Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Still here

I'm still here. I'm so sorry it's been so long since I've posted. I have a post I've been working on but it's been slow going since I've mostly only been able to get on-line when I have a baby either nursing or in my lap. Right now it's about 1:30 a.m. so everyone else is asleep. (Knock on wood.)

One of the things we've been up to lately is snow days. Since the 15th it's snowed twice here. The first was just a little bit that was gone by the next day but the second snow gave us at least 5 inches, a full day of play and there is still snow/ice on the ground. During the day of play the kids decided they wanted to make a snow slide, so they shovelled snow on to our deck stairs so that they could slide down it into a pile of snow at the bottom. We don't have any hills for sledding in our yard so I guess they decided that this would be the next best thing.

Here's a tip for reusing out-grown socks-Not too long ago, I went through the girls dresser and took out all of the sock that don't fit anymore. The frugal part of me decided I should keep them in case I should need them for "something" so time soon. Well the sometime soon came sooner than I thought it would. While the kids were playing out in the snow, I noticed that Z.'s coat sleeves kept riding up. We didn't buy her a new coat this year since this one still seemed to fit back in late Sep./early Oct. Finding out that it no longer fits during a snow fall in Jan. isn't exactly the best timing. Anyway, I sat for a minute trying to come up with something that would keep her little wrists from getting frost bite. (She's a full contact player. Laying in the snow, sticking her hands down in it as far as they'll go, carrying around big chunks of it.) Then I remembered seeing some knitted wrist warmers while following blog links. Now obviously I couldn't knit her a pair of anything right then but I did remember the bag of socks. I went inside, grabbed a pair and a pair of scissors. Snipping the toes off and an oval for her thumb, gave us something very similar with almost no work. As an added bonus, we got to reuse something that still had usefulness left in it and I gave my kids another example of how to be creative with the things you already have.

The other thing I've been working on is M's quilt. I finally got the borders on and have started quilting it. I was going to try machine quilt for the first time on this quilt but my machine seemed to be acting up a bit while I was attaching the borders so I decided to just go with hand quilting. Now I've procrastinated quite a bit with this (and the other 3 quilt tops I've got done) and I realized that I've been avoiding trying to machine quilt since I've never done it before. If I had just decided to hand quilt them from the start, I'd probably have at least two of them done and in use by now. Go figure! We'll see how quickly I can get them done now that I've figured this out.

Ok, I think it's time to go to sleep now before the little guy wakes up wanting to be fed again.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Women's contributions

This is something I've had running around in my mind for a while now. It started when we were discussing life insurance with a friend of ours and he asked why bother getting a life insurance policy for me. Now, he's a good friend and well meaning, is the father of 4 and has a wife that was stay-at-home but now teaches at her kids school to cover the tuition. I, of course, reply by asking him what he'd do if something happened to his wife. (Hopefully giving him something to think about.)

After this, I started thinking about all of the financial books I had read. Every one of them touted the importance of life insurance for a wage earner while ignoring the financial contributions a stay-at-home wife gives to her family. What contributions could they possible be since she's not bring in any income? Surely no one is depended on them, right? Well, let's think about this for a minute. A stay-at-home mom at least provides child care services. That alone represents a pretty big chunk of change the family is not paying, especially if there is more than one child. What if the kids are school aged? Well, until they're at least in their early teens, according to many states' laws, they still need after school supervision. How about eating? At least at the beginning, there will likely be a good bit of eating out because of all of the other things dad is trying to adjust to.

Another big point to consider is if you homeschool, what will happen if you die? Will dad try to keep homeschooling them? Hire someone to watch them during the day while he works then teach them in the evenings? Or maybe hire a tutor? Will he send them to school? Public or private? Obviously, private school is a lot more expensive than homeschooling and most homeschoolers really don't want to have to send their kids to public school.

These are just some of the bigger, more obvious ways we contribute to the family finances. There are plenty of other some times smaller or less apparent contributions. Many stay-at-home wives/moms are frugal and know when and where to get the best prices on everything from groceries to toilet paper to clothing. If your spouse has to manage the shopping and work then chances are convenience will take precedence over cost. Do you do the family taxes? That's a cost that will change as well. If the family eats out more, chances are good that the food won't be nearly as healthy as if you cooked it so there is a higher chance that the kids will get sick more often.

