Monthly Archives: March 2009

Pesach cleaning – the kitchen

This morning, my kids asked me how I was planning to break up the kitchen cleaning.  Until just a couple of days ago, I was going to clean today, do my monthly shopping out of state tomorrow, and finish up the kitchen the next day.  But a couple of days ago, I decided it doesn’t make sense to do a big trip for shopping, since the items I need for Pesach don’t justify the drive and the time.  I’ll pay more locally for what I want, but it evens out.  So I figured we’d start today (Tuesday) and finish up tomorrow, after my visit with the midwife. 

We’ve so far had a pretty mellow pace as far as Pesach cleaning, and until dinner, it looked like the biggest accomplishment for today would be how much chametz we ate up in the course of the day.  After dinner, ds15 planted the blackberry bushes, and ds10 dug up a hosta plant that I wanted to move to somewhere else.  (The hosta plant job was my inspiration – I was trying to think of something he could do outside that he’d enjoy so I could offer to do some dishes in exchange for his work – he was feeling overwhelmed by dishes, but it’s his job for these two weeks, and not wanting to do it isn’t a reason that I excuse them from their chores.  I wanted to give him a legitimate way to earn a trade.)  

While they were outside, I was able to get a lot of the dishes out of the way, which was the main impediment to moving forward much in the kitchen – ds had things stacked on the counters waiting to be washed that were taking up space, and no one could really work around it.  Once that was cleaned, the counters could be cleaned, and we could start getting some real work done. But it was just dd12 and me, since dd14 was at her piano lesson and everyone else was working or playing outside, and it wasn’t for too long since it was starting to get dark when they all went out.

Once everyone was back inside, it was time for bed for the youngers, and then the olders wanted to stay up and prepare the kitchen.  They asked me if it would be okay if we covered the kitchen counters and totally turned it over tonight (except for the sink).  I agreed it would be okay with me.  (Ds15 did the fridge and freezer yesterday, so that was a big thing out of the way. And we can kasher the oven and stove tomorrow.)  So the oldest four (15, 14, 12, 10) are right now working in the kitchen together.  I’m giving periodic instructions, but that’s the extent of my active involvement for right now (don’t think that I don’t do anything but tell them what to do – I’m done plenty of other cleaning today!).  There’s something nice about listening to them being up late together, working on Pesach preparations.  They’re having a lot of fun joking around and laughing – there’s a strong feeling of fellowship and teamwork.  And have you ever noticed how when you start turning over the kitchen, that’s when you really start getting that Pesach feeling?

So the counters are now all covered, the cabinets have been lined and the Pesach dishes unpacked – this is where I get to enjoy the payoff for the years my kids worked alongside of me as I taught them how to prepare for Pesach.  Things can get done now without me needing to be involved in every detail.  Every year, they’ve been able to do more and more with less and less of my help.  Don’t think it happens automatically when your kids reach a certain age – it doesn’t!  I’m so appreciative that they can work on this while I work on other things (like researching fruit trees – the reason this suddenly became a thought is a topic for another day :)).


Planting strawberries and more blackberries

So today was the first day I scheduled to begin cleaning the kitchen for Pesach.  Since Tuesdays are always busy days for me, I knew I wouldn’t be able to start until this afternoon.  And that’s what I was going to do, when there was a sudden knock on the door – a delivery arrived.  And what do you think it was?  The strawberry plants and blackberry bushes that I ordered at the beginning of this month.  And they needed to be planted immediately.

Well.  That certainly wasn’t part of my plan for today.  In fact, according to the estimated dates they would be sent, I didn’t expect them for another three weeks, after Pesach.  Accordingly, I didn’t even have a prepared bed to put the strawberries in, or know what conditions they needed.  But adaptability is a great trait to develop in being happy day to day.  And so I adapted.  :) 

I’m happy to say that after doing some quick research, my 25 strawberry plants are now in the ground, as are the newest blackberry bushes (along with the one extra one from last week’s purchase that I couldn’t find a place for).  Last week, ds10 planted the raspberry bushes in the rain, and the next day when it was sunny, got the other blackberry bushes put in.   And this morning, my ds ran in excitedly to tell me that there are already signs of green buds on the raspberry plants that he put in on Thursday afternoon – it was so nice for him to see them already showing signs of growth!

