This Month On The Homestead: Hiking and The Great Indoors

December 2019

December on the homestead

December is a dormant month. By December, we’ve completed our fall wrap-up tasks: all food from the garden is preserved, the apple cider is pressed, the tractor is switched over to the snow blower and chains, the snow tires are on the cars, the firewood is stacked on the porch, and snow obviates all homesteading labor save its removal from our driveway and walking paths.

In December we turn inward and embrace the hygge of our wood stove and electric blanket and mugs of coffee. December is when winter is not yet long in the tooth, snow is not yet cursed and unwelcome. December is when we accept that summer is past and spring a distant dream. December is when we’re content to be right where we are, positioned in the middle of the seasons, hunkered down and dreamy.

Welcome to my series documenting life on our 66-acre Vermont homestead, which we moved to in May 2016 from urban Cambridge, MA. Wondering about the financial aspects of rural life? Check out: City vs. Country: Which Is Cheaper? The Ultimate Cost Of Living Showdown as well as my monthly expense reports.

Hiking Alone

I love the fact that in December, there’s nothing more pressing to do outside than hike. Over the long holiday vacation from school and work, Mr. Frugalwoods and I took turns hiking while the other watched the kids. Hiking alone is a true balm. It’s the rarest treat that’s easy to have, as long as I make time for it. As long as I schedule and prepare and commit. So over the break–which felt so short pre-kids and so eternal post-kids–I did just that.

Me hiking.

Snow-covered, silent, windless, our woods are a respite. In my snowshoes, I tromped along, with no particular goal or plan. It being our land, I know the trail and don’t have to think about where I am or wonder how long it’ll take. I love this autopilot state and I love my ability to walk out my front door and plunge into the woods, up a well-worn trail, past well-known trees, deep into well-loved woods.

I require time alone. I require a chance to be silent. Hiking gives me both. For me, one of the hardest aspects of parenting two toddlers is the near-constant imperative to talk, respond, sing, listen, and be ON.

I need a chance to drift around and not answer questions about where snow comes from and what Santa Claus eats for breakfast and whether or not Ralph is one of the reindeer. I need to take a break from holding the weight of someone else’s comprehension of the world.

My thoughts while hiking aren’t remarkable or well-formed. Sometimes I think about taking a shower or doing laundry. Sometimes, I write in my mind. Other times, I just look at trees and think they look nice. It’s not that hiking is always a revelation-inducing experience. Sometimes it’s just relaxing. Sometimes it just fortifies me to return home and answer whether or not centipedes have “ping pongs” (translation: antennae).

Hiking Together

Hiking together

In a fit of kismet, Mr. FW and I actually got to go hiking together one day in December. Our beloved neighbor/adopted grandma came over to watch the girls and we took off up the hill in our snowshoes.

Hiking used to be our thing. Hiking is what changed the course of our lives. Hiking is how we realized we didn’t want to work in offices or live in cities. Hiking is how we decided to move to rural Vermont and become the world’s worst homesteaders.

Hiking is how I learned to appreciate my body’s strength and let go of worrying about my appearance. Hiking is where we have our deepest, best, silliest conversations.

Right now we’re in a phase of life where we usually hike alone, but every now and then, we have the chance to charge through the woods together and it is pure magic.

Me In The House: The Other Side Of Homesteading

I usually write about our outdoor homesteading experiences, but a lot happens indoors too. There’s a lot of work that goes into creating a snug, tidy home. There’s a lot of work that’s unseen, unacknowledged, and un-celebrated by our society. This work is done day after day, century after century, usually by women, usually without payment or thanks. Women see what needs to be done and, knowing that no one else will, they do it. They scrub toilets with babies strapped to their backs. They launder clothes stained by tomato sauce, turquoise washable marker, oatmeal, and much (MUCH) worse. They’re told that being a stay-at-home-mother is the “best job in the world,” and wonder why–if it’s the best job–it’s unpaid?

