Sunday, December 27, 2015

Stepford Wives Challenge

Greetings, Chaotics!  
I'm having a bit(okay, a lot) of cabin fever. I got into an argument with my house is a mess...and my kids are being slight...pains in the behind. So, maybe my whole house is having cabin fever.
Recently, I watched the "horror" movie, The Stepford Wives. Don't ask.
Bet some of you didn't know the original(1974 version) was a horror movie, did you?
You're googling it now, aren't you? (O.O)
........or, maybe that's just me (*-_-).
Anyways, I know several of you may not of even seen any of the movies(FYI-there's four. Yes, four). But y'all know the idea, right? Pretty much any wife who is a housewife/stay-at-home mom has been, at one point or another, been accussed of being one. And usually in a demeaning or belittling way.
So, after watching the first(and fourth) and almost vomiting at the second, I got to thinking...what IS the big deal?
Granted, I know they are robots in the first, drugged in the second, and computer programmed in the fourth(spoiler alert. You're welcome.). And yes, I think its awful that the men they trusted did that to them against their will. I'm not arguing that.

However, the notion that women who enjoy being at home...putting their husbands and children before themselves...that enjoy and passionately pursue cooking and cleaning...that they are somehow weird or not living up to their full "modern woman" potential...that I DO disagree with.
Please don't get me wrong. While I don't agree with the modern feminist movement, I do think that, the main idea was that women could and should choose to do what they wanted.
So...why is it that if women WILLINGLY, ON THEIR OWN choose to stay at home and make the home their vocation, they don't fit the feminist agenda?

Okay, rant over.  
Regardless, this movie got me thinking.
I am a housewife. As you can see in my first statement, I don't quite fit the bill for a robotic-perfectionist-type of woman. So, no my husband isn't putting me up to this. And even if he did, I don't even know how much something like that would cost...but either way, we probably couldn't afford it. I think they charge extra to convert plus-size gals like me.
But if I could spit out money, that'd be kinda worth it.
But in all seriousness, with my husband and I butting heads, and me having to yell at the kids to clean up their messes every...five it so awful to imagine that, maybe..maybe...the idea of willingly being a Stepford not all bad? That maybe it's not the kids or my husband, but actually just...ME? That maybe if I change into something a bit more humbling, a bit more feminine...maybe our home will change, too?
So, I got to thinking. What if, for 30 days, I became a Stepford Wife?
Yes, cabin fever has hit full force. And, I love that dress!

I googled about it and it turns out, there are other wives that willingly chose to become Stepford Wives. Not as a challenge, but as a literal way of life.
And while a few of those websites may be...well, actually written by men, most are written by women and only a very small few are actual satire. The remaining actually live this out or progressing towards living this out.
So, with this in mind, I thought what if, for the month of January, I actually transport myself into a Stepford Wife?
Would my husband actually love it? Would my kids? Would I?
I am going to be using this website as my "rules" for the month(they have a more detailed list when discussing the Stepford Wives Book here. You have to scroll down a little.).
And while doing the challenge, I decided to actually finish(yes, because I've only had it for over a year and all) "Created to Be His Helpmeet" by Debi Pearl. While they do have a recommended reading list(which, if I were doing this longer, I'd start to acquire), I felt like this book would be better suited for a monthly challenge since 1. I already own it and 2. I'm trying to focus more attention on my personal issue of proper submission than trying to obtain robotic-like perfection in manners and grace.
Although, a bit more fairy dust in the grace and manners department wouldn't kill me.
And I'm going to upload my daily thoughts on the challenge on my YouTube Channel here.
What are your thoughts? Is this a form of insanity/cabin fever? Or is it just a glorified version of the same old song and dance(i.e. Biblical Submission, etc.)? Do you know anyone who is a proud Stepford wannabe?
Until Next Time,
Mama Jenn

Monday, September 21, 2015

Where Have All the Family-Friendly Movies Gone?

Greetings, Chaotics!
For the past few months, my husband and I have been struggling with something.
You see....we are having a hard time picking out family-friendly movies. Before we got married, and before I knew better, I assumed that pretty much any cartoon movie was a safe assurance it was family-friendly. I mean, children are(usually) the intended audience for a cartoon, are they not?
But, a few months ago, a few verses in the Bible jumped out at me, and I started to evaluate what I, myself was watching and listening to. I had started to connect a few dots, and the more I did, the more I realized how much shows, movies, and music was setting the tone for my attitude towards myself, my husband, and my children....and how quick I was to go into a sour/displeasing mood as a result of watching and listening to certain things.
Eventually, I felt convicted so much about what I was watching/listening to, that I taped the verses to the top of my TV screen. That may sound weird or silly, but it's amazing how much you won't watch if you have the Word of God staring at you each time you turn on the 'tube.
Last month, my husband stated verbally he was feeling convicted of what he was watching, as well. I didn't become a TV nazi, he came to this on his own, seperately. Then we started talking about our traditional Saturday Family Movie Nights....and how with each week, it was becoming more and more of a struggle to find something that everyone could watch without partial nudity, sexual suggestions, or cursing. So, we turned off the TV/movie watching for a bit, and turned Saturdays into Family Game Nights.
I started looking at Redbox once a week to see what new movies we might be able to watch. Before searching, there were over 30 movies listed on their app for me to possibly watch, many of them cartoons. I did a search for G-rated movies that were under the categories "Comedy" "Children" or "Family".
Do you know how many appeared on average, fitting that criteria?
A whopping three. That's right...THREE.
Out of those we had already seen, one looked like it was a low-production/poorly made children's movie that received a "dove" approval, and the last was usually something we had either already seen or gave the appearance of having the suggested audience of babies and toddlers.
I tried increasing the rating to "PG".
And every single new cartoon poped up, along with some...questionable movies.
After reviewing a few of the reasons why a cartoon( a CARTOON!) would be rated PG, I started to see a pattern...
even cartoons today can't make a decent living unless they involve partial nudity, suggesting sex in some way(even if mildly by today's standards)crude humor, a mention of butts or backsides, and some popular but questionable singer doing their soundtrack.
What is going on? Now, we can't even watch 99% of cartoons without seeing a butt, partial nudity, or sexual inuendos!
We are coming to a rock and a hard place....
I have an 11-year old daughter who THINKS she's ready for teenage-related stuff in all areas...except the movies that are coming out today "geared" towards teenagers.
I have a 9-year old son who wants to watch super-hero related movies/shows, but is disgusted with how much nudity, cursing, and sexual references come with them.
I have an 8 year-old daughter who wants nothing more than to watch what the others are watching, but will get nightmares or can't get out of her head all the garbage that is associated with older-child intended movies.
I have a husband who hates musicals, and all girly-related movies, as does my son(which, by the way, is the only other option we have aside from the three mentioned above when looking into G-rated movies).
So...what are we to do? As more Saturdays come and go, we are both becoming frustrated and disgusted with the movie options set before us. Even movies we've seen as children we are starting to realize aren't safe/G rated(seriously, why the hello kitty did anyone let a child see movies like "Indiana Jones", "Batman Forever" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"?!?).
I'm not trying to hold my family to my standards. I'm really not. There have been several occassions where I have allowed movies that I personally felt convicted NOT to watch, but they thought they were ready to watch...only for THEM to ask to turn it off because they realized it wasn't what they thought/had things in it they didn't want to see,etc.
And, with even Christian targeted movies having at least a PG rating and production companies only rolling out one every 6-12 months, we're finding fewer and fewer options that we'd all be willing to watch.
We WANT to watch movies together. We absolutely love having Saturday as our "rest" day and ending it with a yummy dessert and popcorn, all huddled/snuggling on the couches/under blankets, and watching something we're all excited to see. Plus, with my husband working and gone all week due to being a truck driver, it's the only time a week that we all can sit around the TV and watch something we all agree on. And it's always fun to quote a funny line or use the movie as a conversation starter/inside joke between all of us.
So, again I ask...what are we to do? Are we to merely limit ourselves to watching movies every 6-12 months, hoping something family-friendly will sprout up somewhere in between? Are we to just stick largely with game nights? Are we the only ones encountering this struggle? If so, what do you do?
We want something that will bring us together, to end the week as well as our "day of rest", but we don't want our children to be scarred or tramatized every other Saturday as a result.
I just want to know where have all the family-friendly movies gone...and when they're coming back.
Until Next Time,
~Mama Jenn

