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Now before you get all giddy and excited for me, I mean BLOGS, not my family to a new location.  Please bear with me, especially those of you who have followed me from Xanga to Blogger to WordPress over the years (not even mentioning facebook and twitter in that lineup!).  I am moving BACK to blogger.

I am interested in expanding the monetary possibilities with my blogging and WordPress by and large does not allow that.  Thus, back to blogger we go.  Who knows, maybe one day, if things go well, I’ll be back, have my own domain and be doing fabulously.  For now, however, it is back to Blogger.

Good news for all my fellow gmail users: it is super easy to “follow” a blogger blog!

Please, Please follow me!  Find me here:

http://smalltownsimplicity.blogspot.com/

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My daughter, F, soon to be 3 years old, is a photographer.  She sneaks mama’s camera and takes pictures of her surroundings all day long.  Some are blurry and out of focus, and some are just spectacular.  I honestly love looking through the camera at the end of the day to find a few new pictures that she took.  Her perspective of our home is so sweet to me.  She captures things I’m proud of (kid art on the walls, baby’s first steps, me reading aloud, sisters playing “tea”) and things I’m not so proud of (dust bunnies under the bed, messy refrigerator, mama on the computer -eek!- and the TV on during the day).  Like it or not, her pictures are something special – they are her honest perspective of the world.  Through her lens, I can see what childhood looks like to her.

This midweek, I’m taking a page out of her book and focusing my lens on the Big things in life…you know, the things that really matter.  Things like building a snow fort in the back yard, cheering on the wobbling steps of little J, waiting anxiously for Daddy to get home.  I’m honing in on the blue light of dusk casting shadows over the snow, streetlights making the world sparkle and the warmth of snuggling under fleece blankets between siblings.  I want to revel in the clambering of little people into bed with Mom and Dad at the start of a long, lovely day of nothing much planned.  I’m loving the clattering of dishes during dinner, voices singing silly songs altogether and the love the weaves us all together in this crazy amazing impossible thing called FAMILY.   I’m enjoying this rich tapestry of a life, where learning and loving, working and playing  all connect together.

D on the snow mountain

B showing the girls how its done

I’m walking! J as observed by F

F building the great snow wall

And here I am, singing along while J rat a tat tats his pot and pan drums and I’m left wondering if it really does all come down to the velvety flour dusting the floor and my cheek while D cuts out the biscuits and together we push them in a warm oven.  This is what happiness is.  I’ve arrived.

Who needs Carnegie Hall?  We had our own concert here.

Leave it to them to teach me so much about what really matters.

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Enjoy those kids, if you have some, and if you don’t, try and look at life through the lens of a child.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Nothing really new to report on for WIP Wednesday…just plugging away at the same old projects, and starting to get a bit bored!  I’m working mostly on my Anna Maria quilt though…and I’m thinking, wouldn’t it be nice to embroider the fruits of the Spirit in some of the squares?  You know, just in case we need reminding….

Have a lovely Midweek!

I’ve maintained that there has been one product that has been a “must have” for us during our parenting journey.  I only wish we had had it when our first two were little!  We bought our Ergo baby carrier when F was almost 1 year old.  Since then, it has been our constant companion – grocery trips, park visits, hikes, you name it, we’ve taken it along.  It has now been through 2 babies and still looks brand new.  It holds babies up to 35 lbs, so my 3 year old is still able to ride in it when she needs a break.  I have tried ring slings, wraps, mei teis and pouches, but this carrier is my absolute favorite.  The best part about it for me is that it is easy for my husband to use on his own.  He does 90% of the babywearing when we are out, and only will use our Ergo.  Because of our love of this product and our great respect for the company, it only made sense that my first blog giveaway would be…

An Organic Ergo baby carrier from Ergo Baby!

My husband and his girl F in the Ergo
From their website:

Organic Baby Carrier Features
  • Ergonomic design
  • 100% organic cotton twill with 100% organic cotton sateen lining and hood
  • 100% cotton batting in body of carrier to soften edges
  • One inch, high density foam in shoulder straps
  • Quarter inch high density neoprene foam in waist belt
  • High Quality buckles tested by SGS
  • Waist belt circumference from 25″ to 43″
  • Fits from 5′ to 6.5′ body height with adjustable shoulder and chest straps
  • Sleeping hood with elastic, adjusts in length for growth of baby
  • High quality webbing, matched to carrier color
  • Reinforced stitching used at all fabric intersections
  • Interior rip-stop reinforcements at critical intersections
  • Durability/strength tested up to 90 pounds
  • Machine washable – cold, gentle cycles, mild detergent, no bleach. Dry in low heat

How to Enter:

Post a comment here and link me to your Facebook, Twitter or Blog.