The snug indoors of our home

I’m lucky because my husband shares the household burden. I’m lucky because I have a partner who respects, acknowledges and thanks me for my work. I am manager of Indoor Domestic Operations and Mr. FW coordinates all exterior work–the firewood chopping, the snow blowing, the vegetable growing and harvesting, the car clearing, the trail clearing, the generator installations. Plus he cooks dinner every night.

We have an egalitarian partnership and the labors of our life are shared, but sometimes? I get tired of it. As we all tire of our rote chores, of the Sisyphean task of keeping house with two young children, of endless, interminable wiping.

I spend a lot of time at my kitchen sink, looking out at my snow-soaked woods. My hands are always wet from loading the dishwasher, unloading it, rinsing off my children, bathing my children, scrubbing the high-chair tray, wiping down the counters, wiping down the table, wiping food off the floor, wiping noses and bums and hands. I am the copy paste of wiping. I like to clean, so there’s a soothing element, but there are also chapped hands and the feeling of a rag adhering to my palm–my permanent companion, ever needed, ever dirty, ever damp.

A moment of post-sledding, pre-stomach bug pure joy

Kidwoods came down with (another) stomach bug in December, which meant my cleaning never ended. From child to couch to bathroom to floor, I watched myself wipe and obliterate because my work is to make it seem like nothing ever happened. It’s an unrelenting loop, but there’s victory and fulfillment in not just a clean house, but an organized mind and an ordered life and children who are clean (for the moment) and tucked into snug, warm beds.

In other news, the baby now pretends to throw up because that’s what big kids do apparently and there’s nothing she wants more than to be big. So, that’s cool.

I have to find meaning and contentment in the mothering and the domesticity. I have to accept that this work matters and that it will never be done. Just as my husband clears snow, only to watch more snow fall and obliterate his efforts, I accept that new cheerios will replace the old cheerios I picked out of the heating vent. There will always be snow to clear, there will always be cheerios to pick up. Finding peace in that mindless, repeated work is meditative. It is a salvation. It is a key to true and deep contentment. The work will not change. The only thing I can change is how I feel about the work, how I think about the work, how I talk about the work.

Other December Events

Our Roomba managed to knock the Christmas tree star on top of itself and then kept right on vacuuming with the star on its head. Just thought you’d want to know that.

Reflections on 2019

2019 in review

2019 was good to me. It was a stable year, a year where nothing seismic happened, which I’m grateful for. The last few years were almost too much. In 2015, our first daughter was born; In 2016, we moved from urban Cambridge, MA to our homestead in rural Vermont; In 2017, I wrote a book; In 2018, our second daughter was born, my book was published, and I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. So I’m OK with 2019 being a year of relative calm.

In 2019, I was happy. I went on kid-free vacations with my husband (TWICE! thanks to my fabulous in-laws!!!!), I got to work on what I love (Frugalwoods!), I convinced Kidwoods to watch Santa Paws with me (and she loved it), I bought a Roomba (my life is changed), I canned and preserved the most food from our garden EVER, I made boss lady applesauce (that’s just applesauce made by me from our apple trees… ), we made maple syrup from our maple trees, I weaned my last baby, I joined a book club, I joined a ladies-go-out-to-dinner-club, I lost weight, I gained weight, I bought non-maternity clothes, I learned how to build fires in our wood stove, I went sledding with my kids, I grew our Halloween jack-o-lantern from seed, I stacked firewood, I rode the carousel at the county fair, I gave away most of my clothing, I hiked alone a lot, I was grateful for my life. All in all, a stellar year.

Solar Check

Trail through our woods

After moving here, we decided to get solar panels mounted on our barn roof. My full write-up on the panels is here and I include a solar update in this series. This is the only way for me to remember that: a) I have solar; b) you all would like to be updated on it.

In December, we generated 148 kWh, which is on the low end, but not the lowest. For reference, last January our panels generated a paltry 70.4 kWh and last July we raked in 907 kWh.

Since our electric company offers net metering, we’re able to bank our summer and fall sunshine for use in the winter, which keeps our electric bill low year-round, even when the sun isn’t shining.

