Saturday, December 31, 2011

She's My Little Mirror in Time

As time goes on, I find that my oldest daughter is more and more like me. She is headstrong, clever, a little absentminded. She feels the need to please, and it devastates her to disappoint. It is astonishing how much of myself I see in her. I can look in her eyes and remember just how I felt when I was her age. And I remember how frustrating it was for my parents to get me to do the things I struggle to get my daughter to do. Homework. Chores. I knew, right down to my core, that I should be doing those things, and I wanted to make my parents proud, but something made it hard. There was always something new, something that had to be explored. I had to be delving into a new subject all the time. There was just so much to see! How can you focus on the mundane when there are so many other things to be learned?

I see that drive to explore in my daughter. Always asking questions, the need to understand a situation entirely before stepping in. When we are getting ready to go to the store she asks, "Why? Where are we going?" She is not trying to be impertinent, she just wants to KNOW! That way she knows what kind of shoes she needs, what kind of outfit, should she wear a coat. And all of that needs to be double checked so she knows she got it right! As the parent, it's exhausting, but from the child's point of view its totally understandable. I can see the wheels in her head turning and I can understand the path of her thoughts, and the reasons behind her strange actions. She gets into trouble because she is BORED! It's not her being malicious, but she forgets rules in her quest to exercise her mind. I remember having the same experience.

Unfortunately it is making traditional school difficult for her. She is stuck in a room all day following a path of learning laid before her. She does not have the freedom to ask the things she needs to ask, to follow the string of questions in her head, to explore the world in a way that is not outrageously boring. Once she has a grasp on a situation, she is quick as a whip and can master it in a heartbeat, but she needs to be able to reach out and take the grasp by herself and at her own pace. That might take far longer than necessary in a school setting, and so far, it does, because she does not have control over her learning. She WANTS to reach out and tackle it, but instead she is told to sit and have it fed to her. And it is boring her. Boring her to the point of acting up, and losing the drive to learn. And I know this, because I REMEMBER.

Homeschooling her is going to be a trying, tiring job until we get the hang of it. Daily library trips, Internet searches, and spur-of-the-moment lessons because she got a hair up her butt and suddenly has a million questions about platypus. But, oh, Gods, doesn't that sound like a blast!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Simple Pleasures

So my last post was a little grumpy, and by nature I am not grumpy. In fact today I am quite happy. Papa bear bought me the cast iron enamel pot I have been wanting for so long now. I had one once upon a time, but it was ruined soon after I got it. I have used my new one twice in the last 3 days.

It is amazing how acquiring something new can renew your passion for a craft. The simple tasks of chopping vegetables and stirring a pot make me smile. I don't need a fancy food processor, or other gadgets. Just give me a good pot, and a good knife, and a nice wooden spoon and I am a happy camper.

The dumplings broke up a bit, but the pretty pot makes up for it!

Bah Humbug!

     I love the holidays. I love cooking and decorating and gift giving as much as the next girl.But by golly, if it doesn't get irritating to hear it after you are ready to pack up! After all, here at the Bear Den, the 25th of December is just the 25th of December. It's just another day of the year. If you peep in on the Winter Solstice, or Thanksgiving, or New Years, then the party will be in full swing. Just not today.
     Now I have nothing against those to have a holiday today, but you have to understand the folks on the other side. How would you like it if on a random Sunday morning everyone started partying around you for someone else? It gets a little overwhelming hearing constant references to an occasion I have nothing to do with. It sort of feels like living in a foreign country for the day. Against my will. It's weird. And I wish I could go shopping!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Baby Steps...

Sometimes you have to work really hard to achieve your goals. Long hours, one step forward, two steps back, and so on. That has kind of been the story of my life. Then, sometimes, if you are a good little girl, things fall right in your lap. You're only job is to snatch them up before someone decides to take your candy. Case and point - our new townhouse!

We have been considering for a while the inevitable move in July, trying to figure out where would be the best compromise of price and neighborhood and still be good placement for everyone's schooling needs. I really didn't want the cubs to have to change schools again, and Brother Bear's amazing speech program is in this tiny little district. The problem is, it's such a great neighborhood that there are few houses for rent, and they get snatched up fast. We are lucky to have gotten the apt we did. Well, as fate would have it, one of the four townhomes opened up across the street, and because my husband is a shameless flirt, the manager of the complex really likes us. She offered us a deal before she offered it to anyone else, and with a little help from Grandma, we jumped on it.

Not only do we not have to wait for the summer to move, but my kids don't have to change school, and we only have to go across the street. After two and half years, we will be in a house again. The Bear's will have room to stretch out a little bit in our new den, and we are content to settle there for a while until we can finagle buying one of our own. My cubs can set down a few little roots, make some friends, and not jump around like Gypsies. Not that I have anything against Gypsies, I am just sick of living like one! Before long, these blogs will be packed with garden plans and seedling pictures!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mommyhood Returns!

I had almost forgotten what this quiet contentment felt like. I love my husband, but he was home so often that it was hard to feel like an independent person. When you get too much of someone else's presence it starts to grate on your nerves. I had no idea just how much that was effecting me until he went back to school! With him gone few a few hours a day, five days a week, I find I can breathe a little easier. I have more of my own space, and more of my own time. Granted I spend it usually doing chores and wrangling cubs, but it is a simpler matter when I am the only authority figure in the house.

It also much easier to get the chores done. I don't feel rushed or have any expectations and I am much more willing to get up and do a load of dishes. My house is cleaner! I feel more individual, and at the same time I feel like I am depended on again, and not just along for the ride. My cubs and my husband both need me, and it is because I can take care of them that I have this contentment. I have gotten a part of my life back that I had been missing for a few years now. I feel like a mom again! I love you, honey, but I am so happy to get you out of my hair a little!!

