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Sharing is Caring and Cheaper too!

May 13th, 2014 at 01:33 pm

I briefly described living in a foster home where no one owned anything. The first night I was there, they took off my shoes, bathed me, and put me in a cute purple night gown. I remember being amazed that they had a night gown just my size already without having to go to the store. I was tucked in next to a passel of children in a big queen size bed and passed out.

When I awoke there were a lot of children running around. There were teenagers, big kids, and babies. There was even a little girl my age and size. We will call her Angie. The mother and father handled the finances and food. The bigger kids handled everything else. The house was filled until bursting at the seams with people and never had a dull moment.

Angie brought me to "the closet" that morning. She explained everyone kept their clothing here. If it fit, I could wear it. If it was broken we should tell mamma or papa. If it needed washed, we put it in the laundry basket near the washer. I was amazed, I could pick any outfit I wanted and wear it if it fit me. There was a catch though, I had to let everyone wear my clothes I came with too. This was hard to accept at first.

I remember the first day someone wore my shoes. It was one of the bigger boys and I started to cry. He asked why I was crying and I said he was wearing my shoes. He offered to take them off, but then the mamma came over and talked to me. She said I was a good girl to let my older brother wear my shoes. That I already had a nice pair of girly shoes on and that it would be selfish to not allow him to wear my shoes when his shoes were broken.

I said but they are a girl's shoes. My bigger brother said it's fine, he likes them. Then I asked if they really fit them. He said yes and they were the nicest pair he ever wore. I stopped crying. I said I was glad he had a nice pair of shoes to wear and I wouldn't cry any more as long as he took care of them.

Later at dinner with mamma and papa after prayers, they spoke with us. They explained that by sharing we show love. They said they knew we made big sacrifices to be together, but a family is love and if we loved one another those sacrifices should not be hard. Then they went around the table and everyone shared what they sacrificed for the family. Papa worked all day to feed us and pay the bills. Mamma worked hard washing clothes and cooking. The eldest sister mended the clothing and helped with the baby. The second eldest sister helped with the cooking and did dishes. Our older brother helped papa with a man's car and brought money into the house. The boy I let wear my shoes let his older brother borrow his bike so he could help papa with the car. Angie let me borrow the purple night gown so that I could have clothing. I asked her really and she smiled and got shy. Then mamma and papa skipped me and said the baby (age 3) picked up the toys. Finally they laid their eyes on me and said, "Even the newest member of our family helped by lending her shoes". It made a lasting impression. I wanted to cry for joy because I belonged somewhere and I was good enough to be someone's child.

Then they went on to explain that though papa works hard everyday, we would not have enough money for everyone to live here if everyone had to have their own clothing, shoes, bed, and everything else. That it was our duty, if we wanted to be a family, to share so we can stay together. I watched as the older boys nodded solemnly. This was a reminder to them and for me it was like a new religion.

This was fine for me, but I had a hard time with the other aspect of sharing later on. When our neighbors came over with a child that had no shoes or sandals, mamma would give one of our pair. When I protested she would tell me that they are our brothers and sisters in God and we should care for them. This concept did not sit well with me. I saw time and again as people came to mamma and papa for things and later when I played with them, they had newer nicer things. When I asked where the shoes were that mamma gave, they got mad and threw "The old nasty things" at me.

I explained to mamma what happened and she seemed upset. I caused a problem by pointing out that they had very nice things, but did not share with us. It was rude, but when I heard mamma and papa discussing it he said I was right to at least point it out. That it must go both ways or they are not acting as brothers and sisters in God.

My actions had divided the family and instead of blaming the poor mannered neighbors, I got the blame from the kids. Then when the kids complained they did not want me because I caused too much trouble the parents had a vote. The vote was to kick me out of the family. Most of the older children voted me out, but papa, Angie, and the brother I lent my shoes to, wanted me to stay. Not even mamma wanted me to stay. There was a big discussion since papa wanted me to stay, but ultimately it was decided I would leave. I cried. I took only what I wore and waited for the social worker to come.

When she came that night, I sat very dejected. She asked where my things were and mamma informed her I owned nothing. The social worker protested that she brought several outfits for me. Mamma waved it away and said they were all ruined. The social worker noted that I had sneakers on when I came a couple weeks ago, but now I had little sandals. Mamma said the sandals fit better. The social worker didn't like her answers because the sandals were cheaper, but took me anyway. In the car the social worker questioned me continuously. She seemed very angry. We went to a store and she bought me five or six outfits from her own pocket. Then we went back to the office. I sat in a chair while the social worker and her boss argued. It was late at night and they had to open the office and turn the lights on, but since only a few lights were on it was still creepy and dark. I was scared while I sat.