This Giveaway is running until Midnight February 13, and the winner will be notified on Valentine’s Day!

EDIT: I’ll pick the winner by a randomized number draw.

I’ve had this post bouncing around in my head for some time.  I’ve been asked more times than I can count how we manage to live our lives on one modest income with 4 children.  My thoughts have been going around and around and I realized that it all really comes down to simplicity.  I can get specific about some things, but in general, simplicity sums it all up.

For my family, living a simple life fosters close family relationships while also allowing us to live sustainably.

In this instant gratification, gotta have it, fast paced world of bursting credit bubbles and housing market collapses, it is no wonder that many have looked at what I manage to do and say “how does that even work?”  I do not purport to have the corner on how to make it work, and certainly a large part of why it works for us is because we have been blessed in many ways.

I say it comes down to simple, intentional living.  Identifying the true differences between “needs” and “wants,” being grateful for what you do have and willing to compromise on the things you do not necessarily need.  I am not saying to live a life with no comforts at all, that is not my point, but to really take stock of what we believe to be necessary, beneficial and required for our lives.

This often begins with how we were raised.   I was so blessed to be raised in a family where my mother was dedicated to living a simple, frugal lifestyle.  Through my childhood, my observations of her helped shape my view on how to run a home.  She is still much more frugal than I am and I still stand to learn quite a bit from her.  Taking a good look at where we came from and what were considered necessities in our homes really does help us understand how we came to the mindset we have on what constitutes “the good life,” and is imperative to the next few steps.

Simplifying and “slowing” often go hand in hand.  For example, one of the ways we live slowly is by owning one car.  This requires me to “slow down” and cut down unnecessary trips outside the home.  It helps me to focus on my home life with my children while also saving us money that would have been spent if I were to go out every day.  Slowing down can also mean waiting to make a purchase until you have the funding for it.  Paying yourself slowly until the money is there may take a little bit longer, but you will be so happy to actually own what you bought!  Slowing is hard for a lot of people because it is living in direct conflict with our current cultural norms.

Over the next few weeks I’ll touch on how simplicity comes into play in all areas of our lives – from raising the kids and educational materials to cooking, homemaking and beyond.  If you have any questions you’d especially like me to address, ask away!

one way we save: one sized cloth diapers

My last post made me realize that I have never written down my “list of required reading” for girls.  There are so many books and authors I loved as a child that I want to ensure my children have the opportunity to read.   I can still remember spending whole afternoons sprawled across my bed, reading insatiably for hours, only resurfacing when the sun went down and the smell of dinner wafted upstairs.

If you have a little girl these are sure to be a big hit.  Most are appropriate for read-alouds in the early years, and rest assured your girls will re-visit them when they are able to read on their own.

Here are some of the absolute favorites I remember reading over and over:

  • The Happy Hollisters Series – a family of 5 children solves mysteries.   I love the close family bond that this group has.  The books are great for boys or girls.
  • All-of-a-kind Family series by Sydney Taylor – a Jewish family of 5 girls growing up in pre WWI New York.
  • The Betsy-Tacy books* The high school years may be better suited for older girls
  • Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink – Feisty Caddie is a must read for anyone who loves the Little House books.
  • Anything by Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables, the Emily books, etc)* for older girls
  • Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  • Blue Willow by Doris Gates
  • Away goes  Sally by Elizabeth Coatsworth
  • Gone-away Lake and Return to Gone-away – excellent for boys or girls.  This two book series sparked my imagination and I could not get enough.  I still think about it!
  • The “Shoes” books (Ballet Shoes, Theatre Shoes, Dancing Shoes, etc)
  • Strawberry Girl (or anything by Lois Lenski).  I will be reading this aloud to all of mine this summer.
  • The Four Story Mistake – also by Elizabeth Enright.  There are others in this series which are also a good read.  Boys may also like this.
  • The Moffats by Eleanor Estes (or really anything by Ms. Estes.  She is a delight).  Boys may also like this.  Wonderful for a read-aloud.

These are the ones I can vividly remember off the top of my head…and truth be told, these are the ones that I am curious to read again!  This list is subject to updating, so be sure to check back.  If you have any additional recommendations, please share!

This is my first post at this site, but not my first blog post ever.  I have a more personal journal type blog that is protected, and another on blogger that is my “gratitude blog.”   Why start another?  Here’s why:
Sometimes you need a place to be in between.  To talk about the things you are doing, the products you are trying and the impact that you are having.  That’s what this blog is for.
Topics will include lots of crafting, a dose here and there of parenting and small forays into homeschooling.  I’m hoping to review a lot of the things we use day to day, from baby carriers to home school curriculum to drool worthy yarn and other crafting supplies.  There will be a LOT of pictures.

My name is Lydia and this is my journey.  Welcome!!

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