This has been your solar production update. You’re welcome.

Want More Fotos?!

While I only document homestead life once a month here on the blog, I post photos to Instagram (almost every day!) and updates to Facebook with much greater regularity. Join me there if you want more of our frugal woods. Some folks have asked about this and yes, I do try to post a picture to Instagram every day and–unlike with many other things in my life–I actually have a pretty good track record.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss a post here, sign-up for my handy dandy email list in the box below. You’ll get a message from me if you do…

How was your December?

Never Miss A Story

Sign up to get new Frugalwoods stories in your email inbox.

We're not fans of spam, canned or not. None of that here. Powered by ConvertKit

You may also like...

63 Responses

  1. Erin says:

    star on the roomba?!? awesome! Did you get a foto?

  2. Georgia says:

    Sounds like a lovely year! Yes, agreed, the idea of being a stay-at-home parent is why so many new parents pull overtime at work—being a perma-sponge is tough! Way harder on all levels than a ‘real’ job. Men back in the day had it totally figured out—go to interesting / socially rewarding / outside the house job, come home to clean house dinner and excited kids, spend weekends fiddling in yard. I’m jealous. December was kinda hectic over here, but January’s seed-buying and garden-planning has been so therapeutic that I feel all set for 2020!

  3. Susan says:

    Great update! Remember that while there will always be more snow in Vermont, there won’t always be more Cheerios in the vents. It doesn’t seem like it in the day to day slog, but blink and it will be a wistful memory.

    • Danella Farrell says:

      So true. Snow in Vermont and there will not always be Cheerios in the vent. As our children get older the ‘Cheerios in the vent’ sometimes become situations even more serious. Hard to not let the Cheerios be frustrating in the moment though.

  4. Anna de Paula says:

    It may be time to start engaging the children in helping you with whatever they can in and around the house, and slowly teaching them to take up more, and be more responsible and mindful of your burdens as they grow up. For example, since age 7 our 2 daughters were the primary dishwashers in the house (mostly loading and unloading the dishwasher), and of course we *demanded* daily cleanup of their rooms or after whatever activity they did that messed up the house. Now our daughters are 22 and 19, and ever so responsible. They do not behave like spoiled, entitled brats and are always welcome and praised by their friends’ parents when they visit because they always help out after eating or sleeping there, and are mindful and appreciative of all the labor that goes into hosting them or running the household.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I agree and we do involve the kids in as many chores (indoor and out) as possible. They both carry their own plates from the table, help unload the dishwasher, love to wipe surfaces, sweep, stack wood (small pieces ;), and vacuum. Kidwoods can even clean the toilet! And she vacuumed up all the pine needles from the Christmas tree by herself. Plus they pick up their toys before bed every day and “help” with cooking and food prep. But at ages 2 and 4, all of that still takes a lot of supervision by mom and dad, which we’re happy to do. We look forward to the day when they can do more and more of these chores on their own and we’re definitely getting there :).

      • Caroline Bowman says:

        I think you’re doing really well if they are gaining confidence and competence (slowly!) in those areas. It’s very easy, I have found, embarrassingly, to sort of fall into doing everything and then being a martyr.

        A holiday to the coast with some very dear friends, where their 2 kids, identical in age to my two eldest, were despatched to wash up / dry following a huge braai (see, we really do that a LOT here) for about 12 people. The kids did it and wiped down visible kitchen surfaces too, to a good standard. At that moment I realised that my own kids, who are darlings and generally kind and helpful, have been allowed to be helpless.

        Now they wash up when it’s needed (taking turns, I try and be fair about that), know how to use the washing machine, hang up stuff to line dry and generally have more demanding chores expected of them.

