Friday, February 27, 2009

Not stoked...

Hubby didn't get paid today. Well actually, he was the only person to get paid and they gave him enough for rent because we have a family. But nothing else. So no grocery shop that we were planning this weekend ( the every two week shop). I got that sinking sick feeling in my gut. They are working on a huge job and supposedly the contractor didn't pay ANY of the trades working on the job. So a huge huge amount of companies involved. My hubbies company did a huge bunch of extras for them this month, spending a ton of thier own money on the project, not expecting that there was any chance that they wouldn't get paid.
Oh well. Nothing we can do about it. We are going to enjoy our typical pre shop( but without the shop) bacon and egg dinner by candlelight and just enjoy each other. Cause that is all good!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

It is working!

I just KNOW it is working!!! I was almost moved to tears tonight when I went for a walk alone with my littlest guy. A few posts back I mentioned my internal struggle with taking him off of dairy and casein. Already we have seen an increase in his appetite and more than a two pound weight gain. Tonight he was super chatty on the walk and was thrilled to have found 3 different types of new spring flowers peeking out of the snow. We headed to the little health food store in town and there was a new woman working there. My little guy walked up, said" hey guess what?", and proceeded to show as well as tell her all about these flowers. He talked to the staff there, multiple conversations and multiple topics, for the entire time we were there.( small town so talking a lot to shop owners and staff is the most common appropriate social behavior!) He looked at them, showed them things and asked questions. This is probably not anything special for most 5 year olds.

One month ago though , this would have been an entirely different picture. Usually we would go in and he would hide in this tiny crevice crouched down the entire time. If a child came in or anyone tried to talk to him , he would leave the store and growl. If he knew you well enough to talk to you at all ( even if he knew you he wouldn't respond to greetings or questions much more than half of the time) , he wouldn't look at you and would walk in circles while he spoke. His speech wasn't clear so on the part of the circle where he wasn't facing you , you wouldn't have a clue what he was saying at all. Through this tiny bit of" conversation " he would be shrugging or making random wild arm gestures that wouldn't match what he was saying at all. People always had a puzzled look on their face when they tried to interact with him.

At the end of the conversation and as we were leaving he said goodbye and offered to take them on a flower walk if they couldn't find any... he could help them out!

This has all been pretty gradual, and when I stepped back today and realised what progress he has made in such a tiny span of time I was shocked... and so so happy! Doctors don't usually give credit to dietary changes in my experience... who knows, maybe he has had some strange coincidental incredible leap in development. Clearly though, it coincides perfectly with the dairy removal. And it is SUCH a huge leap in development... like two years of development in a month!!
Just one little added thing... a month or two ago he was very very negative all of the time. He was angry and hated everything, and most everyone. He said disturbing things a lot too. He was talking tonight about how much he loves helping people and helping the earth. He just seemed so much more positive and confident and all around in a better place. I am so happy to " see him" again. I know deep down that his is who he is, and that he isn't such an unpleasant seemingly mean little guy. I just hope that he continues to feel better through this!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Survivalist mindset

I've been noticing that collective bit of panic these days around the ol internet. The back to basics, need for stockpiling and basically getting back to frugality as a lifestlye. I feel thankful often about my personal situation and what it has taught me. Many things have brought us to our ( somewhat forced) frugal lifestyle. Having two kiddos with special needs/ special dietary concerns has been a huge force for needing to learn different ways of being and living. We simplified everything in order to live a more peaceful life. We moved away from the city so that we could afford to rent a place with a space for a garden at least... and so that we wouldnt have to share a home when we had an extremely high needs baby who cried seemingly ALL of the time! The neighbour thumping on the floor every time my son cried added a huge element of stress to an already stressful situation! The potentially negative part of living outside of the city centers can often mean that jobs are lower paying ( as costs of rent can be!) and few and far between.

