Sunday, January 31, 2010

Household tips

It is the beginning of a new year, and once again I find myself with the itch to organize everything. There's just something about January (now almost February) that makes me want to purge closets and reorganize drawers; it renews my resolve to do monthly menu planning, and catch up on baby books. It seems I'm not alone in this desire. So I just wanted to share with you some of the tips and tricks that I've found useful as I've tried to keep our house running smoothly. I also want to welcome you to leave a comment telling your own useful tips. Most of these tips are not original to me. Most of them came from other moms, and they are just things I've heard that have stuck with me and have made my life a little easier. So, without further ado, here you go:

1. Swallow your frogs first. In other words, at the beginning of the day if there is some item on your to-do list that is making you cringe (for me these are those annoying phone calls), do it first. Get it out of the way.

2. Put your "handmaidens" to work. (This was related to Proverbs 31:15 where the wise woman rises early and provides tasks for her handmaidens) The modern day equivalents to handmaidens being things like crockpots, dishwashers, washing machines, bread-makers, (and dare I say it... children who are old enough to help out). The point of this is to get these things working for you right away (after all, it's really lame to try to load the dishwasher after dinner and find that it is full of dirty dishes)
3. When you don't have time to straighten the whole room, go for the biggest impact and straighten the largest flat area first. In the bedroom this probably means making the bed, in the kitchen it could mean clearing off the table or the island. And remember, the largest flat area could also be the floor (this is especially true of us with young children who spread their toys all over the floor). The whole room will look much cleaner when that one area is neat.
4. Touch your mail once. Don't open it until you're ready to deal with it -read it, act on it, file it or throw it away. This helps alleviate all those paper messes. (I used to do this, and it really worked... I need to start doing it again.)

5. Make twice as much as usual for dinner and freeze half. I feel like I'm on top of my game when I have something tucked away in the freezer. It's like having convenience food with half the cost and twice the nutrition. Of course, this only works for certain types of food: soups, stews, casseroles, marinated meats, and baked goods usually do well. Don't Panic - Dinner's in the Freezer is a great book that has tons of good tips and freezer recipes.
So please leave a comment telling us your own tip... whether it's for organizing your time, your money, your meals, or your closets... anything that has made your life a little easier... please share!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Beautiful hair & snot bubbles

Leesi makes me laugh sometimes...

Today while we were sitting on the couch reading books together she reached up and brushed at her hair with her hand and said, "I have beautiful hair." I could hardly believe my ears! Then a little bit later she started stroking my hair and said, "beautiful hair." Hee hee.

She has a bit of a cold right now and during that same time on the couch she was blowing her nose and making snot bubbles. She pointed at her nose and looked at me wonderingly... I said, "Do you have snot bubbles?" And she repeated, "Snot bubbles." A little while later she stuck her finger deep into one nostril while blowing out the other and happily said, "bubbles!" Ah, the simple joys of childhood.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Some pictures from a couple months ago...

I love my kids. I'm so lucky to have the privilege of spending each day with them.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jonathan at three months

Jonathan is such a happy baby! We just adore him. Today he was giggling a little bit for me... so cute! Elisa really likes him. And I think that Jonathan is warming up to her too. Yesterday morning Elisa was talking to him and he was giving her really big smiles! Up until this point he has mostly just gotten a really worried look on his face whenever she comes around. Like he's thinking, "Oh no, what's she gonna do to me this time." But I think they are going to be friends after all.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Finding time to clip my toenails...

One thing I've been thinking about over the last few months is this whole idea of trying to find time to care for myself.

It hit me really hard a couple months ago. It was probably 6 weeks after Jonathan was born and I was starting to feel kind of down. Not a post-partum hormonal depression... just a regular old sadness and behind the sadness I was kind of angry. Greg was trying to do all he could to help... "Do you want to go to the gym? You could go right now. Or do you need to go into Fayetteville (our closest city) by yourself this weekend?" Greg asked. The conversation went on like this, and finally I ended up frustrated and in tears blurting out, "I don't know what I want." We talked for awhile and then Greg said, "I think the fact that you don't know what you need shows how out of touch you are with yourself. You don't have time to even think about what you need to maintain a healthy life." And as I thought about it I realized that he was right.

