a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Broke is a State of Pocketbook . . .

Poor is a State of Mind---

and those words became our family what --- creed? motto? lifeline? 

We were always broke but we tried hard to maintain a rich state of mind.                                        And we were, thankfully, usually successful.                                                         

My signature is Simply, Gail.

Our oldest son has always suggested it is more accurately Simple Gail. Possibly.  My mother never had a childhood. She had to do all the housework and cooking while her mother worked outside of the home. I'm sure that was a rarity in those days. My mom's decision, for us, was to continue to do all the housework and cooking while we played or read or did whatever.  It was great, for us, at the time. She was doing what she thought was best. As I write this, it would have been her 99th birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom.

Before I got married I knew how to sew, make chocolate chip cookies and spaghetti sauce, as I mentioned elsewhere.  That was it! I had taken one cooking class in high school because it was a requirement. It did nothing to encourage my domesticity. Everyone enrolled in any home economics class was required to take a test which would determine the school's "homemaking student of the year." If I remember correctly, it was sponsored by Betty Crocker. (Maybe back then there even was an actual Betty Crocker!)

By some fluke I emerged the winner by one-half point. Fortunately my teacher told me privately, before announcing it. My image was at stake. I was horrified at the thought of being identified with any aspect of homemaking. I did some fast talking and was able to convince the teacher of how unfair it would be to give the recognition to me when only a fraction of a point kept the rightful winner from the award. My classmate was a homemaking major that would do the honor proud. She even wore an apron!

I wasn't overly fond of children and never baby sat. Things change, and so did I. Dave and I were married in 1962 and had six children (intentionally) in just over 11 years. I was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom and money was tight. There was no other choice but to learn how to do and how to make do. It was challenging, and I rose to the challenge. As I began to learn,  I began to share.

My first effort was a helps and hints booklet as my part in a day-long workshop in the early 1970s.  It was very primitive.  It was called Broke is a State of Pocketbook -- Poor is a State of Mind.

In "About Me" I mention classes, community education presentations, articles and bookettes, so I won't repeat all that here.  In 1989 I entered a national recipe contest sponsored by Velvetta. I used their cheese in a dessert so I had hopes that would be unique enough to win. When it didn't I was naturally disappointed but not surprised. A couple of weeks later when I received a letter from them I figured it was just a "thanks for trying" type of thing and set it aside, almost forgetting about it. It wasn't that at all. It was a check for $1,000 as the snack category winner!

Much has happened over the ensuing years--- great, good and not so good---both in our family's lives and in the world around us. Times were much simpler just a few short years ago. In the 1970s, a computer took up all the space in a large building built especially for it.  Now most people (not us) carry them around in the palm of their hand.

I recently wandered the toy aisles of several stores and was appalled. Because of the complexity of our times and our toys, some of the things I offer may seem outdated. I have thought about this and decided there is still a place for the simple.  There needs to be room for  imagination! There is still a place for making do with less. For learning how to make do with less. Even more so today.

And in spite of what society would have us believe, our children should still be the most important part of our lives and our time. Our children are the future. Children are our legacy. And in these increasingly crazy times, with temptations rampant at every single turn, they need us even more than ever before.

Is there anything, except a child, that comes without an instruction manual?       A warning?         Or . . . at least precautions?

We need this cheery reminder of our
very important role as mothers
Our daughter-in-law Cheri has a home-made chalk board sign in her kitchen. Her mother took it down from her kitchen wall and passed it on to Cheri when she was ready for it 21 years and four boys ago.  It reads:Being a Mother is Fun. I don't know if it is meant to be 1) a statement of fact, 2) a reminder, 3) a wish, or 4) just encouragement. Probably all four. And probably the meaning is like one of those rotating sign boards that keeps repeating its four messages, over and over and over and over. Whatever! It is a good to see it each time we visit---and I think all four meanings work...at different times!

Being a parent has never been easy. It certainly isn't getting any easier. Nor, I'm afraid, will it.

As you can see from my background above, I had only two choices---sink or swim.  Somehow, I not only survived but usually thrived! I am venturing out into this challenging electronic medium to hopefully provide simple helps and comforts, directions and encouragement to help you during both your calm and your troubled waters.

 Hang in there. It is all worth it. I promise.

Simply, Gail

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