When we realised the extent of our dietary limitations we very quickly had to learn how to be very resourceful. In the most dire situations we knew that we couldn't rely on the foodbank to save our arses if we got to that point. ( gluten free or allergy specific goodies are hard to come by at the food banks if you need any ideas of what would be useful for them by the way!) I quickly learned how to survive off of a 150 dollar a month budget for food and was just as quick to find everything I could in terms of wild edibles. By the time we had two super sweet and high needs boys we just knew that homelearning was just going to be the right option for us. My own guilt about not providing a paycheque to the household led me to make it worthwhile to my family... trying to even it all out in the savings I made around the house! I have had to become very very creative and resourceful. I am so thankful for this. We have had to accept and ask for help along the way though... from strangers even ( what an amazing experience that is, let me tell you!) It isn't always easy. I definitely feel like I am coming out of it all with more confidence in my own abilities, a happy and healthy family and a in an awesome community. I think that I have a lot of skill and knowledge to offer.

What was making me think of this was that, if the shit goes down in some manner, I feel inadvertantly prepared. There are a few things that I would love to have around like a grain mill say... because again, it isn't easy to get things like flour that isn't contaminated with gluten. I couldn't just take it to the local lady that grinds grain because the equipment is contaminated. I can't imagine feeding my kiddos gluten no matter how hungry we are because it just renders us pretty sick and useless.

Anyhow, I feel a little less scared and a little bit more empowed than I did 5 years ago.

My papa sent me a big bag of Chilis from the big city the other day. I can't get them easily up here as they are super expensive. Many spice mixes and ground spices have gluten contamination so I like to make my own from whole spices. I called my foodie dad to see if he had a source of ancho chilis... he gets tittilated to be sent on this sort of mission and sent me a bag with 3 different types of chilis. I will need to do some research to find out how to use them! Yumm yum. Spent a chunk of the afternoon roasting and grinding spices and it looks and smells fantastic!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A day in the life...

This is poorly written and fragmented... I must apologise! I am feeling sleepy and don't want to edit and fix my poor writing style, so bear with me! lol

I have had lots of people ask me what a day in the life of us looks like.
I keep a daily note journal type of page to record what we do every day for home learning purposes. Here in B.C. we need to register with some sort of program. You can register with your local school as a home learner and pretty much do your own thing completely and your school system gets the funding as if you were another student there. You also have the option of a distance learning program where you use their curriculum and have a teacher assigned. We are with a private partially ministry funded program that works a little bit differently. We are able to unschool exclusively if we would like. I send in a version of my daily observation log to our learning consultant and he or she helps to fit what we do into the ministry guidelines. Sort of the opposite of creating a curriculum that would fit the guidelines and following that! What we do with our day typically changes with the seasons, and moods and health and coping ability! Just thought that I would put a little example up of what our day might be like.

