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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Goldilocks find a house or How to buy a house in 2.5 hours.

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Okay well not quite.  We have been looking, in earnest, for months.  We already had in mind that we’d wait until the fall because that’s the best time for buyers.  We thought we had a place to go for, but were quickly realizing it was overpriced for the lack of work that had been put in to it – it was well maintained but lacking many of the things most people do for a quick sale.  Things were looking kind of bleak.

Then my Dad came home one night – a duplex down the street had just come on the market and the realtor was a family friend.  I looked at the listing, it didn’t look promising it just didn’t speak to me, but to appease the parental units I said I’d look at it.  So I did; this was last Wednesday.  It wasn’t so bad and boy oh boy did they want to move it fast – new paint, carpet allowance, newer furnace and air conditioning, nice landscaping and they were putting on a new roof Friday.  Friday rolled around and I got the hubs over for a visit.  We liked it – it had space, not too much but not too little, it had a yard – not to big and not too small, it had a little bit of everything.  We said we call them next week sometime.

By Friday night we were coming to our senses, we didn’t want this one to pass by.  It was in a great area, good school districts, we were down the street from family and folks I’ve known for years, we don’t have to change parishes, close to work, in our price range and had everything we wanted.  We scheduled another look on Sunday.

By Sunday we knew we wanted to move fast, there were a couple other showings that weekend and with a brand new roof in the mix we knew it might not last long.  We met for the showing, and an hour later we were sitting around our kitchen table signing contracts.  What a rush.

I hoped we might hear something in the morning at best – our offer was good, but maybe she wanted every nickle she could get.  I don’t know what kind of magic our realtor worked; maybe he just told her (an older woman and a widow) that there was a young family who wanted to be “Home for the Holidays”, but by 8 p.m. we were on the phone … offer accepted.

I can’t wait to show you more – we move in at the end of November.  I can’t believe that we got just about everything on our list – a backyard with proper exposure and room for a garden, a great kitchen, appliances and extra room and we even got a few bonus items like a beautiful wood burning fireplace and some odds and ends she didn’t want to move out – like a great (1970’s Orange) sleeper sofa for the spare room, a grill, some gardening things and (my midwest brothers and sisters will gasp a little) A SNOWBLOWER!!!

I don’t know what else to say right now, I’m still in shock to be honest.

This time last year I was at the lowest of my pregnancy blues – life looked pretty dim and I was extremely worried about how we’d make ends meet let alone when we’d be stable enough to find a place of our own.  My mother told me not to worry, it’d all work out and if we weren’t in our own place by next fall she’d be shocked and I guess Mother’s know best.  We’ve worked hard over this last year and we’ve had amazing support and more amazing help getting where we are.  We’ll be grateful until our last breathes and I hope one day we’ll deserve it.

For now I’m excited to have something that is our own, truly our own.  I’m positively giddy about moving and setting up house and best of all I get to hang my son’s first Christmas Stocking on our mantle this year, a blessing to be sure.

Thank you everyone whether I know you in person or not, you’ve helped us and we’re very grateful!

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The Best Words

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In the last 4 years I’ve added a lot of favorite phrases to my life, the top being “I do” and “We’re having a baby” and now we get to add a new favorite….

“OFFER ACCEPTED”

2 hours ago we made an offer on an amzing little home and just a little bit ago we got the good news.  We will be closing the day after Thanksgiving (how appropriate is that?) and will be celebrating Henry’s first Christmas in our own home.

Life is good and God is great.

Really,what could I do?

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So generally I try to keep my personal opinions about the bigger issues to myself here – politics, the big religious and social debates just aren’t what this blog is about though I definitely have my opinions.  But this blog is about simple living and though simple living can be attained many ways and at many different incomes and social strata one of the ties that bind is, to paraphrase Gandhi, to live a way of life so that others can live.

There’s a lot going on in the world now.  A lot of discussion about what is fair, getting equal footing, equal shares, and what is right, moral and good.  With the holiday season approaching we normally faced with these conundrums, but this year it’s a little more in your face, the talk about taking care of the needy, the poor and the unfortunate and whose responsibility it is.

Here is where I’m going to hazard my opinion.  Who’s responsibility is it?  I’ll give you my answer:  Grab a mirror, I’ll grab one too and on the count of three we’ll look at them… 1…2…3… and there you go.  That face in the mirror, every mirror, that is the face of responsibility.  Like anything you can see in a mirror the reality is not always pleasant, but it’s the truth.

Whether you believe change and reform should come from point A or point B, and whether you think it should end up at point C or point D doesn’t change that there’s a lot you could be doing now, right this second and it’s going to do no good to sit around and wait for something that might never happen while doing nothing else.

There are parents who could use a reliable babysitter (even a free one now and then).  You have neighbors who could use a ride to the store.  That friend who’s been job hunting for months could use that jacket in the back or your closet or that introduction to a friend of a friend.  That responsible coworker who’s having trouble making ends meet because her student loans could use a gift card for groceries magically appearing in her inbox.  That family down the pew at church whose sole breadwinner was laid off the month the mortgage or rent increased, which was th same month as the car accident could use anything even though they’re too proud to ask anyone or any institution for help.