The littlest cubs helping Mama Bear can sweet potatoes!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Best Thing in a While

Raising three cubs on a shoe string budget is rough, esp. when you lose support you never realized you had. I knew my mother spoiled my kids, but I didn't realize how little I actually had to buy them until I put my foot down and made her stop entirely. I hated buying clothes for my kids because I knew they had a whole wardrobe at home and it seemed like a waste. I hated the styles, all licensed commercialized products. I hated the colors, all ultra-modern and overwhelming. It did not reflect or even remotely support the values of simplicity and frugality that I was trying to instil in my children. Instead they begged for every little Disney product that matched their favorite coats or sneakers. Gak. That is behavior that had to stop.

So I cut Nana off. Period.

Now, I buy all their clothes and toys, and they have never been HAPPIER! They are happier in simple cuts and natural colors, and happier with old fashioned basic toys that exercise their imagination and don't need batteries or have a thousand lights and sounds. They build with blocks, play cowboys and Indians, boardgames, and GASP, they read! They are wearing flannel and jeans and solid colors, and little horse prints. My house is slowly sending all things Disney to Goodwill, with no regrets. And my budget is not struggling, because I am buying all of their new things from my favorite thrift stores. My advice is to always have a good thrift store, and I have found my perfect one. I go in at the beginning of every month and spend $20 and get clothing for my kids, gifts to the holidays, items for my house, canning jars, and all sorts of extras. Usually I spend less than $10 and come home with three bags full of quality season-appropriate clothing for all three of my kids.

And I know my mother is not going bankrupt because she could not stop buying for my kids. Two birds with one stone, indeed! I feel like my family is healthier for the choices, and that is the best reward I could have asked for.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fried Happiness!

Some days just suck. You wake up hard, have too much to do, and in my case, have too many little hand trying to help you do things you had no motivation to get done in the first place. After one of these rough afternoons, I crave comfort food, and for me that is fried potatoes. It's pretty simple to make, and I start feeling better the moment that bacon hits a hot pan. Did I just say bacon? Why, yes, yes I did!

Fried Potatoes (Also known as Happiness in a Pan, and Heart Attack Skillet)

Diced potatoes, not peeled
Bacon, diced
Onion, diced
Salt and Pepper
Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Fry the bacon up till it is glorious, in an oven proof skillet (need I say cast iron?). Remove it. Saute the onion a bit in the renderings, then add the taters. Stir it all up until the potatoes have a nice little coating of grease on them, add more if you need it. Season. Clamp a lid on the pan and pop it in a 400* oven till the taters are done. Stir them every 15 mins or so, and they should be done in roughly 1/2 hr, maybe 45 mins. When you take it out, sprinkle it with the bacon and cheese and put the lid back on till everything is melty and delicious.

I will often make this with hush puppies (deep fried cornbread batter dropped by spoonfuls, nom nom nom!). Add bell pepper, garlic, green chiles, whenever suits your fancy. I didn't add measurements because it really should be made to suit. Mom made this for breakfast, but for us it is dinner. It reminds me of my childhood, and make me feel all warm and snug. Perfect pick me up!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Let the Hunt Begin!

It's hard for us to say good-bye to Papa Bear for 5 days, but we do it gladly. This is his thing, his annual outing, his commune time with nature. He gets a quiet couple of days to bond with his father, and I get a couple of days with him out of my hair to get some major work done on the house. This year the cubs are old enough to be put to work as well, so with any luck by the end middle of next week the den will sparkle and the freezer will be full again.

In the meantime, we are keeping our fingers crossed for Grandpa Bear. His health has not been its best, and past afternoon trips have been difficult for him. I am hoping Papa can keep him safe and prevent him from overdoing things, like he has a tendency to. I am planning on keeping myself extra busy during this trip to keep from worrying overmuch. Worrying never has done me any good, and I have to make room in the cupboards and freezer in case Papa brings home a catch. Happy Hunting, Menfolk!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Going with the Flow

I do a lot of planning. It's kinda my thing. I have big plans for the Den when we get there, BIG plans. But for now, my planning consists of how to squeeze as much gardening into a 10x5 patio as I can, and how to just plain get by with three cubs and one income. But even the best laid plans are useless when the Norns get a hair up their collective butt and decide to throw a wrench in the works. Sometimes the hands of Fate decide that in all your planning, you missed something, and they are going to remind you of it, dammit! Sometimes you have to stop and re-plan, and bend, and move with the current of Fate. Well, by now I am pretty damn good at that, so bring it on and let the ride begin!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Howdy, World!

I have a tendency to get carried away with these blog things. I will start one up, and a few months later it disappears, usually due to a major move. Yeah, those suck. For some reason I have always felt like they needed to have some sort of theme, and be semi-professional looking. Screw that. Basically all I am looking for is a place to be me. To journal when I am pissy, brag when I feel accomplished, and have a record of the progress of my goals. I am not going to pressure myself to post daily, or weekly, or even monthly if I don't need to. I get to just be me :)

That being said: Hi! We are the Bears. Mama and Papa Bear, Sister, Brother, and Bitty Bear. And Kodiak, the dog. This is a look into our den. Over the next few years we plan on moving to bigger, grander dens, with more yard space and fewer neighbors. Cross your fingers, and for heaven's sake don't hold your breath, that has been the plan for a while now. But everyday we get a little closer to the Big Den, and a little less comfortable in the little Rental Den. Economy be damned, the cubs deserve it, we deserve it, and Kodiak deserves it, and Mama Bear is part mule and will MAKE IT HAPPEN!