Thursday, December 16, 2010

I've been thinking...

I don't know if this is a universal phenomenon, but I became an imbecile after I had my first child. I'd worked with children on a daily basis previous to my daughter's birth, and I'd parented quite a few foster children, so I understand that the incessant needs of little ones and the exhaustion that clings to those who care for them can cause absent-mindedness and slower mental processes, but I never knew that the physical process of giving birth could actually cause me to turn stupid.

Now that I've nearly reached the 18 month mark of my daughter's life, I'm finally feeling the fog begin to lift. This is almost more frustrating than the haze of half-wittedness, as I can feel the potential for deep thoughts and eloquent speech lurking inside my being, but I can't quite access that little pocket.

It's often the case, recently, that I'm reading the words of someone I admire, and I'm sitting there, nodding like a loon, going "Yeah, yeah, what s/he said!" I've got thoughts and opinions and interests and passions; I just can't manage to produce any words of substance at the moment.

So I stick another picture of my kid up on my blog and say, "A-hyuck, ain't she pretty?"

It bugs me. But I'm getting there, I think. Like I said, the fog is lifting.

With that long-winded preamble, we come to the actual point of this blog post. Fritz and I have been talking lately about some goals we have for the near future. We've never been the New Year's resolution types, but we've resolved to make some changes for this coming year, so I guess you could say we're conforming.

A lot of the goals we've made for ourselves as individuals and as a family fall under the heading of "self sufficiency." It's always been a passion of mine. One of my greatest dreams is to someday have our own small plot of land where we can support our family as close to independently as possible. We're thinking a large edible garden, bees for honey, chickens for eggs, goats for milk, sheep for wool to spin and weave or knit, maybe even a large-scale crop of... something.

That goal is obviously many years in the future, but we'd like to take some steps in that direction. Before my daughter was born, I checked out The Complete Tightwad Gazette from the library and fell in love with Amy Dacyczyn's lifestyle. I implemented many of her techniques in my own life, and the techniques of other "frugal zealots". I learned to make nearly everything from scratch: condiments, cheese/yogurt/other dairy products, cleaning supplies, bread/tortillas/dry cereal/other baked goods, soy milk, tofu, etc. I even learned how to wash wheat flour and turn the gluten into a meat substitute.

Pregnancy, foster kids, an infant, and moving house sort of put those things on the back burner, and for the past year I feel I've been very much a consumer, without taking any steps toward providing for my family from within. I feel no guilt over this. It was a rough road, acquiring the delicious little bundle that is Margaret, and I've spent the last year and a half drinking her in. We've found our stride now, and we're ready to return to our "provident living" lifestyle.

Oh, man, I know I'm rambling. I'm really trying not to be too verbose here. Anyway, we've broken our goals up by month. Each month, we'll give the new experience a shot. If we find it's worthwhile and enjoyable, we'll continue it. If not, we can happily say we've tried it and it's not our bag.

  • Baking bread
  • Margaret's summer wardrobe - sew 2 dresses

  • Homemade household cleaners - all-purpose, bathroom, glass, toilet bowl, floor, laundry detergent
  • Update 1-year storage
  • Update emergency supplies
  • Make Valentine's decor and gifts
  • Margaret's summer wardrobe - sew capris

  • Make a Mix
  • Margaret's summer wardrobe - sew 2 sun hats

  • Start seeds for edible garden - vegetables and herbs
  • Make birthday gifts for family
  • Make Easter decor and gifts
  • Margaret's summer wardrobe - sew 2 skirts

  • Transfer seeds for edible garden
  • Sew cloth napkins

  •  Sew personal products
  • Care for edible garden

  • Bake snacks - crackers, granola bars, cereal
  • Care for edible garden

  • Harvest edible garden
  • Make Margaret's birthday gifts

  • Make yogurt and butter
  • Make Margaret's Halloween costume

  • Start winter edible garden
  • Make holiday decor
  • Make Christmas gifts

  • Make Christmas cards
  • Make holiday decor
  • Care for winter edible garden

  • Make holiday decor
  • Make fabric gift bags
  • Care for winter edible garden

Some other things I'd like to try once we've got the hang of the previous challenges are:
  • Growing fruits and berries
  • Beekeeping
  • Knitting warm hats and sweaters
  • Sewing cold-weather clothes for Margaret (won't be necessary next year as I already bought her winter wardrobe on Black Friday for a steal)
  • Knitting socks for the whole family
  • Sewing my dresses (I've done so in the past and really enjoyed it, though it's time-consuming)
  • Sewing baby's diapers and wipes (again, not currently necessary, as Margaret has plenty to last her through potty training)
  • Sewing bedding and curtains
  • Sewing towels
  • Making hand soap and shampoo

So that's where we're at.  I'm honestly pretty thrilled to get started.



Sophie (BNaBBT) said...

Your plan for the year is awesome and inspiring - I'm really looking forward to reading about your progress. But there had better still be plenty of pictures of the adorable Margaret, too. A-hyuck.

All the best for a happy and fulfilling 2011 for you and your family.

Laura Ingalls wannabe said...

Just for you, Sophie, I think I can toss a few Margaret pictures in here and there! ;)