What I Suck At

Do you ever feel like bloggers only share the pretty or funny parts of their life? Yeah, we usually do.  I’m actually a little iffy about weather I really want to post this.  Usually I’m pretty open because most of my failures are kind of hilarious, but this one is extra dear to me.

Yesterday I shared how I have quick and easy labors, or at least that the part that’s hard is short and kind of funny. Today I’m going to tell you something that makes me really sad.


Photograph courtesy of Rebekah's Photography.

Photograph courtesy of Rebekah’s Photography.


I SUCK at nursing my babies.


I have a really hard time for the first couple months and all of my babies have been skinny and needed formula supplements because of it.

With each baby I hope it will be easier this time.  I’ve seen the pediatrician, my midwife and lactation consultants(one of which watched me try to nurse and handed me a bottle of formula), I’ve joined Kelly Mom. I’ve taken fenugreek, swilled Mother’s Milk tea, hot packed my boobs, pumped and pumped and pumped. I’ve tried, dang it, and I just can’t get it right soon enough to avoid giving formula. I will never be one of those women who can simply nurse her baby and watch her grow.

And that makes me cry. A lot.

Even long after the baby is fat, even years later, when the baby isn’t a baby any more, and I’m not pregnant, or sleep deprived I still feel sad and shed a tear when the topic comes up.

Why do we feel so bad, we moms who have a hard time nursing? I think it’s because somewhere deep inside we know that we can never be all our babies need, and that is just an awful, scary feeling.

It doesn’t help that we know on an intellectual level that formula is not the end of the world. It doesn’t help when the doctors (or our husbands…ahem) tell us it’s okay to give ourselves a break and feed the baby some formula.  Maybe I should only speak for myself.  It doesn’t make me feel better to try to think of it that way.

Giving my baby formula doesn’t feel like a break, it feels like a failure.

It goes against everything I’m trying to do here. I HATE it.

I don’t want to feed my child, who is already going to be predisposed to diabetes, a lab created concoction of which the first ingredient is corn syrup.  Why can’t I just do what millions of women have done since forever?  Why does this have to be the thing I suck at?

But I hold on, keep nursing, give a few ounces of formula and pumped milk here and there throughout the day, and try not to dwell on how sad it makes me.

Sometimes we have a great nursing day and I don’t have to give any bottles. Other times she just won’t latch on or won’t stay awake.  Yes, I’ve undressed her, played with her feet and pretended to drop her, sometimes it just ain’t happenin’.

The good days are finally outnumbering the bad, and I know that soon we’ll have it together and might be able to eliminate the formula. Until then I’m just trying to keep my chin (and milk supply) up, and love on my baby the best I can.

So there you have it. Not everything on the Half Acre is easy, or successful, or funny, but by golly we keep on trying.

Disclaimer, I hope I don’t sound judgmental when I say I hate formula. I’m too busy worrying about my baby to care what you choose for yours.  Thank goodness we live in a time when there are options.   

Hazel’s Birth Story: Not for the Squeamish

I’ve been putting off writing this post, mainly because I’m still a little groggy from lack of sleep, and I’m not sure how great my writing will be right now. However I’m realizing my life isn’t getting much quieter for a couple years, so I better relearn how to get things done with a baby in the house.

Lovely Baby Hazel joined us on November 24, at 10:29 am.

I had awoken around four in the morning for what was my customary middle of the night bathroom trip. After I got back into bed I had a couple decent contractions, but they didn’t seem to be getting stronger or closer together. If you’ve had a baby though, you probably know that once you start thinking about the possibility that you are in labor there is no going back to sleep.

Around five o’clock, I decided to get out of bed, and then my water broke. Since my contractions still didn’t seem very serious I cleaned up, got dressed, and put on some makeup. Then I woke up my husband and called the midwife. Finally we woke up the kids and called the neighbor to let her know we were heading for the hospital and we’d be dropping Montana off. Araya was interested in watching the birth so we made arrangements for her to be there with us.

On the way to the hospital my contractions picked up and I continued to gush amniotic fluid. I thought this was hilarious since my previous two births my water broke at the hospital and it didn’t seem like there was as much fluid. I called my mom to meet us there, and sent texts to all of my girlfriends. I called my besties Sabrina and Lisa, and told Lisa who lives two hours away, not to bother rushing over, because I was sure she wouldn’t get there in time.