I push myself to perform, and do everything, and have it all under control. And in the midst of all these To-Do's it's the things like showers, and exercise, and sleep, and time with friends that tend to get skipped. Until one day I look down at my feet and think, "I haven't even had time to clip my toenails." And inevitably this leads to anger. Usually I get angry at Greg (after all he's the closest target). The funny thing about it is that I'm the only one who expects me to do it all.
Right before Christmas break I had a lot going on. I worked an extra day at the library, I had a bunch of burp cloths to sew for the Baby Habit, I was trying to get everything ready for Elisa's birthday and Christmas, and also I had to pack and clean and do laundry etc. I had decided that for Elisa's birthday I wanted to make a cake from scratch with frosting from scratch. The cake I chose turned out to be a lot more work than I was expecting and as I was finishing it up at about 1am I thought to myself, "You know, Elisa probably would rather have a box cake and store-bought frosting with a well-rested mom; than this cake with a crabby, tired mom."

I go to a Bible Study called Mothering Matters (kind of like the local MOPS chapter). One of the women in my group was talking about just this thing the other day. She said that she carries a list with her. On one side of the paper is a list of things she does... on the other side of the paper is a list of the things she doesn't do. In order for her to be able to do the things that she does, she also has to not do the other things. In other words, she only has so much time... and so she has chosen to invest it on the "things I do" side. And if she wants to add something new to that side, then she probably has to move something off of it to the "things I don't do" side. Then whenever she sees someone else who, for example, bakes her own bread, and she thinks to herself, "Wow, I wish I baked my own bread... I don't measure up." She can remind herself, "No, look at all the things that I have chosen to do... I could do that too, if I was willing to give up something else."

Part of the problem is that I think that other moms do it all. When in reality, everyone has to make choices. Sure, some people can fit more on their plates than others (I'm one of those with a dinner-roll size plate), but none of us can really do everything. I had a reminder of this over Christmas. I was talking with a mom of four girls ages 3-11. She was saying that her oldest daughter had a school assignment where she had to bring in a recipe for one of her favorite meals. The class was making a cookbook. The meal she chose was beef stew... which was great, except as the mom explained to me, "I don't think they were looking for, 'Go to the freezer section of your local grocery store and find the Stouffer's beef stew in a bag. Cut the bag open and place contents in crock pot...'" I don't know why, but somehow it was kind of freeing to hear that this other mom doesn't make beef stew from scratch. We tend to notice all of the things that other moms do, and think "why can't I do that too?" But what about the things they don't do?

So, I just want to tell you all some of the things that I don't do in the hopes that it will, in some strange way, encourage you:
I don't cook most Tuesday or Thursday nights.
We eat burritos probably at least twice a week (canned beans, cheese, and salsa in a tortilla - if it has meat it's considered a fancy meal).
I never make lunch for Greg.
I'm rarely out of my pajamas before 9:30 or 10:00 unless I have somewhere to be.
Jonathan regularly stays in his pajamas all day and night.
Our Christmas tree sat in our house for over a week before we put any ornaments on it (and by the way, our tree is still up).
I consider wiping the bathroom down with a clorox wipe a pretty good cleaning job and do this every other week at most.
Our house gets vacuumed probably once every three weeks, and half the time Greg does it.

I could go on and on. But I think you get the point. There are a lot of things that I don't do.

Anyway, back to my original thought... I have to let go of some of the unrealistic expectations I have of myself. In the midst of taking care of my family and my home, I need to make sure that I'm taking care of myself. I have a great husband who's willing to help out... if I'll let him... if I'll ask him for what I need. Sometimes I feel guilty if he gets up in the morning with Elisa. Or if he stays home with the kids while I go out for a fun evening.

In reality it's pride. I don't want to admit that I can't do it all... or that I need help. But I'm getting better. I'm learning that I need to be okay with a messy house. I need to let Greg wake up early with the kids while I sleep in. In other words I need to be okay with the fact that I too have needs and give up on the dream of being super-mom.