The boys started off with a breakfast of scones. Papa gets up early for work every day before we are all up to meditate, do a bit of writing and he always makes brekkie for himself and the boys. I don't really enjoy gluten free baking because I can't even taste what I make , being intolerant to all grains. Papa takes over this part of the day anyhow. Yesterday eldest son asked for a length of nice rope from the neighbours who gave him some. He started off his morning searching for the knot tying section in the dangerous book for boys and trying out the instructions. After I was awake and had my coffee the boys and I played some K'naan videos on YouTube. He has been a favourite of ours for a long time and we got to see him live in our village last summer. In one of the videos there are images of Somali war and famine which got us talking about those topics. My son brought out the world map and showed me where Somalia is. He sucks up geographical knowledge. It was the first time that he had really listened to the lyrics of the songs. I showed him how to search for the song lyrics and we read them for quite a while and got into a discussion about hip hop, rhyming and poetry. Both boys were playing around free styling for a bit and I uploaded a series of five beat boxing lessons. Perfect for the vocal stimmer! The boys played around with that for a good hour while I did some dishes and laundry. My littlest guy helped me fold the laundry while eldest son played around taking photos for a while. Somehow he ended up directing a video of his little brother teaching a " how to fold laundry tutorial". While we ate lunch together we had CBC radio on and listened so the coverage on Obamas first visit to Canada. The neighbours called to propose a job offer of helping with dog care while one parent is away abroad. They are always excited to make money. I was kind of happy that it will partially involve poop scooping... as that gives a good sense of the reality of dog ownership. Of course what every little kid wants, but something that we don't have the financial means to pull off responsibly. After lunch we did our daily 3 km walk to the post office. We spent about 1 hr at the library where my oldest read Tin Tin and my little guy drew a picture package for his papa. On the way home we visited our friend who owns the local antique store. She saves me the vintage kitchen ware that needs cleaning up and that she knows I love and sells them to me for extremely low prices. The kids always ask a million questions and today got to see how the old tin laundry plunger thingy works. When we got home the boys snuggled on the couch while my oldest read the entire Tin Tin book out loud to his little brother. Then my oldest read a bunch of a novel to himself while the little guy made a book. I was making dinner, plus I made some fermented carrots, pickled beets and mango salsa. Eldest son got onto the computer to check his photo blog and his reader meter which shows where his readers come from. He was SOOO excite that he had a reader from Australia. The meter shows a world map for one option so that you can see visually where all of your readers are from in the world. I think that someone had read his from Germany as well. When I was finished cooking we played around on Stumble Upon. This is a really cool random search engine which lets you put in your interests and randomly leads you to great pages on the web. Purely entertainment for us. We looked at great photos of Thai veggie and fruit carving, explored the website of David Chiluly hand blown glass work and his glass botanical garden. We also watched a short animated film called EX-ET. .The boys cleaned the playroom before dinner and while cleaning the eldest found his journal that he was writing in at the beginning of the year. He decided that he really wanted to write in it again and found it super interesting to read back over what and how he wrote 6 months ago. He really thinks that he would be better at it now. After dinner we all snuggled and continued a series that we borrowed from the library. Good old Dr Quinn! So funny and dorky but it has the perfect amount of adventure. It always gives us great things to talk about. Now the boys are ready for bed. ( I can hear them in there debating the necessity of gun ownership!)They get about 45 min of bedtime story time with their dad. I am going to do some cleanup and maybe get in a workout.
So that is our typical style of a day. Of course it changes! I was kind of surprised at how much media we use in our day. I have one child that is a complete hands on learner. He loves to build and make things for the majority of the day. My eldest son really loves to TALK and debate and discuss everything. People all joke that he is going to be the prime minister or some sort of world leader one day. I really never thought that we would use so much media, but it naturally just happens that way. It is really neat to be able to use it well, really! So some days we have more interaction with other people ( my son said that he was tired from just being a guest yesterday and just didn't feel like having anyone else around today) and once the spring comes we spend a ton more time outdoors in the natural world.
There is a little glimpse of what our life looks like. Kind of cool really see how we meet the ministry guidelines just by living day to day. I had always heard that unschoolers could learn most of what they needed to know naturally and it is really cool to be part of a sort of social experiment to see that in action. The boys don't have any involvement whatsoever with the school program other than discussing ideas about what they would like to learn more about or experience. Our learning consultant lives on our street , so is just a really handy neighbour full of good resources to them! I hope this huge rambling deal is somewhat interesting to somebody!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yay sun!

We have all been feeling a LOT better with a bit of sunshine lately. We saw the beautiful yellow crocuses that we always look for this time of the year under a tree on our walk into town. Hooray! So good what a little vitamin D will do for ya!

I think I have let the greyness get to me along with the other minor bumps along the way. I have been secretly down in the dumps because two of my favourite, closest to me families are unexpectedly moving from the community. My " go for coffee in my PJ's, or borrow an egg at 9 at night neighbours" are moving shortly. I will miss them sooooo much. We don't have much privacy because the houses are so close together. You can see right through the playroom and kitchen... as well as right into the bathroom, from their deck. I was used to an elderly woman there before who never came out there. The neighbours now could just tease and yell at us to put some clothes on... or stop making out... lol... if we didn't shut the curtains. So I am pouty about that. The other family moving is my other favourite family ever. My friend who is a master herbalist, one of the most gentle and kind people I have ever met and their lovely little guy who is also a homeschooler. Anyways. It feels like those guys are the only people around that really get me, and my whole family. I am a bit of an introvert so I really cherish those few people that I bring close. I feel a little lonely already , before they even go! This will make for an interesting summer

Plugging away anyhow, making plans for a big garden this year. Awaiting the nettles and violet flowers that really let me know that spring has arrived!