We arrived at the hospital just after six o’clock, and Nate dropped me off at the ER entrance, while he and Araya went to find a parking spot. When I got out of the car I couldn’t help giggling about the puddle I left in the passenger seat, despite the towel I had stuffed in my pants. As it turns out I’m not mature. I was still giggling when I walked into the ER lobby and as I checked in, all the while leaking amniotic fluid all over the floor. Of course, the ER nurses didn’t even bat an eye. While I was completing paperwork (why do we even bother pre-registering?) Nate and Araya came in, and then we all headed up to Labor and Delivery. I think we arrived around the same time as my midwife, Stacy.

Once I was in my room and all hooked up to the monitors, my labor almost completely stopped. While I was annoyed that it stopped, it actually worked out because my midwife was scheduled to assist a c-section that morning and my labor slowing down gave her plenty of time to pop down the hall and get that done.

When she got back, she took a look and asked if I’d like to do some walking. YES! Since both of my prior labors were about five and a half hours I figured this one would be too and we were at about four so I was itching to get things going.

Nate and Araya took turns walking with me, lap after lap, for about an hour. The contractions got stronger and closer together, until finally I felt like I needed to be in my room.  The contractions were getting painful enough that I had to lean over the counter and sway back and forth through them.  I even let out a few wails, which I never did in my prior labors.

After two or three “unbearable” contractions I had Nate grab my midwife who was just outside the room. I think she was surprised that I had gone from walking the halls to “Go time” so quickly.

Since I didn’t feel like I could move, my midwife had me lean over the bed so she could check my cervix, and while she was doing so another contraction barreled down on me and I started begging for an epidural, although I knew in the back of my mind that it was way too late for that. The midwife informed me that my baby had a lot of hair, she would be born in one or two more contractions, and I might want to get into bed now.

I very ungracefully tumbled into the bed, and had a contraction that made me screech like a banshee. Then a nurse poked her head in the door and asked if Lisa could come in.

Thank goodness, she ignored my advice to not rush over!  She walked in just as my final contraction started and she got to cheer me on and help us welcome Baby Hazel.


All in all I have to say it was a great labor and delivery. Yes, the pain was horrible for that last fifteen or twenty minutes, but if that’s the worst of it I feel like I could have a hundred more babies the same way!

For now though, I’m so thankful and perfectly content with the three perfect ones I already have!

We’re getting there. . .

Sorry, I forgot to do a progress report and new to-do list yesterday.

Being Veteran’s day, there was no school, so my husband and younger daughter had a Daddy-Daughter Date, while the older girl and I went shopping for some of the last minute baby stuff.

We finally bought an infant car seat. I’ve been putting that off, but since I’ve started having contractions that wake me up at night and make me stop moving during the day, I figured it was time to at least own a car seat.

It is also f-f-f-freeezing here. Not as cold as some places, thank goodness, but too cold to spend much time doing outdoor projects. We’re pretty much just doing the essential chores to keep animals happy. Hopefully we can get to some of the other outdoor stuff after the polar vortex lifts and it’s just normal-cold.

Today we had a midwife appointment and the big news is I’m pregnant. Still. I know I’m only just shy of 36 weeks, so I probably just need to settle down and focus on staying on top of my blood sugar. When you’re in the habit of having your babies in the 37th week, however, 36 feels like it’s almost go-time! I’ll be honest, I might be a little put out if I go a full forty this time!

Tomorrow’s goals include…

More laundry–shocking right?

Still need to set up that crib.

Take some bags of leaves down to reduce the draft from under the top-bar hive.

Re-clean the house. Just yesterday the it was “Company Clean” and today it’s “Dear Lord, please don’t let me go into labor so fast that we need to call our EMT neighbor and his ER nurse wife, because I’d be mortified if anyone had to come in here and witness this mess right now.”  It happens so fast. Fortunately I’m learning that it cleans up nearly as fast, once I put down my cup of tea and laptop, and get busy.  I may do a preliminary walk-around-and-pick-up before bed tonight.

