Friday, August 31, 2012

Moving Towards the Green

We try really hard to be as green as possible. One of the reasons we cloth diaper, reuse, recycle, buy used, don't use harsh chemicals to clean (water, vinegar and tea tree oil is all I use).

But we've made two big moves to greener living since moving here. Both of which have financial benefits too.

Greener Thing #1 came about when money became too tight and what normal people buy became a luxury for us.

Toilet Paper

It was the only paper product (besides feminine products) that we bought. But it seriously became a luxury to us. So we switched to family cloth. Family cloth, what's that? Simply we use cloth wipes instead of toilet paper. But when forced to cut it out we made the decision that its best for us (not just our budget) and best for the Earth. (That sounds so cliche! Haha) It was really easy to switch, I mean we already wash cloth diapers and keep the diaper pail in the bathroom, all we had to do was throw the cloths in the same pail. And since how you wash is important to good cloth diaper hygiene it works the same for the family cloth. It really doesn't add to our diaper load at all. And then there is the cost savings- we save at least $20/month, I know that doesn't seem like that much but that's $20 not going into the Koch brothers pockets and saving trees they are illegally foresting. So how did I make our family cloths? Well honestly I've found myself really lazy about sewing lately so I just bought a bunch of cheap wash cloths and cut them in half. I found that sometimes we needed even smaller sizes (for small jobs.{wink,wink}) and I cut the halves in half. I could, and maybe eventually will, sew up the edges so they don't fray but we're just wiping our who-has with them so we don't need anything fancy. The kids don't complain and DH prefers the clean he gets from a damp cloth. We do still buy a  small package when we are expecting company, we don't think our guests are really ready to make that leap.

Greener Thing #2 came from a recipe in a book DH got from my mom for his birthday. Something we'd been talking about trying for a while and its working for us, so we keep doing it.

Homemade Laundry Soap

It only takes about 30 mins a month to prepare and our clothes come out so much cleaner. We also save another $20 ish a month doing this. Our recipe is really easy 2 parts Borax, 2 parts baking soda and 1 part grated laundry soap (you can get this in the laundry aisle at most stores, its a bar of soap like bath soap). Mix it together to a lidded container and add 2 Tbsp of mixture to each load (I actually only use the 2 full Tbsp. on really dirty laundry, for normal loads I use 1 heaping Tbsp. and on the cloth diapers just a pinch). I also throw a cup of vinegar into every load, because I like the way it removes all odors. This same recipe is good for HE washers too. The only draw back I have is if you line dry your cloths they get a bit crunchy. To remedy that I just toss them into the dryer for a few mins, not a whole cycle, because that would defeat the whole purpose of line drying.

Well there you go! How we are getting greener. Someday maybe I'll make our own bar soap, but that's still a ways off. What I really need to get onto is making the feminine cloth I've been meaning to for the last 6 months. Then we'll be paper product free! (Keep me accountable to this one and ask me about every once in a while.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How Are the Children?

How are the children?

R, or Stick, the oldest daughter, is well. She recently got her first apartment, sadly being 900 miles away I haven't been able to see it yet. But she's proud of her new little home and happy. She's also been promoted at work, now an hourly manager at a popular coffee shop. She works hard, takes pride in her work and it shows. I am continually proud of the woman she's becoming.

T, or Butder, the oldest son, will be 18 in November and while visiting my mom in MN has decided to stay. He's looking for work and working towards getting his GED. (I may not have shared the struggles of getting his transcripts transferred down here, on my other blog, but long story short they didn't accept any of them and wanted him back in the 9th grade- he was in 11th, so a hard decision was made last year, to keep him out and pursue other avenues.) Here where we are there are so little opportunities his chances are slim of ever finding a job, and his plan along has been to return to MN after his 18th birthday, so this is just a few months early. I do miss his company, as do the other kids. But this is in His best interests.

P, or Peeker, the 2nd oldest daughter, is now the oldest child in the house. She's still our little mama. Before school began this year we gave her the decision of home schooling or going back to their old school, she decided to go back. As an 8th, who does well in school, I think socially this was important to her. Our relationship has improved greatly, as has her and my husband's. This age is very difficult for step-daughters/step-fathers, I remember that from my own experience with my step-dad and that of my daughter and ex. She's a very intelligent, mature girl, coming nicely into her own, with plans for the future (she wants to be a natruopath).

I, or Belly Button, the 2nd youngest daughter, is coming into the age of the early/pre-teens. She has more chores than the other children but this is because of her love of animals. She's our chicken wrangler, and most of their care is hers. She's experimenting with being the Boss, and is struggling with being nice. This is really different behavior for her, that we've seen grow in intensity over the last year. Maybe stress of all the changes? Maybe influence of the children she attends school with here? (The children here are expected to respect adults w/o exception, and if they don't are "whooped" for it. So they take it out on each other, and especially the weaker kids. I've seen it first had with my BIL.) She was also given the opportunity to home school this year, but after Peeker made the decision to go back I observed her and O and found their relationship dynamic would not make for a pleasant or easy home schooling aptmoshpere. And set her back. So far she's enjoying the year and her teacher.

