Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Art of Homemaking

First I will confess that I really didn't know what it meant to be a homemaker when I found my husband 16 years ago. I did know how to do laundry, cook a decent meal, and crisis clean if someone was coming over, but to really make my house a home, No.

It has taken me 16 years, a lot of trial and error, and a lot of patience from Stephen to find out what works from me.  I have several things working against me that have caused me to find new and better ways to make things work, but eventually I have jumped that hurdle and moved forward. (I'm so thankful I jumped hurdles in junior high and high school so I can have that real life comparison.)  In my effort to move forward with my life and not look in the rear view mirror so much, I'm only going to mention the hurdles so I can talk about overcoming them.

1. Not really know where to start: This is NOT a slam against my mom or grandmothers, but against me. I never really paid attention to what they did. I mean I knew about the things I mentioned above, but I never paid attention to the details.  I always had the things I needed. The only thing I had to let me mom know about was when I out grew my clothes. She just took care of everything. When I was little I remember thinking that toilet paper just grew from there, and that the bar of Lava soap would stay a sliver forever. :D It never crossed my mind that my family was making sure everything was there and provided for.   Even as a teenager I never noticed, I guess that goes with being wrapped up in my own life.

2. No desire to do it: This goes along with never having to take care of things. I went along thinking they would always be taken care of by someone else. Looking back at this now, I realize that I was lazy. I didn't want to learn and so I ignored all the wonderful advice. It wasn't until I was blessed with a beautiful little boy that things started to change.

3. Children who make a mess as soon as I clean it: I remember when Jackson and Audrey were little. Our house was a constant mess. It was everything I could do to keep up with them. I was constantly tired from neither one of them being good sleepers and a hard time sleeping myself. The final embarrassment was when my SIL and her husband saw the mess that was my house. I kept saying I didn't want them in the house, but they insisted and Stephen said yes. I felt like I was going to die. This set me to start looking at how to prevent this from happening again.

4. Physical pain: Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a really bad knee, but now I have to add the lower back issues into it. There are still days I can't get out of bed, but they have become less and less. This leads to depression because I can't do the things I want and need to do. This has been the biggest hurdle of all for me. I can make a great plan, but then the execution is always hard.

5. Constantly moving: Just when I get things the way I want them to be we move. Each move has been by choice, and once we are settled I'm thankful for the move, but until I'm a mess. For example we have been in this house since December and I still don't have all the boxes unpacked. The only thing I can say here is that each place we have lived has required different things to make sure everything has a place. The storage for each place has required money and that seems to always be in short supply when trying to cloth and feed 4 growing children.

Now with all of that out of my system, (I'm sure I could find more excuses, but I'm not going to.) it is time to talk about ways I've managed to overcome some of these.

I'll start off with children. Jackson and Audrey are no longer those little monkeys, but have become my biggest helpers. We have been blessed with the ability to home school our children. This at times causes even a bigger mess because they are home all day, but I have tried to turn this into a blessing. We have a daily schedule, which we try to live by. This includes time for chores, school, family time and even some fun time. The older two children have chores that they have to complete daily. There are fights about this, but I remind them that we have to work as a family to accomplish things or it will only become worse. We've had a few times where the cleaning went into the weekend, which messed up Family Fun Day and that has helped them want to work during the week.

In my search for how to clean, I've come across some fabulous websites that I'm sure most of you already know about. My main go to website is It was there that I learned that I don't have to be perfect in my cleaning, but doing something was better than nothing. I also learned I can do anything for 15 minutes. This has given me the freedom to just do what I can when I can, and to be thankful for what I can do.  I fall off of the path I set for myself now and then, but I can get right back on since I'm never behind. This has been a true blessing in my life and allowed me to focus on what is important. It has allowed me to be both a Martha and a Mary. For years I thought that being a Mary was all I had to do, but being a Martha has allowed me even more freedom to be a Mary.

I can tell you my house is NOT spotless and right now I would not be happy if someone walked in my front door, but give me an hour or two and I would be just fine. (Morning chores haven't been completed yet.) My house looks lived in and that is what it is, considering that we are home all day for school.  There are things that I want to improve on and they are on my list. We add new things to our chore list every month slowly building until we get it right.

The big thing I'm working on is making sure my children don't have the same problem I have, of not knowing how to clean, when to clean and why they need to clean. I want them prepared to face life head on. I know I have 3 boys who will eventually go out into the world to provide for their family, but my future DILs will love me if my boys are more than willing to pitch in and help. Not only be willing, but to know how to do it, to do it correctly, and know they are loving not only their wives but God by helping. For you moms out there, this is also part of an "evil" plan to have helpers, or as my oldest would say "slaves",  I don't consider my children slaves, but part of my team, the team that makes this house a home.