Are you wondering what ended up happening with my kitchen?  You’ll have to wait for my next post.  :)


Quick and easy banana ice cream

Today we were given a case of peeled frozen bananas from someone who needed the space in their freezer.  With my handy dandy dehydrator, I can now deal pretty efficiently with what in the past would have been way too much produce for me to deal with, short of feeding it to my kids nonstop!

My ds15 is the one who usually makes the fruit leather, so I asked him before I accepted the bananas if I should say yes or not.  I didn’t want him to feel overwhelmed by the sudden onslaught of ripe bananas needing to be processed, especially this week, since I want to get the kitchen cleaned and all cooking that isn’t necessary out of the way.  He willingly agreed, so off we went to pick them up. 

He’s found that the most efficient way to make fruit leather is to throw the fruit into the food processor or blender.  So he started blending the first batch, and then added a little bit of fruit juice concentrate.  Before he even tasted it, he told me it looked like ice cream – it was light and fluffy.  He let everyone taste it, and the response of two of my kids showed me that: a) it was really good and b) they needed to take an immediate nap (because they liked it so much they started complaining and being sad when they had to wait for more.) 

The first batch was finished off within minutes of him making it – it never made it anywhere near the dehydrator trays.  :)  And we decided to keep the bananas in the freezer to use for shakes and ice cream instead of dehydrating it.  It’s a quick and healthy treat that everyone enjoyed and I know that they’ll continue to enjoy.  And it’s always good to have yet another way to deal with ripe bananas.

So here’s the very unofficial recipe – take a bunch of frozen bananas (they have to be frozen – fresh bananas will have a different consistency), and blend them up.  Add concentrate – he estimated that the ratio of bananas to concentrate was 10:1 (about ten bananas and half a can of concentrate).  But the easiest thing is probably to taste it and add a little more or a little less, according to your preferences.  Serve immediately.  (If you make this in advance and freeze it, let me know how it works to do that.)


Feeling pressured? Go slower.

I was thinking today what a beautiful time of year this is.  Don’t you think so?  But it seems that because Pesach is around the corner, it’s easy to forget what a special time it is.  It’s so easy to focus on all the cleaning, endless lists of details, with a resulting feeling of time pressure.  That’s really a shame because it’s nice when everyone feels positive anticipation regarding Pesach instead of dread about all that has to be done.  As I’ve said already, it helps me to make a schedule that is relaxed.  But even a relaxed schedule can be a source of pressure if you feel you’re not keeping up with what you want to do. 

Yesterday I became aware that though my basement was cleaned for Pesach, it needed to be re-organized in order to look as though it had been cleaned.  My kids are great cleaners, but I’m the organizer.  And if I want it done, I have to do it myself or be there to direct them where to put what.  I can’t really expect them to intuit what I want put where – if all the games are on the shelf, they don’t care if all the same size boxes are stacked on top of one another or if they’re haphazardly stacked with small and larger boxes mixed up.  Anyway – my plan for today was to start the main floor, and the basement is very clearly not the main floor!  I had about five minutes where I was deciding if I should feel bothered that it wasn’t done and go ahead with my schedule or just let go of my expectation for the day and make the basement more orderly.  I find when I’m feeling pressure, the best thing to do is go slower.  When I go faster, it makes me feel more tense or pressured, but slowing down my external activity allows my mind to slow down and think productively. 

So I chose to start doing whatever I could, and to do it as long as I felt I could.  It was so relaxing, once I let go of accepting having a different plan for the day.  I enjoy putting things in order and knowing that things are all in their place.  Since most of the kids were busy with various activities outside of the house, there were only four kids home with me, and I put the youngest in for a nap because he wasn’t enhancing my sense of inner quiet.  :)  (A young child in nonstop motion who climbs into and pulls out everything all day long can do that, you know!)   I can’t say there’s much I did today that needed to be done for Pesach – I’m the first to say that you have to differentiate between spring cleaning and Pesach cleaning – but I found it productive and enjoyable.  It could have gone faster but I was enjoying the mellow pace, and actually, I’m not physically at the point in pregnancy where I can go very fast and not pay the price. 