Thought that I would pass along a little frugal tip that I have been using lately. We only shop once every two weeks... sometimes we get in once a week if we don't plan well. The only trouble with that can be that veggies don't last well for the entire two weeks. They are plentiful right after the shop but things like tomatoes start to go mouldy after a week or so. I have been making cultured salsa, Nourishing Traditions style, through the winter months when the tomatoes are out of season, expensive and just not as stable of a purchase. The salsa is super yummy ( well, with modification in my opinion) looks pretty while it sits out and does its thing, and preserves the freshness of the veggies for the gap between shops. It is great with cooked beans or eggs and is super yummy mixed with an avocado or mango with some corn chips. I know... bad bad because it isn't local! I can get avocados and mangoes super cheap in bigger amounts this time of the year because they are in season close to the equator. And the kids love them! I actually find it more frugal than other produce this time of the year... and they go perfect with the rice and beans!

Anyways. If you use your search engine to look for " lacto fermented salsa" or "cultured salsa", there are lots of variations on the recipe. There is something rebellious feeling about leaving food out of the fridge for way longer than seems reasonable and then eating it and not dying! I love fermenting foods! not dying... that is so rebellious! I almost died from food poisoning once, so letting go of my food safe training is a bit of a big step for me!!!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cute Mug

Well... if you can get past the bloody stump! After torturing me with his grossly loose tooth all day, it finally came out. Along with a bottom tooth as well as he ate his dinner. The poor tooth fairy is going to go broke!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More snow!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Almost better!

It has been a long couple of weeks! We are all on the mend finally! I am feeling a little bummed and rough so I havent been posting... or picture taking! The boys don't cope very well when they are sick, so old issues have been really in the forefront. We have had to leave the last two circus classes early because oldest son has been having trouble coping( I made the mistake of stepping outside with my littlest guy to get fresh air.... even though I warned my oldest that we might do that. I came back to find him in a puddle of tears shaking, thinking we left him. I was so surprised at the reaction... he IS 7. He couldnt recover enough to finish the class). Youngest son almost ran into 4 lane 80 km an hour traffic yesterday to avoid being touched by a young toddler. His tactile sensitivity and fight or flight at unexpected touch... or possibility of... has just gotten out of hand. I guess that a potentially fatal episode kind of gives me a huge reality check!
Hubbys neck is pretty much better. He missed a couple of days of work and has payed 120 bucks for chiro treatments, even with the MSP copay. Along with that and the boys meds we are short over two weeks groceries. Luckily I have dried beans and preserved edibles from last years harvest but still not what the boys like to eat!. I lost my awesome gluten free sourdough starter because we couldnt afford to buy flour to feed it. I really really could use a grain mill so that I don't need to spend 5 dollars a pound for rice flour. It would be sooooo much cheaper to buy the grains in large amounts and mill them myself.
So, needless to say, I am a big ball of sunshine right now and I really dont want to get it all over everybody! Catch you on the upswing!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Long week!

Well... everyone is still sick. Oldest son had a fever for three days straight and an awful cough. Young son came down with it shortly after that. He had a fever of 104 yesterday and al through the night. It finally broke this morning. His cough is something awful and he feels really crummy. Now he has the runs... maybe too much vitamin C? (I know that there was a tummy/ barfy flu as well as this coughing fever one going around last week at my hubbys work) Hopefully not a tummy bug on top of everything. Poor little guy!
Hubby put out his neck on friday. He has been completely immobile since Saturday afternoon and it looks like he will have to miss work tomorrow. We are all a mess over this way!!
Good news is that I put everyone in front of some movies, put on dinner and got a total of 6 hours in the workshop today!!! I made 2 beautiful pendants and really had a great creative session. I am hoping to work with a local artist on trade to put together a tutorial pamphlet on how to use a hairfork along with a couple of styles to start out with. It snowed again last night and the workshop is unheated... still I can see the light of spring ahead and am looking forward to getting in the shop when it is comfortable again.