My home is far from perfect, but with my pains I've learned that perfection is in the eye of the beholder. There is only so much I'm physically capable of doing. In order to have my house "clean enough" to have people over I spend a lot of time meeting my expectations, and completely wipe myself out. I'm in pain for a week to accomplish this task and that is with help from my children and Stephen. I don't regret it though, as nothing pleases me more than having friends over for dinner and fun. My kids my grumble along the way, but when the guests arrive they have a blast. We usually have a family meeting to talk about how we could have done it easier and to talk about how much fun we had. When this meeting happens the kids always admit that it would be easier if they did their chores more consistently and if they didn't lolly gag along the way.

So my house isn't a house that they would show on HGTV, I'm content. It is warm and inviting, and will be more so once our new couch arrives.  It is a place of refuge. A place where my family knows they can go for comfort, love and a safe haven. They know that this place is filled with love and they will be loved here.  My family knows that God is the heart of this place and that as long as we keep Him that way we will be blessed even if we live in a cardboard box. Could it look better? Yes. Could I be a better homemaker?  Yes. If I've learned anything from Flylady it is that I don't have to be perfect, but to do the best I can possibly do. That whatever I do will bless my family.

So as I start my day, I contemplate what can I do today to make my house a home. The first is to get off of here. :D

May your day be as productive as you wish and May you realize that you bless your family in all you do.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

No one eats Peeps Mom

The weather is finally starting to act like spring. Hopefully we have seen our last frost and can begin our gardening. Stephen hasn't built our SFG, but it is a good thing with the way the weather has been.

Speaking of our garden here are a couple of pictures of our seedlings.

As you can see they are growing very well. We have only had to water them a few times. We are going to wait until the end of the week before starting tray 3. This way we can stagger out the planting and the harvesting.

In other plants I found some bulbs fairly cheaply that Audrey and I will be planting next week. It is my hope that the land across the creek will still have top soil. The soil here is so bad that we can't even grow tulips. I find this so disheartening, but Stephen says we won't do anything about it until AFTER we buy the house. He is right we need to save money to purchase the house, not to fix all of its problems, which includes finishing the basement (that's a totally different story).

The peeps are growing quickly. Pip says they don't look like babies anymore. Last week when he asked me what was for dinner I told him Peeps. He gave me a stern look and told me he would report me for animal abuse since NO ONE EATS Peeps. Won't he be surprised come Easter morning when he has Peeps in his basket, and not just yellow ones either. :D

Audrey held up a Peep for me to take a picture of it. They really don't like being held and we do leave them alone, but they will have to get over posing for the camera for now.

They have certainly grown. They are constantly eating, drinking, scratching and peeping. We still have an escapee now and then, but not much since Stephen put a lid on their box. Lily doesn't care for the lid as it keeps her from her "toys", but I just smile and give her a dog bone to chew on.

We made our first trip to the Louisville Zoo. It was a lovely day on Saturday. The kids had a great time even if the polar bear exhibit wasn't ready yet. William loved watching the seals play and splash around in the water. He kept asking if he could play too. I felt bad telling him no. Pip of course loved the penguins, but spent more time watching the monkeys. We didn't see everything, but I promised them we would come back. I'm so thankful we bought a dual membership to the Zoo and the Science Center.

Here are a few of my favorites.

If you are wondering about the goose..... well she about chopped a guys head off coming in for a landing at our feet. She then proceeded to look at each of the kids expecting them to feed her something. I have to admit it was my favorite part of the zoo. Don't get me wrong I love the animals, but this was priceless.

School is going well. We are finishing up right before Memorial Day. We don't have snow days here. :D The kids are thinking that it will mean NO school work and all playing, but I it won't be. We will have a garden to tend to. They will be gone the entire month of July at different camps. Not to mention summer reading and their nature journals. We will make time for field trips, camping and all kinds of other crazy things. As you can tell the education process never stops here. We are always learning about something. The kids are constantly asking questions. Like the other day Jackson asked when did men start wearing pants instead of sheets/togas like they did in ancient times. This leads to internet research.

Finally before I go, I found a yarn shop in Jeffersonville. It was small, but full of yummy yarn. All of it was wool, so a dear friend of mine would never go, but it was fun to play with. While we were there we found out about a Fiber and Music Festival that is happening in Charlestown at the end of the month. I guess I better save some pennies, because I will definitely want to bring home some new yarn to play with.

That's all for now from my little corner. May the sun shine down and you receive enough rain to allow your garden to grow.