I’m starting to wonder if it really matters (and know it really doesn’t) if we get everything done before we bring the baby home.  All she really needs is me, right?


Holy Cow, There’s a Baby Coming Soon, We Gotta Get Busy!!

Just in case any of you were under the silly misconception that we “Have It All Together” around here, I’ll spend this week sharing the things I’d still like to accomplish before the baby comes, which I feel will be soon.

Some are things that are directly related to bringing home a baby, and others are regular housekeeping, and turning of the seasons projects which we’d like to take care of before we’re outnumbered.

Here’s what I’m up to today:


General tidying of the house

Start some laundry (work on this all day–try to get in a few loads)

Start making space for the crib in the girls room.

Monday PM:

Go around the yard with a wagon, picking up garbage (we had a party over the weekend, plus we have kids and it’s always windy here, so if anything is left out it gets blown all around)

Start a pile for a dump run.

Also there is Camp Fire tonight, and the usual meals, and getting ready for tomorrow to be done.  I usually babysit a neighborhood kid or two in the afternoons, which is why I try to do the outside stuff then.  They love to play outside, as they should, and I want to let them soak up the sun while we have sun to soak up.

See you tomorrow for a progress report and a new to-do list!


Packing The Hospital Bag!!

It’s hard to believe that it is week 35 already, but here we are! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I’m starting to get that “I don’t think I can get much bigger” feeling.

Unfortunately, we all know that’s not true.  I can, and probably will, get bigger. Baby Hazel with be making her appearance sooner or later though, and since her big sisters both came in the 37th week, it’s time to get the hospital bag ready to go.

We tend to be light packers, as if packing light will ensure us a short hospital stay.

So what’s in my bag, you ask?

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Bath Towel
  • Flip Flops for the shower
  • Moisturizer
  • A fresh set of contacts
  • Contact solution
  • Eyeglasses/case
  • Hair brush
  • Hair elastics
  • Undies
  • Robe
  • Yoga pants
  • Nursing top
  • Nursing bra
  • Pads
  • Jammies for Baby Hazel
  • Going home outfit and hat for Baby Hazel
  • Camera

What are your Must Haves for a planned hospital stay?

Since one big sister has expressed an interest in coming with us to the hospital to welcome baby to the world, we’ll pack a bag for her too.  We want her to have some comfort items in case things drag on longer than we expect.

Both prior labors and deliveries were 5-ish hours, start to finish, so that’s what we’re praying for this time too.  If only these things could just be predictable!

Alas, they cannot so we’ll be packing a Big-sis bag too.

  • New coloring book
  • New crayons
  • A chapter book
  • ipad and charger
  • Snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Small blanket
  • Cash and change for cafeteria or vending machine purchases

She’ll also have her own support person (Daddy has to stay with me) in case it’s too much for her or she just gets restless and wants to leave.  Have you had your older children in the delivery room, and if so what do you recommend we bring or do for her?

I’m having lots of contractions whenever I’m on my feet, which is often.  I also feel tired, but very motivated, so I may just be pushing myself too hard to get loose ends tied up before baby comes.  Nothing major, mind you, just little trivial matters like, oh, say cleaning the entire house, setting up the crib, organizing baby clothes, shopping for last minute stuff, like a car seat.  No big deal.  I’m sure I can make it all happen as long as she isn’t any earlier than her sisters were.

Hubby has been home with me for the past week, which has been a tremendous help.   I’ve had him running things up and down stairs, as well as getting the girls on the bus in the mornings.  It’s nice to be able to settle down for a cup of tea as soon as the “Get Out The Door Rush” is over.

Between lots of rain, and lots of contractions I’m woefully behind on getting the garden cleaned up and put to bed for fall.  That may be one for the Honey-Do list.

All in all, I have to admit I’m getting pretty antsy over here!

New To Doing Things The “Old Fashioned” Way?

One of my favorite people recently started taking an interest in a more self-reliant lifestyle and has gotten her toes wet in the world of canning and seed saving, which I can only imagine will be addictive and lead her into even deeper waters.  What’s next? I’d imagine there will be at least a small garden in the works next spring, and perhaps eventually some bartering for fresh eggs or meat.

