Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Family Pics 2010

We just had family pictures taken a couple weeks ago. It was hot (93* when we finished at 9:30am) and past nap time for Walt, so I was happy we got as good of shots as we did. I think it could have been better if the weather had been more favorable. We were seriously wiping sweat off our faces the entire shoot.

It was the first and last time he will wear those shoes.
Last photo of the day.
Not really a keeper, but it's pretty accurate.
cute hug.
Walter is such a snuggler sometimes. Especially when he's feeling shy or tired (both here).
Squishy hug. Not sure he appreciates that one...
Love this one.
It's too bad the best pic of Walter was not the best of the rest of us.
It's too hot! No more pictures please!!!
Get me out of here!
That camera looks very interesting!
Aw sweet. This is so not Matt's style, but it makes for a cute pic.

Not sure I like the new uploading and what not. It makes it more difficult to move pictures around in the post and add real text (as opposed to captions).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My preparedness project

Well, my thoughts have been filled with preparedness this year for some reason. Maybe it's because the January Ensign was full of preparedness articles. Maybe it's all the crazy earthquakes and natural disasters, job losses, etc. that have happened this past year.

The thing that keeps coming to my mind is, "If I had to [live off my food storage, use/make cloth diapers, make my own clothes, go "raw", make my own furniture, etc.], could I? I mean, I don't think I'll have to do all of these things, but it is interesting to think about how self sufficient we really are. It's easy to think that we'll always have what we have now, but who knows what the future has in store for us? War on American soil? famines? inability to purchase or obtain things we normally have access to? job lay-offs? I figure it's better to learn how to deal with those situations before we actually get to them.

I promise I'm not a pessimist. I don't sit here and think about doom and gloom all day long.
I do, however, think it's good to prepare for unforeseen circumstances.

With the help of my parents earlier this year, we finally started a real food storage. You know, with wheat and all that good stuff. We don't have as much as I'd like, but it's a good start. With wheat you need a grinder, so we researched and researched. We went back and forth on the electric or hand grinder. We decided that for a true emergency situation, we needed to have a hand grinder first. So, I purchased a Wondermill Junior Deluxe. It was almost as expensive as an electric nutrimill, but in all my research I found that most hand grinders were ridiculously difficult to use, and that most couldn't even get the wheat fine enough for flour to make bread. One day I'd like to also own the nutrimill.

While I've had the Junior Delux for a couple of months, I used it for the first time this week, just to see how hard it was, and how fine I could get the flour. It took me about 1/2 hour to grind 5 cups of flour, and I worked up a light sweat. It wasn't particularly difficult, but it did take a little time and effort. There was something earthy and satisfying about it, I have to admit. I had to do two passes through the stones to get it fine enough for flour. There was a little bit of grit from the stones grinding (normal for the first use), but not tons. My biggest problem with it was that I have no good place to hook it. My kitchen table is not set up right for it, and I have no other surface the right height. What I ended up using was my portable craft table, but it bent the table a bit and kept slipping off. So, I'm going to have to build something. The bread turned out quite nicely. All in all, I'm happy with the purchase. I can grind oily things (like flax, nuts, etc.) in it too since we got the steel burs as well.

Earlier this year I also ordered some freeze dried and dehydrated foods from THRIVE that you can't get at the cannery. Broccoli, butter, cheese, some fruits, etc. I really want to open and try them, but I want to save them for now "just in case". I've heard really good reviews about their food though. I would like to get some MREs and full freeze dried or dehydrated meals for our 72 hour kits, but they're a little pricey. Maybe one day.

We finally filled up our 50 gallon water barrels after having them sit empty in our garage for 3 years! We have 2 cases of bottled water in our car and 4 or 5 gallons in the house in case we have to leave quickly or if our water supply is cut. I do need to go through my 72 hour kits and update the food. I'm basically going to throw out the junk (you know, like ramen and what not) and put in a couple canisters of Isagenix shakes, a shaker cup and some Isagenix bars. Much, much healthier, longer shelf life, more meals, and all you need is water (no heat!).

