Phones, Social Media, and Me.

I want to spend more time in the new year actually sewing those quilts, making those clothes, and living a more simple life, than I do creating a virtual inspiration board of them.

This morning I read an article about how two of Apple’s largest investors are pressuring the company to address issues of phone/technology  and social media addiction in kids.  This is the second article on this issue that has caught my eye in the past week.

As parents we have chosen to not allow our children to have phones.  A decision which has been lamented loudly by our oldest two children who are now in middle school.  They are certain that they are the last two children left on the planet without smart phones and Facebook.  You should see the eye rolling when I point out that our Amish friends don’t have those things either, so technically they are not the last children on earth to not have them.

We briefly dabbled in letting them have some hand me down iPhones that behaved like iPods with connectivity only when wifi was available.  It didn’t take long to see the error of that choice.  Being a parent in this tech age is not an easy thing.  It feels almost impossible to protect your children when the internet is available to them.  And the societal pressure to allow your children this access can feel overwhelming at times.

For instance, we have noticed that because all of our children’s friends have their own phones and prefer to text one another instead of calling to talk, and because our children do not have texting (unless they use my phone) they often do not hear from them.  And, if I call into the school to give my kids a message it sometimes feels like the secretaries have forgotten that parents used to do that all the time.

The problems and situations I fear for my children with smart phones and social media are because I have either seen them in myself or experienced them myself.  I grew up before cell phones were something anyone but the very wealthy had, when texting was passing notes in class, and no one had 24 hour access to everyone else’s business.  Where children and adults were comfortable making a phone call and having a conversation.  Now, I find myself opting to text someone rather than taking the time to make a phone call to them!

I’ve broken up with Facebook many times, including just this week.  I got an account about 5 or 6 months ago because I found that all of the news and event updates for many of our kids organizations were only being communicated via Facebook.  After missing out on a few things I broke down and signed up for it again.  All was good for a while but then, like all addictive behaviors, checking Facebook began creeping into more and more of my day.  I know that many people can handle having social media, I, myself cannot.  I find that I end up feeling badly about my life and looking for ways to paint a prettier picture of it.  I do have an Instagram account, and I love the amazing photos that people take and post there.  Well and I guess I technically have a Facebook account for 13 more days until they delete it, but that is not the point here.  The point is that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, whatever it is can suck me in and then I’ve spent so much time scrolling through other people’s lives that I have carpel tunnel and no idea what anyone in my actual real life house has been doing for the past two hours.  I’m not a good parent or person when I’m answering, “uh-huh” or “just a minute” instead of being present for the little people around me who are quickly growing up into not so little people.

I’m not saying that smart phones and social media are inherently bad.  I mean, it is pretty awesome to be able to access information the way that we can when we have a question or problem.  But for myself and for my family I can see that they can be very damaging.  So, in the new year I’ve come up with some boundaries.

The first is that my blogging/pinterest searching/Instagram gazing time happens early in the morning before anyone is up.  I like to get up early, before anyone else in the house is awake and have some time to myself.  I use that time to drink coffee in the quiet, spend some time with my Bible, and I’ve committed myself to an hour of writing every day.  After that, when the kids and my husband are awake, those things are set aside.  I’m really striving to be more  present.  To be fully engaged in the now, even if that now happens to be four kids with cabin fever making each other crazy (ier).

To accomplish this I’ve made a point of keeping my computer in the office, and I’ve made a phone basket where my smart phone gets placed when I’m in the house.  So if you are trying to get ahold of me and there is no text response – the phone is probably in the basket and I’ve forgotten where I put it.

I love to look at Instagram and Pinterest and create visual inspiration boards.  I enjoy being inspired by other people’s blogs, and learning from them.  However, I want to spend more time in the new year actually sewing those quilts, making those clothes, and living a more simple life, than I do creating a virtual inspiration board of them.  So I am making a commitment to myself to spend time making and doing and living the life I want and not just planning it.

 

Reading 78

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It’s no surprise that I love old things: houses, barns, furniture, sewing machines, and especially kitchen tools! So you can imagine how excited I was to find this Reading 78 apple peeler on Craigslist last week.

I’ve been looking for an apple peeler to replace our apple peeler, corer, slicer for years.  The apple multi tool we had just seemed to do too many things and none of them well.  Often I would end up with the core being pushed through and then the peeler and slicer function would no longer work.  It’s so frustrating to have a tool that is made to save you some steps actually force you to go backwards.

In my search for a better peeler I found that Lehman’s hardware had started reproducing the Reading 78 peeler in Kidron, Ohio.  You can find Lehman’s peeler here they run around $200.  However, they also sell all of the replacement parts so if you happen upon an older 78 at an antique store or on Craigslist, you can always order sharp blades or a new handle!

I went ahead and replaced the auxiliary blade on mine and ordered a replacement for the actual peeling blade. That cost around $10, so now I have a fully functioning peeler for $45.

The kids and I couldn’t wait for the new blades to arrive and we were surprised and happy to find that it worked really well, even on a soft apple!  This Craigslist find happened just in time for us to put up some more applesauce and apple pie filling from the apples we have stored in the basement.  Which is another great activity for days like the past week where temperatures are below zero without the wind chill figured in.

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January

It’s cold here, really cold, and it’s only going to get colder.   People are freaking out.