Housewife 101: Meal Prep 101

Greetings, Chaotics!
Food has been on my mind lately. Okay, a lot lately.
Okay...if I'm being totally honest, it's always on my mind in some way.
Hey, I'm a fat girl, what can I say?
Over the course of my years on Facebook, many people have commented(some politely, some rudely) how my food posts have made them hungry, they wanted to know how I cooked XYZ, etc.
And I kept thinking...why is that? I mean, I'm no food photographer, so my photography skills are not the reasoning. My recipes are not something that takes crazy kitchen equipment or food items that take a doctorate to conjure up. So what gives?
The only two things I could come up with are-
1. Y'all don't know how to cook(or, y'all don't want to cook).
2. Y'all don't have/make time to cook.
And when I have posted recipes, y'all have said one of the two(or worse...both) in your own way.
"Oh, my mom/dad/crazy grandmother that got high off the fumes in a cookbook never taught me."
"My (insert guardian's title here) couldn't cook, neither can I!"
"Oh, I can't boil water without burning it!"
"But that looks complicated. Why bother with all THAT when I could just buy it in a box/can/*insert fast food place here*? "
"Are you kidding me? Ain't nobody got time fo' all 'dat! I'm raising X amount of kids and I have zero time to make a "real" meal from "scratch"!"
And I'm not saying all these after graduating from Martha Stewart University with a major in Paula Deen and a minor in Rachel Ray!
    But it would be seriously cool if I did. Just sayin'. 
    I'm saying this all from where YOU are at.
     I didn't know how to cook! I wasn't born a little chef! My mother considered making scrambled eggs "real cooking" and anything else was either a TV dinner, or a "helper", or cereal. My father knew how to cook a few things, but as he started to get older, he, too, resorted to convenience foods and pre-packed/frozen/boxed stuff.
    I was a single mom, with two kids, who considered Hamburger/Chicken/Tuna Helper to be "cooking from scratch. And ordered pizza/Chinese at least once a week whenever we got sick of all the "helpers". And ate cereal when we got sick of those.
    It wasn't until my third child that I realized...hey, eating the way we are with TWO kids is expensive! And I just added another one! 
    We were living off welfare and food stamps here, people! Even with the amount they gave us, I could not make ends meet while ordering out/eating convenience foods all the time!
    So, around the same time I felt convicted to be more conservative, I also felt more convicted to start cooking "real" food.
    What are some things I learned? Let me tell you-
    1. MAKE TIME
    I can have the best recipe for homemade pizza in the world...but won't know it if I'm so rushed, I don't have time to make it and resort to opting for take out or a pizza from the freezer section instead because I forgot about it until the last minute. If you're going to make the transition from getting take out/prepackaged foods all the time, make sure to make time for it. I'm also adding to make more time than what the recipe says, in the event you're a new cook. The time frame given is not always the time it actually takes. Some recipes assume you know what you're doing, others may cook longer or shorter depending on your stove/oven/altitude. Give yourself enough time to not feel rushed.

    I know this sounds weird, but one of the things I noticed when I first started was how much more expensive in the beginning cooking myself was. This was largely due to not having most of the spices,etc. not already in my cupboards, and not knowing how to plan meals,etc. according to sale cycles/coupons. You may be used to eating Ramen Noodles for dinner for $1, but as you go to shop for, say, a real chicken dinner, you may find yourself forking out more and get discouraged. Don't. Trust me when I say that with time and experience, it will become easier(and as a result, cheaper).

    Truth in food advertising
    If you're asking yourself may be time to learn how to cook.  And coupon. 
    If you are a complete nobody in the kitchen as I was when first starting out, seeing a piece of paper with 7 sets of directions and 15 items to obtain may overwhelm you as it did me. I'd buy the 15 items only to realize I couldn't "read" the recipe. What the heck is a julienne cut? How do I saute' something? What the hello kitty is a steaming that when my boobs are sweating, while I slave over the stove? This is why I stress you READ the recipe ENTIRELY before going out and buying all the ingredients. That will give you plenty of time to decide if it's actually worth trying, you can google(and check YouTube) on anything they tell you to do with said food items, and can buy all that's needed without starting halfway through before realizing you're missing two ingredients. Also, if you're using a recipe for something ethnically-related, and you have no idea what one of the items are, you can look it up online to see what it looks like so you know what to look for.
    However, I'd also like to stress starting small. If you can't understand half the recipe, or are having a hard time finding multiple ingredients for said recipe, then it may be too much to try at the moment. Try finding another recipe that is written in a way you can understand, or with ingredients that you know where to obtain.
    This somewhat goes with #3. I have already stressed reading the recipe in its entirety, beforehand to ensure you have all the ingredients. But what if you were like me, who cooked with her microwave, and you have no pots and pans? Or steamer? Or Crock Pot? And the only knife you have is a butter knife? What do you do then?
    My suggestion to you would be to get all these things used, especially if you are new to cooking. You may be drooling over a $250 pot and pan set, a knife set from Japan, and a crock pot dipped in gold and outlined in silver...but let me tell you, honey, it will all go to waste if you're new. You are at some point going to burn something(s) that you don't even want to bother trying to scrub off. You're going to light these suckers on fire, they might soak up that ONE recipe that reeked your place for days, they're going to get stains that may take forever and a day to get off, they're going to get scratches, they're probably going to get dented in some way. For a newbie, one of the biggest money-wasters for me was buying a brand new pan and pot set...TWICE...before I realized it'd just be cheaper to buy it as I needed from a secondhand store. You may turn up your nose at buying secondhand cookware, but trust me on this, it's going to be a lot easier to throw that burnt $1 pot containing oatmeal that will not wash off than that $50 designer pot you got because a celebrity chef made it with tears from Santa's Elves.
    Do we really *need* a $70 Hello Kitty microwave? Uhm, yes! I mean, no. I mean...maybe(?)