Another food thing I've had on my mind is food staples. I would like to know how to and be able to: pressure can, make any pantry staple that I couldn't live without from scratch with my food storage, sprout things, make my own jelly, etc. I have decided to stop buying tortillas and bread products and make them myself. I did that occasionally anyway, but I'm really trying to crack down on my non-existent food budget and spend less in that area. I have good recipes for tortillas (white or wheat), french bread, pitas with some tips from me here, hamburger/hot dog buns, biscuits, oatmeal/wheat pancake mix, granola, pizza dough, and cornbread. (Hey, that just reminded me that I need to get some popcorn into my food storage since my grinder and grind that down into corn meal...) I tried making crackers, and they were ok. Too thick, without much "crack" to them, but edible. The boys really liked them. If I had a pasta roller I think it would be much easier to get them thin enough and uniform thickness. While we don't eat pasta much, I've made my own before and know I can do it. I also got a pretty good recipe for oat and jam bars (nutrigrain knock offs), but just like nutrigrain bars, they were a bit too sweet for me. At least when you're making them you can adjust that, right?! =) Sweetness aside, they were really good, though.

Next on my list to try: bagels. We don't care much for store bagels and I want to see if I can get a good deli-like bagel going. I'd also really like a dehydrator so I can try some raw recipes. While I don't think that a completely raw lifestyle is very doable for us, I would love to learn more about it and find recipes that work easily for us and incorporate them into our pantry/menu.

TX (at least our area) is not very great for gardening, but we have been faithful in our gardening efforts the last 4 years to improve and make it work here. We've done tons of soil conditioning since it's mostly clay here. We're hoping that next year it will be better after all we did this year. I figure, it's better to know what grows well, what doesn't, etc. now instead of trying to figure it all out if we ever had to rely on our garden! We know that we are done trying zucchini/squash because the vine borers are out of control!!!! We even bought resistant plants this year and the stupid pests were just too much for them. Grr. At least we know.

As most of you know, I switched to cloth diapers because I couldn't shake this feeling that I needed to for preparedness purposes. Overall it's been fine. There are problems and annoyances here and there, but I can do it, and I like knowing that. I use disposables with them at night and occasionally for church, but we've been fine otherwise. Again, there's something earthy and satisfying about seeing diapers hung up outside to dry, and bringing them in all stiff and putting them in the drier to fluff up a bit.

While I don't really think I'll be having to make my own furniture, it's nice to know that I know how to use a drill, glue, and a saw if I needed to! I made a picnic table for the boys this summer and it was a great learning process!

Sewing. I've really upped my sewing skills this past year. I know how to draft a simple skirt pattern. I've learned that you can refashion lots of old clothes. I've learned how to piece a quilt and and how to quilt it.

Wow. So I had not intended on using my evening to blog this, but that's where I ended up! Maybe someone out there needed a little inspiration. Anyway, I may periodically check in on this when I figure out how to do other things that I want to learn.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Walter at 1 year

Well, we took Walt to his 1 year check up last week, and while I haven't been blogging much, I figured it was a good milestone to record.

The good: he's right on track with all development. After talking to the urologist he doesn't have to have surgery, though we'll check back in a year to make sure. After talking to the ENT, he doesn't need tubes in his ear, though we'll have another check up next week to make sure he's still in the clear.

The bad: he's anemic. He was at 10 mo. and he was still anemic (though a little less) at 12 mo. We weren't very good about giving him his iron supplement, so we're trying to be much better. She said if he fails it again next month, we'll have to do other tests and junk. boo.

The stats:
Weight: 23.12 (61%)
Height: 30 3/4 (75%)
Head Circ.: 18 1/2 (65%)

Some things about him at this stage:

He LOVES to climb.

The dismount from the table.
He's pretty good at getting down from his climbs, though he screams for me occasionally.

He HATES having his diaper changed.
If he knows I'm coming to change him, he crawls as fast as he possibly can as far away as he possibly can! I generally have to grab him and bring him back to where I'm changing him 3-4 times during 1 diaper change!

A recent development is that he takes his diaper off if I don't put shorts on him immediately.
I've found him naked (and covered in pee -- no poop thankfully) after more than 1 nap! I never once had that happen with Dean!

