Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Spread some SAMshine!!!



Just over a week ago a tragedy struck our quiet little community.

It started out as any other slippery day.  Checking the news to see which schools were closed, (all of them), cozying up with the girls and staying inside.  There was a reason I looked at the local online "newspaper",  though I don't remember what that was anymore.  I saw two headlines that put me into a panic.

"Route ## closed for fatal crash- Under investigation" and 
"(My local town) sander flips; driver injured."  

Now, logically I knew those were two separate headlines, but I read them together and my brain processed them together.  The local plow truck drivers are family friends of mine, and my heart jumped into my throat thinking that one of them was in a fatal crash.  I read through the articles as fast as I could, and I was relieved that the plow truck driver was (injured, but) okay.  I was still nervous, wondering who might have been in the fatal accident and sent up a little prayer.

As it was a dreary, snowy day, I spent a little too much time hovering over my computer.  Checking and re-checking the online newspaper to see if any more news had been posted.  And as usual, the Facebook reports started coming in.  "My thoughts and prayers go out to the Wright family."  Messages started coming in "Did you see what so-and-so posted?  Do you think they mean this person or that person?"  And then the confirmation on the newspaper website.

She was a wife.  She was a local preschool teacher.  She was a mother.  She was a daughter.  She was a friend.  She was an active community member.  She was a mother.  I kept going back to that.  She was a mother.  Of a newly turned one year old.  And it broke my heart over and over all day long.

I didn't know her well.  We met a little over a year ago at a mommy play date group.  If I remember right, she was on maternity leave, as she was getting ready to have little PQ.  We ran into each other a handful of times over the next year, and we chatted on Facebook from time to time about various daycare and preschool stuff.  We actually probably chatted more on Facebook than we ever did in person, so sometimes when I was out and about in town I didn't always register who she was at first.  It would take me a minute to put a name with her face.  But the moment she saw me she would smile,  greet me by name and ask how I was doing.  She had the kind of smile that welcomed you in immediately.

And so suddenly she's gone.

I feel like one key difference between most men and women (not all) is that men tend to sympathize, but women are more apt to empathize.  I think it's the reason women cry at movies, books and weddings.  When we hear or see a story, we put ourselves inside it.  We can't help but think of what would happen if we were in their shoes.



I just kept thinking over and over and over of that little baby girl, wondering why everyone was sad and where her Momma was.  Thinking how do you explain this thing.  Obviously you don't.  All the words in the world can't explain this to her.  And will never fully be able to.

In the past week I've seen a hundred other stories like mine.  Her smile lit up a room.  She was the life of the party.  Everyone she ever came in contact with has nothing but nice things to say about her.  Every photo that has been posted shows how full of life she was.

I will likely have at least one or two more posts related to this one.  But right now I have a mission.  A mission for you and for me.

Her name was Samantha Wright.  She lived a couple towns over from me.  She lit up a room like the sunshine.  And so the term SamShine has been born.  It has quickly turned into a mantra, and even a logo.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 14th, is a day that we've been challenged to "Spread some SAMshine".  Any act of kindness, any kind gesture.  Please join me tomorrow in spreading the SAMshine.

Join on the Facebook event page.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Heart Attack Soup

I have a confession...  I'm not the greatest cook.  I'm not an awful cook (anymore) but I'm by no means a good cook.  My mom's not an awful cook but she just doesn't cook, so she never really taught me.  My gram taught me how to bake, but not cook.  My step mother tried to teach me a few times, but I think she gave up.  I don't blame her.  On top of being useless in the kitchen, I was also the pickiest eater you could meet.  So I only wanted to cook like 3 different dishes, ever.

I always said I was going to marry a man who could cook a turkey, because otherwise my poor children would be eating turkey and cheese sandwiches on Thanksgiving Day.  And so I did.  Not only can he cook a turkey, but he can cook just about anything.  And somehow, SOMEHOW, he's making me into a decent cook!  Well, he and Pinterest.  