    This may come across as silly. Set the right environment? What the heck does THAT mean? Am I supposed to seduce my rice with Barry White music while caressing my chicken in satin sheets or something?
    No. Unless you're into that sort of which case, be my guest.
    *Cough* FREAK *Cough*

    What I meant by this was make sure you're kitchen and your mind are ready to cook. You can set aside the given time for a recipe, but if you're sink is filled to counter tops with dirty dishes, you'll find it take longer to cook as you have to search for that *one* pot you need to cook with, wash it and dry it...only to realize your measuring cup is dirty,too...only to find out your favorite spatula is in that mess as well...see what I'm saying? You'll be reaching for the speed dial to a take-out place faster than you knew how.
    I'm not saying deep clean your kitchen and make it "company is coming over!"-clean. Just make sure your kitchen is USABLE. Is there at least ONE clean counter you could use as surface space? What cooking utensils, pot/pan(s) do you need-are they clean? Is your stove top covered with tomato sauce from last night's exploding sauce fiasco?
    While I'm at it, I'd like to add...make sure you're in the right mind to cook. This may come off as a little old-fashioned, but its true. You're more likely to enjoy the process if you turn on some of your favorite tunes and JUST focus on the actual cooking. If you're constantly uploading pictures of the process on your Instagram, while checking your Facebook feed, while thinking about your cats ex-boyfriend's YouTube page...things can go south pretty quickly. Try not to get distracted.
    "But I just went on Facebook for a MINUTE!" 

    Oh, and be comfortable! Even if you are a transdecadian(hey, if you can be multiple genders, then I can be multiple decades in my head) housewife as I think myself to be, you really don't have to rock heels, pearls, and makeup in order to be prepared to cook.

    Unless, you know, your husband likes that sort of thing. *wink*
    If you just came home from work(and that sort of attire is required), then go change into something more comfortable before starting. Make sure to wear something you don't mind getting dirty/wet. Even if you wear an apron over your clothing, there's still a chance things might get messy and your clothes might take a hit. Make sure whatever you're wearing is something you're not too worried if it gets a stain or two here or there..or you might have to risk throwing away.
    Nobody has voted for this poster yet. Why don't you?
    Seriously, just do it.
    This is one of those things no one really tells you. Or maybe you guys had families that already knew this, and I'm the odd one out. I know the process of cooking from start to finish, especially if you're a newbie is DAUNTING. But it's going to be even more daunting if you cook this amazing meal...and have 50 items to clean and put away afterwards. So, as soon as you're done with that measuring cup/ spoon, spatula, bag of Barry White seduced rice, or whatever it may be, put it back where it belongs. Even if that means the sink to wash...eventually. As you become more comfortable with cooking, you'll figure out how long a pot of water can sit on the stove without you loving staring into its bubbles, and can eventually start wiping down a counter here and rinsing off a measuring cup there to make the process easier and less of a chore once your done.

    This may sound stupid, and yes, I put this last as sort of a chuckle. But when you're used to NOT cooking or cooking out of a microwave, you may sort of go on auto-pilot and forget that, unlike a microwave AN OVEN WILL NOT TURN ITSELF OFF ONCE YOU OPEN IT UP. Same goes for a stove. And a blender. And a hand held mixer.
    Please remember to turn off any electrical appliances as you are done using them! Maybe my idiotenese is showing here, but yes, I was the dummy that often forgot to turn off the oven/crock pot(before I discovered crock pots that turn themselves off, anyways...seriously, the people that make kitchen appliances know me)/stove/mixer/ blender before eating or after using it.
    Lemme tell ya....forgetting to turn off  things can make a memorable mess in the kitchen. And can result in burned things, like hands/arms.
    Seriously, don't be that me. You will regret it.
    " is abnormally toasty today...wonder why...*shrugs*"

    Until Next Time, Chaotics!
    ~ Mama Jenn

    Wednesday, September 9, 2015

    Start With Where You're At

    "And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ[right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you." -Philippians 1:6
    "Therefore humble yourselves[demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you. Casting the whole of your care[all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully[Psalm 55:22].-1 Peter 5:6-7.
    I was SO excited a few weeks ago to start "our" eclectic little homeschool curriculum. The kids had loved just about every subject, nearly all of it we had obtained for free by the grace of God, and that we had to pay for was very low in cost.
    But then...I looked on here and saw others preparing for public school. I had struck up conversation with other homeschoolers as well as those whose children were attending public school. Through listening/joining into all these conversations, I suddenly felt inadequate. Our little eclectic curriculum didn't seem like it was "enough". All my excitement turned into panic. I stopped doing schoolwork with the kids. Someone(I won't mention names) questioned my ability, jokingly, to homeschool my children-but of course, combined with everything else, just confirmed in my mind that I was steering the kids on a one-way ticket to stupidity.
    The past few days, I had been researching new curriculum. I had been comparing prices, reading reviews, and trying to scramble to find things that would fill in all the gaps.
    BUT...I started going through old photos here(on Facebook). And God was whispering, "see? You WERE teaching them."
    Then, after getting frustrated once again after looking over the phone-book sized homeschooling catalog(homeschoolers, y'all know which one I mean!), I emerged from my bedroom and my eyes looked around my living room. I recalled a conversation I had with Solstice yesterday, when asking her where she found out about something I thought she didn't know yet. "In the encyclopedia," she replied casually.
    A few years ago, when I vocally expressed what was on my heart(to homeschool), I was scared out of my wits. I couldn't finish a college level math in my major without resorting to tears after the first week, for goodness sake, how on earth was I going to take on the responsibility to homeschool THREE children, for possibly TWELVE years?! I didn't have a homeschool book in sight when we started. I had a preschool book, a library card, a bus pass to get to said library, and faith that this is what God was calling me to do.
    This morning, as I looked at the bookshelves lovingly built by the hands of my husband...and the filing cabinet that was left by a previous tenant...and the desk provided by a church member...and the "TV" stand(which really should be called another book shelf for all the books that couldn't fit on the first bookshelf my husband built, that also holds the TV) I listen to a sermon talking about casting cares on God and not ourselves as I do the dishes...God speaks to my heart. When I first started, I didn't care that we weren't exactly like the public school(in fact, it was my goal for us to look NOTHING like a public school, especially the one that had let us down!), or "that homeschool family" a few miles/etc. away, or that we had what the world would deem "suitable" curriculum. I had faith! God called us to a good work and he was going to make a way. I wasn't comparing, I wasn't thinking "we could do better if we just had...", I was pliable and humble. God HAD provided the books we needed, God DID supply us with the materials required for the time(s), God CONTINUED that good work in us as long as we were trusting on him(and not ourselves) to meet the need, and as long as we remained humble!
    I know God has called us to change course this year. But by looking at the world(and myself and my ability), instead of keeping my trust in him(and his ability), I allowed myself to worry and stress over something that God already said to, "don't worry, I GOT THIS." about.
    God is doing a good work in our homeschool. It may not look like another family's homeschool. It may not look like the local public school's work. It certainly will not look like the way I or my husband were schooled(and I thank God for that!). But it WILL be a good work, as long as we remain humble. My children will lack no good thing(education or otherwise) as long as we remain pliable and humble to God's will. I just have to go back to our beginnings- I have to have faith, start with what we have, and trust that God will provide what we need when we need it! And if worry over what we're doing should arise, I have to cast it right to God, because I SHOULD NOT and CANNOT handle it on my own!
    The words on my heart this morning were "start with where you're at.". God has started a good thing in our hearts-let's not try to do better in our own eyes, let's start with where God has us at. Even if that means looking the mess we created dead in the eyes. Even if that means seeing ourselves for who we really are. Even if that means admitting(HUMBLE pie, anyone?) that there is something in our lives that we want to do more in, but coming to the point of realizing we can't without God. Start with where you're at. Not where that other person is. Not where that other family is. Not where someone else's children are at, or someone else's spouse is at, or heck, maybe even not where your own spouse is at. Not where any other book may say you(or your children, or your spouse, or your homeschool, or your career, or anything in between) should say you should be at. Start with God's word, and where you're currently at.
    God can work with you, no matter where you're at. But only if you remain humble and open to allowing him to continue that good work he started(or is trying to start) in you.#revivalstartswithme #revivalinourhomeschool #revivalinmyheartandmind