        One thing we have here that other countries don’t (at our very ordinary income level), is plenty of domestic help. For some reason, this outrages people, this notion that paying someone (fairly, legally and in a non-coercive way) to do various domestic tasks on a regular basis. It’s okay when one is at a hotel or restaurant, apparently, but ”I could never MAKE ANOTHER WOMAN clean my bathroom / clean my home / do my ironing” is the common thread. Anyway. This is all very wonderful and Ayisha is one good reason to never leave this country BUT it means that getting kids to pull their weight and learn the ropes generally of housekeeping and home chores isn’t as easy or ready as it otherwise would be. But we must! Everyone needs the ability to look after themselves to a reasonable standard, clean clothes, sanitary home, ability to cook a few simple meals, confidence to attempt various chores…

        The rewards come later though, in the present, they moan and complain endlessly!

      • La says:

        My sister had my niece put away each toy as she finished with it. That way the mess didn’t get overwhelming and end of day clean up wasn’t to much for a cranky tired child.

  5. Carol Reiman says:

    While I do not live with children nor on acres attached to my own home, I enjoy your writing immensely. I used to spend more time outdoors and appreciate the descriptions of the woods in snow and silence, the restorative therapy of being in the midst of nature. The respite piece as well as the predictable and unpredictable rhythms of taking care of the routines of life, both being in the moment and looking at it all from a larger perspective. As an active retired person, I go from spending chunks of time with my cat to seeing friends with major medical issues to time with small and large groups for social, spiritual and more tangible activities. Sometimes I have trouble getting myself to take care of the more mundane details of food shopping, cooking, laundry, as well as dealing with limited means so I also get a kick out of your sharing your experiences and suggestions. It is a joy to read your writing, with its tapestry of beauty, love, analysis, handling of challenges with humor and hindsight, learning as you go, all universal themes. Thank you!

  6. Diane says:

    This comment “For me, one of the hardest aspects of parenting two toddlers is the near-constant imperative to talk, respond, sing, listen, and be ON.” Is exactly what I have been struggling with. And I think you have inspired me to love myself enough to take some time to be alone and recharge. So I’m going to commit to taking a walk alone once a week. I say that not knowing if the temperature will drop here in Massachusetts, its been a pretty mild winter. Thanks for the inspiration. I love this blog!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! And YES, take that time alone for yourself if you can manage it. It makes such a difference for me to get away–even if it’s just for 20 minutes.

    • Georgia says:

      Diane, one thing that really helped me with the ‘talk talk talk sing’ thing was realizing how much I was narrating my kid’s life and stopping myself! It suddenly hit me that I was the one filling up all the available silence with “putting on the shoes-shoes-shoes-shoes” and let’s not even talk about the “careful-careful-careful-carefuls” 🙂 Best of luck with finding some quiet time!

    • Cheryl says:

      When my children were little, and I was in this stage of constantly being in demand, “ON” and my husband was gone for the majority of the day, I made a rule that there were times where we “practiced” being quiet. It started as 5 minutes looking at books, and slowly got longer as they got older. Even when they were in school we had “quiet time” each day where there was no talking, no radio, no tv, nothing but resting or looking silently at a book. It was the only thing that enabled me to keep my sanity!! Both of my kids are strong readers, and I have always thought that this played a part.

  7. Virginia Dugan says:

    I live how you write. I look forward to reading your as of now unwritten books some day. You really have a way with words!

  8. Tigermom says:

    Thanks for the poetic description of our mom work 😉 I get annoyed with my husband as I do most, but he does work longer hours and is trying 🙃 I only have one child and it is a tornado of work. Blessings to you love Tigermom and miracle baby (mb)

  9. Nina says:

    Thank you for this post! It was beautiful and uplifting. I have two kiddos around the same age and very similar days. We recently moved from rural NM to Los Angeles, and your talk of hiking and snow made me so happy and homesick. I love the ways you’re taking care of what feeds you amidst the fullness of life and connecting with Mr. FW too.