Without too much effort, it's not difficult to see how the death of a stay-at-home wife would impact the family's financial situation. Could you're family survive this impact without the extra cushion life insurance would afford? How much life insurance would be necessary is up to the individual families but don't let anyone try and convince you that life insurance is never necessary for a stay-at-home wife just because she doesn't have any income.

Lookie what I found ->

"The Gentle Art of Domesticity" by Jane Brocket, a fellow blogger at yarnstorm ( It's not even published here in the U.S. yet and only came out in Britain at the beginning of Oct. Where did I find it? At a library booksale that I almost didn't go to. It was only $4. Now this is normally a bit more than I'd pay for a book at a book sale but I couldn't see how I could pass up such a find.

It's really a lovely book with wonderful pictures. It's a bit hard to describe though. It's sort of a collection of essays on all kinds of domestic pursuits with tips, recipes and lots of eye candy mixed in. Definitely worth the $4. Her blog is just as pretty. BTW, she was railed against in the British media for promoting the domestic arts and setting unfair standards for the poor working feminist who has much better things to do with her time. In my view, she like some many generous women out in blog land are trying to encourage others who stay at home or would like to by showing the value in this choice that doesn't come with an easy to calculate price tag.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

I hope everyone enjoyed thier holidays. Now it's time to settle in a bit and relax with few obligations on our calendars than in the last few months. The only thing we've got coming up is S.'s b-day. The kids already did their testing for their required grade level so they (and I) have slacked off on keeping up with doing something everyday. We've shifted to a more unschooling mode lately where they do things of interest to them for a good chuck of the day. I do still have them doing workbook pages but let them slide a little about doing them every day. (For those wondering how we've done this, we started back in June so we've already put in more than 100 days of "school".) Having a new baby in the house has really thrown off our schedules for longer than I had anticipated. This is not a huge deal since I know that they are all at or above grade level in most areas and they pick up on new stuff everyday through their play or our daily activities. i.e. They've been earning and saving money and all decided that they wanted to order some fun things from a homeschooling catalog we had lying around. They all practiced reading and budgeting skills pouring through the catalog to figure out what they could afford that looked/sounded interesting. M. and S. were also introduced to calculating with percentages so that they knew how much the shipping would cost. I just ordered their choices this morning and added some learning games that everyone can play which I think they'll enjoy while learning new things.

One activity we've been doing is Mad Libs. There are few things more fun for learning parts of speech than Mad Libs. The kids have really gotten a blast out of those lately. If you haven't done them before, give them a try (you can find some or similar forms like wacky webtales on-line). The key is to be as outragous as possible with your word choices. If asked for a verb don't say something boring like walking or talking, try bob sledding or prognosticating. Need a noun? How about sea cucumbers or kumquats? And they absolutely should be done with group participation.

I haven't made any resolutions for 2008 specifically. I'm still working on my weight. (After 5 kids, like that's a big surprise.) I still haven't finished the quilts that I showed back in Sep. so those are on the list of "to be finished sooner rather than later". I, also, have to add 2 more baby quilts to the list-one to be finished by the end of Feb., the other by the end of April. I'd like to add a few receiving blankets to the quilts, but those are easy and shouldn't take more than 10 min. each. The fabric for most of this was purchased at Jo-Ann's after Thanksgiving Day sale. I may have to add one or two things but I haven't had a chance to compare what I have to what I'll need yet. Along with those I want to try my hand at a smaller version of the strip twist quilt, this time in blues and white-on-whites for a wall hanging. I've just gotten swimsuit fabric for making myself a suit so that I can continue the kids' swimming lessons. Hancock had a great deal on this. ($3.50/yard and then this week it was further discounted to $1/yard so I bought more for making the next size up suits for the girls) Hancock also has a really great deal on the Janome Sew Mini ($40) which I got to teach the girls on. I've read good reviews for it so I'll let you know what I think once we have a chance to get some sewing time in.

It's time for me to get busy with other things. Take care all and have a great day.

Completely unrelated photo of kids and their cousin at the Persepolis ruins