    Wednesday, September 2, 2015

    Techy Thoughts

    Greetings, Chaotics!
    I had been thinking some about technology and myself lately. At the same time, I have been thinking about myself, my children, my husband, and God lately.
    And yes, I have been thinking of my Chaotics lately, too.
    For some time, I've said I would be reducing/eliminating/reducing my time on Facebook. And several people have said, no, don't, we love/like/really appreciate all that you post on Facebook. Don't go!
    And I have seen them, and started to feel bad. The people pleaser in me wants so badly to say, "Just kidding! I'll stay on, but I'll just be more disciplined with my time!". I hate to be the person that rains on a person's parade.
    At the same time...I have been feeling led to read more and work more on myself and my children lately. I'm sure some of you have seen the many postings I've made on there with the hashtag #revival or #revivalstartswithme .
    I've been praying(and re-praying, and praying some more) about this.
    If I'm being totally honest with myself, I do NOT want to go. I would love to think of myself as most of you can in regards to Facebook, you super humans who can go on once a week, or even once a day for an hour or so and then get off and keep moving.
    But, even now, with all my hashtags and Bible reading...Facebook for me is still a problem. Yes, Facebook has allowed me to find some really great people that I'd probably NEVER encounter in my day-to-day interactions. It has helped me to find my political grounding, it has shown me that there are people out there that are like me at times when I felt like a the only person that believed something. Facebook has given me countless recipes to try, has made me laugh my bum off more times than I can count, and has helped become the bridge to connect myself and my children to the people we love and miss so much back home and in our second home. Facebook even helped me find my husband! the same time, I have missed large chunks of MY life. Now, I am so absorbed(addicted?) to it. I am embarrassed to admit the many, many times my children have said to me, " this! Mom? Mom? Are you paying attention?". The many other times they have asked me a question only to be met with silence because I was scrolling my news feed like a zombie, not paying attention to anything else around me. The times we've had a special moment that probably should of been between just us, but instead, I asked them to do it again so that "I can post it on Facebook.". The times my children see me taking a picture and sometimes excitedly, other times with sadness in their voices say, "are you going to put THAT on Facebook, Ma?". The times I felt I may have made my life TOO open, gave y'all a peek TOO personal into my family's life. The many times I feel like I'm exploiting my children's childhood all for the sake of a few of those blue little thumbs ups. The times my kids have said, "Mom! Get off Facebook! We're supposed to be having quality time together!". The times I've said my house was a mess and I didn't care because I was a MOM, and I was MOMING...but in actuality, I was just spending hours on Facebook. The times when my husband asks, "So, what did you do today?" and my mind is drawing a blank, not because I did what I was supposed to do, but because I went on Facebook thinking, "I'll just check that one status and get off" and hours later, I was writing yet another lengthy comment about my stance on something that had zero affect on my personal life/well being.
    As I said in my original post(on Facebook), God(or maybe just my own soul that wants what's best for me?) has been prompting me and urging me for some time, you've gone too far. Get off. Stay off.
    And, I do. Every once in awhile, I'd get off for a few days, either by necessity(couldn't pay the internet bill!), or by intentional choice. And after the first day, maybe two of having that feeling that I'm letting someone out there down, that a huge world event is going to happen and I'll miss it and die, etc....after one or two days, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I don't feel like every moment needs to be "updated" and "broadcast" to everyone, I actually have large chunks of time for...STUFF! And stuff I do-and lots of it! God gives me 24 hours, and on the days I'm not on, suddenly, those hours don't seem to wiz by with me questioning if I was "productive enough" that day. I go to bed TIRED, knowing I made the the most of each day.
    I  started removing myself and my family, little by little each day. Trying to not post as much. I saved all our videos and removed them. Each day, I take at least 100 photos, save them on our computer, and then remove them from Facebook. I don't want any reason to come back on after September 15. I don't want to be tempted, I don't want to fall back into giving the appearance of being present for my family, only to be absent when it really matters.
    It's strange...since I decided this, I have FOUR other people say they're feeling led to remove themselves from Facebook. I don't know all their reasoning as to why. Nor do I know if they'll actually go through with it. Heck, I'm not even sure if I'll be 100% done doing all I need to do by September 15 on there.
    But I do know one thing. As I continue to  delete things on there, I get a sick feeling in my stomach. To me, that sick feeling means I'm doing something that others have asked me not to do, but I feel that God has told me to do. That sick feeling means I am stepping out of my comfort zone, and doing something life-changing. That sick feeling means that I'm letting go of one side of myself, and entering into something new. I may feel like I'm going to puke, but that feeling being there means that something great is about to happen.
    I don't have that feeling often, because I'm one of those people that don't like change, or surprises.
    I talk a big game about change, but honestly, I'm just like everyone else. It didn't make sense to anyone I spoke with about leaving home. No one could understand why I'd commit to marry a man I had never met face-to-face. No one was in the stall when I had to put my head between my legs(well, as best I could anyways...still working on that fat girl issue) at the airport's bathroom in order to keep from passing out. Big changes, stepping out of my nice little bubble and doing something that no one else understands or can relate to scares the stomach contents out of me! Yes, even something as simple as removing myself from Facebook! I hate change, I hate stepping out, I hate the unknown and unexpected!
    But...BUT...I'm going to try. I'm going to do it as best I can.
    ~Mama Jenn
    Several people have asked me "what about ALL technology? Your blog, your cell phone, etc.?"
    Well, at this time....I don't know for sure. Technology is my frenemy. I'm trying to take baby steps with all other forms and see how it goes. In regards to this blog, I really don't know. The number of readers has declined quite a bit since I got married. I do intend on downgrading my cell phone in order to just have one for emergencies only, while keeping a landline...but I'm still not 100% sure on that. The only thing I can say for sure is I'm trying to remove myself from Facebook, and taking it from there.

