Wednesday, February 9, 2011

S---L---O---W and Steady

 With Josh back to full time and me facing slight health issues, these past few weeks would definitely find me struggling to get by.  While we have struggled a bit, I noticed that I'm finally accomplishing the bare necessities without much difficulty.  The biggest factor in accomplishing this has been making the decision not to move.  Yes, that means a lot of unpacking, sorting, organizing, etc.  We feel that this will be a great thing in the long run.   

I started getting us on track by making sure that we all get to bed early.  We started by sending the kids to bed at 8:00pm each night.  When I realized that Josh and I could get more sleep if we also retired at 8, we set that in motion.  We don't actually turn out the lights until 9:30, but being in our room so early keeps us from finding distractions that will keep us up too late.  After only a short time, everyone is getting up early and feeling more refreshed thanks to our earlier bedtime.

In trying to keep things going by priority, we began working on meal times.  Lunch is at noon and I start making dinner at 5:30pm.  This has worked so far, but could be much improved if I were to come up with a menu plan.  Some nights 5:30 comes and I still don't know what to make for dinner!

My next step was to put the littles (5 and under) down for a nap and institute quiet time for the big kids.  At 1:30 every afternoon, I get Laiken settled on the loveseat, Teslyn lays at one end of the couch and Jonah and I snuggle at the other end.  Jonah usually nurses to sleep, then I read or use the computer.  We are still in the supervision stages, as the older kids still need to learn to be quiet and the littles need to be watched to make sure they lay down and are quiet.  I think that in another week or two I will have the ability to get a few things caught up during quiet time.

I have also been more stringent about making sure that all children have their teeth and hair brushed directly after breakfast.  This is a bit difficult some mornings, but there has definitely been improvement. 

The laundry monster has "mostly" been tamed.  All of our clothing has been moved upstairs (again), where it is all stored in the master bedroom.  I have caught up with washing and drying all of the laundry and most of it has been sorted, folded and put away.  My plan is to run a load of laundry each day and add bedding on laundry day.  I keep a small tote in the laundry room to transfer laundry from the washer to the dryer, which is usually done by Teagan or Jonah.  Then the tote will be used to carry laundry from the dryer to the bedroom where it will all be put away.

Once these habits have been established, we will once again attempt to stick to our daily schedule, which will include our cleaning schedule.  I am hopeful that this goal will be attainable in another week or two.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Discouragement Reigns

I am feeling quite discouraged lately.  After discovering Unsolicited Advice, printing out the "form" for my Bare Minimum and discovering the issues that are getting me down, I thought that things would improve.  It has been nearly three weeks and I still have yet to fill out and post my Bare Minimum.  

I had good intentions, but only the day after posting our new schedule we decided to move.  Since then we have packed up everything that was not needed before the move, my husband has gotten a new job and I have been missing way too much sleep.  I thought that having so many things packed would make it a piece of cake to keep the house clean.  Boy, was I wrong!  I think it's actually more disorganized!  Josh's new job has meant that where I have had his help for most days this past year, I am now on my own.  And the lack of sleep!  Jonah went from not nursing during the day and nursing a few times at night to nursing several times a day and so many times at night that I lost track.  After two nights of getting little sleep, I really felt like it was time to wean him.  The first night was difficult and I almost gave up, but last night was surprisingly easy.  I am so excited about the possibility of being able to sleep an full, uninterrupted eight hours tonight!  

Last night I finally found a few minutes to look through my issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  It was full of terrific articles that should have offered encouragement, but I just didn't feel it.  I am feeling as though things are overwhelmingThe house is a mess, discipline is sub-par, manners are lacking and we aren't accomplishing the things that we should.  Being organized and disciplined do not come naturally to me.  I really struggle in these areas.  My plan?  Well, I don't actually have one.  That's the problem, I guess.  I'm just floundering here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Giveaway: Easy Homeschooling Techniques

Lisa from Homestead Originals is giving away a copy of Easy Homeschooling Techniques by Lorraine Curry.  You can enter to win by:

1. Leaving your name and email address in a comment on the giveaway.
2. Blog about the giveaway and leave a comment saying you did so, including your name and email address (2 entries).
3.  Sign up for Homestead Original e-Newsletter and leave a comment saying you did so, including your name and email address.

The contest ends January 29th and a winner will be chosen January 30th.  

Also check out the Homestead Bookshelf & More, where you can find some wonderful books (and more), such as the Homestead Blessings DVDs.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Unsolicited Advice

Every so often in my webward travels, I stumble upon a blog that calls to me.  I found one such blog last week.  I have left the page open every time I shut down the computer, for fear that I will lose it.  I finally found a few spare minutes to read more of Unsolicited Advice today and was just floored by what I read!  I am so thankful that Brenda was able to be so honest about her situation!  It made me feel a little braver about sharing mine.  I am working toward getting organized and today is the day to start.