Today he said "I'm in the mood for some sort of 'bacon potato soup'".  So I did what I do best, and got online and did a quick search.  The first recipe that caught my eye was "Loaded Bacon and Cheddar Baked Potato Soup" from Girl Cooks World.  Looked easy enough, and it was.  And it was delicious!  Although (and I'm not sure the original creator would appreciate this) I've dubbed it "Heart Attack Soup".  It's obviously not something you want to eat every night but on a nasty, dreary, cold and windy day like today, it's the perfect dinner to warm you up!



I'm not very great at reading a recipe in it's entirety before starting out either.  So I'd glanced at the ingredients enough to know what I had and what I needed to pick up.  But I hadn't actually read it or thought much about it.  So I didn't realize that the potatoes had to be baked ahead of time.  Thank goodness for the microwave.  I zapped the potatoes for about 16 minutes total while we got to work on all the other ingredients.  And as we added each ingredient I thought to myself "Holy heart attack!"  I also made some homemade corn bread. (the recipe from the back of the corn meal)

But it was totally worth it.  Delicious!  And we have enough to last a long, long while.  I considered just making a half batch, but we decided we might as well make a bunch and freeze it.  (Side note, I considered trying to can it, but read that you should only can recipes that were made for canning.  So we'll just freeze it.)  

Click here or on the photo for the link to the recipe.  


Sunday, November 17, 2013

The future

It has been a while since I had a new post on here.  The reason for that is I've been taking some time to seriously think about where I'm headed and where I want this blog to be headed.  As it turns out, this blog shouldn't change much.  There may be a few new topics added, and a few past topics that may phase out.

So... what are these future plans?  

Let's go back in time a couple years.  When I gave my notice to my last employer, about two and a half years ago, I said "I'm going to stay home until both kids are in school and then I'm going to go back to college."  And then I chose to homeschool.  Which meant the kids didn't go off to school at first like I thought they would.  That left my schooling plans unclear for a while.  There are so many things that have factored in to this whole thought process, but I have decided that I WILL be going back to college!  I'm so excited and thoroughly terrified all at once!

It will mean a lot of changes around here.  And I'm still nailing down the timing and details.  The plan is that I will start part time for one semester, and then take the summer off to spend with my kids.  Then... both of my kids will enter public school and I will go to college full time.  Which will mean closing my daycare at that point and just being a student.  If needed I'll get a part time job somewhere.  But I know that I won't do well if I'm working a lot and just taking a few classes here and there.  If I'm going to do it and do it well, I need to go full time.  I know myself.  I'm not a good multi-tasker.  

Anyway... back to the changes.  The kids will be in school full time.  I'll be in school full time.  And the Huntsman will be working full time.  This also means that we will need to get much better with budgeting and living simple in a much different way.  Not just minimalistic, but frugally as well.  

It will all be worth it in the end.  The end goal is an Associates Degree in Nursing and become an RN.  There are other goals beyond that, but that's as far as I can focus on for now.  

So that's what's up with me.  And the blog will not change a whole lot.  It will focus mostly on minimalism, which it pretty much was anyway.  I think simplicity will become more important than it's ever been in this process!

I'll keep you updated along the way!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The 5 most important things

If your house were on fire and you could grab five things...

Listening to the latest Simple Life Together episode got my mind reeling, (as it usually does).  The topic was the five things you would want to grab if your house were on fire, assuming that you, your family and pets were already safe.  So I decided to try it out myself.  I'm also going to somewhat combine it with another podcast episode I recently listened to in which Joshua Becker talked about things that add value or enjoyment to your life.