I’m so excited for her!  Naturally I want to share everything I’ve read, re-read, watched and learned so I sent a few favorite links via facebook.  Then I thought of another and another I ought to send.  Then I realized I’d better not send them at all, or she’d have nothing but links in her news feed, and she’d get annoyed and “hide” me!

That’s why I started blogging in the first place, after all.  I caught myself writing novels for status updates on facebook and realized it wasn’t the best way to share my ideas.

So, Kristin, rather than flood your news feed with a million links, I gathered them here and organized them by topic for you.  I hope it helps!

First up are a couple of magazines I read, which are LOADED with useful information and good ideas.  They both have archives and search boxes where you can access past articles to read online :

Backwoods Home Magazine.  This is the one that got us started down the crunchy/farmish path.  This magazine has it all.  From great recipes, to gardening, to earning a living without punching a time-clock, pretty much anything you want to know can be found in the archives.

Mother Earth News  A bit more commercialized and Hippie-Dippie (how they accomplish that paradox, I’m unsure), but also chock-full of useful ideas for gardening, alternative fuels, and farm life.


Starting a Self Sufficiency Garden, Even In A Small Apartment  Great ideas for small spaces and container gardens and what grows well in them.

Grow Open Pollinated Seeds for Self-Reliant Gardening  How to save seeds and ditch the seed packets.

The $1 Garden  I’d say one dollar is pushing it, but this article has some good advice for gardening without spending a lot.  FYI now is a good time to get seeds for cheap if your stores still have them.  Many will still be viable next year if you put the pouches in the freezer until spring.  I almost always have some seeds left over and use them the next year.

Plant Once, Harvest For Years  This one is all about planting things that produce year after year with minimal tending.  I really need to get around to developing an asparagus patch.

Amending Garden Soil in Early Spring  This is something I’ll be putting more time into this fall and spring.   Good thing we have plenty of chicken and rabbit poop!

Back To Eden  A film about how deep mulch gardening helps save on water.  Especially useful if you don’t happen to have irrigation.

Saving Seeds  The ins and outs of which seeds are worth saving.


National Center For Home Food Preservation  This PDF will be a good starting point for any beginning canner.  I’d recommend either printing it, or getting a copy of a good up-to-date home canning guide such as the Ball Blue Book.

Canning 101  A great read by one of my heros, Jackie Clay-Atkinson.  Actually we have several of her books and I read anything of hers that I can get my hands on.  This woman can do anything.

Make Your Own Dried Fruit And Vegetables  Not only practical but, much healthier than store bought snack foods.

The Survival Mom Radio Network  Here you’ll find information on such topics as gardening, food preservation, frugal living, health and wellness, and disaster preparedness.  Best of all you can listen while you work, so you’re not stuck in front of the computer!

And for tons of great ideas on everything from trimming the grocery budget to gardening to cleaning tips, mostly from other moms, be sure to check out the blog hops I’ve linked at the end of this post.

One small word of advice:  Don’t get so caught up reading about all the cool things you can do that you never actually have time to do them.  Actually, it’s probably good that gardening season is nearly over for most of us.  You can spend the winter making a list of things to try when spring rolls around!

Good luck, and have fun!


This post may be shared at The Homestead Barn Hop, The Homemaking Link-up, What You Wish Wednesday, The Home Acre Hop, and Simple Life Sunday.  Links go live throughout the week.

Baby On A Budget: Diapers

If you’ve been following Baby On A Budget, you know that we were surprised this spring to find out that we have baby #3 on the way, and that since I quit my “serious” job last fall, we need to keep the baby related expenses to a minimum this time.


In the first two parts of the series I shared a little on how we’ve taken care of our baby gear and clothing needs very economically.

Now we move onto what is, for many families, a large and ongoing cost associated with having a baby.  Diapering.  Ah, the joys of motherhood!

There are three main choices when it comes to diapering your baby, disposable, cloth or hybrid.