  10. Melissa says:

    I stinking love you! I crack up (snorting style) every time you write about your darlings. I love your honesty regarding parenting; it’s so refreshing. (I have 3 grown children – parenting is HARD and not all joy and sunshine.)
    Thank you for sharing your life with us, your devoted readers. 🙂

  11. Luci says:

    I love this post! I am adjusting to being a new mother of a two-month-old, still putting together plans to work from home so I can take care of him full-time. Your joyful and brightly honest writing about your experiences is inspiring and grounding. It’s helping me to stay focused on staying present and not getting sucked into the “treat yourself” mentality that I’m more prone to than ever 😀
    I treated myself by doing some yoga stretches after the 3 AM nursing this morning, and it was so good. Better than sleep!

    Husband and I are doing the UFM challenge and it’s been great to see how far along we are in some ways, and also be challenged to do more in other ways. We’re working towards FI, and I find your blog to be a wonderful touchstone. Thanks for all the love you put into it! Also, I am smitten with Vermont and hope to homestead there someday- so it’s extra lovely to see some of what your family does through the year.

  12. Katie says:

    This was a lovely read. As a single person without kids, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up thinking about what my life would be like if I had a family. This post helped me remember that that stage of life does indeed bring joy, but also comes with many challenges…they’re just different from my current ones :). Anyway, this was good perspective and I’m encouraged to find peace in my own mindless, repeated work. Thanks!

  13. Jason says:

    Your section about hiking alone resonates with me strongly. I very much enjoy running alone. It’s my chance to unplug, I leave my phone and electronics at home and just go run for 30-90 minutes. I consider it my own version of meditation, and a chance to be as mindful or mindless as I choose.

  14. Katrina says:

    Ah to sit quietly while my 2 and 4-year-old are still asleep and drink some coffee and read your blog at 5am… bliss! Still striving for financial independence and the rural move but appreciate the motherhood and frugal living inspiration and real talk. Reading your book yet again, keep at it!

  15. Kathleen Edwards says:

    “Women see what needs to be done and, knowing that no one else will, they do it. ” Isn’t that the truth! Thank you for another so insightful post about home, marriage and parenting all in one.

    While my husband works so hard for our family and has no notions of “women’s work” and “men’s work” (thank God!), sometimes things just won’t get done if I don’t do it. I’ve read articles about how many modern men are willing to share the burden of chores and housework- they say, “just tell me what to do and I’ll happily help!” But that is totally NOT the point. Women should not be constantly in charge of giving out chores, like a manager to an employee. Men should also feel pride in keeping a tidy home (level of tidiness varies, I know), knowing what needs to be done (while Mama feeds the baby, pick of the toys), and take initiative on wiping down the bathroom if it looks grimy.

    On another note, the pictures of the inside of your home are so nice. I notice that you don’t have a ton of furniture or stuff laying around. I love it! We’ve been trying to pare down our belongings since our house is small and as much as we try to keep things minimal, baby’s accumulate ALOT of stuff! Any good tips on organizing and getting rid of stuff?

  16. Nelda says:

    This was a delightful read. Be strong dear young mothers(and fathers). I just turned 65 and looked back with wonder at my children, now your age. Yes, take some “me” time and spend time as partners alone, but realize that it goes by so fast. Enjoy every day, write a gratitude journal, cry sometimes, but hang in there; it is worth it.

  17. Kathleen says:

    For those of you not in the healthcare industry, just be aware that December is awful, especially in the operating room.. Everyone has met their deductible and needs to have surgery by the end of the year before the clock rolls over and the deductible begins again. We run extra shifts, we run extra late and that is before the usual add-ons and emergencies that pop up weekly, sometimes daily or hourly.

    This year was worse than most, I had joked I was going to move in to the hospital for the duration of December because it got so bad. I did not. I got the family Christmas presents in the mail way later than I usually do, even though I’d finished buying and making in October. There was simply no time to go when the USPS or UPS or FedEx was open. Even books, pajamas, and socks, which is what I give EVERYONE in the family, still need to be shipped.

    Minimal baking, my joy, was done. The house remained minimally decorated, the Christmas tree bare in the living room. My cats swarmed me every time I did make it home because I spent so little time there. My husband is used to it as I’ve been a nurse for 18 years and we’ve been married for 21.