O, or Oni, the 2nd oldest son, was Dxed this spring with Asperger's Syndrome. We felt a great sense of relief with this dx, it fits. But the school made it clear they could, or would, not meet his needs. So the big decision came to home school him. We are now a satellite campus of The Farm school here in Tn. Its a learning experience for all of us, and we're still searching for what works for us. My biggest concern for him is him getting his work done too quickly and what to do with the rest of the day. (Seriously he's done in less than 2 hours, unless of course he's fighting me about doing the work.)

C,or Bug, the 2nd youngest son,  has made me rethink the idea that 3 is harder and 2. He's been so much easier since turning 3 and easier than my last 3 yo (but in Oni's defense he was un-Dxed at that point and receiving no help, I was drowning in him). His language/speech has caught up and he's most potty trained. With the expectation of peeing on the floor "Because I want to". (Anyone with ideas on this please chime in. We've tried everything we can think of- making him clean it up, times outs, rewards, etc.) And this boy loves his baby sister SO much! How he treats her is amazingly loving.

J, or Bugabuga, the youngest son, well he's a handful, but too cute to be angry with for too long. His face has become so expresive. And the boy LOVES to dance, his favorite music being Swing music of all things! LOL  I'm very loosely trying to introduce him to the potty and last night he amazed us all by pooping on it by himself! Bugabuga is very attached to his big sister Peeker and she to him.

A, or Truly, the baby girl, she continues to amaze us daily. She like Bugabuga has THE MOST expressive face. The looks she makes keep us rolling for hours! She has found her voice, can now sit unassisted, and is starting to creep forward and backward. I'm still unsure she'll be able to crawl in the traditional method but she's finding ways of making life work for her.

Well there's our update!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Happy Birthday!

I think its fitting to start this new blog today on the 19th birthday of my oldest child, my daughter Stick. She was the one to begin this large family of many kids. And the one to teach me lessons first. So a Happy Birthday to my daughter and the birth of my new family blog.

What is, or why, TOPIC JAR? Its a sort of anagram of all the letters of my children's first names. In order of age- R T P I O C J A. I love anagrams and our life feels very much like one, at times.

 (The definition of Anagram:  An anagram is a type of word play, the result of rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to produce a new word or phrase, using all the original letters exactly once; for example orchestra can be rearranged into carthorse. Someone who creates anagrams is called an anagrammatist.[1] The original word or phrase is known as the subject of the anagram.)

 A rearrangement of family life as it is normally.What I mean by that is we take family and make something "new" or different from it. We don't do things like "mainstream" families. We're not exactly "normal" anyways so why should we? Haha. We run in all different directions, creating our own path that fits us.

And Topic Jar seems so fitting. I'll be sticking to posting about our family life here but on all sorts of topics that pertain to our life. 

Our life includes-

* Natural Parenting- parenting in a way that comes naturally to us, following our instincts. For us this consists of: cloth diapering, co-sleeping, breasting feeding, home birth, home schooling, not vaccinating, not circumcising, baby wearing, and meeting the needs of each child as an individual.

* Special Needs- every child has special needs as an individual but some of children have special needs beyond the "normal" scope. These needs include: ADHD, ODD, Aspergers, SPD, anxiety issues, and Amniotic Band Syndrome (our youngest was born w/o her right hand).

* Life our way. We try to live a simple, naturally based life. What this includes is: Raising chickens (for eggs), planting gardens (but no luck growing anything in them! Haha), decluttering possessions often (less is more, quality over quantity), eating as well as possible (organic when we can get it, free range meats when we can get it, whole foods, no HFCS/fake foods), cooking and baking, no paper products in our home (save for when we have guests and by them a roll of tp- not everyone can get into family cloth), healing naturally first (tradtional/modern medicine only when really needed), repurposing/recycling  often. And dreaming of self sufficiency.

* Pagan spirituality. We are Pagans, we celebrate the earth and many Gods and Goddesses. My husband practices the Norse faith, his primary being Odin. I, myself, align with Gaia and the Earth herself. And as my children have aged they've found their own ways. We love our Gods. They are the origins of all that is holy today. The scared holidays of today's worlds are based on those of our past Pagan rituals. By practicing the old faith we honor our ancestors and true history. We honor our Earth and her control of all life and energy on her.

We'll see where we go from here. But my goal is to be informative, light and whimsical.

If you've come over from my other blog, Thank You for following! The readers are why I write! I'll soon have a FB page for you to follow for this blog too. Please comment on posts, share with your friends and feel free to contact me with topics you'd like to see me cover. I love reader participation!

When we can live freely, only then are we truly Free!