It may be counter intuitive to slow down when you have more to do than you feel you can do, but I’ve always found it helpful to me.  Somehow, everything that needs to get done, gets done.  Maybe not everything you want to have done happens, but everything that needs to get done, does.  Going slower when everything inside of you is going into overdrive allows you to re-center yourself and refocus on what is most important.  I tend to do things quickly and I know from first hand experience that it’s not hard to shift from productively busy to frenetic and stressed if you aren’t careful.   Deliberate action really helps me to be deliberate in my thinking.  And it’s that inner calm that helps me keep in mind what my goal for Pesach is.  That goal isn’t a sparkling house, though it’s a nice thing to have and I like when that happens, too!  My true goal is for all of us to enjoy this time of year, to look forward to Pesach, and to have time for spiritual preparation as well as physical preparation.  I like to go into the seder well rested and calm, and I want everyone in my family to feel that, too.  That can’t happen if I get caught up in obsessing over all that needs to be done, and how much faster or better someone else is doing it. 

So the next time you start to feel anxious or pressured, try this.  Take a deep breath (or three), and then slow down


Shmura matza and Pesach food expenses

I’ve been thinking that I should post about the cost of shmura matza and how we deal with it.  Shmura matza isn’t cheap, to say the least!  Last week I brought home our shmura matza for Pesach – I bought four pounds of hand matza ($17 lb) and 6 pounds of machine shmura ($7 lb) – that’s it.  We use only hand matza for the sedarim, and the machine shmura is for the other yom tov meals.  We don’t usually have many guests for the seder (usually not more than four), but we provide matza for everyone who comes who wants it, unless the person chooses to bring their own. 

Our family custom is that we eat gebrochts on Pesach (matza products that are moistened), but for many years, I never made any Pesach foods with matza meal.  I became very good at baking potato starch cakes and kugels (and in a Wonder Pot, no less!  For those who don’t know what a Wonder Pot is, it’s a special pot you can bake in when you don’t kasher your oven for Pesach.  Pesach baking is a cinch now that I use my oven!)  The reason I didn’t make all of those delicious matza meal recipes (like bagels/rolls, fritters, etc) was that at that time, our standard was to only use shmura matza for all of Pesach, and that included shmura matza meal.  And I absolutely wasn’t going to pay the price for it to use in baking when I could much less expensively make potato starch options. 

Contrary to what many people think, you don’t have to have matza, or matza meal products, available at breakfast, lunch, and dinner for every day of Pesach.  We all enjoy the shmura one week a year, but we don’t gorge ourselves on it.  We make plenty of other foods, and matza is just one small part of a yom tov meal (though one big part of the seder! :)).   Many of the foods for Pesach are exactly the same as what we eat all year round – cheeses, fish/chicken/meat, and lots of fruits and vegetables.  Oh, and potatoes. :) 

The cost of items like shmura matza is unavoidable (unless you don’t consider this a necessary expense), but how much you use is up to you.  There’s no need to buy a huge stack of hand shmura so the boxes stack five feet high (well, for most of us – I do have one friend who only uses hand shmura all week long, and uses it for every meal – so she gets thirty pounds).  Then, on to the rest of the food expenses.  Even though Pesach food shopping usually means replacing everything in the fridge, it doesn’t have to be intimidatingly expensive.  First of all, you should have been saving a lot on food the month before, as you ‘eat’ down the chometz and use up whatever you have on hand.  You can apply those funds you saved towards your Pesach food costs. 

If you do use the regular matzas on Pesach, they are super inexpensive.  Here I’m seeing them as loss leaders in the major supermarkets for 5 lb/2.99.  You can serve as much matza brei as you like at that price! 