    My blog about life in the evening shift was very sparse in December. It was mostly posts about how awful December is.

    If you are thinking that December is over, the schedule should lighten up. Yeah, no. That doesn’t usually happen until March. Because the people, who like me, prefer to wait to have surgery until after the first of the year, because then the rest of the year is free, all want to have surgery.

  18. Jean says:

    Hiking in the woods sounds wonderful but I do hope that you and your husband take along some sort of protection from animals or heaven forbid, trespassers on your property. No one likes to think about that but we must always keep it in mind in the woods and in the cities. Beautiful pictures. Glad I live in Florida though, too old for that cold weather. We bicycle instead😀.

  19. Sandy says:

    My smile is huge and my heart is happy, your writing does that to me. Today I thought of your girls as adults, how they will be able to read about their young lives and your everyday life as their Mom. They are very fortunate to have you as their Mom!

  20. Mary says:

    Your cleaning sentiments are felt world-wide. I remember those days and it still has not kept me from having numerous dogs and cats in my 60’s. We lost two greyhounds last June. You would think we could be wise and stay with our one remaining greyhound. Instead we thought a puppy would be good for the 4 yr old greyhound. So we got a rescue from the humane society that turns out to be a great dane/lab mix that drips water throughout the house every time he drinks. How they manage to bring in so much dirt is beyond me. Maybe by the time we are 70 they will be calm and not as dribbly. You are doing wonderfully – so glad you are content.

  21. Katie Camel says:

    This post was another especially beautiful one – thank you! As a fellow nature lover and hiker, I completely relate to the joys of being in the woods and finding peace, whether alone or with another person. One of the highlights of the past few months was a hike my friend and I did on a freezing day in Harpers Ferry, WV. I envy that that’s a regular occurrence for you.

    While not a mother, I’m a fellow introvert and relate to the constant state of being ON. My job as a nurse requires that I’m perpetually ON for my patients and team, and it’s often draining. I often wonder how I’d function as a mother, since I often find my job draining, though I genuinely also enjoy it. It’s hard sneaking breaks throughout a long day. Sometimes my only break is the bathroom. So I can imagine how it must be incredibly difficult for you with two small children. That was actually one of my deepest fears when deciding whether or not to have kids.

    Anyway, thank you for another lovely post! Looking forward to reading more about your hygge. Loved the picture of house at Christmas too!

  22. Mimi says:

    Great article, but little woods is missing from the photos… I do this daily too and never thought of it much, plus I have a full-time job and make our family’s meals. I do it with ease, but after reading your post about it I’m suddenly tired 🤣

  23. Sall Kanter says:

    I love your commentaries, and pictures. This December we celebrated “Hanukkahmas”, this means that we are Jewish, and our children have chosen different religions, so we combine the celebration into celebration of life that includes wonderful food, good conversation and much love and laughter shared at this time. This year was also the time that my husband decided to give the two children the crystal of his late wife (their mother). I now feel relieved of the burden of taking care of “the crystal”, and as I have never placed such a high value on something like this, it was interesting to watch the 2 children decide where each piece went, and to hear their memories of using the crystal.

  24. Marina says:

    “Women see what needs to be done and, knowing that no one else will, they do it.” – You’re right that’s true in a lot of households but it doesn’t have to be this way. My husband isn’t this way. It sounds like your husband isn’t this way. I’m hoping that my sons will not grow up to be this way and that the little girls of today will grow up and just assume that an egalitarian marriage is the default (as I did). Because taking care of the kids and the house is incredibly hard work and everyone in the household needs to value it, and one great way to find value is to actually do it yourself. This is one of the reasons I stay working full-time, in a corporate environment that gets heavily male, sole breadwinner-heavy as you climb up. Someone has to change things and the change certainly won’t come from those who benefit from the patriarchy and the devaluation of “women’s work.”

  25. KN says:

    Oh, I hear you on an uneventful year! This year:
    -I got a new job, and left a very very toxic one. A good transition, but a transition nonetheless
    -Got married
    -Had baby boy
    -Transitioned into being the sole breadwinner of family, while husband transitioned into being a stay at home dad.