You can all-out disposable diaper, and I’ll never judge you for it.  It is by far the most popular way to diaper for most parents today.  We mostly used “‘sposies” with our first two kids, even though in my heart of hearts I wanted to be a cloth diaper mama.  More about that later.  If you do choose to disposable diaper your baby, plan on spending around $40/month for a budget diaper.  We loved Kirkland Signature from Costco, and Up and Up from target.  There was a time when I loved Luvs, but the quality declined to the point I couldn’t justify the savings any more.  I did some internet research today and was surprised to see that diaper prices haven’t really increased since we had our last baby nearly six years ago.  At least something is holding steady!  If you choose to go the ‘sposie route, you’ll probably also buy wipes, at around $20 for a two or three month supply, and you may or may not need to upgrade your garbage service.  We typically use the smallest can available from Waste Management, but had to upgrade while we were disposable diapering our girls.  The cost of upgrading will vary by your location.   Assuming you choose to disposable diaper, using an economy brand, you’ll spend around $1620 to diaper each child for three years, not counting the cost of added garbage service.

Another option is to cloth diaper, and it’s what I plan to do with this newest baby.  The cost of getting started in cloth diapering is, for many, a little off-putting.  If you go with brand new, name brand, all-in-one or pocket diapers you’ll spend between $15-$25,  PER DIAPER (EEEK!) and you’ll need about 24-36 diapers depending on how often you want to do diaper laundry.  A brand new basic diaper and cover system will cost more like $140, and should be almost all you need from 8-30lbs.  I’d add a set of newborn sized covers and prefolds, for around $42 because in my experience the “infant” sized diapers and covers are way too big for a newborn, and the longer you use the adorable, trim, tiny and (no denying) convenient newborn sposies, the harder it will be to make the transition to cloth.

Last of all there is the hybrid route, or as some call it the “gateway diaper”.  The hybrid has a washable, reusable diaper cover, much like you would use with cloth diapers, and a “flushable”, biodegradable insert.  The start up cost for these diapers is similar to that of cloth diapering, new or used, respectively. Unfortunately you also have the ongoing cost, which is similar to disposables, and they may or may not actually be flushable depending on your system.  These downfalls are why many call these “gateway” diapers.  People get tired of buying the inserts and start using cloth inserts, or they get tired of unclogging their toilets, and start tossing them into the trash, and then figure since they’re tossing them anyway, they might as well save themselves the laundry and go full ‘sposie.

Our cloth diaper stash is a combination of (barely used) leftover prefolds and Bummis Super Whisper Wraps from our last baby, some prefolds from a local second hand store, a ton of receiving blankets we had around and from thrift stores, and a couple of good ebay/facebook purchases of 4 newborn sized covers and 4 one-size pocket diapers.  I also recently cut up a bunch of stained and worn out cotton tee shirts into newborn sized flats, and upcycled wool diaper covers out of a sweater I had gotten at a yard sale and ended up never wearing .  I’ll let you know how well those work.  :-)

Not counting what I spent on the diapers left over from our previous baby, (It was 6 years ago, I can’t remember what they cost!) I spent $54 on the above stash which, very likely, would have covered our needs.  Then I saw another great deal that I couldn’t pass up on a Facebook group!  For another $50, I scored 10 brand new, still-in-the-package, Fuzzi Bunz perfect sized pocket diapers!  Those of you who follow cloth diapering know that was a steal.

What about the cost of all that extra washing?  Good Question.  I make my own laundry detergent and have stocked up on extra supplies to continue doing that for around $20. That’s more than double what I spend on a typical 6 month supply of my homemade laundry detergent.  Depending on where you live, the cost of extra water, and electricity to run the washer and dryer may make cloth diapering cost prohibitive.  We are thankful to have a well, and some of the nation’s least expensive electricity, so for us it makes sense.  You’ll have to do the math to see if it works for you.

Grand Total for diapering (unless I find another impossible-to-pass-up steal): $124  (plus the cost of doing an extra 2-3 wash loads per week…I’ll let you know after we see a power bill with the diaper loads included.)

Now that we have our poop catching situation in hand we’ll move onto poop making.

That’s right, come back next time and we’ll dig into how to feed your little guy without incurring an entire new grocery budget.  (Most of you probably already know the short answer, right?!)


This post will be shared at The Homestead Barn Hop, The Homemaking Link-up, What You Wish Wednesday, and Simple Life Sunday.  Links go live throughout the week.