What do we eat on Pesach that is really so expensive?  A potential stumbling block is proteins, since most of us tend to use a lot more of them on Pesach than during the year.  But this area doesn’t have to be a budget breaker.  I haven’t bought a roast for Pesach for quite a long time, but when I’ve done it, it has been only for one night of yom tov, and we have chicken the rest of the nights.  Minimizing the amounts of expensive meats you buy can help you use your available grocery dollars more effectively.   Ground meat is great for chol hamoed meals because it can be stretched so effectively.  There are plenty of cuts of chicken or turkey that are delicious and can be festively prepared.  Fresh fish is an affordable option in some parts of the country (not for me, though!).  Cottage cheese, hard cheeses, and eggs all round out meals during chol hamoed very effectively.  (Despite the expense of hard cheese, it can be stretched, similarly to ground meat, so that can be a reasonable option.) 

But even with the legitimate costs of proteins, spending should still be kept reasonable.  Most of the other Pesach food expenses aren’t high – my shopping will include a case of potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, eggs, bananas, oranges, and apples.  Together with smaller amounts of onions, squash, lettuce and tomatoes (and some other assorted produce), we’ll be able to make a large variety of salads, kugels, side dishes, and soups. 

I think the biggest part of what throws the Pesach food costs out of whack is the feeling that we need to buy all of those overpriced, less than tasty, chometz-substitutes or prepared foods.  I’ve always enjoyed the simple meals of Pesach – I haven’t felt we’re suffering because we can’t have bread or crackers, or even grains (which we usually use a lot of).  I almost feel that all of the chometz imitations serve to lessen the unique feeling of Pesach, but I’m sure those who use them have a different experience. 

But aside from the philosophy of using the chometz substitutes, stop and think: do you really need it? Yes, the stores are filled with them, but are they really going to enhance your chag?  If so, buy them!  We enjoy having macaroons for Pesach, and though I can (and have) made them myself, we feel it’s worth buying them to add to the Pesach spirit.  But twenty boxes of macaroons wouldn’t enhance our yom tov more than six boxes would, so I can get the same bang for my buck by buying six of them.   As far as the outrageously priced cake and kugel mixes, it hardly takes more time to mix up a cake from scratch than to add the eggs and oil to the mix – and it saves a huge amount of money!    


Surprise performance succeeds!

For the past couple of weeks, dd14 and dd12 have been busy, busy, busy, preparing a surprise performance for their choir leader who got engaged.  They made up a dance, a song, and a short humorous skit in her honor.  This has meant hours of time – not just creating the dance, etc, but in planning who would do what, calling all the other girls in the choir almost daily, working out times and locations for practices, what they would wear, how they would present it so she’d be surprised, the music for the dance, costumes and props for the play, painting a sign to hold up when the engaged young lady came in – the list just goes on and on.

I’ve been very flexible about giving them whatever time they felt necessary to do all of this (and they’ve been very responsible about doing all of the academic work that’s expected of them), but today I was thinking that I was very glad that tonight was the performance.  Because it’s nice that they’re so engaged and excited about this, but it’s nice when they’re available at home, too.  Not just home, but emotionally present. 

I was so glad to hear when they came home that all went well.  (Because it was a surprise, no one extra was invited, or it would have been fishy.  But it was videotaped so we’ll get to see it.)  Dh and I reminded them before they left that however it went, it would be a success, but I know they wanted it to flow as they pictured it.  When you put so much of your time and effort into something, you want it to go well and be successful.  Even though it wasn’t perfect, they came home all smiles and happy with how everything went, as well as being able to surprise the girl it was done for – she said that this is the first time anyone has ever successfully carried out a surprise for her (usually she figures it out beforehand). 

When they got back, they mentioned that Sunday morning they have a performance.  “What?!?” I asked.  “We told you about it!”  It turns out that they’ll be doing a short choir performance then, but when they mentioned it to me, I thought they were talking about their performance that they did tonight!  I didn’t realize that two separate things were under discussion.  So it’s not all over as soon as I expected, but I’m glad they have opportunities like these, and I can’t complain that they have so many good things to be busy with!


Raspberry bushes and other purchases

It’s funny, I can go a long time and not buy anything extraneous, and then in one day buy a number of items.  This afternoon, my ds10 and dd8 accompanied me to make some Craig’s List purchases.  (I try not to do errands in the morning, because that’s our homeschooling time and it throws off our routine when I go out before their work is done.)   Usually it’s hard to coordinate private sellers efficiently, but today it worked out beautifully. 