Our third child is thrilled, she said to me the other night while we brought horses in from the field that the cold makes her feel more western,  “you know like we live in Alaska, mom.”  Yes, this one is definitely a girl after my own heart.

I’m not sure if I’m a hopeless romantic or merely experience mental breaks with reality, but I think she and I might be on to something. When things are difficult, or the chore is more than you care to do imagining yourself as someone else or somewhere else might just help you get through it.  I distinctly remember enjoying chores more as a child when I imagined myself as Laura Ingalls.  Maybe tonight when I am breaking ice out of water buckets and cleaning frozen manure out of stalls I can imagine that I am somewhere else too . . . somewhere sunny and warm.

The cold has also meant that my husband and I have spent some quality time together visiting while we thawed out hoses in the pig barn with a heat gun.  Not only did we actually get to visit with each other, but if we started to get a little chilly standing there we just turned the heat gun on ourselves for a little bit. . . ok, I did that, I was the one holding the heat gun.

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Date night on the farm was quality husband and wife time thawing out pipes in the pig barn.

The kids have braved the cold to ice skate on the frozen manure lagoon, a leftover cement relic from the farm’s previous dairy days.  Don’t worry they are not skating on frozen liquid manure, we cleaned that out a year ago – this is just collected rainwater and it has redeemed itself as the perfect ice rink!

 

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Kitchen.

Our kitchen is the center of our home, where we begin and end our days, where we gather to share meals, chores, stories, play games, visit and where I often find myself writing.

When we took on our farmhouse project the old kitchen had 6 doorways and 2 windows, which probably worked great in 1878 when a kitchen was more utilitarian and pantries, root cellars, spring houses and dining rooms were used.  Because of the size and lack of free wall space we knew that we would have to make some major changes to the kitchen.  When we started planning our renovation our number one goal was to preserve the historic look while making it fit our modern family.  To do that we kept all of the period details that we could, found old sinks, appliances and had furniture custom made to look aged.

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We uncovered the doorway when we pulled the old kitchen cabinets down off the wall, at one time it had had a swinging door and the arched doorway behind it was a later remodel.  I think originally this doorway allowed them to serve in the dining room without using the door that opened directly into the kitchen.  The Victorians were clearly not into the open floor plan concept.  When we pulled up the carpet (yes, carpet in the kitchen, on a dairy farm – yuck), and then the linoleum that was under the carpet, and then the second layer of linoleum, and then finally we were left trying for hours to scrape what looked like roofing tar off the original hardwood floors.  While we were trying to scrape this tar substance off of the floors we found that they had been patched, and had holes everywhere from previous gas and water lines. The patches were all pieces of metal cut from old tin cans and nailed down.   The coolest discovery was the copper lined hole near the window where a pipe could have run directly from the well outside to an inside sink.  Someday I’d love to put an old dry sink back in there with a hand pump hooked up again, you know just in case the modern world as we know it collapses and we need it.

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I’ve been doing a lot of canning lately.   We took a year and a little more off of growing and raising our own food while we were in over our heads with other projects.  At our old farm we used to run an all-natural CSA , grew in high tunnels, raised bees, chickens, beeves, made maple syrup, made soap and sewed a lot. Our family goal there and here is to be as self sustaining as possible.  And let me tell you what, we have a long way to go (cue New Year’s Resolution #1).

Even though we have been slightly off track from our usual make it/ do it/ raise it ourselves mantra, we had put up quite a bit the year before we decided to move and are just now feeling the need to really start restocking.  In the picture above I’m canning ranch beans for a quick and easy meal on nights that seem rushed for dinner. I’m habitually late to get dinner started so having some home-made convenience foods on hand is a huge help!  In addition to the ranch beans I did seasoned hamburger, and I love to can dried beans so that they are ready to go into a soup or stew.

Below is a brief and slightly out of focus video of our canning room.  We still have a decent variety of items to pull from but next year we will need to make growing and putting up food a priority again.

So you want to do a renovation?

In 2016 our family purchased a 187 acre farm that had been in my husband’s family since 1950.  We are currently renovating the house, barns and the land.  Pictures speak louder than words in this case so here are a few from around the time that we took possession:

 

When we started the house had been empty for 8 years, except for the resident raccoons and ground hogs – who were none too happy to hear of their eviction.

We started the first part of April and moved in at the end of August.  As you can see from the pictures the house is in almost original condition, save for some unfortunate paint schemes and kitchen renovation.

Major renovations completed by us to the house included:

  • digging out the basement and crawl spaces and pouring cement floors and half walls
  • plumbing (including new pressure tank, hot water heater, and softener)
  • wiring
  • windows
  • roof
  • 2 new furnaces & air conditioners, all new duct work
  • patching plaster
  • painting
  • stripping and refinishing woodwork and floors
  • adding on a kitchen where the back porch had been
  • jacking up and reinforcing front porch
  • replacing side porch
  • putting the original pantry back in and creating a mudroom and laundry
  • removing a downstairs bathroom and replacing the floor joists that had been rotted out by a leak
  • adding a half bath downstairs and a full bath upstairs

We entered into this with naivety and optimism – looking back at these pictures I wonder what in the world we were thinking.  Kudos to the producers of Fixer Upper and This Old House who make major projects look so easy!  Wait, did I say kudos?  I meant curses!  In all seriousness we are glad we took on this project and happy to say that we have survived it so far.