External links in this post are NOT affiliate links, just wanted to give examples of available choices.  



Baby On A Budget: Clothing

Welcome Back for the second installment of my Baby On a Budget Series: Clothing! If you missed the first installment of this series you can find it below.

Baby On A Budget: Gear

When we left off I had most of the gear I need for the new baby. I had spent $46 dollars, and budgeted $200 for a car seat. Since I have a few months to keep looking before the baby arrives, I’m holding out hope that I can find the perfect used car seat, but keeping that $200 budgeted in case I have to purchase one new.  ***Update*** I’ve discovered that a less expensive, but also highly rated car seat actually measures better for my car and costs $100 less brand new!  HOORAY!  Still keeping my eyes open for a good used one, but for now I can budget that extra hund-o somewhere else.

For now I’ve moved onto clothing our sweet little sugar bean.

Everyone knows how hard it is to resist the adorable little pink and blue outfits at the clothing stores. They are so precious. Go ahead and let yourself buy one or two. Get a “going home from the hospital” or “first Christmas” outfit. After that, reign yourself in and think long and hard about what your baby actually needs on a daily basis.

Let me tell you up front, in case you didn’t already know, babies grow FAST! That means good quality and gently worn baby clothes can be had for next to nothing if you’ll only take the time to look.

A winter baby with a stay at home mom (who actually intends to do a lot of staying home) will be perfectly happy in onesies and sleep-and-play outfits.  Let the Grandmas and Aunties have their fun by buying a few cutesy things to dress baby in for outings.

I’ve been thrift-shopping for several warm rompers, some onesies and a few pairs of cozy pajamas in a couple sizes.  It’s so easy to go overboard and buy, buy, buy all those adorable little outfits.  Rest assured though, when you have a baby (especially a girl) bags and boxes of adorable and barely used clothes appear on your doorstep, as if by magic, at regular intervals.   Keep what you can use, and bless another family with the rest.

If some weird twist of fate leaves you bereft in the Magic Clothes Fairy department, don’t despair.  You can still find plenty of great deals.  If there is a lack of good thrift and consignment stores in your area, take a quick look at Craigslist.

A craigslist/baby and kids search of the term “LOT” today yielded me a full page of baby clothing lots ranging in price from $10-$100.  Of course one would have to narrow the list to the appropriate gender, season and size for the baby in question, but the savings are definitely out there to be had, particularly if you start looking long before you’re in need, and take your time.  It’s totally okay to be extra choosy when buying used.

Another great option is yard sales.  Baby clothes are often priced at fifty cents or a quarter at yard sales.   I’ve mentioned before that I don’t frequent yard sales very much, because I don’t live near where they tend to take place.  When there is one in my neck of the woods, I always try to stop by, especially if they’ve advertised baby and kid items.

Here’s the thrift store newborn layette so far:

WP_20140828_009I’ve spent $26.42 on clothes, about half came from my all day thrifting trip a couple weeks back, and the rest came from local thrift stores.  This includes some wipes, and receiving blankets that I plan to turn into newborn sized flats and more wipes. The prefolds and diaper covers you see were part of the original $46 from part one.  I’m keeping my eyes open for  a few more sleep and play outfits since we’re going to be cloth diapering, and I expect to have a few leaks, complete with resulting extra outfit changes, until I figure out which diaper/fold/cover combo works for our (typically skinny) newborns.

Now, because we’ve been thrifty, patient and willing to accept the generosity of our friends and family we are nearly ready to bring our baby home.  Next on the list of things we need to think about for our baby is diapering.  Stop by next week to see how we plan to keep our baby clean and dry without breaking the bank.

Total so far: $72.42.



Sharing at The Homestead Barn Hop, Simple Life Sunday, What You Wish Wednesday, and The Homemaking Link-up.  Links go live throughout the week.


An All Day Thrifting Trip

Saturday I went on an all day thrifting trip to Seattle with a few friends.

Turns out I’m not really up for all day shopping right now.  I was achy and TIRED by the end of the day.