The questions they asked (with some of my own tweaking) were:

  • What is the thing, and why is it important?
  • Am I giving this the attention it deserves right now?  How am I using or enjoying it right now?
  • What are some ways to keep this thing safe now, and in case of an emergency?
Off the top my head my 5 items and why:

#1- My purse.  
This contains my license, bank cards, insurance cards, birth certificates, marriage license, and my external hard drive.  Yes, I keep that in my purse.  The Huntsman looked at me pretty funny when I first said that, but if the house burns down when we're not home it won't do any good to have an external hard drive sitting on the computer desk.  I need to finish transferring the files from it over to the new computer so I can start using it like it's meant to be used, as an automatic back up.  But for now it has the most important things on it, photos from the last 7-10 years.  
I use my purse daily.  I keep the hard drive in it for a reason, to keep it safe.  It is kept on the hook nearest the front door at all times.  It would be very easy to grab it on my way out the door.  

#2- The computer.  
Which has a few more things on it, and more photos.  Although most photos that aren't on the hard drive are somewhere in the cloud, it would be easier to not have to retrieve them.  
I do use the computer regularly.  I'd say it does add some value to my life, when I choose to use it in a valuable way... but it also probably detracts some value from my life with the amount of time I spend doing nothing on Facebook and BabyCenter.  MOST of the things I do on the computer can be done on my phone except some document work and photo editing.  There are a few other things that are easier on the computer, such as writing blog posts.  Once I get the hard drive backing up like it's meant to, I'll feel like everything is safe.  

#3- Wedding and engagement rings.  
Most people probably wouldn't have to put this on their list.  If you wear them 100% of the time, then they'd obviously come out with you.  But since having kids I don't wear them at night anymore.  My fingers swelled so much during pregnancy that it became very uncomfortable to wear them overnight, and I stayed in the habit of taking them off at night.  Also, currently my engagement ring needs to be repaired, so I don't wear that anyway.  But the engagement ring was my great grandmother's, married in 1918 I believe.  And the wedding ring belonged to my mother-in-law, and possibly her mother before her.  
Of course I enjoy my wedding ring, but not as much as I would if I kept it on.  It is easy enough to grab IF I can get to my room in an emergency. But the engagement ring would be harder to get to.  It's in a ring box in the top drawer of our dresser.  Mixed in with random important paperwork.  

#4- Hard copy photos.  
This one might not be as realistic for me.  Yes, I could physically carry them out.  But I couldn't likely get to them quickly in an emergency.  They're in a tote in the bottom of my bedroom closet.  And there's even more in boxes in the basement.  So I'm not sure if this one even counts.  These are photos dating back the last 20 plus years.  
I'm not enjoying them to the best of my ability because they're just in a tote.  And they're not really safe.  

#5- Was going to be my phone.  But I just remembered that I have a tote in the bedroom full of important papers.  They're not something I enjoy, but they're something that would be very useful in an emergency.  However, they're not organized in any shape or fashion.  And probably not even up to date.  

And a few more questions to ask after going through the exercise:
  • What have I learned from this challenge?  
  • What changes will I make now?  
  • Has this exercise helped me to more easily part with things that didn't make the list?  
  • Do I feel better prepared for an emergency?  
A few things I've learned:
  • Three and a half of these things could be eliminated if I had them organized better and backed up digitally on a cloud somewhere.  So I've already started thinning out my digital photos and uploading them to Flickr.  
  • Because of the fear of things I'd NEED, only ONE of the things on this list is something I LOVE and couldn't replace.  
Some changes I will aim to make:
  • Obviously I will start storing and organizing my digital files in a safe, backed up location.  Two really.  The hard drive and on a cloud.  Then I'll be able to do this exercise again and hopefully have mostly different answers.
  • I need to get my engagement ring fixed, and start wearing my wedding ring all the time again.  
Do I feel better prepared for an emergency?
  • Not yet.  But I feel better prepared to prepare for an emergency.  If that makes any sense at all.  
Am I more prepared to let go of things that didn't make the list?
  • Honestly, I'm not sure yet.  You'd think so.  But since most of these things aren't emotional "items" I don't know if it made any true emotional items stand out above the rest.  
I plan to come back and do this exercise again in a few months and see how it changes.  