He still loves food. He generally eats all of his food PLUS whatever Dean doesn't eat of his! (Not to mention all the food he gleans off the floor!!) He probably eats twice as much solid food as Dean. I mean, the kid ate Chinese stir-fry with assorted veggies and fish tonight.
Ate it and loved it.

He throws up if I give him too much milk at once, so I can't ever give him a full sippy.

I can still get him to take a nap at church if I have him in the ergo and cover his head with the little shade thing.

He often buries his head on his bed or on the floor either when he's tired or acting shy.

His eyes are the most brilliant blue.

He loves to feed me and will put whatever I'll allow in my mouth.

He's very close to walking. He's constantly standing up in the middle of the room to do things. The most successive steps he's taken on his own was 3-4, and he was going a bit diagonal. =) He'll frequently take one step and then go down to finish crawling.

His words: Mom! Mom!! No, no, no, no. Dad. Yeah. He shakes his head yes, no, and shrugs his shoulders. He waves goodbye. When he wants me, he beckons me with the "come here" hands (the reverse wave).

He really tries his darnedest to keep up with Dean.
Here he's trying to climb out of the tub, but Dean's doing his best to help keep him in!

Here's a video of him climbing on top of the picnic table. Silly kid.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My piano website is up!

I have been working very hard this week trying to get a piano business plan and website. Hopefully I'll post different teaching ideas, links I find helpful, games that worked for me, etc. as I go along. If I don't do anything else with it, though, it has a blurb about me, my studio policies, prices, what books I use, and contact info. So, feel free to browse through it and let me know if I've made any blaring mistakes or left something important out. I would like to add a "testimonial" page where I have little blurbs from past students, parents, and/or music teachers praising my awesomeness. =)

The site is: Come Play Piano! (the actual web address is comeplaypiano.blogspot.com)

While putting it together I was pleased with blogger's new template designer and especially happy they have an automatic widget for the horizontal navigation bar.

Oh, and my friend Erin, who's an awesome licensed interior designer (and an incredible entrepreneur with all of her other craftsy endeavors), helped me sketch up possible rearrangement plans so I can fit my electric piano and a computer into my little living room (along with my couch, chair and a half, piano, and hutch/filing cabinet, tv, and shoe storage!). She also helped me with a color scheme, so hopefully I can go get some paint and fabric, and get to redesigning so this place looks more professional!! (Can I say I'm so happy she's back in Dallas! She took a year with her husband to go to Chicago for grad school and just moved back.)

The other thing I've been working a lot this week is getting a preschool co-op put together. I am heading up a group of young mothers who will rotate teaching. I've put together music lists, schedule outlines, forms and documents to help us get started, lesson plan ideas, calendars for the next school year, etc. I hope we can get it working and that we'll enjoy the set up. We started with 5 kids, one's already dropped out, and another has concerns. I think, though, 3-4 is a good number.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Piano Studio

When I had Walt, I took a break from piano teaching. Losing my (albeit meager) income and adding a dependent, we really felt a hit.

I had planned on teaching again in January, but between students moving and poor economy, I found myself with no students! That was a shock, but it was nice to continue spending unlimited time with my boys.

Now that fall is rolling around again, I'm trying to get my piano studio rolling again, bigger and better than ever (cross your fingers). I'm trying to ramp up my teaching implements, games, and theory. I'll also be accepting younger students than I ever have before. I will most likely join Plano Music Teacher's Association as well, though we'll see if they accept me without a bachelor's in music arts, teaching or piano performance.

I am going to teach 1 hour over lapping lessons. The kids will have a loose 20-20-20 system of piano time with me, theory worksheets/games/computer, and practicing at my electric piano with headphones. I'm trying to figure out the particulars with my living room set up since it's pretty small, but I'm pretty sure it's doable. I'm also hoping to trade out babysitting for lessons so I don't have any baby distractions while teaching. That will be VERY helpful since it was pretty difficult and distracting after I had Dean.

As I try and get my studio in order, I will probably be blogging less, crafting less, and hopefully working more efficiently to build a strong business. If you don't see me around often, that's where I'll most likely be.