I was looking for good condition clothes for my older kids, but since I had specific items in mind I didn’t find as many as I would have if I was just buying all the cute things I could get my hands on.  I was looking for jeans for my older girl who has room to grow in a 7 slim, and leggings for my younger girl who “Hates Pants!” and is generally uncomfortable in anything with a waistband which needs snapping, buttoning or zipping.  I only found one pair of jeans I was willing to pay for, and I just couldn’t bring myself to pay $2.99 for used leggings when new ones are $4.99, and often on sale at that.  Next time I’ll try to plan a thrifting day when the stores are running half off on kids clothes.

I did find some great bargains though.

First we hit the Goodwill Outlet.  Have you heard of this?  They sell everything by the pound, and everything is just heaped into huge rolling bins that you have to dig and sort through.  Definitely not the type of shopping you want to do if you need order or personal space, but with perseverance (and maybe a mask and gloves. I always get sneezy shopping there) you can find some real bargains.  I spent $4.77 on the items in the picture below.  I also spend around $11.00 on shoes including a pair of Bogs for my older girl, some chicken coop boots for myself, and snow boots for the baby to grow into.


Next we hit a regular Goodwill.  Goodwill offers half off a color tag each day.  The color of the day was pink, so I looked for items with pink tags only.  My total for this stop was $7.64 which included a blanket with the original tags still on, and a $3.99 AG hair styling chair which isn’t pictured.  I spent more on the chair than on the baby clothes and blanket combined, but boy were my girls happy when they saw it in the trunk of my car!


(The pink bunting pictured above was actually from Value Village, but got lumped in with the others.  oops!)

Finally we stopped at two different Value Village stores, where I didn’t find much for clothes, but did find something I was not expecting to find or planning to buy.



Oh, how I love books!  At the first Value Village I found all but one book in the Narnia series, and a great book with 5 minute science experiments kids can do at home and in the yard.

At the second one, I found (drum roll, please) the missing Narnia book, the entire Anne Of Green Gables series, most of the Little House books, Huckleberry Finn, Little Women in print, with the audio book included, three Ramona books, and a Junie B. Jones that we haven’t read yet.  I spent more on books at the last store than I did at all the other stores combined, but I almost never feel bad about spending money on books, and I especially don’t mind when they are a dollar each, and buy four-get one free.

Do you thrift shop?  What are your favorite tricks and tips?

This post may be shared at The Homestead Barn Hop, The Homemaking Link-up, What You Wish Wednesday, and Simple Life Sunday.  Links go live throughout the week.

Settling Into a Homemaking Routine

With the “Lazy Days of Summer” winding down, and school starting soon, I’ve been making an effort to switch myself from “Summer Break” mode to “Full Time Homemaker” mode.

Although I’ve technically been keeping house since I first moved in with my husband, I’ve never really been a homemaker. I’m the kind of person who has a hard time juggling responsibilities. I’ve always managed, but there is always one thing that will take priority and get my “Best Effort” while everything else gets whatever is left over. When I had an outside job that always got my best effort, and my family and home got nursed along, one laundry load and meal at a time. I was acutely aware that my family was getting the leftovers and I had a lot of guilt over it.

Now that I’m a full time homemaker, I’m making an effort to settle into a routine to help me keep things running smoothly as well as allow plenty of time for loving on my family.

I have time to cook now, so my loved ones shouldn’t have to eat take-out three times a week. We enjoy take-out once in a while, mind you, but I’m making a real effort not to rely on it. I also don’t want to start relying on expensive (and sorry, but kind of gross) school breakfasts and lunches, when I can provide as good or better nutrition for less by taking a few minutes a day to make breakfast and help the kids pack lunches.

Since I’m no longer making a serious financial contribution, I also feel it’s my job to make sure it’s easier for my husband to go out and earn our living. We all fall down sometimes, but my goals are that he is greeted by a reasonably neat, welcoming home after work, that he has a good meal to eat at night, and that he has plenty of clean clothes in the morning. He should not have to worry about the bills AND whether or not he has clean socks.  (I can hear my feminist friends shouting “But you worried about clean socks AND earning a living when you worked!”, which is true.  But if he’d been home while I was working I would have appreciated a home cooked meal and full dresser drawers, so that’s what I’m trying to do for him.  I guess clean socks are my Love Language ;-)  )

While my routine is still very much a work-in-progress, here are some resources I’ve been using to help me get things ironed out.