There is so much good we can do if we take responsibility.

A few years ago a dear, dear friend was struggling to make ends meet in a large city.  She was working every job she could come across, but the bills were just barely getting paid.  So when an opportunity appeared that was almost too good to be true she took it, and guess what?  It was too good to be true; they wiped her bank account clean.

I was across the country.  I couldn’t bring her over for dinner, I couldn’t set her up on the couch.  Really, what could I do?  A lot.  Doing, first, what I always do for friends going through bad times I put together a care package – books, magazines, snacks, a few small gift cards were all I could manage, and that was all I could do right?  Nope, not quite.  I put a call out to some coworkers, gave them the low down and told them I didn’t feel like my care package had enough care in it and could they help?  The next day I had a stack of cookies, books and even a couple extra gift cards at my station.  No one knew my friend in the slightest; strangers caring for strangers and this was all I could do right?  Nope, not quite.  That night I got on Facebook and sent out a message to all of our mutual friends asking for help (my friend had already made her situation public, so I wasn’t revealing anything new) and even to friends of hers whom I never met;  I asked for them to send me cards with words of encouragement and IF they could spare it a little money.  Cards came in from old coworkers, teachers, family and I found out our department in our old alma matter set out a collection jar for spare change. The cards I received for her care package remained sealed I never knew exactly what I sent until she received the complete package.  I found out later that in less than a week I had gathered, from people who only knew her  and people who only knew me, hours of distraction and comfort and almost $500 in cash.  What could I do, right?

I don’t share this story because I believe myself amazing, I am all too human and all too prone to failing in dramatic ways, but for a moment, out of sheer luck and a little determination, I was a superhero, if just for a moment.  I saw someone who needed help and did what I could.  I’m not trying to say we shouldn’t be fixing the flaws and mistakes in our systems when we find them, I’m not saying that government doesn’t have some responsibility to care for its citizens, and I’m not saying that some time our systems fail us and should be fixed, but what I am saying is that if we see someone in distress and walk on by saying “Really, what could I do?” and hope that the next mild-mannered citizen will take up the cause than we’ve failed because the answer to that question, though it maybe hard to accept, is just simply “A lot”.

Are you missing out on your chance to do something amazing?

Hallow Days – A Rural Perspective

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My favorite time of year is approaching and it’s kicking off with Halloween next week.  All over we see posts about celebrating this holiday, particularly if you’re a Christian.  We hear about it’s pagan roots and modern connotations.  We hear about how costumes are too violent, too blood, too short, too revealing, too adult or too immature.  We hear about commercialization and rituals.  We hear a lot about this day.

My good blog-friend Sarah writes a great post from a Catholic (yup, we’re one of them) point of view of celebrating Halloween as part of a three-day “Hallowed Days” holiday – All Hallows, All Saints and All Souls.  Personally I really like the way she approaches this and it’s the way I want to raise my kids to celebrate this time of year.  I don’t want Halloween to be just about costumes and candy, but rather a little bit more.

Before I started attending Mass (pre-Catholic husband and new baby) I looked at this time of year from the viewpoint of my family.  I’m from a long line of farmers and this time of year is very important to us.

If we’re lucky we have everything out of the field as the days until a big frost are inches closer, we’re tallying up bushels and finding out if we’re in the red or the black.

In the days before convenience was a buzz word this was the end of great and busy time of preparation.  It was not too long ago that facing a bad winter unprepared could kill you and this was the time to look in our root cellars, our pantries and at our stacks of wood to get an idea of what type of toll the season would take on us.

It was a time to hurry up and get things done, see folks you might not see for a couple of months if you were lucky and never again if your weren’t.  There were still a couple of months of the days getting shorter, and even after that many months before the earth warmed again.  It was a long season.  At the end of fall you started to remember the fear a bad winter could bring.

So to me Halloween/Samhain/All Hallow’s whatever you call it is more a time of celebration.  It is a time to celebrate hard work and, hopefully, success.  It is a time to eat your fill and see friends and family.  It is a brief window of time between relaxation and uncertainty and when there’s a celebration to be had a little mischief often comes hand in hand.

So for us we will make it a celebration.  We will dress up (though we don’t do gory or risqué), we will visit neighbors and friends, we will share food and drink and have a good time.  We will look at the season yet to come and show no fear.  The next day we will reflect on those who faced fear and made  great sacrifices and then we will remember those who are not with us and reflect on how the greatest sacrifice gives us great peace when we face the unknown.

For the sake of honesty – Quick Takes

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Do you ever follow those blogs that are too shiny-happy to be believed?  I do, and while I realize many bloggers just want their sites to be an escape, highlighting the good times I thin we all appreciate when we see that their lives just as crazy as ours.  So in the interest of honesty here’s my Top Seven things you probably don’t know about me from reading this blog.

