It seems like January always finds our little family on the Financial High Road. It has to do with our New Year’s Resolution to be financially disciplined, I’m sure, not to mention the Christmastime financial hangover that starts to smell really bad around here about January 2. So, in the first month we tend to limit ourselves to living off the fat of December: trying to use up all the leftovers from the gluttony we embarked upon during the holidays, avoiding grocery shopping at all costs.
That is to say that we Blakes haven’t grocery shopped in some time now. We are determined to Use What We Have Before We Buy More.
I like the not shopping. And I like being responsible and using up the excess that’s stockpiled in the pantry and the freezers. It makes me want to pat myself on the back for being a frugal homemaker.
The only trouble with being responsible is that it takes a lot of time. There’s a reason I never finished cleaning that ham bone at Christmastime: though I knew I would eventually use the ham to make potatoes au gratin, I also knew it would take a lot of time to get all the ham prepared (I’m really particular about trimming meat that I cook with; my perfectionism kills me). Back in December I knew I didn’t have time to perfect the ham, so I just threw it all in the freezer instead of dealing with it. But today was the right day to pick at the ham, and here’s why: we are down to two carrots, pickled asparagus, and half a carton of chicken broth in the refrigerator.
Also: I mined three rock-hard bananas from the freezer today. Ah-ha! I thought. Banana bread! But we’re out of eggs and butter. So, again, time was what it took: I Googled a recipe for… wait for it… vegan banana bread. Ha! I have to admit it’s pretty good stuff. Thank goodness I always seem to have a container of coconut oil in the darkest, dustiest corner of the pantry. I just never know what to do with it until everything else is gone.
The deep freeze is, of course, still full of beef. And then there’s what’s left in the pantry. Honey. Lime jello. Cream of mushroom soup. Four grapefruits. How many more meals do you think I can churn out before shopping?
Muggins is at that challenging stage of toddlerhood in which, if he naps during the day, he doesn’t fall asleep for the night until about 11 p.m.
You’ll probably remember that he’s never been much of a sleeper anyway. Now that he’s two, though, I’m trying to crack down on his sleep habits. First of all, he’s not allowed to get out of his crib at nighttime anymore. This means I spend a lot of the night laying on Asher’s bed, which is pushed up against the crib, and holding Muggins’ hand through the crib slats. If I persevere at this effort I certainly will be rewarded someday, don’t you think?
But there is not only the issue of sleeping for long stretches during the night. There is also the issue of Mommy And Daddy Want To Be Alone, On The Couch, Watching Netflix After You’re Asleep.
Staying up late with Muggins is not one of my favorite things to do following the average day. Come 9 p.m. I’d just as soon cuddle up on the couch with Beau. Or sit in the blissful quiet at my computer. The thing is, if Muggins gets a nap during the day, he’s raring to go at 9 p.m.
The answer, clearly, is to deprive him of nap time. To cheer him on through the afternoon so he has no chance of getting sleepy and cranky before bedtime. (A big ol’ glass of sweet tea at lunch seems to help him power through the witching hour.)
P.S. Don’t you just love those parents who say, Oh, my kids napped for four hours every afternoon until they were sixteen! I got so much done while they were sleeping!
REEEEEALLY. Did they now. (I wish I could think of something clever to say to people like this. But I’m too tired to come up with anything. Because, well, my kids haven’t let me sleep for years and my brain cells are suffering the consequences.)
“Motherhood is hard. And I wish somebody had told me that ahead of time. You know, not smiled and patted me on the back and told me that… but sat me down, looked me square in the face, and said, ‘You might not survive this.'” — Speaker and author Nicole Johnson
I heard that quote today as I listened to the Focus on the Family podcast, and I thought it was pretty appropriate!
So here’s a snippet from my day: While I was kneading bread today (again, not something I would normally do; when we grocery shop we pick up some really handy stuff called store-bought bread), I let Muggins play with a scoopful of flour in his own little bowl, as I often do. A scoopful of flour with a few sprinkles in it and a whisk and a kid can play for hours!
I finished kneading my bread and then (as too often happens) I got totally distracted. I needed to call and make an appointment; then I decided I better get ahold of the farrier while I was sitting at my desk. I was busy and didn’t realize until too late that Muggins was awfully quiet in the kitchen.
When I finally thought to check on him, I discovered he’d gotten the lid off the flour bucket and emptied the whole thing on the floor. He was rolling in the mess like a little pig! Agggghhhh!
I paused long enough to take a few pictures, then pulled him up and started taking off his clothes. For some reason right then he stuck his hand down his diaper… and he was wearing a poopy one. I hollered at the big kids to start the bath water as I thoroughly washed his hand and wiped his bottom. Then, as I carried him to the bathtub, HE PEED ON ME.
But ah, even if someone had told me… I probably still would’ve had to try it for myself.
Today I read a heartfelt Facebook post written by a woman who, through circumstances beyond her control, recently had to move off the ranch she dearly loves. Her story struck a chord with me: Like me, she loves a place that she has no claim to… and when push came to shove, there was nothing to hold her there but her heartstrings, and heartstrings don’t much matter when it comes to business dealings.
My own position here on the PV has always been a fragile thing, and I never forget that it’s a privilege to live here. The only reason I’ve been able to spend my life here on someone else’s property, to tell the truth, is because of these men in my life who let me tag along with them: first Dad, now Beau. More than 35 years I’ve been here, loving the land, its legends, its legacy, its every nook. I am its greatest champion. If land could love back, I’d like to think it’d love me too. But in real life land is inanimate, and my love of it is… well… meaningless. See, love is one kind of currency; money is another. You would never try to buy a candy bar with love; neither — I am learning ever so slowly — can you buy land with love. Land may be beautiful here or there; you can enjoy your time on it; you can appreciate its history. But I must not forget that land — specifically these big corporate ranches — is a commodity. What will control the PV, at least ’til the end of this age, is money. And the people who have lots of it will always call the shots. The love I’ve invested in the land has no value in their books. And that makes it a pretty poor investment.
I have been reminded today that I must take care not to invest my love where it has no business being. It’s not that my love isn’t good; it’s just been misdirected. There are places where my love is good as gold, and there is where I must invest. How to find the bank where my love should be? First I’ll remember that we’ll take nothing physical with us when we die. Then I’ll remember that if we’re headed for a good heaven, we’ll sure want to be there with the people who matter. And so the answer is people. People are for loving. More than that, God is for loving. Land, obviously, is not.
It seems quite silly, now that I’ve thought about it, to ever waste time in loving land. Because life is so, so fragile. This ranch could dissolve tomorrow. My position here could dissolve tomorrow. Nothing is in my control…
… except the way I choose to love. I will try harder today, harder every day, to invest my love where it really matters.
Today’s Weather: High of 54. Low of 29. Again, really beautiful weather for January.
Today On The Ranch: Beau hauled the 4-wheeler to the Orange Tire on the Sumatra Road and unloaded there; he headed into The Creek Place, then, from the west side (we usually approach it from the east). The waterline and storage tank there still aren’t working right (yes, it’s been a month, and Beau is definitely feeling that). Luckily this January thaw we’ve enjoyed means there’s plenty of water in the creek for the cows to drink.
© Tami Blake