Meal Plans:

I’ve been trying to make a meal plan based loosely on the themed one at Blissful and Domestic.  I use a wipe-off weekly meal planner which I’ve customized with a good old Sharpie.  This week it looks like this:



I already had my week half planned when I found the theme idea, which is why some of the meals don’t match the theme.  I like the idea of a go-to menu, but thought my family would scoff at the same seven dinners week after week.  I like that this one offers a framework with some flexibility.  I tweaked it to work better for our eating habits, and probably will many more times.  Since I don’t plan lunches, I’ll probably end up using that column for a working grocery list throughout the week.

Chore Charts:
I’ve been using this one from A Bowl Full of Lemons for myself, and even though I don’t always get to everything on the list, it has helped me get a handle on the daily mess.

I also took a few minutes to think about the things I nag the kids about each day and made a chore chart for them. It’s not as pretty and Pinterest-y as some I’ve seen, but it works for us. I divided the chores into three time slots. These are not limited to personal care chores. I think it’s important for kid’s confidence and sense of responsibility to take care of things that benefit the household, not just themselves.


Their chores are as follows.

Feed and water cat, dog, chickens, and rabbits. Chickens and rabbits generally only need topped off and refreshed every few days, but the kids need to check each day.

Gather Eggs
Tidy Up The Living Room (so Daddy doesn’t have to come home to our mess)
Water Flower Pots (Free Pass on rainy days!)

Pick up toys from downstairs.
Get dirty clothes into the wash.  (A Bowl Full of Lemons recommends running a complete load first thing, but I prefer to start the day with an open and empty washer and just toss things in as the day rolls along.  I do my regular washes on cold, so I don’t worry about separating stuff.  It all just goes right in and gets washed and dried after the evening chores and kitchen clean up.)
Pick up paper clutter.  (Are my kids the only ones who leave trails of confetti behind them? No matter how beautiful or precious a piece of their artwork was when they made it at 3:00, if it’s on the floor at bedtime, I’m putting it in the trash.  Having Paper Clutter Patrol on the chore chart greatly reduces the frequency that I find masterpieces on the floor at bedtime.)

I’m also toying with the idea of having them take turns being Mom’s Helper after Baby Hazel is here, and doing little things for me throughout the day. I’m not looking for a slave here, just someone to run and fetch a fresh diaper, or grab me a glass of water when I realize I’m dying of thirst just after I get the baby settled and latched to nurse.

So far the kids are responding really well to the chore chart and taking great pride in putting a check mark next to each completed chore.  I LOVE that I don’t have to remind them ten thousand times what they need to do each day.  I simply announce “Morning Chores!” for instance, in as cheerful a voice as I can muster, (it’s morning after all) and they hop to it. It’s changing our lives!

I haven’t quite figured out where and how lawn and garden chores fit in, and I’ll admit that the lawn and garden have suffered for it.  I’ve just been watering, doing only the most demanding weeding, and harvesting when we go out to play.  I haven’t mowed in ages. The grass doesn’t need it so much, but the weeds on the perimeter of the property are getting out of hand.  Lovely isn’t it, how all the hose-dragging I do to water the lawn barely keeps the grass alive, yet the weeds are thriving?  The neighbors probably hate us.

I also have a few bigger projects/goals that I’ll need to find time for soon:

Create a kids closet and organization scheme in the laundry room, so that toys can move into the girls’ bedroom closet.

Clean and rearrange the girls’ room to make room for Baby Hazel.

Set up the crib/baby corner in the girls’ room.

Pre-wash/re-fluff my cloth diaper stash.

As much as I wish I wasn’t sending the girls out to public school this year, I do realize that when they are at school is likely when I’ll be able to devote a big chunk of time to getting all these things done.

Do you have a routine that works for you?  Do you include a time slot in your daily or weekly schedule for big projects or just take time for those as you find it?

If you’ve blogged about your routine feel free to share a link in the comments!

This post may be shared at: The Homestead Barn Hop, The Homemaking Link Up, What You Wish Wednesday, and Simple Life Sunday. Links go live throughout the week.