1)  It is nap time, I have a weeks worth of laundry to do and a laundry room floor that desperately needs cleaning… and I’m on the internet.

2)  #1 happens more often than not.

3) I’m terrible at writing out Thank You cards – I found a stack from high school graduation last year.  If you’re a friend of my family or a distant relative I don’t really know, I’m sorry and I’m sure I loved whatever it was you sent 10 years ago.  I might also have found a small stack of wedding thanks you’s when moving last year too.

4) I’m good at cleaning the house, but terrible at organizing.  The table might be clean and decorated, but please just ignore the pile of a year’s worth of bills and receipts that’s imitating a particular structure in Pisa, Italy… I swear I’ll get it soon… one day.

5)  I’m really bad at confrontation – if you ever know me in real life and we get in a fight I’ll eventually act like nothing has happened rather than have a face to face conversation.  This how adults do things right?…. Yeah, I know, it’s like I’m 12.

6) Yes, I do have the T.V. on and my child in the same room occasionally, but sometimes Mommy really wants to catch up on Big Bang Theory from 3 weeks ago before 3 a.m. next week and he has no interest in watching it anyways.

7)  I have high expectations of people and a bit of a short fuse for others figuring out those expectations.  I’m also horrible with expressing those expectations.  All of this combined makes me want to nominate my husband for sainthood.

Anyone else want to confess their blogging sins too?

Molly Makes {Sensory Pillow}

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I finally buckled down and the prototype you saw HERE and made it into its final product.  Henry has long be enamored with big buttons and shoe laces so I wanted to make him something that he could chew and pull on all he wanted.

So I found a small pillow and made a pillow case out of fabric from my stock.

On one side I sewed down buttons (a combination of vintage buttons from my collection and a few purchased), a bright red shoe lace and an elastic shoe lace.  This was all I had done on the prototype and it was so well-loved I almost convinced myself I didn’t need to do more.


However I wanted to further the project on the reverse side.  On the flip side is an assortment of ribbons, most of them left over from his robot sensory toy I made him before he arrived.  There are different patterns, shapes, sizes and textures to explore.

My inspiration for this side was a “crazy quilt” pillow I had as a child made out of men’s ties, I remember being very young and tactile-y exploring the different patterns and qualities of those fabric; I even had my favorite – a particularly smooth section right in the middle.

I’m hoping this project will grow with him – we can remove and add buttons and laces to further explore sizes (once the choking hazard stage is passed), colors, numbers – the sky is the limit.  It can be a place for him to learn to tie his laces, braid and tie knots while the reverse side will hopefully serve its primary function while being comfortable enough to be a kid sized travel pillow.

Over all I’m quite pleased with this project – even at 8 months old this pillow can easily keep up his attention for about 20 minutes and I’m hoping this will prove to be a good home, car and maybe even quite church toy.

(If anyone would be interested in an instructional post for this or any other project, please let me know.  I’m reluctant to do them, since they’re time-consuming to put together (the post, not the project) and don’t want to unless there’s interest.)

{More to come!  It is the season of making in my house and I have a stack of things already done and my little brain is bursting with new ideas!}

T.V. Math

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I was having a conversation in a Ravelry forum about children and T.V. watching and did a little math with the current AAP “recommendations” on T.V. allowance for children over 3.  Now, I love movies and definitely have my favorite T.V. show;  I also  have wonderful memories of Disney movies, classic musicals and TGIF family nights spent with a special (delivered!) treat of pizza gathered around the television for a couple hours (in fact a majority of my and my husbands Christmas list is often movies and the new season of whatever)… but “Screen Time” – the time spent in front of anything electronic (cellphones, computer, video games, T.V., etc.) is definitely on my radar and I really try to challenge myself not to use it too much right now, as to avoid the “T.V. Baby Sitter” trap.  While I definitely understand it’s benefits to give Mom or Dad a reprieve, or as an educational tool** it does seem to be something that should be approached with caution.  So with that in mind I thought I’d just share a little math with you to consider when thinking about your kids and yourself!

1 hour a day t.v. =

7 hrs/week = approx. 1 average school day (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. non stop)
1 avg. SD/week x 52 weeks = 52 SD/Year
(52 SD/ year)/180 (average number of school days per year) = 28.8% of the school days in the school year only watching television.

Would you be okay with your child’s teacher setting your child in front of  a T.V. for over 1/4 of the time dedicated to learning?

2 hours a day t.v. =

14 hrs/week = One Saturday in front of the t.v. from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. non stop
(One Saturday (9 a.m. until 11 p.m.)/week) x 52 weeks = 52 Saturdays of pure dawn till dusk t.v. watching
52 Saturdays/30 days (average month) = 1.73 months of dawn till dusk t.v. watching a year

1 – 2 hours a day doesn’t seem like much, until you start to add it up.

** Though I always like to point out the real baby Albert Einstein seemed to accomplish quite a bit without the infant-geared “educational” movies, books and CD’s that borrow his name (and so did baby Mozart, baby Beethoven; not to mention baby Newton, baby Plato, baby Da Vinci, etc.).