So... what items would YOU rescue??  Tell me in the comments!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dreaming big

Dreaming big is a family trait that I happened to inherit.  My grandfather had it, my dad has it, and I have it.  All.The.Time.  We're creative.  We have grand ideas.



I only know a few of my grandfather's stories.  But I've heard people say that he was a big dreamer.  I've heard rumors of him wanting to make a roller skating rink in our hometown and a few others.  The only story I do know well is that he was a truck driver living in Connecticut and he sold everything to leave the city and move to Maine and become a farmer.  And that's how I came to exist!

My dad has also had a number of ideas.  Ideas about starting a sports bar, or a sheep farm (?!?).  He's started at least one book that I know of.  He used to design and sell t-shirts.  And more recently, he started a successful themed restaurant and is hoping to franchise it sooner or later.

I apparently got the creative dreamer gene.  My mind is always buzzing with new ideas.  Grand ideas.  Are they good ideas?  I'm not always sure.  I think a few of them are.  I've tried out a couple.

I've tried a few direct sales companies... some successful, some not so much.  And what I've learned about that is... in order to be successful at that, you need to love your products.  Dan Miller of 48 Days said "True professional selling is simply sharing enthusiasm."  I love that!  But I digress.  Those were just ventures I went out on... not really ideas...

I've worked in the Early Childhood field for over a decade, so a lot of my ideas are child related.  I've considered opening large daycare centers, children's museums, toy stores.  Two years ago I did quit my job and start an in-home child care program that is still running.  It is going quite well, but I know it's not a forever career for me.  My own kids will both be "school age" next year, so I'm not sure how much longer it will make sense for our family.  Along with that I've had other ideas.  The Huntsman has a fully equipped wood shop in the garage.  I've considered making children's toys to sell, puzzles, kids' furniture and more.  For a while I considered making and selling diaper bags.  I did sell one at my friend's boutique.  I've sewn Christmas tree skirts and other various things.  I do enjoy that, but don't always have the time for crafting like I'd like.

However, through the journey to simplicity and minimalism I'm learning so much about myself and my dreams.  First of all, they ARE possible.  I can live my dream.  It just takes some planning.  I can't just go do something on a whim and expect it to take off.  Also, minimalism will allow me more time to do more things I love and enjoy.  And I will turn those into extra income.  Dan and Vanessa on SLT call that a "lifestyle business".

Right now I'm not going to go into detail about the kinds of things I have in mind, but be on the look out for an new etsy shop in the next month or two!  I can't wait to share my ideas with you!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Catching up

Since the school season started I'm finding less and less time to get things done.  Between homeschooling a first grader, and running a 5 day daycare and 3 day preschool, it can get a little crazy from time to time.  Although, honestly, I know it's just poor planning and time management on my part.  So one of my new goals is to add everything to the calendar.  Dan and Vanessa on Simple Life Together say it all the time.  Put it on the calendar.  

But the first thing I need to do is get a handle on my alerts.  I already have alerts set on my calendar for the girls' dance practices and the Huntsman's fireman meetings, and math and phonics time.  I get at least two notifications for each event.  But not really just two, because some of them send me a text AND an email at the alert time... and guess how I get my emails?  Yup, on my phone.  So 30 and 10 minutes before every scheduled event my phone has a seizure!  


Sunday, September 29, 2013

The fisherman and the businessman

I recently heard this story on the Simple Life Together podcast.  I'm pretty sure I'd heard it before, but it struck a chord. You can read the story HERE on The Everyday Minimalist website, and another variation of it here on Joshua Becker's Becoming Minimalist site.

I don't mind preparing for the future, making things are secure but I've spent way too much of my life waiting for the "next thing".  I don't mean that I won't prepare and work on improving my life.  But not at the expense of today.

THIS is what we have now.  And we're not giving it up for anything less.  That's for sure!  Most of these photos were taken within the last week, the first one even from today.