Autumn Traditions

Autumn starts tomorrow…

The crisp air blowing inside through this window feels good…

September’s light is perfect for photoshoots, so this morning, my subjects and I went outside. Here’s a sneak peek:

Fall traditions, first day of autumn

falling leaves

We don’t really have any fall traditions besides decorating for fall; setting out pumpkins and garden mums. We go to the pumpkin patch of course. And every year I tell myself we’ll go apple picking, but we never do. We do, however, manage to go on some sort of family vacation during the fall. It typically works out that way, since we don’t go anywhere in the summer. As of now, there isn’t anything planned for the family, but I am going to Vegas.

Yep, instead of New York City, for our annual girls’/mommy trip tradition, I’m meeting up with my girl, Janet, in Vegas!

VEGAS Baby!I can’t say that I’m super-duper excited about the destination; casinos, gambling, unintelligent debauchery confined to a strip of sensory-overloaded space won’t float my bubble.

But, I’m amped up about lounging in the airport with good music and a good book–all by myself–uninterrupted. I love my life, I really do, but I need a trip like this every year (sometimes twice), to keep me balanced. I’ll come back refreshed and ready to tackle the season: Ollie’s 2nd birthday, our 7th anniversary, Ev’s birthday, Halloween, my 30th birthday (party!), and Thanksgiving.

I need all the freshening up I can get. Maybe this time I won’t cut my trip a day short (like I usually do), because I miss my kids, and I’ll channel all that “missing” into a trip to the apple orchard, finally.

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It’s easier the second time around

Just a mental note.

I dreaded potty training a second time around. Not that the first time around was particularly difficult. What I hated was the constant bathroom visits…as soon as we left the house…stepped into a store…or generally anywhere that was terribly inconvenient.

That’s probably not going to change, but I’m happy to announce, Olivia potty trained herself. I didn’t have to actively do anything to get her to sit on a toilet.

She woke up on Monday asked me to take her to the bathroom exactly when she needed to go, and that was that. Her diaper stayed dry the whole day. I thought it was a fluke, but her diaper stayed dry on Tuesday too. It’s wednesday, and I’m not trippin’.

Livvy is potty-trained.


Ellie took this picture with my phone.

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What staying home taught me about money, Part II

homemade tortillasHomemade Tortillas

We pay for convenience. I know that. But I didn’t really see how much convenience I was paying for until I became a Stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). In this role, I see how removed we are from the basics and how reliant we’ve become on others’ expertise. I’d leave surgery to a surgeon, but I’ve unknowingly spent so much money for convenient services and products posed as necessities. 

In Part I of this post, I explained how I used to go grocery shopping, Now I understand my shopping habits were guided by a routine that no longer suited me, I went into Trader Joe’s did the same route, picked up the same things, whether we needed them or not.

I knew we needed cleaning supplies, snacks, laundry detergent and sundry. Never once did I stop to question what I was buying and why  I was buying it. Status quo told me I needed dryer sheets, habit made me pick up the brand that smelled like fresh linen. Nothing in my subconscious told me I could just hang my laundry out to dry, save myself the cost of dryer sheets, electricity, and the static cling.

Line drying laundry

Line drying laundry

My movement back to basics has been gradual, and enlightening. I’ve learned that running the dryer for 90 minutes is a convenience that I paid for in electricity. The sun does a better job bleaching my whites, anyway…and it’s free! The gym, if and when I do remember to go, packs full of treadmills that simulate walking or running…I can run outside for free! I haven’t come across bread in the grocery store that isn’t baked without soy flour. I’m allergic to the stuff. Now I just buy flour and yeast and bake my own bread…not free, but at a fraction of the cost, tastes better too! Drycleaning? My guy’s shirts are laundered and starched right here at home. Don’t get me started on all the prepackaged food that we don’t recognize as mere conveniences; tortilla wraps, salsa, canned beans, granola, breakfast cereal, seasonings, condiments…

It sounds like I’m rapping about a DIY lifestyle. Which I am, and there’s nothing special about that, except this: When I understand how something is done, not only do I save money, but I can see convenience I’m paying for, and I can consciously decide if it’s worth it.

Kids making a Pizza

Kids making a Pizza

Another benefit is that my kids can see the real work that goes into seemingly mundane tasks we take for granted. Like when they see laundry hanging out to dry, they understand that clean clothes don’t just magically appear out of the basement and into their drawers. Or that, the yummy bread we bake together takes time to make. Or that exercise can be done anywhere, not just this abstract place called the gym. Or that soap and water, with a little bit of elbow grease cleans just as effectively as all the fragrant, and toxic, cleaners out there…that mommy (and daddy) do things to keep the house clean, an invisible cleaning crew doesn’t overshadow that reality. That dinner, does not take an instant to prepare, and is tastier, richer, and is most visually pleasing than the stuff picked up from a drive-thru window.

Is time saving worth the ignorance?

Whole industries are built around the conveniences we seek. Conveniences we may not even know we’re paying for. Explicit or not, these costs can be significant to our wallets and well-being. Industries become our “experts” and they rob us of the ability to be self-reliant. Children grow up never having to “hand-wash,” budget, change oil, or cook. Labor-saving clutches prop us up and become our expensive norm. Generation after generation gets sucked into debilitating ignorance until we are desensitized from nature and life itself.

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