 31st Street Bridge was missing, but we took the 40th and found our way back thanks to my GPS.

I left my scroll saw there, and they’ll mail it back when they are done. Fortunately, I was really dreading another trip into the city next week.

But now, I am sad. There is a big empty space on my workbench.

And I’m without my big scroll saw FOR A WEEK OR TEN DAYS!!!!!! I do have my old one, but it’ll be tough going back.

What appliance or tool would leave you feeling lost and desperate if it broke?

Rules for Christmas Time

I have a confession to make- I’m not a very good housekeeper. I was never much for cleaning in college, just occasionally, but I only had an apartment, and I didn’t have that much stuff, so things stayed tidy for the most part. Now I have a son-with toys and clothes and friends, I have a business-with …. a million different things! And I really have trouble keeping up, given that I’m also trying to work full-time and raise a son full-time (though I have contracted out some of that time-see previous post).

Last year-as I’ve mentioned-things got completely out of control. Particularly that last week before Christmas. I left my house TRASHED, when I went home for Christmas. When I got back, I had to clean for days just to make it presentable.

This year, I’ve made some rules-with the help of Flylady.  She sends out emails about cleaning and decluttering every day, and while I don’t actually do what she says to do every day, it does help keep me motivated to clean. One of her main things is that you have to clean up after yourself. Duh.

Duh for some people, but not for me! I’m getting pulled in all directions some days, and I tend to hop from one thing to the next leaving messes behind me as I go, so by the end of the day, when I’m tired and just want to crash, there’s no way I can clean it all up. For most of the year, I can keep the house mostly tidy, but at Christmas, when every day is work, work, work, I just lose it.

So that’s the first rule

1. CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF

I need to start applying this rule to the basement as well. Last year I took out mountains of drill shavings, about 5 large rubbermaid containers full of wood scraps, and well, the sawdust is probably still down there!

Flylady tells a story about watching contractors work remodeling her home. Everyday they would stop 15-30 mintues before quitting time and clean everything up. Even though they were going to be right back to it tomorrow, because it wasn’t their home, and they had to keep it neat.

I keep reminding myself of that story. It doesn’t matter whether I am just going to be using my stuff tomorrow, cleaning it up will keep me from losing things, and it will keep my house pleasant to be in.

Obviously the most important time to clean up after yourself is meals. So the corollary to rule number one is – NEVER LEAVE DISHES IN THE SINK! All dishes must be washed immediately and put to dry. The drying rack (no dishwasher) must be emptied every morning. Dinner must be cleaned up immediately upon completion of the meal, whether Caleb is begging me to do something or not.

Well, times up. More rules tomorrow.

Tell me-how do you stay on top of the housework when you get busy? Do you know Flylady? If you work from home, how do you keep your work stuff from taking over the house?

Mama Made Them is not Alone Anymore

Nope, not announcing an engagement or anything. I know single mothers do date and marry and all that, but goodness knows where they find the time. 

I have hired an assistant. Basically she is an extra me. If I need babysitting, she sits. If I need greasing (applying an oil finish), she does that. Those are the two main things I need help with. Other things I’ve considered would include painting people, cleaning, cooking, and tracing patterns for animals to be cut. 

I hired a babysitter for the last couple of weeks before Christmas last year. She was a single mother, and she had a 1 year old. The house was in no shape for her to stay here, so she watched Caleb at her house. Caleb went along with it, but he wasn’t crazy about the idea. 

This year, I have redone the guest bathroom, and the house hasn’t been wrecked from working too much near Christmas (yet). So I hired someone before things got too crazy. It’s part of my new plan to keep things from getting out of control around Christmas time. 

Caleb loves having someone else around to talk to, even when she’s working for me. And having someone else to play games with is better than Christmas. And since he’s at his own house, he feels more comfortable. 

For the first year and a half of his life, he would scream his head off the whole time I was gone. Subsequently I didn’t leave him very much. As he got older, he would be okay for small amounts of time with my brothers or mother. Now he’s fine with other people.

Still he’s never had much babysitting. For the past 3 years, I’ve lived away from my family, so I didn’t have them for babysitters, and I never wanted to pay anyone for doing what I could do.  

I am loving having an assistant now though. It’s a heady feeling realizing that work is being done while I’m in the basement. So I now have 9 hours a week of un-interrupted work time. Hopefully that will mean I will better be able to serve my customers, and be able to sell toys for most of December, rather than closing December 6th like last year.

If this post is more disjointed than usual, it’s because I have 4 boys playing/fighting/screaming/shooting each other’s people… So I’m supervising/refereeing/trying to keep my patience and protect my house. And trying to write a blog post. So it’s hard to know if I’m making any sense.

Giveaway Winner and New Giveaway

This months winner is Katie C. She wins a free toy of her choice $25 or less from my shop.

Katie C
Submitted on 2012/10/02 at 1:16 pm

To stop cats using your beautifully prepared soil as a litter tray, i find if you have thorny bramble branches (or rose cuttings) decorate your soil with a criss cross of long and short thorny branches, cats don’t like a thorn up the bottom! it doesn’t look very nice and you’ll need gloves, but its free. and when plants become established you just take the thorns away and stack them to use another time.

For next month, I’ll be giving away a free story set (of your choice) to the person that leaves the most comments for the month. And they have to be useful, interesting comments to count-not just a couple of words.

Thanks for reading. I got out of the habit of writing last month, but I’ll try to keep you updated on my Christmas season work and anything else that I find interesting.

Stay warm, see you back here tomorrow!