    Tuesday, June 16, 2015

    Motivation to Clean

    Hello, Chaotics!
    This morning, on the Good Housekeeping's FB page, they listed an article about people who "never have to clean their home"(which you can read here). I commented and said that the title of the article wasn't completely true-these people are always cleaning, but just in less time vs. doing one big cleanup when stuff gets overwhelming.
    Anyways, with all this cleaning on a daily business, just don't feel like cleaning! I know there are times I certainly don't!

    So, what's a gal(or guy) to do? Here are some things that I do to keep myself motivated to clean.

    1. Music
    Maybe everyone cleans with music on, or maybe they don't. I'm one of the people that do. But I am very self-conscious about my ability to sing along. So whenever there is music on that I can sing along to, I have to get up and do something! Sometimes its classical, sometimes it's popular Christian songs, sometimes it's worship, sometimes its A Capella worship, sometimes its country. If music is on, I can't sit still. I have to do something-which usually motivates me to clean.
    (Side note-sometimes, the right music will peak the curiosity of my children as well. They think they can just sit there and sing along, but they are WRONG! I will usually tell them...if you can sing along, you can clean along.)
    You can be an awesome rock star...or lead worship singer...while you clean! *head bangs*

    2. Coffee shots
    I know this sounds awful, but several days a week, I add SToK to my coffee. You certainly can't sit still after taking it! Even on one(the max is two a day), it keeps me moving and coherent. If you have to get deep cleaning(Spring cleaning, etc.) done, sometimes an extra shot of caffeine is all you need.

    3. Great smelling cleaning products 
    I know, this is probably no big secret, but I am constantly smelling things! If a cleaning product smells great, then chances are, I want my whole house to smell like it! Which means...I have to clean my whole house! Unfortunately, it can go both ways with me- if a cleaning product smells bad, I'm less willing to use it, and eventually, less eager to clean.

    This is why I've signed up with ePantry service. I opted for receiving cleaning products every two months, but its not even a month and I'm already anxious to get another package! Plus, if you refer people, they get money off of their order, and so do you. Every so often, they also send out emails to give you further discounts on things you love. I am a HUGE sucker for Mrs. Meyers Cleaning products...almost every one of the scents I've bought are awesome! You can check them out here.
    Mrs. Meyers, you are my spirit animal

    4. A nice apron helps! 
    I know it may come across as I"m going backwards in history, but there is something to be said about wearing an apron around the house. I don't know why more women don't do it! When I worked in food service, almost every job I had required me to wear an apron of some kind. I'm sure there are studies on why they do this, but in my head apron=get to work. Maybe its a sensory thing, but tying on those strings means I mean business! Seeing the apron hanging in my bathroom reminds me that my "job" is a homemaker, and even though there is no company logo and everyone else isn't wearing it(most of the time), it still means to me that putting it on makes my home my business. Plus...have you seen how CUTE they are?! Unlike the often bland, cookie-cutter types I was offered in food service, I get to now choose what kind, pattern, and color I want.
    My son once said, "Mom, I like seeing you in an apron". My husband can't seem to keep his hands off me when I'm wearing one, either(which usually makes me run around the house, which usually motivates me to clean as I go. LOL). And my daughters will often "borrow" them when doing their own chores, or just playing pretend.
    Putting on an apron doesn't(usually) allow one to sit for very long, either. Especially if, like me, you're the kind that ties the strings so it fits just so(while standing)-once you go to sit, it suddenly becomes a little snug! So, you get up...then before you know it, you're cleaning! *wink*
    "With a great looking apron comes great responsibility..." *wink*

    5. Leave out your cleaning supplies!
    If my vacuum is out in plain view vs. in a closet, I feel the need to vacuum. If my microfiber duster is hanging on top of the fireplace(or worse, if the kids knock it down-happens more than you think!), then I pick it and put it to use before putting it back in its place. I leave my cleaning supplies out in plain view on purpose for this reason-if I see it, it's like a reminder to clean.

    6. Rewards don't hurt, either...
    Sometimes, I am sick of the scent of lavender. Other times, the music just isn't cutting it. That's when I'm grateful my husband brings home a big bar of chocolate each week. The skinny girl in a fat girl's body in me knows I have to burn off some calories to justify eating that, so I figure, vacuuming a few rooms and wiping down a few counters should do the trick, right?
    ...or maybe that's why I'm still fat on the outside(*-_-).
    Either way, I like to think that if I clean hard before I reach for that chocolate bar, I won't have to go look at the scale and cry later.

    7. Get angry over something
    Jesus flipped tables and broke out the whip when he was angry at the exchangers outside the temple. I like to think Mary was there, right behind him, just as angry...and cleaning up the mess he made.
    The point is, you have a strong emotion, why not put it to good use? Instead of sitting there, seething internally, go scrub that soap scum on your shower walls! Go vacuum that carpet until the canister comes out clean! You have some adrenaline pumping through your veins, go put that added energy to good use! Even if the issue isn't resolved, you had time to use the energy instead of doing something destructive, and cleaning may be the "back off, I need time to think" signal to your spouse, so neither of you say something you might regret later.
    I don't know why, but no matter what the issue the time I'm done angry cleaning, I'm too exhausted to really stay mad about it much longer.
    My house is far from perfect,'s downright sparkling when I'm really worked up about something! The chocolate, oddly enough, is polished off as well...but I don't know how that one happens ;).

    8. Use cleaning as a time to worship
    I may not always take as much time as I'd like to go and read my Bible, or I may not have time to really reflect on what was said during a sermon. However,  daily cleaning can be kinda...a monotonous task that doesn't require much thought. It is during the time I'm cleaning I am praying for people, or praising God in worship music, pondering a sermon more, or listening to a sermon on the radio/TV, or hear the Bible read online. I can choose to take something most people hate(cleaning) and offer that time, joyfully, to God. It's amazing that one of the times I feel closest to God is while doing the mundane!

