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Monday Q&A | Do I feel overwhelmed? plus photography sessions and produce bags

Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!

I am a newbie homeschooler (I’ve been doing it P/T while they are in preschool, but am starting full-time in the fall with Kindergarten!) and am wondering how you manage HS with all of your other jobs – piano lessons, photography, planning groceries/savings, baking batches, blogging, etc.!!! You seem to have it all together, but don’t you feel overwhelmed sometimes? There are so many days that I go to bed just giving up on my to-do list and it waits for me again in the morning! (I teach piano 2 days week, and my children are 1, 3, & 5)


I think I’ve answered a question sort of similar to this in a previous Q&A, but I think it probably bears repeating:

Yes, yes, yes, I sometimes feel overwhelmed. And no, no, no, I do not have it all together!

In the past, I’ve been able to manage homeschooling and all my other responsibilities pretty well, but this past year has been a little different (Sonia started school in the fall, so now I’m homeschooling 3 kids). In all my years of homeschooling, I have never, ever been so anxious for summer to arrive as I was this year, and I’m feeling like I may need to do some scaling back or reorganizing before school starts up again in the fall. Depending on how things go with my husband’s job, this may take the form of cutting back my piano teaching to an even more minimal level. Or, it may be that I just need to come up with a better organized plan of attack.

So yeah…I certainly haven’t got all of this down pat!

Something I’ve been pondering lately is how easy it is for a blogger to come across as perfect and together without even meaning to. It’s really, really easy for me to forget that you all don’t see the stuff that I don’t post on my blog…since I see my piles of laundry and dirty children and messy rooms, and since I obviously know when I’m feeling exhausted and out of patience, I forget that you don’t. I do try to share my failures and faults (I do this more often on Facebook or Twitter than I do on my blog), but I think I’m not doing as well with that as I could.

So, from here on out, I’m going to try to be a little more intentional about letting you have a better view of the imperfections in my life. The last thing in the world I want to do is to make you think that I’m a perfect, has-it-all-together mom/wife because that’s simply not the case.

Worry not, though…I’m not going to turn my blog into a depressing whine-fest! That’s just not how I roll, and it wouldn’t quite go with that whole “cheerfully living on less” thing I’ve got going on.

Anyhow, I definitely don’t have the corner on organization/balance/time management, but because so many of you have asked, I am really, really hoping to be able to put together a series on productivity this summer (because I have more free time when I’m not homeschooling). Hopefully that will answer some of your questions.

How do you do photography sessions (& any editing) with your children? Do you schedule them when your husband is home, do they go with you, or do they stay with friends/family?


That really depends. If the session is close to home, and my clients (that sounds ridiculously formal, but I don’t know what else to call people I take pictures of!) are amenable to the idea, I do take them with me. They’re all old enough to generally behave themselves long enough for me to take pictures, and I often bring some snacks or something to keep the occupied while I’m shooting.

If my husband happens to be home when I’m doing a shoot, then of course I leave the kids at home with him. I don’t terribly mind having them along on a shoot, but given the choice, I definitely prefer to leave them home!

Sometimes, I manage to leave them with someone else when my husband isn’t available, though. For instance, on Saturday, I did an engagement shoot for my cousin and her fiance (who may very well be one of the cutest couples ever to grace the face of this earth! See?).

(you can see more of them on my photo blog if you want.)

Since my husband was at work while we did the shoot, I left my kids with my aunt and cousins while I went downtown to do the shoot, which worked out great…my kids were thrilled to pieces, and I was able to work undistracted.

Editing time is a little bit trickier to carve out, and as my, um, clients know, it usually takes me a couple of weeks to get all the pictures sorted and edited. I usually do editing bit by bit, with random bits of time I manage to find.

I don’t do tons of photo sessions because I find when I do, it starts to not be all that much fun anymore, mostly because I have to spend so much time editing. If I wasn’t already mothering 4 children, homeschooling, cooking, blogging, cleaning, and doing a bunch of other things, I might feel differently, of course. But as it is, a session here and there is just perfect for me…enough to keep my feet wet and to keep me challenged, but not so much that I feel overwhelmed.

Perhaps as my kids get older and more independent, I’ll get into doing photo sessions more seriously, but for now photography is having to take a back seat to a lot of other things in my life. And that’s ok, because my kids are only going to be little once.