The Areas Needing Attention:
1. Cooking: We eat frozen pizza too many nights a week because I forget to think about dinner until, well, until it's dinner time. 
2. Laundry: There is laundry everywhere!  Several times a month I have to devote hours at a time to cleaning the kids room because the excess laundry makes it easy to make it messy.  I never do put the laundry away, just pile it near their closet.  Getting ready to go anywhere where we need to dress nicely, or where we just need to be dressed, period, is time-consuming. 
3. Dishes: I grew up washing the dishes every night from nine years of age until 18.  Once I was out on my own, I forgot.  I just plain forget to wash the dishes at night.  Sometimes I "forget" for days.  Recently I have made a huge effort to have the dishes done, requiring the kids to help dry them and put them away.  I am so happy to say that I've been able to keep up with it about 5-6 days a week.
4. Hygiene: I never can seem to remember to keep up with cutting the kids' nails!  I try to bathe them several times a week, but I often forget who had a bath when.  Too many days it is noon or later when I realize that no one has brushed their teeth.  And hair!  I really only harass the girls about brushing their hair when we plan to go out or when someone is coming over.
5. "TV": We don't even own a television!  We have been letting the kids watch entirely too many videos on the computer.  It was a family decision to do away with the TV, but in times of stress we seem to let it back in a little.
6. Diet: This goes along with that whole cooking thing.  If I'm not making a nutritious dinner from my family, it's likely I'm not feeding them well the rest of the day.  We had made the decision to cut gluten from our diet as we suspect allergies in a few of us, but I have yet to carry it out because of the work involved.
7. Exercise: We don't do it.  I am still carrying more than twenty pounds from my last pregnancy and without putting forth any effort, I'm not likely to lose any of it in the near future. 
8. Cleaning: I don't clean our bedrooms until we can barely get in the door.  Our bedrooms are upstairs so it's an "out of sight, out of mind" sort of situation.  I don't mop the (white!) kitchen floor unless we are expecting company.  I clean the bathroom only when it starts to smell.  The mess in the laundry room grows until it's unusable. 

The first step in getting more organized was to make our schedule using Managers of Their Homes.  I have made this schedule twice now, but gave up when we veered off track.  This time I plan to make a better  effort at sticking with it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Great Deals from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is offering three terrific deals right now.

1. One Year Subscription for $7.95 ($25 value) 
Buy a subscription for a friend and get a free gift for you! any $7.95 purchase will get you a FREE digital TOS Planner!

2. One Year Subscription with the Cranberries & Cream tote and an E-Book for $19.95

3. Two Year Subscription with the Cranberries & Cream tote, E-Book and TOS Planner of your choice for $37

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Life with Littles: Vacuuming

     Jonah has recently decided to "assist" me with vacuuming.  For a time, he would turn the vacuum off and on while I was using it.  This could make the task of vacuuming take MUCH longer than it should.  When he tired of that, he decided to make it his duty to unplug the vacuum for me...even if I was still using it. 

     I was beginning to think that I was going to have to schedule my daily vacuuming routine around him, when I came up with a plan.  I decided to make him my helper.  When I was ready to vacuum the living room the other day, I asked him to help me.  I showed him where to hold the vacuum, then slowly went back and forth over the floor.  I kept telling him what a good job he was doing and thanked him when we were done.

     Daddy-o got a chance to see us in action for the first time this evening.  He was so surprised to see Jonah helping me vacuum, but even more surprised to see what he did when we were all done....When we finished, I asked Jonah to turn off the vacuum and he did.  Then he ran to the wall and unplugged it.  Now, before anyone worries about our little guy shocking himself, you should know that the outlet we used has self-locking covers that would protect him.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sun Bread, Miso Soup and the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

     As the health-conscious momma I am, (or maybe because I have a bit more baby weight to lose!) I am trying to make more of our foods from scratch rather than buying pre-packaged foods.  Last night I soaked several batches of beans and started two double-batches of bread starter.  While I should have been cooking said beans and baking said bread, I decided to make Josh a small pot of miso soup, bake some chocolate chip cookies with the kids and help Laiken make the sun bread he's been asking about.

     The chocolate chip cookies are our absolute favorites and can be found all over the internet with a simple search for "Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies".  The recipe we found makes about 112.  I don't think we actually came away with that many, but we had plenty to share with friends!

     The secret ingredients in these awesome cookies:

Shredded dark chocolate.  Mmmmm!!  The recipe calls for 8oz., but we use quite a bit less than that.

Ground oatmeal.  We found that the easiest way to blend the oatmeal is one cup at a time. 

Our solution to a fussy baby while we're busy in the kitchen--wear them!  Jonah was happy to spend some time in the back carrier while we finished our baking.  It didn't take long for him to fall asleep!

     I discovered the recipe for sun bread on someone's blog, but the recipe actually came from a book called Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven.  The bread has a rich, buttery taste that reminds me of Ritz Crackers.  If you plan to make this for more than a few people, I would definitely recommend making more than one batch, as the recipe doesn't make much.  We got about 16 smallish pieces out of it.

 Looks like I have myself a great helper with bread-making from now on!  


Making the sun was Laiken's favorite part.  He loved rolling the dough out into "hot dogs". 

Our sun bread was a bit over cooked, but with some peanut butter or butter on top, it was delicious!  We had ours for dinner with scrambled eggs, sausage and orange juice.

Miso Soup (serves 2-3)

3 c vegetable broth
1 c water
1 c cauliflower
1/2 c broccoli
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
3-4 Tbsp miso

Place all ingredients in a 1-quart slower cooker and cook for 8-10 hours or saute vegetables until tender, place all ingredients in small pot and cook 20 minutes.  Miso soup is very versatile.  You can make it with any vegetables you have on hand: celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, onions, potatoes.