I stayed the night at the office and the social worker stayed with me. In the morning she drove me to a new foster home with my new clothes. There were no other children there. It was an elderly couple. She told them it was only for a few days until she could find a proper placement. They said how many days and she said at most a week. I asked if I could sleep and they showed me to my new bed and room. It was beautiful and I could sleep without anyone else in the bed.

While the foster home that had a lot of people and shared everything was wonderful...and would have remained wonderful. It also had problems. I wish they would have given me a better chance, but it turned out the way it did.

Later, in my own life, I have made my children hand down things to one another when it no longer fit. If two of my girls were the same size at the same time, they also shared. However, they always remembered who had the shirt first. "Oh well Nilla, is wearing my shirt, but it doesn't matter because I wore her dress." They would laugh and swap clothes constantly when they were the same size. My youngest two do this now, but they still retain an idea of ownership by saying. "Bubby is using my shoes" even if Bubby has been using the shoes for a year. I think it allows a child a sense of control over their life to say it is their shoes, but by making them share it builds a sense of family. After a while, sharing becomes second nature and the petty squabbles about who owns what are avoided for the most part. Also, mom and dad luck out, because now each child only needs half as many clothes to get by.

There are some things in our family that everyone collectively owns, "the wind up radio", "the computer" (which is a little mini laptop my husband duct taped together), "the bike", "the dog", "the goats", "the legos", "the books" but school books are individualized, "hair ties" belong to every girl, "the fish", "the black belt" is everyone's because it fits most of the people in the house and it rarely is needed, "the internet", "the phone", and even "the car" assuming they have a license.

To be frugal you have to be organized and other musings

May 11th, 2014 at 11:33 pm

A thought occurred to me today, when I was younger, I was much more frugal. I had a lot less "stuff" too. I remember fondly sorting, repairing, shining, and putting away items for their use. Now we have so much, to keep track of all of it, is an almost Herculean task.

Back then I had one child and she had a ton of stuff to herself. I remember she had enough clothes that without washing, she could go a month before all her clothes were dirty. She had a closet full of toys. She had her own bed room. She had 6 pairs of shoes. I didn't pay a dime for all of this as grandma bought all of it. I saved every outfit, toy, bottle, cloth diaper set, bed, pair of shoes, coat and bed spread as my number of children grew.

Due to this, for my first three children, until the eldest was six, I never had to buy a single solitary thing. As the eldest grew, I barely had to buy anything for her, because of grandma. I saved every single thing from when she was small and in due time, her sisters would grow into it and use it. When the youngest girl used it, out it would go if it was less than perfect. This was perfectly fine, until I had sons.

When I had sons, grandma had passed on. We were still living on the gifts she had given a decade or more prior. Although not everything made it to the fourth daughter, enough of it did that I rarely had to buy a single necessity for her in a year. We had no one to bestow a treasure trove of clothes upon us for the boys. I didn't know what to do. I hated seeing a perfectly good wardrobe go to waste too.

I decided that up until a certain age, a boy and a girl look the same, so wearing pink shirts or shorts wouldn't make a difference to anyone, least of all the baby. I tried to dye the less girly things a more boyish color, but a lot of items are just cut for a girl. It was when my son, wearing the cutest pink shorts and shirt set, with long curls, came running up to me with a lady following behind calling, "Come here little girl" that I realized I was dead wrong. I hadn't accounted for other people calling my son a girl.

I politely informed her that he was a boy. We talked about the short set he had on and why he wore pink. I explained I never dreampt I would have a boy due to hormonal issues and that I hated that his sisters perfectly fine clothes would go to waste. I informed her the outfit was at least 10 years old as his eldest sister wore it and I saved clothes from previous children. I also said grandma bought the clothes for the girls and we didn't have the disposable income she did. I did not plead poverty, just that there was a difference between mine and my late mother in laws ability to pick up 6 outfits a week. She seemed genuinely amazed at my ability to save clothing for a decade. She also said she would like to get him an outfit someday. Is said fine, if she felt that way. I never in my wildest dreams imagined she would even remember us after leaving the park that day.

About a week later, her aunt came up to me and handed me two cute boy outfits and told me it was form her niece. I was floored. First that she remembered, second that her aunt knew who I was, and third that she actually went through with getting him some clothes. I felt truly ashamed as well. She must have thought we were too poor to get him clothing. It made me think about society and what people assume based on the colors a person wears. It made me realize hat gender roles are hard lined into our society and that as a practical matter, using old clothes from the wrong gender, can send a very bad message even if it is thrifty. I thanked her aunt profusely.