Recently, I’ve taken over the grocery shopping, menu planning and cooking in my household. I don’t mind it but the annoying little plastic produce bags always bother me! I use cloth bags for all of my groceries but I still end up with so many of those produce bags and I just throw them away, and that can’t be very environmentally-friendly. I noticed that in your grocery pictures you don’t have plastic bags around your produce, do you purchase the fruit without bags or take them off later? Is it possible to purchase without bags?


Most of the time, I do try to purchase my produce without using plastic bags. Aldi has a lot of their produce pre-packaged and they don’t offer bags with their loose produce, but when I’m shopping at Weis, I forego the bag whenever possible.

This does make it a little bit trickier at checkout (especially when I’m buying things like loose mushrooms!), so most of the time I opt to use the self checkout. That way I don’t annoy the poor cashier with my loose produce and cloth bags.

I guess this might seem a little bit unsanitary to some, but I’m not at all a germophobe, and I’d be kidding myself to think that my produce hasn’t been touched by a bunch of hands before it even makes it to the grocery store display.

And besides, I wash our produce before we eat it!

If you really can’t stomach the idea of leaving your produce bare, you could buy or make some drawstring mesh bags to use instead. These Acme bags are $4, but I’m thinking some of those mesh laundry bags (for lingerie) would work as well and would be cheaper.

Readers, what do you do to avoid the ubiquitous produce bag?

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Emily Wicks

Thursday 3rd of June 2010

I just reuse the plastic bags until they are unusable. Basically, when they get holes. Not as good as something that isn't plastic, or not using bags at all, but still better than getting new bags everytime I go in the store. My husband doesn't particularly like it, but hey, I do the shopping. I just keep my reusable grocery bags on a hook by the back door. And when I empty out a plastic veggie bag I just go stuff it in the top of the groceries bag. When I go shopping I grab the whole bit. And when we do a Farmer's Market in the summer I have the plastic bags to use there. Works for me!


Wednesday 2nd of June 2010

I reuse the store's produce bags. Eventually they get thrown out or recycled but it's a start. Ones used for produce don't need washing, just dried before being put away. Ones used for meat I throw out, as meat drippings aren't recyclable. Sometimes I forget to bring them (for reasons irrelevant to this post, they don't live in the same place as my reusable bags) so they tend to accumulate. When I get too many I give a bunch to my CSA growers who use them to bag the produce they give out.

Kristen, about homeschooling: can you teach less each day and extend the school year? That could lighten you daily burden.


Wednesday 2nd of June 2010

Try saving the mesh bags that produce is packaged in - usually oranges and onions come in mesh bags that can be used again and again. They also work very well as dish scrubbers!


Tuesday 1st of June 2010

I use the above mentioned bags from the dollar tree, but I have crocheted several others, for myself and other people. If you crochet, there are lots of patterns online for these types of bags. You make them out of crochet thread and they are lightweight. There may be knit patterns, but I don't knit so I am not familiar with that. You can also sew them. If you know anyone getting married who may have some tulle, you could get the material for free if you asked I bet...well, after the wedding is over. ;o) I rarely use the plastic bags anymore, though I will still put them around meat if it looks as though it may leak, but I don't buy much meat anymore so it's not much of a problem.

cagey (kelli oliver george)

Tuesday 1st of June 2010

Great ideas for produce bags! I was just beginning to look into this and will be checking out the dollar store today.

A few folks talked about forgetting their shopping bags - I have two bags that fold up into themselves - the key is that they are a good quality nylon, so they are very thin and they fold up very small (each is smaller than my fist) I always carry these in my purse - they are extremely lightweight and really don't take up much space. This was absolutely key in converting me into a Reusable Bag Owner. I never could remember to bring in canvas bags into the store!

Here is one of the cheapest ones I have found ($8.99/bag), as they can be pricey elsewhere:

And now, I am off to hunt for produce bags. Thanks!


Wednesday 2nd of June 2010

I had to reply when I read that the cheapest foldable bags you found are $8.99! I searched on ebay a while ago and found some really cute bags. While they are folded up they look like a strawberry (actually there are a few shapes. I've seen grapes and watermelons too). Cute and super cheap!

I'm sorry, I don't know how to embed links.

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