We started off by heading off to buy some raspberry and blackberry plants – a man who has a large garden dug up a bunch of the roots since his plants had spread so much and were getting overcrowded.  He told us that usually he throws them away, but this year it occurred to him that someone on CL might be interested.  He was very surprised at the response, which was much higher than he anticipated.  He had a beautiful garden – huge, well organized, the kind of place where you take one look and it’s clear he really knows what he’s doing.  I seriously would have wanted to take a picture of it home with me to study all the things he did.  We were all very impressed. :)  We bought five raspberry plants and five blackberry plants.  He threw in an extra raspberry and two extra blackberry, so for $20 we got quite a bargain!  (Each of the blackberry plants I ordered online a couple of weeks ago were $10.)  He asked the kids why they weren’t in school and I told him that they’re homeschooled, and this is part of their education.  And I mean it!

Then we headed to the next private seller, and bought 2 garden shovels (we have only one shovel and that’s simply not adequate for a family our size!), one snow shovel (ds10 broke ours when he was shovelling for others this winter, and wanted to buy one for himself), and a couple of large empty propane canisters (for camping). 

Directly from there, we went to yet another seller, the most trusting I’ve ever dealt with on CL.  He was selling two hardly used propane camping stoves (two burners each, $30 for both), and told me he’d leave them on his front porch and I could leave the money under the mat when I picked them up.  The kids wanted to get them from the porch, so I handed one the envelope with money and asked them to knock just in case someone was home.  It turned out his wife was there, and I was glad to be able to directly pay them instead of leaving it in an unsecured place.  I wouldn’t have wanted anything to happen to the envelope I left and then it would seem like I hadn’t left the money as agreed.  These camp stoves will be handy for our yearly family camping trip (that won’t take place until late May or early June), since every year until now we’ve borrowed one from someone.  Last year the stove we borrowed didn’t function properly, and it was a good thing that we’re a family who is able to improvise, because not being able to cook can throw a major crimp into a three day trip!  It will be nice to have our own, since it will be one less thing to organize before the trip (I think we’ll be able to hook up the big canisters I just bought up to this instead of buying several small ones, which should be a savings in fuel, too).

All of these purchases added up to just $66, and though I realize it’s not the kind of thing most people are buying less than two weeks before Pesach with their miscellaneous funds, I’m pleased with them all and consider it time and money well spent.  :)   Getting bargains means buying when things are available, not when it’s most convenient for you.  All of these errands went very quickly even though they were in totally different directions.  I enjoy taking a child or two with me when I do errands, because it’s an opportunity to spend one-on-one (or one-on-two) time together.  Being with them, the time went by so quickly!   

Then I stopped at Whole Foods to speak to a manager about the possibility of them ordering coconut or palm oil in bulk for me.  I would have called but it was on my way home, and I thought it would be more clear what I wanted if I could show them which brand, size, etc.  This quick question took an hour to have answered, and I still didn’t get the details I wanted.  I don’t think I’ll pursue it further – she said I could get a 10% discount if I buy a case of small containers, but I don’t want small containers.  (Ds saw the 14 ounce container of coconut oil for $9, and exclaimed, “Whoa!  That’s how much we use in one day!”  And when we’re baking, he’s right.)  If I’m only going to get 10% off, I might as well stick to buying from the health food store close to me, which has 10% off once a week of all purchases, regardless of how much or how little you buy.  Fortunately, they had kosher organic corn chips out for sampling that the kids enjoyed, and on the way out they got to sample some fresh pineapple chunks.  Amazing how an unexpected little treat like that can redeem a lot of wasted time for kids!

It’s been raining all day, but I was still hoping there would be a chance to get the berry bushes planted.  Ds10 wanted to do it, but it ended up being a lot more work than either he or I expected.  I haven’t had a chance to prepare the soil in that area – I wasn’t expecting to plant anything there for another three weeks – and it’s very hard and compacted.  Just in the nick of time, yesterday I gave away the basketball hoop that’s been in that space, so at least the space was available!  But the soil was like a rock.