    9. Include the family
    You ever notice how teaching a child to clean suddenly makes you question if you have underline perfection/OCD issues? Or is that just me?
    Either way, including the family(the kids especially) motivates me to clean. My kids aren't always exactly eager beavers to clean...but if the mood strikes, it's contagious! If they want to clean, and I'm just sitting there, suddenly I feel like a bum-I have to get up and join the fun,too! And vice versa! Plus, cleaning teaches them the pride of a keeping a home. It teaches them to take care of their things, and have respect for their house and others houses.
    So, crank up the Disney Radio tunes, and have fun! Even it's not perfect, at least you'll be spending time together, sharing a common goal.
    Sometimes, it also provides a chance to have heart-to-hearts with your kids. Some of the most deepest looks into their world occur while we're both trying to clean a room together.
    You nail that high note on a feather duster, sister. You. Nail. It. 

    10. Remember what a room looks like clean
    I know some people do this for this kids, but I sometimes do it for me...
    do you know that feeling you get once a room is fully clean? It's like an deep sigh of contentment for your soul, knowing everything is in its place, and not(much) dust is to be found. Like everything is suddenly right with the world...or, at least your kid's playroom. At least, until they wake up.
    Anyways...some people are good at envisioning that in their heads. I am not one of those people. When the room looks like World War 3 just went down, I need to be reminded what it should look, or else I will resort to tears and running for the nearest bar of chocolate. So, every once in awhile, I take a picture. Yes, a picture. On my phone.
    Sometimes, it will be a picture of the room clean, or a side-by-side before and after. Sometimes, it will be a picture of the carpet cleaner solution all gray and gross from my last cleaning, or the duster after a long time of not dusting(I know...I'm weird. Just roll with me here). But seeing those things reminds me...the room is not impossible, no matter what it's current state. That I am able to clean it and clean it in a day(or two). That is little gross things(dust,etc.) that are lurking behind the fluffiness of my carpet or the great books of my bookshelf.
    Every once in awhile, I will snap and look at these pictures. But, just so people don't think I really am OCD(I'm not...I think), I do delete them after a little while. I just keep them on there for days when the house looks its worst, so I can remember it at its best.
    Plus, everyone once in awhile, I'll send them to my husband, to remind him of all I do at home(He's usually more excited about the cooking pictures I send him, but whatever.). Or, I'll send them to my BMF(she does it to me,too) so we can have bragging rights.
    ...In every clean room, that is. 

    Well...that's it. These are the ten things I do to stay motivated to clean. Again, I have kids and my house is far from perfect...but sometimes, doing one or more of these things really gets me out of my funk to not want to clean.
    What are some things you do to motivate yourself/your family to clean? I'd love to hear it. Drop me a comment on here or on my facebook page!
    Until Next Time,
    ~Mama Jenn

    Thursday, May 21, 2015

    Menu Planning- April 2014

    Hello, again, Chaotics!!
    This week's blog post is about one of my favorite subjects....
    aside from God, that is...
    Oh, yeah, and my husband...
    ...and my kids....
    This is me. Okay, not really.

    Here's our menu of deliciousness...I mean, food from last month:
    *Please forgive me, I switched phones and cell providers last month and lost most of the pictures I wanted to post with this menu(*-_-)
    Week #1
    Breakfast of the week: Blueberry Sweet Bread w/ milk
    Sunday Breakfast: Southern Fried Cornbread, Scrambled eggs with cheese and sausage. 
    Sunday-Chicken and Spinach Lasagna, Garlic Bread, salad
    Monday-Cheesy Baked Spaghetti w/ garlic bread
    Tuesday-Beef Tortillas w/ mango peach salsa, yellow rice
    Wednesday-French Toast Breakfast sandwiches
    Thursday-Tomato and caramelized onion soup w/grilled cheese sandwiches
    Friday- "Porky Pig" and Three Cheese Pizza
    Saturday-Taco Salad, Ice Cream
    French Toast Breakfast Sandwich

    French Toast Breakfast Sandwich, before I devoured it 

    Tomato and caramelized onion soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwich 

    Week #2
    Breakfast of the week: Apricot and Walnut Sweet Bread w/ milk
    Sunday Breakfast: Peaches and Cream pancakes with bacon
    Sunday- BBQ Pork Butt Sandwiches, raw coleslaw mix, mashed potatoes
    Monday-Popcorn Chicken salad w/ tortilla strips, cheese
    Tuesday-BBQ Pork Enchiladas, yellow rice w/peas
    Wednesday-Cheesy Tortellini and sausage bake, salad
    Thursday-Chicken and Rice Soup, biscuits
    Friday-Veggie Alfredo pizza
    Saturday-BLT sandwiches w/a pickle on the side, chips. Cherry Cheesecake
    BBQ Pork Enchiladas

    Week #3
    Breakfast of the week: Chocolate, Cranberry and Cashew Bread
    Sunday Breakfast:Blueberry Pancakes with bacon
    Sunday-Beef Brisket, Mashed Potatoes, Beef Gravy, Corn
    Monday-Cauliflower and cheese soup
    Tuesday-Beef brisket Enchiladas
    Wednesday"Not Fried" chicken, yellow rice, broccoli
    Thursday-Potato Soup, biscuits
    Friday-Bacon Cheeseburger pizza, salad
    Saturday-Asian Chicken Salad, Strawberry Cheesecake
    "Not Fried" Chicken, Yellow Rice, and Broccoli 

    Week #4
    Breakfast of the week: Cereal with Milk
    Sunday Breakfast: Plain pancakes w/ bacon
    Sunday-BBQ Ranch Chicken salad
    Monday-Cheesy Ranch Potatoes, steamed mixed veggies, bread
    Tuesday-Cheesy Chicken and Bacon Wraps
    Wednesday-Turkey Burgers, Salad, French Fries
    Thursday-Beef and Bacon Chowder
    Friday-BBQ Chicken Pizza
    Saturday-Chicken Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Salad, Green Beans, Cherry Cheesecake(we had it twice because Papa was sick and couldn't eat it the last time)

    Turkey Burgers, French Fries, Salad 

    Monday, May 18, 2015

    14 Facts about me at 14

    Hello, Chaotics!
    I love #ThrowBackThursdays and #FlashBackFridays. While I do have some...not so great moments(don't we all?) growing up, the ability to look back and see others and myself via pictures as we go through this crazy thing called "life" just makes me feel more connected to the world at large.
    Anyways, I saw the above title on another website, and thought this was a great idea! Here are 14 facts about me at 14 :)

     1. A New Millennium was happening. And I was in the midst of it. 
    I don't know why this was such a big deal, but when I was 14, it was both scary and exciting. It felt like the entire world was coming of age with me. This millennium was not our parents. New millennials knew this one was ours, and we owned that. Like a boss.

    2. Being without my mom sucked. 
    My mom had died the year before. That woman was my best friend. I had so many questions back then that I didn't feel comfortable asking my stepmother about. I had to navigate the new waters of teenhood without her, and a lot of times, it felt like I was swimming alone.