    Looks like next year our transition will be into homeowners (again–we owned a condo a few years ago but sold it and now live in a rental) as we are looking at buying a 2 or 3 flat and renting out the other units, so my husband will add property manager to his resume alongside stay at home parent. I admit I am terrified of the idea of packing up house and moving with an infant, but having an income producing property will be so great!

    I’ve learned so much from your blog not just about finances but about parenting as well. Oh and you’ll appreciate that we are hacking our soda stream this month! Haha!

  26. Laura says:

    I just wanted to tell you, again, probably what a joy it is to read your words.
    Not only is your life so interesting and your thoughts so insightful, the way you write is just so pleasing to read.

    Looking forward to the next exciting episode !

  27. Ashley says:

    One thing I love about living somewhere with pronounced seasons (I’m in Minnesota so it’s similar to Vermont) is that the day to day tasks of parenthood can sometimes be viewed in the eyes of “well at least this is the last season I will have to do this particular chore”. Or at least that’s what I remind myself. I have a 3 and 6 year old and I’m already seeing the end of certain things that used to drive me crazy. “This is the last winter I have to put snow boots on people other than myself” “This is the last summer I have to push a stroller”. But it’s still the slow, meditative at times and crazy making at others, over and over slog of wiping and cleaning and convincing small people to just please get your socks on that I definitely relate to 😂

  28. Thom Wilson says:

    ….hey, Happy MMXX! Thanks for the solar update. Sun has now been rising above horizon for what – three weeks?
    Things should be getting better, no?
    Cheers

  29. KnoxPatchh says:

    Dear Ms. FW,
    This was a wonderful year for me and a lot of the wonderfulness stems from my and my family’s frugal mindset. It’s nice to know there is a community of like-minded frugal folk out there, so thanks for bringing us together, Ms. FW! My highlights:

    In May, my husband, elder daughter, and I took a frugal trip to Istanbul and western Turkey. It’s amazing to me that our 26 year old was up for spending 2 weeks with the parents.
    We hosted our younger daughter’s boyfriend for more than a month and just adore him.

    In October I retired at 60 and 18 days (not that I’m into precision). I cannot tell you how many coworkers said something akin to, ‘wish I could do that but I’ve got a lot of (fill-in-the-blank) debt to pay off.’ On my last day, I got in my rockin’ 2009 Honda Civic and drove home for good. No regrets.

    And to make things ever so nice, by December, I’d shed 37 pounds. Now I’m back to a healthy weight as I no longer have to sit all day and watch my body turn into gelatinous blob.

    Life is good and I look forward to a great 2020! Hope the same for everyone in FW land!

  30. Do your girls play together (unsupervised) pretty well? I decided that’s the only reason I’m remaining relatively sane during this season of my parenting, as I just gave birth to my third last month. The only thing that gives me a respite during the day when my husband is at work is the fact that I can send both kids down to the basement playroom, and they’re usually pretty good to play together down there for an hour or two without anyone getting *too* upset (some days are better than others). Of course, with you having so much outdoor space to play with, you probably don’t want to just let them loose out there on their own, ha ha, but maybe an indoor space?

  31. JD says:

    I used to love hiking the quiet woods on my grandfather’s farm. I need time alone, too, and that can sure be hard when kids are little. I like the way you phrased that; I always felt that if I said I needed time alone, people would think I didn’t like my kids or husband, when, of course, I loved them. You worded it so well, though.
    My kids are grown now and yours will grow quickly, but don’t worry, grandkids throw things in the vents, too, and deliberately step in the dog’s water dish, and draw surreptitiously on your sofa with markers and shove potato chips up their nose when you turn your back a second. So, there is more fun awaiting you!
    I agree about the housework, too. Oh boy, do I.
    Thanks for the update and my chance to enjoy snow vicariously through your posts. Here in North Florida we are on gray, damp, unseasonably warm day number 5,643, or so it seems.