Ds was out there in the rain for a long time, digging and digging.  I told him he didn’t have to do it, but he said he started and he wanted to finish the job.  He has a lot of determination and persistence; a cold and rainy day is far from an appealing time for garden work.  He got five of the raspberry plants in (forgot about the one extra we were given when he was figuring the spacing; we’ll figure out what to do with that another time). 

It’s currently ds10’s turn for dishes – we alternate between the oldest four kids every two weeks.  It’s a very intense job, which is why it’s two weeks instead of four.  He got a rash a couple of days ago on his arms, and yesterday night told me that washing dishes is exacerbating it.  I suggested he trade jobs with one of his siblings, to give the rash a time to heal, but he hadn’t yet found any of them who wanted to trade.  When he came in from digging, wet and muddy, I sent him straight upstairs for a hot bath, and did the dishes myself while he was soaking.  I told him afterwards I consider it a fair trade for all of his work, and asked him what he thought – I’ll do dishes for all of today in exchange for the bushes he dug this afternoon.  And if he wants to plant the five blackberry plants tomorrow, I’ll do the dishes for him again tomorrow (erev Shabbos and motzei Shabbos are the least favorite dishwashing times, for obvious reasons).  He was very happy with this idea – and only half jokingly asked if I had any more bushes he could plant for me a different day!


Running a business with small children

>>I’ve decided to start a small business, selling ….  I know you have a small business as well, and I was wondering if you could write about homeschooling and children and owning a small business? :-)  I’d appreciate any insight –  I’m kind of scared of doing this with a toddler and a baby. <<

I don’t know what your specific question about running a business and having young children is, but I’ll share my general thoughts with you.  First of all, make sure it’s something that you love.  Even a small business can take up a lot more time and energy than you would ever expect, and it can easily drain you.  If you love it, you’ll still have the motivation to continue when you’re feeling worn out. 

Don’t overextend yourself.  Know yourself and your limitations.  When I started thinking about a home biz, I had six kids, and the youngest was over 3.  Things were running in a very smooth groove, and I felt very up to taking on a bigger project, though I didn’t actually start my business until six months later, when my seventh was a month old.  Having the head space for something is what makes the big difference between feeling motivated or feeling overwhelmed.  At this point, I don’t want any extra things that I’m not passionate about taking up my time.  So I wouldn’t have started the biz at this point in my life, because getting started is pretty intense and takes a lot of energy.  So that’s just to say that something can be great at one stage of life and not so great at another stage. 

Practically speaking, I clearly delineated time that I would and wouldn’t spend on the business.  Initially it was between 4 – 6 pm (not two full hours, just some point in between that time slot), when I was working together with the kids on it.  Other things I did in the evenings after they went to sleep (and I stayed up way too late way too often).  I chose an online business because I didn’t want the pressure of answering phones and needing to be available during the day hours when my priority was to be with my children. 

Do you feel you’re at the stage that you have enough quiet time for yourself that you can spare some of it for working on a business?  Would working on the business be stimulating for you, something you would look forward to spending time on, or one more thing to feel pressured by?   Keep your initial outlay small enough that if you change your mind at some point, you don’t feel like you have to continue because of the money you’re already put into it.  You don’t want to buy yourself an obligation by starting a business. 

If this is an idea that you’re excited about, and you can visualize how to fit it into your life in a way structure that will give you a meaningful outlet for your time and energy, without adding excessive stress or tension to your life, then go for it! 


Homeschooling and Pesach preparations

>> How do you fit in homeschooling with your Pesach preparations?<<

I think that preparing for a yom tov is the priority for that time of year, not the academics.  When my kids were younger and I had to choose between cleaning/cooking for yom tov or homeschooling, I declared an official vacation from homeschooling so that we could focus on holiday preparations without anyone feeling like they were being neglectful of something else they should have been doing.  During the weeks before Pesach, I read Pesach themed books with them, listened to the story of yetzias Mitzrayim, stories of Eliyahu Hanavi, discussed the Hagada, learned Ma Nishtana, did projects or colored pictures, etc.   But I dropped anything else with regards to homeschooling not related to Pesach, unless it was something the child himself wanted to do with his time.  We homeschooled year round, and it worked out very nicely to take a three week break for Rosh Hashana through Sukkos, three or four weeks for Pesach, and shorter breaks throughout the year. 