    3. I was NOT going to have children. 
    I remember how much my mom struggled, as well as seeing my sister struggle to raise her kids. I had seen both put dreams on hold to raise a family. I(selfishly) vowed that I would NEVER let another human being take away my dreams. Plus, both women scared the crap out of me when telling me about childbirth. I mean, how did they even survive it? I nearly died listening to it!  My 14-year-old brain could not wrap itself around the fact that women did this willingly and lived to tell about it.
    This?, I'm good. 
    4. Austin Powers and the Spice Girls pretty much summed up my ideal life. 
    The man just oozed awesomeness.  He was hip, he wore the greatest clothes(for 60's/70's style, anyways), and he was always in the midst of something awesome. I wanted so badly to be the female version of him. Sadly, I was too shy/dorky to actually channel him as my spirit animal.
    The Spice Girls were like that,too. They were the female version of Austin, except there were four of them and they sang instead of becoming international spies. At least, until their movie came out...
    In my head, anyways....
    Girl Power will fix everything, dang it!! 

    5. I was a Christian. Whatever that meant.
    Wanna know how I "got saved"? My aunt was church hopping. She invited me. They had a youth group tent revival thing going on. A girl(still don't know who she is to this day) walked up to me, and, without saying hi, said, "Do you want to get saved?" My response? " there snacks afterwards?" She prayed the sinners prayer with me while holding my hand. She almost cried after saying amen, and hugged me, beaming. I was still wondering where the snacks were and why she was touching me like she knew me. Freak.
    I was "born again", but had zero clues what that meant. My aunt, not sure of how to respond, bought me a trendy teen Bible. I read it because...well, I was a bookworm. This was the year I was trying to balance living worldly and trying to please my Christian auntie. Unfortunately, the world won. But at least I had assurance of Heaven, no matter what I did(or at least that's what the girl who didn't give me snacks told me). And, at 14, in the 2000's, I was doing a LOT of rebelling against God(unknowingly) and my dad/stepmother(willingly, because, clearly they didn't know what they were talking about).

    6. I had goals. Weird goals. 
    At the age of 14, I knew without a doubt what I wanted to do with my life. I was going to be a veterinarian, move to San Francisco, and be a hippy love child that rescues animals from the brink of death(or overpopulation). There was going to be lots of boyfriends, but no husband(I didn't know anyone who had a good marriage, so I assumed that marriage, not the people and their history, were to blame). No children. I would be rich as a veterinarian, so I would fly my nieces and nephews to Cali every summer to stay with me and we would freaking love it. Oh, and every man in my life HAD BEST like dogs and not smoke or out the hippy love child's door they went.
    My dream life. 

    Tye Dye forever! 

    7. Eating meat was starting to feel weird. 
    Confession time- my mom didn't cook. Her idea of cooking was heating up a frozen dinner, oodles of noodle cup, hamburger/tuna helper, or scrambled eggs. Anything past always scared us and often times went horribly wrong. Thankfully, she was romantically involved with the Pizza Hut/Ice Cream Truck guy(yes, it was the same guy who did both). So, my first 13 years, the only two meats I largely ate at home were...fatty ground beef and partially cooked fried chicken(if you took three bites and there was blood/pink, you either eat around it or grab some cereal). Once she had died and I saw my dad's cooking(wait...there's OTHER MEATS OUT THERE?! AND YOU COOK THEM YOURSELF?!), as well as how one obtains these "other meats"(he went to the farmer's market), the dots were starting to connect. Animals were dying so I could eat them. How could I be a hippy love child and eat dead animals?! The whole thing was starting to freak me out. It wasn't until next year(and the years afterwards) that I started to discover vegetarianism/veganism. Until I forgot how much I L-O-V-E bacon. Then I bounced back and forth between vegetarianism and flexitarianism.
    8. I hung out with an eclectic bunch of people. And I liked it. 
    14 was the year I sort of stepped out my comfort zone. I kind of had to, I mean...the people from the 'hood I grew up with were,like, a world away(the other side of the city, but whatever.). I went to a new middle school. I had one person I knew there-my cousin, who basically pretended we weren't related. I tried every cliche hat that school gave me in order to feel the warm embrace of acceptance. I had friends who were self-proclaimed sluts, friends who were wannabe hippies, religious(Christian,etc.) friends, pagan friends, geeky friends, punk rock head banging friends, outcasts of society friends, friends who thought they were pregnant(or got someone pregnant) every other week...and I loved it. My friends were as diverse as my music choices and gosh darn it, it was awesome.   rarely had that "oh my gosh, where am I going to sit?!" at the cafeteria dilemma because at any given time, I always knew at least one person at most of the tables. Except for the preppy rich girls. Those girls were weird. 
    9. I was OBSESSED with makeup and teen magazines.
     Teen Cosmo, Seventeen, J-14, and YM were my peek into what it meant to be popular and awesome. If there was a makeup tip or tip for acne-prone skin(curse you, genetics!!) I tried it. Those articles about how to fit it? Memorized them. Beauty and popularity were skin deep and I was totally embracing that.
    I was such a dork.
    But at least I was a dork that cleaned up nice! 

    10.  I tried Soccer.
    In my attempt to fit in(and with the popularity of Women's Soccer that year), I had to do a sport. Since our middle school did not have a soccer team, and this was the first year ever they thought of doing one, I had to be a part of it. Because, anything revolutionary, count me in. Unfortunately, I knew zero about soccer, as did many of my team mates. As a result, we became the laughing stock of the school. But getting to wear sporty short shorts and a team jersey were totally worth it.
    Flannel shirts were still "in" 

    11. I was also a part of the ASTRA Club and helped run the "School Store".
    ASTRA club...yeah, I have no clue what the purpose of that club was. We went to senior citizen centers every once in a while and sat and talked to the elderly...other than that, we mostly met I believe just to hang out with people different than our usual cliches. We went to one of the teacher's house and watched movies towards the end of the year. I kissed a boy during one of these meetings for kicks.
    The school store? I basically just signed up for that because my crush was in charge of it. Any excuse to be in close proximity of him, I took it. Even if it did mean I had to hustle pencils, pens, and candy like I knew what I was doing(hint-I didn't).
    ASTRA club bunch

    School Store peeps, and those Old Navy cover things! I had so many.

    12. I cried once in Art Class.
    I loved drawing. I was SO excited to take a class where I could just doodle and sketch to my heart's delight.
    But then I met the teacher....A woman who taught art like a drill instructor teaches boot camp. She didn't expect us to just "enjoy the process", she expected military-like perfection. From 14 year olds.  I took her rejection to everything I did seriously. I held out hope when she said we were going to do try to replicate a Sunday paper Comic strip. I sat there for several classes trying to make it perfectly perfect to please this woman. But it wasn't good enough, and she embarrassed me in front of the entire class, mocking my drawing. I snapped, started screaming(well, my screaming to any adults back then was very mouse-like because adults scared the crap out of me). We had a verbal show down, and she won. I was trying so hard to act...hard, but I couldn't. By the end of class, I was erasing all my hard work with tears streaming down my face. After that, I barely attempted to do any of the assignments. After this, I started passing her class. Irony. 