Driving home I swore my sons would never have to wear girl clothing again. I also swore to keep the outfits she gave for as along as possible, just as I did the girls. I still have them. My youngest son just grew into them. Once he is done wearing the clothing she gave, I will give them to a local charity because I am no longer having children. They have lasted almost 9 years so far. I still have a few baby girl outfits put up in boxes too, but these are saved for my grandchildren. Only those items which are pristine have been saved. Enough for a start so far. My eldest daughter is dating and talking about getting married and I still have many of her outfits from when she was a baby. That's organized and frugal.

Annual Budget PART 2

May 9th, 2014 at 03:49 am

I sure have been busy! I am still working on that annual budget, but that's not all.

I picked up extra work this week. I was accepted to "hang out my shingle" at another company while I work for the one I am with now.

The weather won't let me plant and that is infuriating. I have Jerusalem artichokes coming up...I thought I lost them all. I am so pleased, they truly are a survival food. I also planted some pretty fancy dandelions. We are going to try dandelion greens this year, from a dedicated organic patch. Saving the seeds is super easy and makes fo0r a fun afternoon with the kids. (Trying to keep them from blowing away)

The goat will be giving birth soon, you can tell now! Her mucous plug came out yesterday.

We went through all the clothes and turned the ruined pants into shorts for this summer. I got rid of all teh stained and whole filled shirts too. They make great rags for cleaning.

We also went fishing and had a great time. The kids didn't catch anything though. Something kept grabbing a hold onto my line and snapping it. My line was only for 4 pounds, so it could have been anything.

Cookbooks for the frugalminded

April 30th, 2014 at 12:38 am

Free cookbooks from a genius in the kitchen and with money

http://www.leannebrown.ca/cookbooks/

Didn't get more beds in :(

April 26th, 2014 at 04:42 am

Well, I haven't been able to expand the garden as of yet. Between the dang finicky weather, my husband looking for another job, me working, and preparing for the next home school year...I got nothing in the garden done this week. My turnips look gorgeous though. I can not wait to sink my teeth into those babies. The potatoes are finally coming up as are my shallots and garlic.

My goats have been jumping the fence. She is so ornery. I have no idea how to keep this little lady in one spot!

My work has taken up a lot of my time. I usually work about 20 hours a week, but I have increased it to about 30 hours. I have certainly seen an increase in my income, from 65 dollars a week to 95 dollars, but it's still making about $3 an hour. (I work at home). I have tried adding incentives for customers to call, but so far the pay off isn't happening.

I did find some awesome printables for home schooling moms at 123homeschooling. I was looking at paying about $50 for a proper day planner, calender, lesson planner, and chore chart. Instead I used less than $5 in paper and ink to print out everything I needed. I also found some online curriculum, that might even save me a little more!

Planting Time!

April 23rd, 2014 at 12:51 am

Wow, what a rainy season we have had. I have already planted and started to grow my early spring crops. As you can imagine, some are doing better than others. I buy my seed from Baker Creek Seeds. I have planted turnips, arugula, potatoes, shallots, onions, basil, parsley, and dill. The turnips and arugula are coming up by the handfuls. My onions are doing very well. The herbs are not doing so well. It's the first time I have done these types of basil, parsley, and dill. My potatoes are doing poorly, but it is the first time I have tried the raised garden bed method for them. I still have time to throw a bunch in a field. The shallots are also growing poorly in the same raised bed set up. The author I got the idea from must have had some secret trick I know nothing about.

Tomorrow I will harvest some turnip greens for soup. I will also harvest a bit of arugula for salad. I intend to plant some more items tomorrow, though I'm not sure what just yet. I'll look through my seed packets in the morning. It's getting time to plant the tomatoes, egg plants, cucumbers, okra, squash, and melons.

The goats are doing fine. One is named Butter and the other Sugar. Sugar may have been bred. If she was, we should have a baby goat in May. She doesn't look big enough to be carrying though. They like to eat the grass in the yard, but one of them got into the onions! She only nibbled a little off the tops though. Butter is a nuisance goat, though I do like her. She has broken two collars, one of them made of metal! She is quite determined to NOT be chained up. I enjoy their company in the garden...far away from my onions. It can be a chore to chase them out of the garden though, so that is why we were chaining them.

I'm looking into getting a small late flock of chickens. I swore after I got ducks that I would never go back to chickens. However, there is nothing quite like the taste of a free range chicken egg. I may get a more "wild" type which will make it harder for wild animals to kill. Docile chickens are great for children to get to learn to grow, but horrible at self defense.

That's all for tonight. Awfully tired.