As my kids get older and our family size continues to grow, I continue to adapt our schedules to what works best for us.  For the last three years, our schedule most of the year long is we do all of our academics in the morning, and generally everyone has their work finished by lunch time.  After lunch is free time, which for the most part I leave to the kids’ discretion to use as they want.  This is for Mondays through Thursdays; erev Shabbos is spent preparing for Shabbos.  And Sundays are very relaxed – they do some academics, but they have piano lessons/ Girl Scouts/learning on Sunday mornings, too, so I don’t expect them to do the same amount of academics they would do on a regular day.

Except for the couple of days preparing the kitchen for Pesach (which as you all know is a bit of a marathon), we stick to this schedule even while integrating Pesach cleaning into our days.  What changes is that the kids have less discretionary time – the cleaning takes place in the afternoon.  They still have time to go swimming, play basketball, exercise, or get together with friends, but not as much time.  I don’t think that three hours of free time a day instead of four is suffering. :)    (To be very honest, though, unless they leave the house for the entire afternoon, they rarely use all of their afternoon time for just leisure.  All of them participate to some degree every afternoon in some meal preparation, playing with a younger sibling, diaper changing, clean up, or something like that if they’re around.) 


Great source for inexpensive glasses

Months ago I heard about a great online source for prescription glasses, but didn’t have the necessary information to place an order. Getting the info meant contacting my optometrist, but because it wasn’t a priority I didn’t do it right away.  When a couple of weeks ago I took my ds15 for his yearly check up, it seemed like a good time to get the details for the prescription for myself, my dd14, and ds15. 

That day I ordered glasses for ds through the office I was at (he wanted the designer frames that were $225, but that’s not what I agreed to), but got online once I was home to see about what was involved in placing an order for dd and me.  I wanted to get a back up pair for her, and the anti-reflection coating on mine was scratched, so I wanted something new, but didn’t want to pay over $100 since except for the scratches, they’re fine. 

The site I ordered from is  I couldn’t believe how astonishingly easy it was to order the glasses, once I had the necessary details.  And the prices are amazing – they start at $8 a pair.  So of course I started looking first at the least expensive ones.  :)  I paid $12.95 for mine for a full rim metal alloy frame (there was an extra $4.95 fee for the anti reflective coating), and $8 for dd for a two tone plastic frame with an incised pattern on the temples.  Shipping was $4.95, so it was under $26 for both pairs. 

Of course the day after I ordered the glasses, dd’s glasses frame broke. (This isn’t a one time event :)).  She was able to glue them and still use them in the meantime (and I can get them replaced for free from the eye doctor when I find the time to get over there), but we were both looking forward to the order arriving.  It took two weeks from the time I placed the order to the time they arrived on my doorstep. 

While I was selecting my glasses, I was very tempted to order another couple of pairs for myself (one as a backup, one as prescription sunglasses to use when driving in the summer), but thought it prudent to get the first pair and see how they were before committing to more.  They came today, and I’m thrilled!  Three times I’ve tried to have the ones I bought from the optometrist adjusted, and despite that they still slide down my nose.  But I popped these $13 glasses on, and they fit perfectly!  It’s a strange feeling to put glasses on and have them stay right where I put them. :)  Dd’s also fit well and look good, with no need for adjustment.  The glasses are comparable in quality to the ones we’ve been buying for years for significantly more from the eye doctor. 

To be able to buy glasses online, you need to have an eye exam done, and know the prescription details, including pupillary distance (the site explains everything very clearly).  My prescription has stayed the same over the last few years, and dd had an eye exam (along with new glasses) in the summer, so we had the up to date details on record. If you’re a glasses wearer, or one of your kids is, you owe it to yourself to check out this possibility.  I’ve always felt that the expense of glasses was unavoidable, so it’s really fun to learn that it’s not!