    13. I didn't take seriously Home Ec. ....
    My feminist in the making 14 year old mind couldn't comprehend Home Ec. Why are we still forced to take this class? Don't men know how to cook nowadays? Why do I need to learn to sew, when I just buy new clothes every 6+ months? Last time I checked, we weren't living in the 50's!! 
    My teacher for this class was a saint. She LOVED teaching the next generation of women basic homemaking skills. How did we repay her? By talking about her and making fun of her behind her back. The little feminazi's in training did not see the value of a woman making her home a haven. I wasn't interested in homemaking, I was interested in taking over the world(for peace and love's sake, anyways.). Home Ec., in my head, was a step backwards for the y2k generation.
    But behind everyone's back, I actually became good friends with the teacher. She was actually really nice. She was probably the first woman that showed me what it meant to enjoy being a Keeper of the Home. She talked loving about how much she enjoyed teaching Home Ec, her home life, her husband. Coming from a broken family, with a bunch of dysfunctional ones, this blew my mind.
     She worked with me after school on several occasions, because I was an idiot and needed badly to pass her class to graduate.
    14. .....but I REALLY loved Literature and Reading Class
    A class where I can take a peek into the past via books, and a class where I can read and analyze books for a grade? Geek mode: ACTIVATED.
    Teachers for both classes loved me. The only time I had an awkward moment was when my reading teacher assigned us the "Harry Potter" books, and she made us bring a form home to ask the parents if it was okay for us to be reading it. My dad didn't have a clue, so he asked my religious aunt. She quickly told him "NO". So, I believe I was the only kid in my reading class to have to read "The Outsiders" instead.  But that's okay-I saw the movie and loved it.
    (To this day, I find it funny a book about a gang of kids that kill and get killed, drank alcohol and smoked was more acceptable to my religious aunt than a fictional book about wizards and magic was. *shrugs*)
    Other than that, these were the two classes where I didn't pretend to be anything but me. I talked and debated(kindly, of course, because these ladies were adults and adults still scared the crap out of me) with the teachers and we both got a new perspective on books and life because of it. If anything, these two teachers were the ones to pull me out of my academic funk that I was stuck in since being 12-13(again, my mom had died the year before, and I was bullied to the point of trying to commit suicide the year before that, so I wasn't trying very hard academically). I had forgot what it was like to actually enjoy school. But thanks to these two teachers(and a few others...I hated their subjects but loved them as individual adults), I actually graduated middle school with Merit Roll.

    Hope you guys had fun going down memory lane with me!
    Until Next Time,
    ~ Mama Jenn

    Thursday, April 2, 2015

    Steps Towards Self-Sufficiency/Homesteading(Week #4)-March 2015

    Greetings again, Chaotics!
    I know...this was supposed to be on here yesterday. I'm sorry.
    In my defense, I have two additional children this week, and I'm trying to get my spring cleaning done.
    This week's theme is self-sufficiency.
    ***Self Sufficiency***

    There's really not too much to post for this month. I'm starting some seeds, not all of them, because of this nice handy chart I received from a local gardening store that tells me so:
    My handy, dandy seed chart! 

    I'm not winging it this year. Gardening *could* be just throwing seeds in some dirt and hoping for the best, but as I learned from last year, this is not our case. So, I want to be as prepared as I can.
    This month's seeds are- cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, and tomatoes.


    We also have some started plants of cauliflower, broccoli, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. I've already got something trying to grow on the raspberry and strawberry plants! Whoot!!!
    I haven't killed them yet!

    I got our seeds from Seeds They are not "certified organic", but if I've learned anything so far, it's not about the certification(because, certifying anything is tough), but the quality and care they do without having to be certified.

    I love that they always have a personal "good luck!" message on their paperwork that comes with the seeds!

    Plus, if I'm going to be totally honest, I LOVE the little baggies they offer their seeds in! Being able to see the seeds is definitely pleasing to my eyes. I know, I'm weird.
    Seeds! Glorious seeds! 

    This month, we received our tax return. Yes, a part of me wants to "act rich and ballin' ", but Papa and I have talked about it, and most of the return is going towards steps of self-sufficiency. Sometimes, he still has to reign me in on the spending, though....
    Papa is clearly better at this than I am. That's why he's the one holding all the monies.
     Papa says "access denied" (*-_-)

    I went  a *little* crazy at the local gardening store. And Walmart. Which, by the way, I'm not going to shop at anytime soon if I can help it(don't ask).
    Buy all da gardening stuffs!

    Grab all the plants!

    Papa is finally paying off his car. This is a HUGE sigh of relief for both of us. One thing we're trying hard to do is not add any more debt to our name for the next several years, so we can start paying off the debt we've acquired before we got married. With his car payment out of the way, we can now redirect that money towards tackling some of the debt, and adding some to our savings.

    Papa has done so much lately for our goals of being self-sufficient. All winter, he was figuring out our landlady's chainsaw, cutting the wood from the dead trees we had in our backyard, getting creative with wood, fixing things he's never dealt with before, and finding creative ways to re-purpose things we had around the house to make them more efficient. He's hoping to get a chainsaw of his own by the end of the month. So, if anyone has any recommendations on a good brand,etc. of a chainsaw, we're all ears!

    Papa BUILT this bookshelf. 

    Kids made the crosses(above), but Papa was the one who transformed the crosses into a clothesline! 

    Papa's clothesline in action. Love it! 

    I'm really proud of the man God has blessed me with. His creativity and ability to keep going even when it's beyond frustrating really "lights the fire in my bum" so to speak. He really encourages me to keep going even when I'm not sure I can do it/feel like a complete blond trying.

    Oh, and I also tried my first attempt at a large(dry) batch of homemade laundry soap. Solstice helped.

    You pretty much now have the recipe, in pictures. You're welcome. *wink* 

    With that said, I'd love to know...what's going on in your gardening/homesteading adventures? Are you still just reading, wanting to try, but don't know where to start? Are you just starting out, getting your feet wet? Ready to take a leap of faith, but don't think you can?

    Well...I have some good news! Seeds Now has blessed me with several $3 and $5 off coupons that I would LOVE to give away! If you have wanted to start with seeds and didn't know which company to trust, are curious about this company I keep mentioning, want to start some new seed varieties, or if you just want a way to cheaply start out, here's your chance! You can use it to buy seeds(nearly all seed packs start at 99 cents), or anything off their website!

    Here's how to enter- on the Udder Chaos Facebook page(which can be found here), tell me one creative way you are getting closer to self-sufficiency this month. It can be a money saving tip, a budgeting tip, something you're doing outside(gardening, animals,etc.), something you're doing inside(cooking, conserving water,etc.) or building(a creative chicken coop, woodworking,etc.) can be anything!
    Papa and I will be selecting the most creative entries and the winners will be announced next week!
    Here's to a new Spring, and steps to self-sufficiency! Good luck!

    Until Next Time,
    Mama Jenn