  32. B says:

    I’m a preschool teacher and a mom. I have some interesting throwing up stories, needless to say. However, the story of the baby now pretending to do it was so horribly yet awesomely funny, I spit out my coffee, laughing. Someday, you will reread this post and wonder how you survived these years. Go you.

  33. Suzan Warnes says:

    Thank you for starting my day with a smile. I am my mother’s carer and yesterday was along day as I also spent a whole afternoon looking after my sick two year old granddaughter. She just wanted to cuddle for most of the afternoon. So the story of an roomba with a star upon it vacuuming amused my poor tired brain.

  34. Sarah C. says:

    Love the article, and totally related to the unpaid labor of caregiving. My kids are 2 & 5, and it is relentless! A good book is Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates. https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250313560

    She talks about how domestic work worldwide is completely undervalued, and women carry the burden of the time involved. I’m a big advocate for having a parent stay home, but to have the respect on how much work is actually involved. 🙂

  35. LongTime Frugal says:

    It is called blessed solitude. I still need (and crave) it these days. Downtime is important for adults AND kids. Most people can’t fathom his/her spouse to taking a trip (solo or with family) without his/herself. So do enjoy your solitude whenever/wherever you may find it. Doesn’t matter if you actually “do” anything. It is good for one’s overall good health.

  36. Jess says:

    Can you tell us about the crazy snow shovel emergency I think from a few posts ago?

  37. Suzanne says:

    As an empty nester, I can promise you – with great certainty – that your vents will one day be Cheerio free.

  38. Janice says:

    “There’s a lot of work that’s unseen, unacknowledged, and un-celebrated by our society. This work is done day after day, century after century, usually by women, usually without payment or thanks. Women see what needs to be done and, knowing that no one else will, they do it. ”

    So true even for women without children – I’m the vacuum-er, general tidy-er, toiler cleaner, dog waste picker-upper, et al. Partly from years of living alone, I just get-it-done, and now that I’m married, still doing that. I do try to set a good example and thank my husband for what he does around the house. 🙂

    Another great column, thank you!

  39. Anita says:

    Love your description of the homestead in December and your house looks sooooo cosy

  40. Karen says:

    Liz, the era of cheerios everywhere does end. And then once in a blue moon you come across a cheerio or a goldfish cracker way deep down between the cracks of car seats or couch cushions and you wonder, how did I ever do that? And you stand back and appreciate that uniquely challenging time in your life and feel great nostalgia and wonder! Trust me, years later, and it’s pretty awesome.

  41. Lindsay says:

    Any recommendations on how to choose snowshoes?

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Ideally, you try them out, but, we didn’t have the opportunity to do that so we bought these, which were relatively inexpensive and have served us well the last four years. It really depends on the type/depth of snow you’re going through and also your height and weight. Good luck and enjoy the powder!

  42. Ashley says:

    I feel like the people who say being a stay at home mom would be a great job are those who work full time jobs & have to take care of kids & have to cook and clean. Being a stay at home mom has to be hard, but add commuting to work and working a 8+ hour job to the mix of at home responsibilities and it has to be 10x worse! I agree it should be a paid job and I wish i had the opportunity to do it! I envy those who stay home with the kids (because I am a full time out of the house worker with a child and house to take care of). Mrs Frugalwoods had the right idea to save money and be able to stay home when she had kids 🙂 If only i could go back in time….

  43. Claire says:

    I don’t comment too much (yes, I’m a lurker) but I just wanted to say how much I have loved reading your updates since I found your blog.

    We don’t get snow where I live in Australia so I am in love with your pictures.

  44. Ivonne says:

    I’ve only just read this post after reading the Feb one and I love it. The always on and the need to be alone really resonated with me, and is probably the main reason I’ve been so narky the past few months. Thank you for sharing how you make the repetitive mundaneness a kind of meditative practice instead. I’ll try this.
    I’ve recently discovered your blog and I really enjoy your writing, I find it very relatable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *