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.

Well it is finally Wednesday so I can show you all what I’ve been working on.  First, we have F’s birthday dress.  This is technically still a WIP since it lacks straps and the elastic threaded through the bodice.  It was an insanely quick knit.  I made the size 2T based on chest measurements.

Still unblocked, so a bit odd looking

a “Little Red” for F

These are my current “WIP”‘s.  I’m hoping to dig out from all of this crazy snow and head to the fabric shop for some elastic thread so I can finish F’s dress.  Then I’ll cast on for D’s and start all over again!

We were hammered with snow last night so today it is a winter wonderland outside!  F loves snow so much, she couldn’t want to get out in it.

The rest of us decided to stay indoors where it is warm and work on some Valentines.  D is my artist, so she was working especially hard.

So much love…

In the kitchen, I made some wonderful Snow Day soup.  We eat a lot of soup, stew and chili here, especially during the winter months.  My family loves soup and I love that most of it is very healthy, can be made inexpensively and can be altered to fit whatever you have on hand.  Today I used a few leftover chicken breasts, cut up potatoes, onion, carrot, celery, green pepper, garlic and added some chick peas as well.  I used chicken stock I had leftover and saved (always save your chicken stock!), although you could use some bullion cubes.  I love that soup can be left simmering all day and eaten whenever someone is hungry.  This helps a lot during our Midweek when mealtimes are not as regular as during our normal weekdays.  Add to it some homemade bread or biscuits and you have a lovely warm meal for a cold snow day.

Off to enjoy my family!  Happy Midweek!

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

Why is it that on the “warm” days of winter (over 30 degrees), it is always grey and depressingly overcast, yet it is on the sharp, knock-the-wind-out-of-you cold days (20 or below) that the sun pours through the windows, taunting us with its deceivingly warm glow?  I’m not sure, but it seems like a mean trick to me.

We are having a quiet evening here, which is a relief after our hour and half wrestling session at church today when I (un)successfully attempted to keep four little ones quiet and well behaved in a pew.  By the time church let out, I had had quite the workout.

I’m working on F’s birthday dress, which is really coming along quite quickly.   I’m knitting it up on Knitpicks Shine Sport, which is incredibly soft and has a beautiful drape to it.  The bodice is completely finished and most of the skirt.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I finished the lacework part of the skirt tonight and had the whole thing finished tomorrow.  I’m still contemplating what to do about the straps.  Lately I’ve been shying away from spaghetti straps when it comes to my girls, so if I have enough yarn I may attempt some butterfly ruffles on them just for a little more coverage.    Next in my project queue is D’s birthday dress, the same pattern, just a size bigger.  D’s is a lovely magenta pink, and F’s is periwinkle blue, just like her eyes.  Having  both birthdays in March makes for a busy February for Mama!

Yesterday we had an impromptu waldorf doll hospital day.  F’s baby needed a wig reattachment, and D’s needed a bath.  She also wanted to cut her hair a little bit shorter.  We gave them both a little bit more rose to their cheeks and dressed them in their finest.  Getting them all cleaned up again had me thinking I should really make them both a few more outfits…maybe something along the lines of Laura and Mary from the Little House stories.  In the interest of being a bit more frugal though, I think I’ll scour my local thrift stores for old sheets or fabric for the project.  J’s birthday is also in March, his very first!  I was thinking of making him a little one piece baby doll, but I’m not sure I’ll have enough time.   I have leftover doll materials from when I made the girls, so that isn’t a problem.  I want to make all 3 of them Birthday Crowns as well so I really do have a lot on my plate in that department!

I’m still struggling with our odd schedule as far as school is concerned.  Tomorrow will be a very structured, get down to business sort of school day.  We have quite a few things we simply MUST accomplish.  It will probably end up being a no TV/Computer day just out of pure necessity, which is just fine with me.  We need to get back on track!

Stay tuned for my very first “WIP Wednesday” if you want a peek at the birthday dresses!

While everyone else in the working world is anxiously looking forward to 5pm and the beginning of their weekend, I am slogging through what is now my Monday.  Although it usually takes me a bit longer to get moving on Mon(Fri)days, I’ve been trying to transform my perspective from “Manic” to “Marvelous!”

Getting back into the swing of the week is not only hard for Mamas, but can be for the kidlets as well.  They are coming down from a Midweek full of snuggling with Daddy on the couch watching movies, playing and largely ignoring chores (would that I could be so lucky!).  Beginning a day of picking up where we left off, cleaning up after lots of lazy fun and refocusing our energies on what needs to be done can be quite a drag to little people.  I’m trying to raise spirits of everyone by baking some yummy treats, reading through our stack of library books, taking a jaunt through the neighborhood and hopefully giving every one naps (or at least quiet time!).

In the kitchen, I’m making a simple bean and ham soup for dinner with some baking powder biscuits to go along.  We still have some leftovers from a few nights this week, so those will probably be making a (re)appearance tonight as well.  Last night I actually pulled off a Teryaki Chicken stir fry, which I’ve never made before.  It was quick and easy and so delicious!  I made enough  for J to take for lunch as well as some extra for me.  It was a bit spicy for the kids, but the adults loved it!

Beans soaking, waiting to be made into soup!

I’ve been having a lovely mail week full of packages!  First a love package from my older sister in Connecticut full of novels, a new corduroy skirt and sweater, makeup, chocolate and of course something for the littles.  Next, my beautiful stack of Anna Maria fabric just begging to be made up into something cozy and warm.  Lastly, a big box full of yarn, not all for me, but still so pretty and full of possibilities.  So excited to see what it all becomes!

Oh so pretty!

drool!

Lastly, I wanted to share a few projects I finished in the last few days.  First, I adapted this hat from a sweater pattern I have made.  I love the button closure.  It is so incredibly stretchy, I tried it on every single one of my kids and it fit!  Albiet a bit snug on the 6 year old and a bit loose on the 10 month old, but still, pretty impressive!

on the 2 year old

on the four year old

on the 6 year old

I also quickly knit up these mittens.  The Cestari Merino is nice and thick, so they are super warm.  I think if they were lanolinized they would also be pretty water proof.

All in all, fun little projects.  Now that the yarn is here though, no more fun and games!  I have to make the girls’ birthday dresses and have about 6 weeks to do it in.  Stay tuned!


Our “Midweek” is really our “Weekend,” meaning Wednesday and Thursday are when Daddy is home!  Here are some of our Midweek Meanderings from yesterday.

A successful trip to our nearby Thrift Store yielded this lovely find!  Betsy Tacy and Gone Away Lake, both on my previous List of Books for Girls, 20 cents a piece.

Some of our finds at the local Library.  I was especially thrilled to find “The Creative Family” By Amanda Blake Soule, which I had been wanting to take a peek into.

I stumbled across this set up this morning, before my sleep head girls were even up for the day.  I love finding the evidence of imagination taking place around my home!

I’ve got some WIPs that I want to share with you, but other things are demanding my attention at the moment!  I will get some pictures and put them up later.

Have a lovely Midweek!

In this busy little house with so many busy little people, “one on one time” is very rare and, should it happen at all, it is often for just a few precious moments here and there.  I find that it is the oldest that miss out the most – certainly the baby gets one on one time with mama, and even the two year old finds her way to my lap at least once a day.  It is my oldest that rushes off to play with friends when the others nap, or spends time bonding with Daddy in the evening when everyone else has gone to bed (something I treasure dearly).  This afternoon, however, after a busy morning at our homeschool co-op, one of those perfect moments found us.  All 3 of the youngers were asleep at once (rare!) and I took that moment to do a quick overhaul of our craft/game/puzzle closet (incidentally, what does one DO with puzzles that have lost their pieces?  Donate?).  I proudly showed my nonplussed son my handiwork, and his eyes lighted on a pack of Go-Fish cards.

We each pulled up a chair and he shuffled first.  He laughed and mocked me as he “creamed” me in the first, second, third rounds.  He marveled at my (mediocre) shuffling and declared it to be magic.

It all didn’t last long before the baby woke up and his neighborhood friend came knocking on the door.  Before rushing off to play, my little man gave me a tight squeeze and promised to “beat you again tomorrow!”

These are the moments and times I want to treasure up and remember.  A card game on an ordinary February day with my son.

On this, the first day of the worst month of the year, when the chaos and cabin fever reached a new level while I was (un)successfully attempting to prepare for tomorrow’s co-op (which I did not procrastinate on, oh no, not me…), we stumbled upon buried treasure.  You see, someone was neglecting their children (wouldn’t know anything about that…) with the electronic babysitter all.day. and it was no longer working.  Worse, said person was feeling just a tad bit guilty that “homeschool” today meant “leave mama alone, she’s working.”  Then I remembered something.  Something I forgot I had.  Something I had put away for a “rainy (do tears count?) day” when the kids were old enough not to mess with it.  Well, they may not be old enough yet, but I was desperate.  I rushed down to the basement, nearly capsized a colossal mountain of boxes and then finally found it, blew the dust off the box and carried it upstairs.  I turned off the TV, took both girls by the hand and sat them down on the carpet.  And then I set this up:

Complete with about 25-30 books and records.  Do you remember these?  I had the cassette tape version when I was growing up.  My Mother in law gifted this to us a few years ago and we had tried it once with our oldest…he had messed with the record player too much so I put it away.

Nostalgia hit me as soon as we opened the box.  I remembered rainy days, laying on my stomach and pouring over a book, dutifully turning the page “…when you hear the chimes ring, like this *chime*.”

I so enjoy reliving my childhood through them.

(ignore the blurry feet, they were furiously kicking)

Something tells me that this February might not be so bad.  If things do start to go south, I’ll just whip out our buried treasure.

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!

Today was a long one.  My littlest darling decided at 4:45 AM to boot me out of the bed I so generously share with him, starting my day off a bit earlier than I am used to.  I fought it for awhile, trying everything in my mommy-of-four repertoire to calm him, but to no avail.  I must have been half asleep while all of this was going on, because I dreamt the most fabulous knitting pattern ever.  Once I get a chance to run to the yarn store, I’m going to attempt to recreate it.  Who knows, I may just make a career of bringing dream patterns to life.

I am feeling the need to refocus a bit in our homeschool.  The spliced together curriculum we are following is just fine, but we haven’t been able to make it to the library recently (read: I am way tooo lazy to bundle up 4 kids and brave the cold) and I am feeling an acute need for new literature for all of our sakes.  I’m really not one to purchase or hold onto books…stemming perhaps from the fact that we have always lived a block away from the library as well as my aversion to owning too much of anything.  It has never bothered me before but I realized tonight, as I was searching my shelves for something to read, that I need a good collection of children’s classics.  It looks like at very least the girls will be getting “Little House on the Prairie” for their birthdays.   I need to come up with some ideas for my 1st grade son as well.  Being a girl (and a girly-girl at that) I am a wealth of knowledge when it comes to what little homeschooled GIRLS love to read, but I need some help in the boy arena.  Incidentally, if anyone needs a book list for girls, drop me a line.

After a break around the holidays, the baby is back in cloth diapers full time.  I am enjoying it so much!  I definitely needed a break, but I am so happy to be back.  The trash was almost doubled when we used disposables and it was very convicting.  I’ve had a few people ask me about cloth diapering, the different types, etc, so I’ll be compiling an informational blog on that in the near future.

Last order of business before retiring to my couch with a glass of wine: I’m thinking of hosting a give away to get this blog started off right!  Stay tuned for more information and to see what the prize will be!

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